Archive for the ‘Tax’ Category

Friday, December 1st, 2017

Busy Season Begins

It is December 1.

For years, we considered the beginning of “busy season” – we used to call it tax season but that term is no longer comprehensive enough – to be January 2.

Some firms would even require employees to begin working extended hours immediately after the New Year holiday, whether they truly had full schedules or not.

Firm leaders would often struggle to keep people busy after April 15th. They longed for more projects that could be scheduled from May to December. These days, from my observations, busy season continues throughout most of the year.

In my recent discussions with various firms of all sizes and locations, busy season begins in December. Firms are engaging their clients in much needed tax planning and those appointments plus completion of other tasks that have to be done before January, add some additional stress to the holiday season.

Firm leaders are challenged with allowing their employees to take extra time off during December when some clients need attention right up to the last minute on December 31.

This came to mind because of the recent news that American Airlines allowed too many pilots to schedule time off during those last two weeks of the year and perhaps 15,000 flights were in danger of being cancelled. It seems they have worked it out by paying the pilots additional money to cover the holiday rush.

Maybe that is a solution for you. You might have some employees who would work more hours during those last two weeks of December (for additional dollars) so that other employees could have time off for family activities.

Let the scheduling games begin!

Monday, November 27th, 2017

Year-End Tax Checklist

“Life is simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Confucius

Well-managed CPA firms have, for a long time, supplied their individual income tax clients with some sort of year-end tax checklist. It is meant to be a helpful tool to encourage the clients to consider significant (and some insignificant) events that might affect their tax return.

At my firm, we used to include the tax checklist with the tax organizer. Many clients, as you can imagine, never bothered to look at their organizer, so they also missed the tax checklist. Then, we stopped providing tax organizers. Our default setting was “No organizer” unless a client specifically requested one. A few did.

Things are so much better now. You can simply send an email to your clients with a link to the annual tax checklist. They can quickly scan through the questions and provide you with information that affects their return.

Last week I received an email from one of my clients that included the year end tax checklist link (just because I am on their mailing list). It was quick to read, easy to review and made me think about pertinent information. That’s exactly how you want your clients to feel about how you provide services – quick, easy and pertinent!

Make 2018 a year when you become a proactive advisor to your clients and get away from always being in reactionary mode.

  • The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.
  • Hans Hofmann

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

State Income Tax

“The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.” – Albert Einstein

This is one of those “I thought you might find this interesting” posts. You and your clients probably have several mobile workers.

Patrick Adcock, an analyst with Tsheets, provided insight into some interesting tax news and wanted to share some research he worked on related to the Mobile Workforce and Tax Simplification Act. 

The bill would prevent states from taxing non-resident workers unless they work in that state for more than 30 days. According to the CBO, the hardest hit states will be Illinois, Massachusetts, California, and New York.

Be sure to check out The Complete Guide to State Taxes for Mobile Workers and read more interesting details about this simplification act. 

  • Our new Constitution is now established, everything seems to promise it will be durable; but, in this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes
  • Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

Workflow Software

“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” – Albert Einstein

There are still many of you out there, working in CPA firms, without the advantage of workflow software.

Sad but true, I continually interact with CPA firms who are just “sort of” paperless. One of the tools that makes becoming truly a digital firm a reality is workflow software. From your desktop, you know who has what and how projects are flowing through your office.

Last week, Accounting Today featured an article: Software Survey: Workflow solutions in 2017.

Simply put, workflow for tax preparation means tracking all of the paths and operations involved in producing a return and invoice, and making certain all of the tasks are performed on time by concrete due dates.

Workflow software gives you peace of mind. It helps you be sure that no client falls through the cracks when it comes to due dates. Missing a due date is one of a CPA’s biggest worries!

I know, when my firm adopted GoFileRoom for document management many years ago, the most attractive feature was the workflow portion.

If you are one of those firms still without a workflow tool, be sure to read the article – it is full of great insights from various sources/vendors.

  • When you forgive, you in no way change the past - but you sure do change the future.
  • Bernard Meltzer

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

Deadlines

“A goal is a dream with a deadline.” – Napoleon Hill

CPAs and their entire workforce are driven by deadlines. Of course, most of you reading this know how many tax deadlines there are. I think that working in a CPA firm for so long has definitely made me deadline focused.

It seems inside the CPA firm, if the deadline is several weeks off, the attitude might be, “Why worry, we have plenty of time?”

The_Snowman_(Nesbø_novel)Occasionally, you might miss an important deadline. It happens. That is why I found a passage in the book “The Snowman” by Jo Nesbo, so interesting. I never knew the origin of the word “deadline.”

Here’s the passage:

Harry had read that the word deadline originated from the battlefields of the American Civil War, when, for lack of anything material to lock prisoners behind, the captors gathered together the prisoners and a line was drawn around them in the dirt. Which became know as the “dead line,” and anyone who strayed beyond it was shot. 

Maybe the word “deadline” will now have a whole new meaning for you. Don’t miss one!

