Today's Features

Why CPA Trendlines: “Battle-Tested Info”

Thank you to one of our newest PRO Members for your feedback and kind words!

Most importantly I appreciate the depth of information contained on one site and its dual value.

It proves to be a valuable resource in that I can get relevant information on best practices for my firm and how to implement them, along with timely technical advice on providing a better end-product to my clients.

There are some other sites that are free that offer something similar, but it’s great to know the advice being given is being used and is battle tested (perhaps after going through several changes over the years) and accumulated over decades in the field by the writers.

Many Thanks!

Thank you!

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In Sales, Perception Is Reality

You have to believe in yourself.

By Martin Bissett

“No man has the ability to step outside of the shadow of his own character.”
— Robespierre

As far as our potential clients are concerned, how they perceive us is how we really are to them, regardless of the truth of the matter.

MORE ON SELLING: Selling vs. Attracting to Build Relationships | When Selling, Don’t Chase New Fees, Attract Them | Selling Accounting Services Doesn’t Have to Be Hard! | ‘Selling’ Isn’t a Dirty Word | 8 Factors in Practice Development Success | In Sales, Perception Is Reality | Success Begins With Accountability | Do You Realize You’re Failing? | Winning Your First Client

Because of this, it’s important to realize that when we are meeting a new potential client who has not been referred to us, it does not matter what the reality of our value proposition is; it matters how that potential client perceives our value proposition. Therefore, to be effective
in winning work, we must understand how we can positively influence their perception of us at each stage of the relationship-building process.

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The Big Free-File Flop

Percentage of Free File Users by Income Demographics

Fix it, or lose it.

By CPA Trendlines

Can you believe that 70 percent of all U.S. taxpayers could be using Free File, yet only 2.5 percent actually are? Did we mention "free?"

MORE BUSY SEASON: Protect Your Clients’ Assets  |  The Demise of Schedule A?   |  Tammy’s Tale of Tax Season Tardiness   |  How Effective Project Management Makes Your Life Easier   |  Survey: Busy Season Goes Sour   |  When Clients Cash Out: Four Smart Financial Moves   |  Lessons Learned: How the Federal Shutdown Hit Busy Season 2019   |  The IRS Mess: Taxpayer’s Roadmap is a Plumber’s Nightmare  |  Fixing the IRS: Tax Professionals Speak Out   |  Tax Refund Fury Roils Busy Season

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The reasons are mostly a mystery, but we found five major problems and seven ways to improve the program. If all else fails, even it's backers agree: Give up.

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The Demise of Schedule A?

Join the survey. Get the results.

"If you charge by the form, Schedule A's are almost obsolete."

TODAY's BONUS QUESTION:
The Future of the Tax Practice?
Join the survey. Get the answers.

By CPA Trendlines Research

With the countdown clock running down toward April 15, many tax professionals' early-season optimism is turning into frustration and anger, according to the CPA Trendlines Busy Season Barometer.

The latest readings from the tracking poll show:

  • Only half as many professionals now predict "significant increases" in the number of clients, and who now expect a "significant decrease" has almost doubled.
  • The number of practitioners forecasting revenue gains has been cut in half.
  • The number expecting better profits than last year has been cut by a third.

What's happening?

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Hot Shot Sales Manager Is Not Such a Hot Shot

Businessman holding a printed red "down" arrowSometimes people reveal more than intended.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

A client decided that to grow her business she needed a top-tier sales manager and recruited someone from a much larger competitor.

MORE: Am I Happy? | How Hidden Bias Taints Results | When to Keep Some Plans to Yourself | Employees Have Better Memories than Bosses | When Writeups Went Extinct
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How to Be Ready for Real Artificial Intelligence

What to know before investing in new technology.

By Hitendra Patil and Eli Fathi

To use AI or not?

That is the question for accounting and audit firms looking toward the future. There is a lot of fear, uncertainty, and doubt regarding the availability, adoption and use of artificial intelligence-based systems. There is even some misleading information within the broader community of accounting and audit tools.

MORE ON ENTREPRENEURIAL STRATEGY: How Accountants Can Ride the Artificial Intelligence Wave | The Client of the Future | The Rise of the Robot Accountant: Opportunity or Threat?
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A wide range of claims and news can be found online, from AI “not being ready” for accounting, to questioning the benefits of artificial intelligence. Vendors stating their solutions are AI-enabled may be adding to the confusion. READ MORE →

Even Entrepreneurs Must Diversify

Also: Don't let them undervalue themselves.

