How tax pros spend their summer vacations

For tax professionals, there often isn’t any real down time. Each type of business has its own rhythm, since tax businesses include everything from sole proprietorships to large accounting firms, with clientele ranging from low-income to ultra-high-net-worth taxpayers. Nevertheless, the summer is usually a good time not only to recharge one’s batteries, but to evaluate the past filing season and plan ahead for the next one — in between processing returns on extension, of cour

When ‘how’ isn’t enough

Many CPA firms struggle to scale their advisory and consulting services, yet most have an advantageous position in the market. They have many of the technical skills but do not ask themselves and their clients the right questions to stimulate creativity and inspire innovation. The gravity of the past is one of the biggest obstacles, as the toolsets and skill sets have changed from those required for transactional work. Firms create value through leadership, relationships and

The softer side of wealth management

Being a student and a business owner in the wealth management profession, it became clear to me years ago that the most successful firms or practitioners were not necessarily owned by the smartest people in the profession. In the wealth management profession, the best of the best have the entrepreneurial thing figured out. They have competent staff, powerful outside resources, capital, and a business plan to generate growth. The owner likely started as a practitioner in one o

FASB change helps banks adjust to credit loss standard

The Financial Accounting Standards Board’s proposed changes to the credit loss standard promise to help private banks and credit unions deal with the transition on a more comfortable timeline. FASB released a proposed accounting standards update this week to amend the transition requirements and scope of the credit losses standard. One of the changes involves a timing problem for when the current expected credit loss, or CECL, standard takes effect. Private banks and credit u

Tax Strategy A deep dive into Kaestner

We do not get a lot of tax cases decided by the Supreme Court, so when we get one, it is worth examining — even if it appears to be a very narrow ruling based on somewhat unusual facts. Some trusts may be able to file claims for refunds based on the recent decision in Kaestner. Others may wish to restructure their trust terms to come within the facts involved in the decision. Some states may need to review their laws to come within the guidelines of the decision. North Caroli

How far can states go after Wayfair? 'Not this far'

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision in Wayfair, the question that many asked was, “How far can states go in taxing entities with a tenuous connection to the state?” Now, the high court has given a partial answer in its Kaestner decision: “Not this far!” The court decided unanimously in favor of the taxpayer in North Carolina Department of Revenue v. Kimberley Rice Kaestner 1992 Family Trust, holding that North Carolina violated the Due Process Clause of the Constit

'Focus on staying current ...'

Serving middle market companies: Generally speaking, middle market companies don't have the large corporate staffs that larger companies have. It's our job to fill that gap — serving as an adviser to them, listening, and identifying their needs. Relationships are critical. With many of these companies, we deal directly with the owners, and that means balancing the needs of the owners as well as the needs of the corporation. Oftentimes, there's no easy answer, and solutions mu

Accounting standards authority receives AICPA’s highest honor

James J. Leisenring received the 2019 Gold Medal Award of Distinction, the highest honor granted by the AICPA. The award recognizes CPAs whose influence on the accounting profession has been especially notable. Leisenring was awarded for his role in developing U.S. and international accounting standards. He was appointed senior adviser to FASB in 2010 when he retired from the International Accounting Standards Board. He chaired the FASB Derivatives Implementation Group and th

A CPA’s guide to death in the internet age

By Greg LaFollette, CPA/CITP, CGMA As CPAs, we are often called upon to provide guidance in estate planning and occasionally to actually implement those plans at the time of death. We all know the drill regarding bank accounts, legal title transfers, execution of the last will and testament, trust documents, etc. But are we ready to assist in dealing with "digital death" regarding internet accounts and social media? The problem is very real and growing as more and more of us

If you can't beat, join them

By J. Carlton Collins, CPA Q. Our company is thinking about launching an online webstore, but we are worried about competing with the giant online retailers. Given the competition, are we wasting our time? Do you have any suggestions? A. Competing against Amazon is a daunting proposition; fortunately, you can leverage Amazon's success and sell through the Amazon platform. More on that in a minute, but first, here are a few thoughts about webstores today. Twenty years ago, I f

Troubleshooting a dating issue with Excel's Fill Handle

By J. Carlton Collins, CPA Q. In the past, I could enter 1/31/2019 in cell B1 and 2/28/2019 in cell C1, highlight both cells, and then drag the Fill Handle to the right to generate the headings 3/31/2019, 4/30/2019, 5/31/2019, and so on. Unfortunately, this functionality no longer works, and I can't find a solution online. Did Microsoft remove this functionality, or am I doing something wrong? A. I have encountered this type of problem before, and I'm pretty sure your issue s

