BUSY SEASON: Accountants Worry for U.S. Economy

CPA Trendlines Busy Season Barometer: The Business & Economic Outlook

But upbeat on their clients', their firm's, and their families' outlook.

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The TCJA Impact on Your Practice and Your Clients
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By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines Research

Tax and accounting professionals are headed into the jaws of Busy Season 2019 fairly confident in the business and economic outlook for their clients, their firms and themselves – except they are distinctly negative on the direction of the nation's economy as a whole, according to the latest readings from the annual CPA Trendlines Busy Season Barometer.

More on BUSY SEASON:  Tax Shops Bulk Up for Big Busy Season  |  BUSY SEASON: The Busiest Ever?  |  Survey: Tax Season Launches with a Whimper16 Big Questions for Tax Season   |  SURVEY: Tax Accountants Alarmed by TCJA & Shutdown | Shutdown: What to Tell Tax Clients During “The Lapse”Beware the Leeches and Consultants | Charitable Giving under TCJA | Why Padding Tax Deductions Is a Risky Proposition |  Handling the Delay in 199A Regs |  Survey: Clients Rush for TCJA Answers |

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FREE TO PRO MEMBERS: Busy Season 2019 Trend Report (log-in required)

With more than 475 practitioners reporting, 52 percent expect better times ahead for their firms, 37 percent see no change, and only 10% are bracing for declines, yielding a weighted average of about 2.4 on a five-point scale. READ MORE →

BUSY SEASON: The Busiest Ever?

Tax professionals expect a very busy Busy Season.

Today's Bonus Question:
The TCJA Impact on Your Practice and Your Clients
Join the Survey: Get the Results.

Busy Season Barometer: 63 percent expect an increase in clients this year, and 78 expect higher revenues.

By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines Research

One thing’s certain about the 2019 tax season: Nothing’s certain.

The early results from the 16th annual CPA Trendlines Busy Season Barometer show tax practitioners hopeful but nervous.

More Busy Season:  Tax Season 2019 Launches with a Whimper  | 16 Big Questions for Tax Season  |  SURVEY: Tax Accountants Alarmed by TCJA & Shutdown  |  Shutdown: What to Tell Tax Clients During “The Lapse”   |  Beware the Leeches and Consultants   |  Charitable Giving under TCJA  |  Why Padding Tax Deductions Is a Risky Proposition  |  Handling the Delay in 199A Regs |  Survey: Clients Rush for TCJA Answers |GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

For many, the season seems to be shaping up for more clients and increased revenues. At the same time, however, practitioners are showing unprecedented concerns that instead of success, they could end up with a mess.

And mess or success, they’re in for a lot of work. READ MORE →

Survey: Tax Season Launches with a Whimper

Tax practitioners say they're ready for anything. And they may get it.

CPA Trendlines readers speak out on Busy Season 2019. Clockwise from top left: Eckelkamp, Alexander, Lewis, Plum, Williams.

Today's Bonus Question:
The TCJA Impact on Your Practice and Your Clients
Join the Survey: Get the Results.

By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines Research

Despite it all. Despite a brand new tax law with last-minute final regs. Despite a government shutdown that crippled the IRS – and the threat of another one in a couple weeks. Despite confused, price-sensitive clients, and the usual software glitches.

More Busy Season: 16 Big Questions for Tax Season  |  SURVEY: Tax Accountants Alarmed by TCJA & Shutdown  |  Shutdown: What to Tell Tax Clients During “The Lapse”   |  Beware the Leeches and Consultants   |  Charitable Giving under TCJA  |  Why Padding Tax Deductions Is a Risky Proposition  |  Handling the Delay in 199A Regs |  Survey: Clients Rush for TCJA Answers |  Yes, Home Equity Loans May Still Be Deductible |  Portability: Sharing the Estate Tax Exemption 9 Secrets to Getting IRS Penalties Removed  |  The Cure for Commoditization  |

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Despite it all, tax accountants are going into Busy Season 2019 brimming with confidence – if doing at least as well as the last year can be considered confident, according to pre-season results from the 2019 Busy Season Barometer. READ MORE →

2019: M&A Boom Gone Bust

Putney
Putney

This is no time to sell for local firms. Instead, it's time to re-tool.

