It’s Valentine’s Day, and you deserve a virtual high-five for being extra thoughtful this year. You put together a romantic dinner with candles, music, their favorite dessert – the whole nine yards. And then you hear the love of your life, your ...

 

Staying in love with your significant other – who’s also your business partner and more...




Staying in love with your significant other – who’s also your business partner

Shutterstock_570149110It’s Valentine’s Day, and you deserve a virtual high-five for being extra thoughtful this year. You put together a romantic dinner with candles, music, their favorite dessert – the whole nine yards.

And then you hear the love of your life, your main squeeze, yell from the shared home office, “Hey! Did you remember to pay the contractor?” Well, so much for that intimate evening sans work.

Turning your romantic partner into a business partner might sound like a struggle, especially when it comes to setting boundaries. However, with the right amount of agreed-upon expectations from the start, coupled with consistent, proactive and honest communication along the way, it is possible to succeed in both love and business.

David Almonte, CPA, CGMA and member of the AICPA’s Financial Literacy Commission provides these three tips to help you do just that.

Understand each other’s business styles.

You know their love language, but that may not be their business style. Maybe they’re used to working at a large company that had a long and intense approval process, while you prefer the flexibility of a start-up culture. There are a variety of assessments that can help break down these preferences and personality differences so you can develop a plan to work well together. Put aside some time to take tests like CliftonStrengths (previously known as Strengthfinders) or DISC, and it can yield great results for your partnership.

Review and reflect.

Have periodic, but defined progress updates along the way. What’s going well? What are some areas for improvement? Schedule a quarterly meeting with your significant other to lay out some ways you can work better together and continue to grow your business. And here’s a pro tip – it’s probably for the best if you don’t combine these meetings with date nights.

Bring in an unbiased, third-party expert.

Financial decisions cause tension in one-in-five relationships on a daily basis, and that’s just when it comes to personal finances. If you own a business with your significant other, that may add another source of financial stress to your relationship. Instead of trying to hash things out with each other, consider bringing in a CPA who can provide their unbiased, expert opinion. The AICPA’s #CPApowered campaign has a helpful tool to find a CPA near you.

Above all, remember that at the end of the day, you were a couple in love first. Separate work and home life as much as possible – now stop reading this and get back to your Valentine’s Day dinner!

Samantha Delgado, Manager - Communications, PR & Corporate Responsibility, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants

 

How you can help states protect your CPA license

Advocacy blogShould the government license professions? It’s not a new question, but states across the country are taking new action in 2019. More than 30 states are considering legislation that would reduce or remove professional licensing requirements. CPAs are not exempt from this legislation.

These proposals represent a huge threat to CPA mobility. Right now, CPAs can work across state lines in 53 U.S. jurisdictions without providing any notification or paying any additional fees. CPA firms can operate the same way in 26 states thanks to CPA firm mobility.

However, this flexibility hinges on the idea that states all have the same requirements for licensure. Currently, every state requires CPAs to meet education, exam and experience requirements. All CPAs take the same exam, and all CPAs are required to maintain continuing professional education. Because of this, consumers can trust that hiring CPAs means hiring qualified and competent individuals. Changing licensure requirements in the states will lead to a higher compliance cost for CPAs and CPA firms. In today’s global economy, it’s an everyday practice for CPAs to have clients in multiple jurisdictions. The cost of obtaining licenses in multiple states would raise the cost of CPA services.

Regulatory reform in the states could change the requirements for licensure or even allow non-licensed individuals to offer CPA services. For example, the West Virginia legislature is considering a bill that would allow non-CPAs to perform attest services as long as customers sign agreements acknowledging that these service providers are not CPAs. This type of legislation is not unique to West Virginia and is gaining steam around the country.

So, what should you as a CPA do? If this legislation comes up in your state, reach out to your state CPA society to see how you can get involved. Policymakers need to hear from you and your fellow CPAs about how this legislation affects the profession and how your clients will be harmed if licensure requirements are taken away.

AICPA is working with state CPA societies, state boards of accountancy and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy to combat this legislation in the states.