8 key features of Microsoft OneDrive

By J. Carlton Collins, CPA A dive deep dive into exploring eight facets of OneDrive. 1. Uploading files to OneDrive: When you initially set up your OneDrive account, the setup process will prompt you to copy (or move) none, some, or all of your data files to your OneDrive account. In general, I recommend moving all of your data files to OneDrive and deleting those files from your PCs*. This approach will eliminate duplication of files on both your PCs and OneDrive, which migh

State cash grants were nontaxable contributions to capital

New Jersey's payments to a corporate taxpayer were intended as an inducement to locate in the state. By Charles J. Reichert, CPA The Tax Court held that cash grants received by a corporate taxpayer from New Jersey were nontaxable contributions to capital. According to the court, the state's intent when making the grants to the taxpayer was to bring in new jobs to a targeted area and to revitalize that area. Facts: BrokerTec Holdings Inc. was the parent company of a consolidat

The QBI deduction for rental real estate activity

By Alex K. Masciantonio, CPA Is a rental real estate activity considered a trade or business for tax purposes, or merely an investment? This question has entered the spotlight with the qualified business income (QBI) final regulations issued this year (T.D. 9847). The 20% QBI deduction under Sec. 199A introduced by the law known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, P.L. 115-97, is available only for activities that qualify as a trade or business. Therefore, owners of rental activiti

Digital assets after death

By Cynthia M. Pedersen, J.D., LL.M. Many individuals do not realize the value and extent of their digital records and the potential for financial or sentimental loss if these assets are lost or inaccessible. A well-drafted estate plan should address the management and distribution of digital assets to mitigate additional administrative burdens on fiduciaries. Although what is considered a "digital asset" is always evolving to include new and innovative asset classes, currentl

Eliminating biases that jeopardize audit quality

Certain cognitive biases pose threats to audit work, but it’s possible to recognize and overcome them. By Billy E. Brewster, CPA, Ph.D.; Janet B. Butler, CPA (inactive)/CITP, CGMA, Ph.D.; and Ann L. Watkins, CPA, Ph.D. Auditing standards state that inquiry alone does not provide sufficient evidence regarding the lack of material misstatement (AU-C §500, Audit Evidence, ¶.A2), yet regulatory inspections and laboratory findings indicate that even experienced auditors often simp

Lessee accounting for governments: An in-depth look

State and local governments can comply with GASB Statement No. 87 with the help of these practical illustrations. By Robert L. Paretta, CPA, Ph.D., and James V. Celia, CPA Following FASB's issuance of Accounting Standards Update (ASU) No. 2016-02, Leases (Topic 842), in 2016, GASB issued Statement No. 87, Leases, in June 2017, to become effective for reporting periods beginning after Dec. 15, 2019. In the United States, lease accounting standards have historically been in ali

What I’ve learned building a blockchain business

The assurance partner responsible for the development of blockchain services at Aprio LLP shares her insights into how the technology works and how to succeed with it. By Jagruti Solanki, CPA, CGMA, as told to Cheryl Meyer This article is part of the occasional series "Future Tech Today," which offers firsthand experiences from ­accounting firms, finance departments, and others ­putting cutting-edge technologies to work today. When Aprio LLP assigned Jagruti ­Solanki, CPA, CG

In case you missed it: AICPA ENGAGE

Auditing accounting estimates, protecting your data, and advising grieving clients were just a few of the many topics addressed at AICPA ENGAGE 2019. At AICPA ENGAGE 2019, CPAs were able to learn about topics as diverse as blockchain, basic estate planning, implementing FASB's standard on accounting for credit losses, and planning for health care in retirement. And that was just on the first day of the conference, which brought together a wide variety of experts on a vast num

Sales tax compliance post-Wayfair

Here’s how to help clients comply with the new sales tax collection requirements. By David L. Brennan Jr., Esq., LL.M. (tax) Sales tax has turned into the Wild West not just for internet retailers, but also for brick-and-mortar stores, manufacturers, and wholesalers alike. With over 10,000 sales tax jurisdictions in the United States, almost any company selling across state lines needs to be analyzing its sales tax compliance. The question is: What are you and your clients do