By Rick Telberg
The Rosenberg National MAP Survey

It has been said that when you buy a nice, old, colonial house, you’re buying somebody else’s problem.

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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The same can be said for buying a CPA firm with no succession plan.

READ MORE →

16 Big Questions for Tax Season

How's busy season so far? Join the survey. Get the results.
How's your busy season measure up? Join the survey: Get the metrics.

What's your busy season forecast? Join the survey: Get the results.

By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines

The government shutdown could not have come at a worse moment for the Internal Revenue Service.

The tax season will bring its annual avalanche of returns. The IRS was already working with fewer agents than it had a few years ago, and now it’s even more shorthanded.

The new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act tax code is poorly understood by agents who need to be trained and taxpayers and tax preparers who need to be informed. Even after the shutdown ends, the backlog will be overwhelming.

The biggest problem may be the uncertainties. We can think of at least 16: READ MORE →

2019: How Partner Greed Kills Firms

Partners must take a hit to personal incomes to re-invest in their firms. Or face obsolescence and slow death.

By Rick Telberg
The Rosenberg National MAP Study 

So far, profitability is way up. At the large firms (those with at least $20-million in annual billings), income per partner averages $635,000. The highest earners are pocketing about $1.2 million. Even the lowest-paid partners average of $282,000. But how long can that go on?

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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The always insightful and provocative Allan Koltin, of Koltin Consulting, warns: Partners must invest in something besides themselves – if they want their firms to survive.
READ MORE →

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

How's busy season so far? Join the survey. Get the results.
Join the survey. Get the results.

Government shutdown scrambles busy season.

Next question: How's it affecting accountants and clients?
Join the survey. Get the answers.

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:

READ MORE →

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

Dobek
Dobek

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.

READ MORE →

Survey: Clients Rush for TCJA Answers

Iceberg ahead: Tax hazards hidden below the surface.

8 good reasons to call every client for a year-end review.

By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines

Thanks to the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, the 2018 tax year has been unlike any other. CPAs and tax preparers have been busy helping clients make, or think about making, a new menu of possible adjustments to their financial plans.

The questions started coming in even before the Act was passed into law, and they haven’t stopped. In fact, as the end of the year approaches, the pleas for counsel are accelerating, according to a new survey.

READ MORE →

29 Things Smart Firms Do

Happy multi-ethnic business team with thumbs up in the officeWhat the best firms already know.

By Rick Telberg
The Rosenberg Survey

CPA Trendlines finds a wealth of information in the new Rosenberg Survey, the leading national compendium of financial and operating statistics for CPA firms.

A host of consultants points out some of the things they see CPA firms doing right and wrong.

Here are some of the rights.

READ MORE →

Redefining Today’s Firm

Carrie Steffen at cpatrendlines.com
Steffen

Clients, services and the partnership.

By Rick Telberg
The Rosenberg Survey

Ask Carrie Steffen of The Whetstone Group where accounting practices are going in 2018 and beyond, and you'll probably get at least three key issues that are being addressed at some forward-thinking firms.

MORE: The Do’s and Don’ts for a Happy Accounting Office

  1. Redefinition of client services and providing consistent services across the firm
  2. Redefinition of business advisory services
  3. Redefinition of the partnership model

READ MORE →

Staff Pay: Problem or Solution?

Probing the roots of the so-called staffing crisis.

By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines

Lagging pay raises and a dearth of top talent appears to be contributing to astonishing turnover rates, recurring staff shortages, and even profit squeezes, according to a new CPA Trendlines analysis.

RELATED: Retention, Retention, Retention  |  SURVEY: Getting Staff up to Snuff  |  Tax Shops Cut Staff by 10%  |  Benefits, Perks, and Incentives: The Happy-Packs of Employee Satisfaction  |  Salary Survey: Top Skills Getting Top Pay  |  SURVEY: Three Reasons To Be Bullish on CPA Firms  |

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Accounting professionals have every right to expect excellent compensation. They work very hard, they need a huge body of knowledge, their ranks barely fill available jobs, and the firms that hire them are desperate to attract and retain them. It shows.

READ MORE →