Skip Braziel, Vice President, State Regulatory & Legislative Affairs, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants 

 

How a CPA can help KonMari your finances

Shutterstock_736968295Anyone else feel a tad bit inadequate after watching “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” on Netflix? If you haven’t heard of the series, during each episode, organizing expert Marie Kondo helps clients clear out clutter in their lives with her KonMari method. Before watching I thought I was a relatively neat person, but now I have a tiny voice in my head yelling, “WOW, STAND THAT UP VERTICALLY, YOU SLOB,” every time I put away laundry.

But enough about me. Let’s talk about how we can apply some of Kondo’s tactics to another aspect of life that may need some work: money.

When you think about it, CPAs are the Marie Kondos of finance. They’re the gurus of managing money, and they help us keep our financial house in tip-top shape. Read on for a few ways CPAs keep their clients accountable using KonMari-esque tactics.

They help clients find joy.

When Kondo helps clients decide if they should keep or donate an item, she has them ask themselves, “Does this spark joy?” If so, they keep it, and if not, it’s clutter to get rid of.

CPAs help their clients do the same with their finances by asking the hard questions. Do you really need a brand-new car? Will renting office space for your online business actually grow your success? This keeps their clients in check by helping them determine what expenses really matter. A lot of the time, financial stability can provide the freedom to “spark joy” in your life. It goes back to the old “wants vs. needs” lecture we heard from our parents – make sure you cover all your bases first, and then you can decide what to splurge on.

They take care of the paperwork. 

That junk drawer in your kitchen likely houses months and months of random bills and receipts, among other things. Kondo recommends getting rid of the paper items you don’t need in order to declutter, especially if they can be found online (e.g., bank statements, credit card bills, etc.).

Just as those takeout menus can overflow your junk drawer, so can tax documents. If you’re doing your taxes sans CPA, prepare for something similar to Harry Potter’s thousands of Hogwarts letters ambushing the Dursley’s living room. Freelancers might have multiple 1099s, and then there’s the 1095-A and maybe a 1098… the list goes on. CPAs can help take care of the physical (and mental) clutter by organizing the documents you need and filing them efficiently.

They make sure everything has its place.

Kondo is a big proponent of categorizing items so that everything has a place of its own and is easily found. Similarly, CPAs help clients categorize their finances. Whether you’re starting a college fund for your newborn baby, investing in your 401(k) or launching a small business, a CPA can help you budget for each goal and separate the money accordingly.

If you don’t have a CPA helping you with your finances, I encourage you to get one so they can help you rise above all that clutter. For more information on how to find a CPA near you, check out #CPApowered’s Find-a-CPA tool.

Samantha Delgado, Manager - Communications, PR & Corporate Responsibility, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants

 

6 funny TV shows that do taxes better than you do

Shutterstock_713060872There are 77 days between the start of busy season and the April 15 deadline this year. That’s an uncomfortably long — or as some would suggest, uncomfortably short — amount of time for taxes.

It just so happens that 77 days is also the total amount of time the average American adult spends watching television every year. If you’re a tax practitioner, you’re probably not getting a lot of those days in right now.

During busy season, you have a limited number of hours to watch the best programming available. You need to be sure you’re taking advantage of the precious free time you have and getting only the good stuff.

To help, here’s a list of the best television episodes dedicated to tax. Take a much-needed break and sit down for a hilarious look at what happens when busy season doesn’t go according to plan.

Maybe think of it as research!

“The Audit” – The Golden Girls, season 3, episode 10

What happens when your ex-spouse’s tax problems become your tax problems? Dorothy finds out the hard way when Stan’s audited, and the IRS starts taking a hard look at the years leading up to their divorce. Dorothy pawns her prized ring, Sophia gives advice, Rose attends a Spanish class, and maybe Stan learns his lesson after all.

Best quote of the episode: “I've been at this job almost four years now, and in that short time I can honestly say I have never seen such an inept, clumsy, downright stupid attempt to avoid paying income tax.”

“1040 or Fight” – The Mary Tyler Moore Show, season 1, episode 11

If you have to meet with the Internal Revenue Service, it helps to put your best foot forward. That effort doesn’t go as planned for Mary. She makes a great first impression on the auditor, Robert, and by the conclusion of the meeting, she has a date. At the end of the episode — and the end of her audit — Mary must decide if she wants to keep seeing Robert.