By Anthony Glomski

Based on my years of experience helping successful entrepreneurs, as well as my research and interviews with experts in the area of successful business exits, I have identified key financial challenges that entrepreneurs who are about to cash out must address.

MORE ON LIQUIDITY: When Clients Cash Out: Four Smart Financial Moves
GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

The idea is to ensure that you can help them make a smooth and successful transition from where they are today to where they want to be post-exit. READ MORE →

Refunds Still Up, but Only by 0.7%

Chart of filing dataE-filings are nearly evenly split between the pros and the amateurs.

By Beth Bellor

The gloomy season continues. The IRS is slower than ever before, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act didn't simplify our lives, and after all the work we put in, we face clients who are upset about their refunds. Everyone got an eye on their countdowns?

The Internal Revenue Service had received 67.7 million individual income tax returns as of March 8, the latest data available, down 2.5 percent from the same period in 2018. It had processed 65.3 million returns, down 2.8 percent. READ MORE →

Am I Happy?

Life is short, you know.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

My father was dying – too young and too soon. He succumbed over a nine-month period to coronary heart disease. Today his life could have been extended, but not in 1976.

MORE: How Hidden Bias Taints Results | You Must Push the Pencil | The Art of the Deal: Starts with Listening | Working for a Jerk | The ‘Wrong’ CPE | Be a Sounding Board to Your Clients
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I would visit him and see his strength waning to the point that he could barely lift his head or talk and even then it was in a hoarse whisper. One of the last things he said to me was, “Are you happy?” I answered quickly, “Yes.”
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Tax Season Funnies: After the Revolution

Questions college students ask.
As collected by Robert E. Mckenzie
  • “An income tax is the price which the government charges for the privilege of having taxable income.” – Former Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon

More Tax Season Humor: The Tax Season Funnies: Worst Video Game Ever | A Little Tax Humor | How many IRS agents does it take to screw in a light bulb?

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How Effective Project Management Makes Your Life Easier

Happier clients and happier staff are just the start.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

I have some excellent news. Effective project management can make owning a firm fun and profitable again. If not fun, it will be at least more tolerable than a lifetime of root canals.

MORE: Value Pricers Ignore Half the Pricing Puzzle | Beware the Leeches and Consultants | The Value-Pricing Con Job | The 21st-Century CPA Firm | Ruthlessly Efficient Workflow Management
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I have worked two Aprils from the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament. This past September 15th, I worked from the beach. No one at the office seemed to miss me.
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Survey: Busy Season Goes Sour

February confidence melts under the harsh realities of March.

February's 36% positive ratings slide to only 30% in March, as negative ratings climb from 32% in February to 49% in March, even as the number expecting the same results as last year declined from 32% to 21% from one month to the next.

By CPA Trendlines Research

Join the survey. Get the results.

Remember those heady, sunny, optimistic days of January? Despite the government shutdown, CPAs and tax practitioners—more than a third of them, anyway—foresaw a productive and profitable busy season. They saw a swelling clientele and revenues to follow suit.

MORE on BUSY SEASON: Tax Refunds Up 1.7%|   Lessons Learned: How the Federal Shutdown Hit Busy Season 2019 | Lessons Learned: How the Federal Shutdown Hit Busy Season 2019 | Refunds Rebound, Up 1.3% from Last Year | Tax Refund Fury Roils Busy Season | Tax Pro eFiling Drops 12.5% after Shutdown

But then, apparently, something happened. The tides turned. The season soured. Suddenly, as February turns to March, the responses to the CPA Trendlines Busy Season Barometer readings are tipping into pessimism. Join the survey. Get the results. READ MORE →

Microsoft’s Word on Protecting Your Network

Illustration of cord on keyboardPatches aren't enough.

By Rick Richardson

Networks today are subject to many threats including ransomware, cryptocurrency-miner threats or state-sponsored hackers.

MORE TECH THIS WEEK: SAP’s New Blockchain Project Helps Weed Out Counterfeit Drugs | Amazon Takes More Control Over Smart Home Technology | 5G is Coming: Ford Leads the Way | RCS: What It Is and Why You Might Want It
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In line with other security industry pros, Microsoft has confirmed in its 24th annual security intelligence report that ransomware has taken a backseat to pesky cryptocurrency miners.
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