  • A deadline is negative inspiration. Still, it's better than no inspiration at all.
  • Rita Mae Brown

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

Yes, It’s July – But Be Thinking About November

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela

An age-old challenge inside many accounting firms is the fact that the business client expects you to do their taxes from a very messy set of books.

I have observed that is usually the case when the business owner has a bookkeeper that is really not qualified (think wife, mother-in-law, sister – you know, someone you can’t fire).

Often, even a very qualified small business bookkeeper doesn’t really understand what your CPA firm needs and how/when you need it.

That’s why I suggest you hold a Bookkeeper/Controller Breakfast for your clients in late November. Invite all your client bookkeepers to the event and offer education along with breakfast and good conversation.

Make them feel special. Provide goodie bags with the firm trinkets (pens, pencils, firm logo post-it notes, candy, gum, maybe even a t-shirt). If you start at 8:00, they can be back in their office by 10:00.

The “program” can be very short and very informative. Explain to them the important role they play in making year-end an enjoyable and efficient experience for themselves (and the firm). It might even save their boss some accounting fees!

Many of them might not have a clue about the firm’s expectations. Plus, I have actually seen them learn some very helpful tips from each other.

  • Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.
  • Albert Einstein

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

Keep Your Relationships Alive & Healthy

If you want to be successful in bringing business to your CPA firm, you must be a relationship-builder. It surprises me when I hear CPAs, working in public practice, say they won’t, can’t or don’t know how to bring new business to the firm. It is simply liking people and getting to know them and letting them get to know you. CPAs are smart, well-educated, and nice. You have amazing knowledge about tax, accounting, audit and business practices. People will be naturally drawn to you – – SO, put yourself out there!

If you are a partner and you are not able to bring in business, why are you a partner?

Here’s a real-life story of how maintaining relationships works:

DruckerSharon Drucker, used to work for the New Jersey Society of CPAs. We met when she was involved in coordinating an event where I was speaking. Over the next few years we stayed in touch via email and social media.

Recently, she contacted me (via LinkedIn) to let me know that she has a new job as Director of Business Development on the new Surgent team (formerly Surgent McCoy). She will be working with firms across the US to identify and meet their professional learning needs, through both live and digital CPE programs.

I’m sure you are aware of Surgent, it has been around for more than 30 years (like me!). Surgent, LLC, is the largest independent provider of continuing education in the United States, offering more webinar, self-study, and live event offerings than any competitor in the marketplace. Their clients include 250 of the top 300 firms nationwide.

The moral of the story: Sharon kept our relationship alive by contacting me. I was delighted because I want to keep my relationships alive and healthy. We will both benefit (and can help each other).

  • Make new friends but keep the old; one is silver and the other is gold.
  • Proverb

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Sway With The Punches

This is a very busy time inside CPA firms right now.

I have talked with hundreds of people working at CPA firms during the last year – CPAs, HR professionals, firm administrators, technology gurus, and marketing professionals.

Whether you are a CPA fighting the battle first-hand or a support professional facing the continual comment from the CPAs: “I’m too busy!” (to write an article, to attend a networking event, mentor an intern, provide timely performance feedback….), you might let what happens at work “get to you”.

What do you do when you feel like you are about to “lose it”? Here’s some advice I found when I was reading The Snowman by Jo Nesbo, that might apply:

“Do what boxers do, sway with the punches. Don’t resist. If any of what happens at work gets to you, just let it. You won’t be able to shut it out in the long term anyway. Take it bit by bit, release it like a dam, don’t let it collect until the wall develops cracks.”

  • For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.
  • Lily Tomlin

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Tax Blogs

best-tax-blogs-700x500I hope, as a CPA working in public accounting, you are reading several blogs on a regular basis.

I also hope that your accounting firm is writing a tax-focused blog for your clients. CPA firms have so many knowledgeable tax professionals who have so much to share.

WalletHub wants to find the “best” blogs and has identified 50 finalists, from industry titans like TurboTax to one-person dynamos like the Tax Girl.

Although I do not blog about tax, I do blog about running a successful, growing, profitable tax practice. So, I have been included in the 50 finalists.

If you find value in my blog and want to vote for me, you can vote here.

If nothing else, look over the various finalists and see who you want to follow in the future!

 

  • I am proud to be paying taxes in the United States. The only thing is I could be just as proud for half of the money.
  • Arthur Godfrey

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

CPA, Robert Raiola, Talks About The Jock Tax

RobertI really like it when CPAs get some big-time exposure and are acknowledged for the incredible vastness of their knowledge.

I also find things like the “Jock Tax” very interesting and definitely controversial.

Here’s a link to where my friend, Robert Raiola (@SportsTaxMan on Twitter) was featured on Bloomberg TV last week, discussing the tax.

Check him out on Twitter for a lot of tweets about the Super Bowl jock tax consequences.

  • Aren't we all striving to be overpaid for what we do?
  • Will Ferrell