Today's Features

Shutdown: What to Tell Tax Clients During “The Lapse”

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Government shutdown scrambles busy season.

Next question: How's it affecting accountants and clients?
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By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines

The Internal Revenue Service is struggling to continue operations as the nation heads into tax season during the “appropriations lapse,” a.k.a the government shutdown.

Some 16,000 IRS employees are exempt from the shutdown, and another 30,000 are being called in to work without pay—a total of 57.4 percent of the 80,265 employed before the shutdown.

Nevertheless, with four desks out of ten empty, the IRS is holding back on most services that require human involvement.

Tax practitioners would do well to advise their clients of the following:


Beware the Leeches and Consultants

Snake oil for tax and accounting firms.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

A group has been abusing my Facebook timeline with ads touting a system promising to transform our clients into $10,000 annual billing clients.

More Stitely: 2 Lessons Clients Taught Me | CPAs Can’t Help You | The Cure for Commoditization | Four Amusing Millennial Myths

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I did a little sleuthing – for free of course. If I were billing someone for this, I would call it forensics.


2019: Buckle Up for a Bumpy Road

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Global trade wars, political winds buffet business.

By Kayleigh Padar
CPA Trendlines

CPAs should be prepared to help their clients navigate an increasingly unstable global economy and burgeoning challenges with technology, particularly cyber threats, according to a new global study of C-level executives.

MORE SURVEYS & RESEARCH: Jobs Report: 43,000 New Hires  |  CPA Wealth Advisor Survey  |  Survey: Clients Rush for TCJA Answers  |  Join the Accounting Firm and Operations Technology Survey  |  Mergers vs. Clients: Winners and Losers  |

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The annual study from ATKearney shows a bumpy road ahead for global executives, from the effects of Brexit to the increase in targeted fake news campaigns. READ MORE →

Survey: Top 3 Accounting Firm Technology Trends

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 Question: Identify the top three challenges of managing your firm today

Source: Preliminary Results from 6th Annual Accounting Firm Operations and Technology Survey. 

By Brian F. Tankersley, CPA.CITP, CGMA

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Creating value-added service offerings, cybersecurity, and recruiting are the top three challenges of managing a modern accounting firm, according to early results from the 6th Annual Accounting Firm Operations and Technology Survey.

MORE: The Accounting Firm Operations and Technology Survey

Click here to take the survey and receive a copy of the topline results

Meanwhile, the current edition with complete results for firms of all sizes can be purchased here as an instant download PDF ebook, in print, or both.


How Clients Should Gather Their Papers for Taxes

Woman holding paper at deskThey don't have to eat the rhino all in one bite.

By Barry J. Friedman, CPA

Don't let your clients find themselves frantically searching for information they need to file their tax returns at the last minute. Help them reduce filing difficulties and possibly their tax bills by knowing what documents to have at your fingertips.

MORE: Charitable Giving under TCJA | Gifts to Charity: 6 Facts about Written Acknowledgments | Yes, Home Equity Loans May Still Be Deductible | How to Talk to Clients about ‘Basis’
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Most of the papers they need to document the income, interest and withheld taxes they report arrive in your mailbox in January, with investment-related 1099s often coming in February. They can get ready for that arrival by creating print and online folders. It's a good idea to create a paper and an email tax folder for messages relating directly to tax information.

2019: Tech Isn’t the Problem. It’s the Solution


Sarah Dobek foresees new leaders, new services, new clients.

By Rick Telberg
The Rosenberg Survey: National Study of CPA Firm Statistics

It may seem too obvious to bother mentioning, but the accounting industry, from audit firms to tax prep to corporate finance, is in the process of transition. But too many managers think that just means technological transition.

MORE FROM THE MAP SURVEY: 2019: More Focused Training | 2019: Expect More Alliances | 2019 Trends: Client Service Changes | 2019: Shifts in Hiring & Office Space | 2019: Firms Grapple with Change | Staff Policies Improve, But Not Mentoring
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Technology may be behind a lot of the transition, but technology itself is not the transition. It’s the enabler of transition.

Sarah Dobek, president and founder of Inovautus Consulting, has identified numerous interwoven transitions in process, some already peaked and passing, others coming down the pike.


Firm Security Needs an Independent Review

Who needs cybersecurity training? Your whole staff.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

Going “paperless” means that all firm files and client data will be digitally stored on the firm’s network, which is almost always accessible to firm personnel via internal workstations and remotely via the internet.

MORE: SURVEY: Digital Audit Confirmations Not the Norm | Training that Works | SURVEY: 61% of Auditors Commonly Use Data Extraction Tools | SURVEY: Firms Divided on eSignatures
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The firm has a fiduciary responsibility to protect this data from anyone not specifically authorized to view it. Proper security is VERY difficult for any internal network administrator to guarantee as few have the experience and have participated in ongoing training to implement security settings optimally the first time.

What’s Ahead for the Smart Home in 2019?

Asian woman using smart refrigeratorLook for more "smart services."

By Rick Richardson

We’re early in the year, so this might be a good time to propose some predictions for tomorrow’s smart home.

MORE TECH THIS WEEK:The New $99 Tax Service for the Masses | RCS: What It Is and Why You Might Want It | Vaporize Invisible Smartphone Filth | 190 Universities Launch 600 Free Online Courses | In Cybersecurity, Why Tokenization Beats Encryption
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Video Kills the Telephone Call. The proliferation of smart speakers has continued unabated nearly since their inception, but recently we’ve seen a new feature taking center stage on these do-it-all devices – video.

Working for a Jerk

Invisible businessman saying "blah blah blah blah blah"What is more important to you, how you look or how good the work is?

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

Early on in my career, I was assigned to work with a manager on a half-dozen monthly clients.

MORE: Staffers Need to Speak Up with Clients | When Writeups Went Extinct | Kennedy’s Acceptance Speech
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He went with me and worked on the main company while I worked alongside him on the baby company. The baby company was much smaller and usually was for a second line the client had. I did the writeup and prepared the financial and other statements for the current month and year to date.

2019: Three New Trends to Watch

After profitable years, here's where to invest.

By Carl George
The Rosenberg Survey: National Study of CPA Firm Statistics

For the most part, it was a very successful year. Profitability improved enough that allowed partners and employees to share in the increases, and ample allocations were made for investments, primarily in personnel benefits and technology. Growth in net fees ranged generally from 5-9 percent, so many firms are experiencing top- and bottom-line growth.

MORE FROM THE MAP SURVEY: 2019: Why Small Firms Shun Mergers | 2019: Using M&A to Launch Consulting | 2019 Trends: Client Service Changes | Staff Policies Improve, But Not Mentoring
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There are three trends developing that will benefit firms for many years to come: