Archive for the ‘Tax’ Category

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Are You Aware of TaxConnections?

taxRecently, I have been talking with Kat Jennings and Tracey Glenn of TaxConnections. I am always trying to help CPAs and CPA firms become more visible and more successful. This could be a resource that will aid you in promoting your tax knowledge. Here’s some information about TaxConnections.

What is TaxConnections?TaxConnections is an interactive Worldwide Directory of Tax Professionals that connects consumers with tax professionals and tax services around the world.

What kind of tax professionals can be found on Tax Connections? – TaxConnections promotes tax professionals from corporations, law firms, public accounting firms, tax service firms, tax associations, government, independents and academia in more than 57 countries around the world. It is the very first social media site for tax professionals worldwide.

How does TaxConnections benefit consumers? – In one click, consumers can find tax professionals and tax services worldwide. Consumers can also ask tax questions and receive answers. It is all free.

How does Tax Connections benefit tax professionals? – Tax professionals who establish a media presence always have a competitive advantage. We improve tax professionals visibility nationally and internationally.

You can find lots of good tax information on their Facebook page. If you check-out the blog page, you’ll find me there, too.

The old saying, “the world is shrinking” sure applies to your tax practice these days. I like their worldwide focus.

 

  • The hardest thing to understand in the world is the income tax.
  • Albert Einstein

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Who Says Tax CPAs Are Boring?

Yes, they have s stigma attached to them. Tax accountants are quiet, conservative, introverted, boring and tic & tie numbers all day.

Hey, you must be thinking something different than me!

sports taxMy friend Robert Raiola is anything but boring – (see my December post). He was quoted on the ESPN site regarding the amazing shot by an average computer technician last Friday night at the Miami Heat game. It was one of those mid-court promotions to win money ($75,000).

Well, the guy made the shot. He got the honor of being tackled by LaBron James after making it. However, he doesn’t get to take home $75,000.  “A lot of people don’t realize: You don’t win what you win,” said Robert Raiola, an accountant with FMRTL in Cranford, NJ whose clients include athletes.

Follow this link to see the shot and to read about the tax liability. It is still a very valuable shot!

Robert Raiola tweets as @SportsTaxMan and has nearly 14,000 followers – not bad for a CPA. Why aren’t you tweeting?

  • You don't play against opponents. You play against the game of basketball.
  • Bobby Knight

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Change Your Thinking And Embrace Opportunity

I’m in the conference mode this month – speaking at two highly-attended and influential conferences for the public accounting profession – AICPA PractitionersTECH – Association for Accounting Marketing, last week and today I am flying back to Las Vegas for the Association for Accounting Administration National Practice Management Conference.

What do I hear discussed at conferences focused on CPAs in public practice? Their need to change. Not only change how they act but also how they think. Of course they act professional and always in the best interest of their clients but do they act out their care and concern for their people, their partners and their firm?

In your firm do you impose limits on yourself? Perhaps you are one of many CPA partners who quietly thinks – “we can’t do that…” probably because you have never done it.

Gale Crosley calls these limits that CPAs put on themselves “thought borders.” In a recent article in Accounting Today, she explores the issue of international tax. In your partner meetings, you often discuss the fact that international is a hot market. Yet, you keep yourself from this vast opportunity because of what you consider logical reasons – you’ve never had a non-U.S.-based client and your don’t speak a foreign language.

I hope you’ll read her article, titled “Crossing Thought Borders.” 

I especially relate to her discussion on travel-phobia. “We can’t send auditors out of town because it costs too much and they hate to travel.” Welcome to the 21st century, when a firm headquartered in Peoria is no longer limited to clients in the 309 area code.

Don’t hide behind time-worn limitations. I talk with so many firm leaders who are mired down in “the same old thing” and are wasting huge opportunities for future success and growth.

  • Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.
  • Winston Churchill

Monday, May 7th, 2012

E. Lynn Nichols – Tax Guru

Lynn Nichols, is that you with Rita?

Lynn Nichols, CPA, is legendary in the world of tax CPE. I heard his name early on in my career as CPAs raved about his tax classes.  I’ve also worked on conference committees where the planners would always say:  We must have Lynn Nichols!

He has a devoted and passionate audience. He has been providing tax consulting services to accounting firms for 40+ years and presents more than 100 CPE seminars sponsored by state societies and CPAs each year, plus he is a featured speaker at most major tax conferences.

Having given you all of that information (which you probably already knew), you can imagine my excitement at having my picture taken with Mr. Nichols at the Minnesota Tax Conference last fall. Now I have a “Lynn Nichols, is that you with Rita?” gem to add to my collection.

I wanted to post this now because of Mr. Nichols’ recent article that appeared in the Ohio CPA Voice magazine and in some other states’ society newsletters.  It has a wonderful and important message and causes my admiration to continue to grow.

  • The mental stress and long hours associated with a CPA's work can be difficult to handle.
  • E. Lynn Nichols

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Make Your CPA Firm’s Website Helpful to Your 1040 Clients – KISS Them

Just thinking of some KISS things this morning.  (You know, Keep It Simple & Straightforward.)

Many accounting firms send their individual tax clients something called a tax organizer. The organizer is a reminder of what they reported last year and what they need to furnish their accountant this year.  Firms also often enclose a client “checklist” of items to gather and furnish their accountant. This has traditionally been done via U.S. mail.

I hope your firm has put this helpful information on your website. It could be very beneficial to clients (since they often misplace their organizer). CPAs report that a lot of clients never even open the envelope containing the annual income tax mailing.

Now consider the fact that more and more people immediately go to the internet when they need specific information or if even a general question comes to mind. Do your clients immediately think of your website or do they browse and find your competition?

While I was browsing accounting firm websites I came across David Wayne, a tax accountant in Colorado. Wayne offers a List of Things to Bring to your tax appointment.  Simple – Easy – Helpful.

Short, informational tutorials on your website are also very helpful. Lynn & Associates in Springfield, Illinois provides Simple – Easy – Helpful informational about their tax organizer, titled: Using Your Client Organizer.

Be sure you are using your website to help your clients. Dealing with taxes and financial matters is something they often dread and rely on you for your experience and expertise. It is important for you to KISS.

  • Indoors or out, no one relaxes in March, that month of wind and taxes, the wind will presently disappear, the taxes last us all the year.
  • Ogden Nash

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

The Interns Will Be Arriving At Your CPA Firm Next Week

The title, above, might not apply to some firms but I certainly hope it applies to the vast majority.

My advice when it comes to interns is, if you can possibly use one – hire two. If you think you might need 3, hire six. Most of you know by now that hiring for the public accounting profession has evolved to hiring from your intern pool. The best and brightest almost always accept offers from the firm they interned with. The stiffest competition in hiring on campus is for the best intern candidates.

When the interns arrive, make them feel special. I often ask groups of managing partners how they felt on their first day working in public accounting. I get some very consistent answers such as: I felt dumb. I felt lost. I was clueless. I was scared.

Now that you are more experienced, keep in mind how all new hires in the CPA world feel. And remember, use positive talk. Sometimes, people in CPA firms tend to dwell on the negative. When you describe your firm and public accounting, in general, to new hires (and to anyone) don’t forget to brag it up!

In January, when new hires and interns arrive, it is a perfect time to talk about the wonderful opportunities in public accounting. As a firm leader, take the time to talk with each one privately about the wonderful world of public accounting. I suggest comparing public accounting to being a doctor – CPAs are highly trained physicians (specialists) treating patients – sometimes you are focused on preventive medicine and sometimes you are an emergency room doctor. Sometimes you even need to provide psychiatric help (like me in the picture, above).

Here’s an example of an intern speech for you to use, just insert the name of one of your all-stars.

“You know, Nate, the reality of the CPA profession and what makes it so important to you, is the fact that it is absolutely the BEST place to TRAIN for the business world. Public accounting teaches you how to think in ways that have never entered your brain before now. Being an auditor forces you to look past what is obvious. Taxes teaches you how to be cunning, creative and forces you to think proactively. You could say that working in the tax area is like planning the strategy for an important battle.

What’s more, public accounting is like the emergency room for all business owners. YOU are the DOCTOR and PATIENTS come to you when they have a painful problem. You strip them of their clothes (so to speak), see them for what they humanly are, do x-rays, CAT scans and all kinds of tests to be sure it is a thorough examination. You see into their personal life like no other person. Then you diagnose and treat them.

Also, Nate, if you keep your eyes, ears and mind open during your time with them, you will see how successful businesses are run and how true entrepreneurs think. You might also see how mistakes and poor judgment can take a business down. What a training ground!”

  • The nice thing about being a celebrity is that if you bore people they think it's their fault.
  • Henry Kissinger

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Are You Obtaining Valuable Tax Info For Your CPA Firm Via Blogs?

Here’s a couple of my favorite questions: What are you reading? Are you reading enough?

It is so easy these days and there is so much available via the web. I hope you have bookmarked your favorite tax blogs. Plus, I hope one of your tax leaders is blogging for the benefit of your clients.

Here’s a resource – The Top 50 Tax Blogs from Tax Connections.

I hope you are also following tax tweeters – Here’s Tax Connections’ list of 50 Top Tax Tweeters.

  • Where there is an income tax, the just man will pay more and the unjust less, on the same amount of income.
  • Plato

Monday, October 17th, 2011

CPAs – Are You Just Grinding The Work Out?

Another major due date for CPAs is passing by – the extension date for all individual tax returns. How has it felt inside your firm? Has it been a grind? Or, was it well orchestrated and performed?

Now, it’s time to focus on a few projects (they are probably initiatives on your strategic plan) before the real busy season is upon you again.

CPAs love their work, no doubt. However, does it sometimes feel just like a grind and your thoughts turn to how much time you spend working and how much you might be short-changing your wife, kids, grandkids, friends and for some of you even your parents?

Please balance, blend and enjoy life and make your firm a firm with that same philosophy. One of Steve Jobs’ lesser known quotations generated these thoughts for me.  Here it is:

“We don’t get a chance to do that many things, so every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life. Life is brief, and then you die, you know?”

Here are 10 Secrets to Building a Huge Empire by Jobs on the Dumb Little Man site (Tips for Life).

CPA firm managing partners and all partners, are you working diligently toward making your people excellent successors?  Read today’s quote, below.

  • My job is to make the whole executive team good enough to be successors, so that's what I try to do.
  • Steve Jobs

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

Lighten-Up – It’s The Weekend – Fingerprints

Alice laughed, “There’s no use trying,” she said. ”One can’t believe impossible things.”
“I dare say you haven’t had as much practice.” said the Queen. “When I was your age I did it for half an hour a day. Why sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
– Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

Hearing about and reading about the fingerprint thing for tax preparers this week, caused me to remember this blog post, Can You Believe Impossible Things from Intaxication, Tax Buzz With A Twist. The blog is by Red Moon Solutions.

Read the “Impossible Things” post and open your mind to new ways of solving problems. The old ways won’t work in this new age – you need a mind map!

  • We're all mad here.
  • Lewis Carroll, from Alice in Wonderland

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

A CPA Slogan: The Client Isn’t Ready!

Be patient with me this morning, I’m going to reflect back on the old days like so many old people do…..

I grew up in public accounting under the stewardship of a highly-professional, disciplined, intelligent, dictator-style managing partner, Luke Ware. Luke “grew-up” in a Big 8 firm and I am just assuming that many of this actions/procedures were developed there. The firm was small then. It ranged from 11 to about 22 people while I was at the firm under his reign.

Client service was the focus, yet the clients were trained. They were trained to be ready when our CPAs arrived for an audit or review. All of the business owners were 1040 clients. They knew when their appointment was each year (yes, they came into the office to meet with the partner/manager) and they brought their organizer and all their documents with them (well, most of their documents).

Notice I said “trained.” We trained our clients via communicating their responsibilities as part of our relationship.

It is the manager’s duty (or the partner) to be sure the client is ready for the auditors when they arrive on the appointed day. It is their duty to be sure the client understands their commitments to the beneficial relationship.

All of this comes to mind because of a blog post by Michelle Golden this week, “Retraining Clients When You’ve Taught Them to Abuse You (aka Preventing Costly Schedule Disruptions.”

She suggests:

  • Give them exact dates
  • Teach them how
  • Provide reminders. Early and Often.
  • Show you’re serious

In our firm, we sent an appointment card with the organizer (the kind they could stick on their refrigerator). These days you can send an appointment invitation via email. We called each 1040 client the day before the 1040 appointment to remind them of the appointment (much like your dentist or eye doctor does now). If they didn’t have “all their stuff,” we told them to come anyway and bring what they did have so we could get started on the return.

As our firm grew, we got away from some of this because of the “time” involved in meeting with the client and the convenience of just having them drop-off or send-in their information. We often use “client service” to hide the fact that we really want less time in the job. Meeting with a client, even just a 1040, face-to-face once a year often opened the door to additional services – that was part of the plan.

What’s your plan? Do you permit clients to sabatogue your schedule?

I have always believed that clients are impressed by a CPA firm that appears very professional, has defined procedures, communicates effectively and is an example of how you run a highly-successful business.

  • I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'
  • Muhammad Ali