Best quote of the episode: “You know, Mary? You’re the only person I know who bakes chocolate chip cookies for an audit by the United States government.”

“Crimes & Misdemeanors & Ex-FSs” – The Mindy Project, season 3, episode 3

Six years of unpaid taxes can do a number on relationships. In this episode, Mindy seeks out the help of her ex-boyfriend — conveniently, also a lawyer — and hijinks ensue. Current boyfriends and past boyfriends clash and at the end of it, Mindy has a new dresser. All-in-all, not the worst outcome for someone whose back taxes are reaching the point of “seriously delinquent.”

Best quote of the episode: “In July of last year, you spent more on emojis than rent.”

“Trouble with trillions” – The Simpsons, season 9, episode 12

This 1998 tax-focused episode is a classic. As moronic and laughable as Homer Simpson is, it’s hard not to find his basic lack of tax knowledge alarming. This episode follows the unfortunate Simpson who not only is terrible at paying his taxes but gets caught up in an FBI sting set up to trap his boss, Mr. Burns. Also, if you’re a fan of Simpsons-tax crossovers, Tony Nitti, CPA, wrote an article that breaks down the top tax references in the series. 

Best quote of the episode: “Okay Marge. If anybody asks, you require 24-hour nursing care, Lisa’s a clergyman, Maggie is seven people and Bart was wounded in Vietnam.”

 “The One with George Stephanopoulos” – Friends, season 1, episode 4

How do you explain income taxes to someone who’s never paid them before? Hand them their first paycheck. At least, that’s how Rachel discovers just how much of her earnings are paid out before she even has a chance to spend them. The episode doesn’t exactly focus on tax, and it doesn’t feature George Stephanopoulos, but true to its name, it will give you a friendly feeling at the end.

Best quote of the episode: “Who’s FICA? Why’s he getting all my money?”

“E. Peterbus Unum” – Family Guy, season 2, episode 18

If you don’t receive a big tax refund this year, it may be a good time to establish your own country. Peter’s dream of a fancy backyard pool is almost derailed when he doesn’t get a tax refund. That’s until he decides to penny pinch and build it himself anyway. Long story short, the city won’t approve the zoning, Peter creates a new micronation (named Petoria, if you’re wondering), and he invades Joe’s backyard. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t end well for the Griffin family.

Best quote of the episode: “You can write off medical stuff? If I’d known, I wouldn’t have used a discount surgeon.”

Busy season is going to be around for a while yet, so don’t forget to take a little time out of the hectic workflow and sit down for a laugh or two. It’s a stressful time, but you’ll make it through. You’re better equipped to handle it than any of these unfortunate characters.

If you run into any problems, check back in with us. The AICPA Tax Section has a page devoted to busy season concerns. We can’t guarantee you’ll get a laugh, but you may find a resource or two that’ll get you through the next 66 days.

Allison Carter Fanney, Communications Manager, Tax, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants

 

5 reasons to keep your procrastibaking habit during busy season

GettyImages-545807004If you’ve been on Instagram lately, you’ve probably seen posts tagged with #procrastibaking. If you aren’t familiar with the term, to “procrastibake” is to put off doing something you have to do in favor of baking. The term was featured in a New York Times article back in May and has increased in popularity ever since. And it’s a pretty likable concept – if you are a fan of sweets and don’t mind getting your hands and your kitchen a little dirty.

Sometimes you just need a break, and as you delve deeper into busy season, you may find that periodic diversions help you get more done. But why spend this time baking?

Baking relieves stress. If you’ve ever kneaded bread dough or rolled out cookie dough, you know what I mean. There’s something very satisfying about these activities. Frustrated that a client hasn’t returned their completed organizer? Knead some dough. Getting your hands covered in flour is a nice change, and it feels better than typing a follow-up email.

Baking contributes to happiness. This was all I needed to hear. A study from the Journal of Positive Psychology found that people who spent short periods of time doing creative activities like baking reported being in a happy mood and having more positive energy. You can then spread some cheer by taking that new-found positivity back into client meetings.

Baking allows you to practice mindfulness. Philip Muskin, a psychiatry professor at Columbia University, sums it up well. He says, “Baking is mindful. Mindfulness means paying attention to yourself in the moment and not being in the past or the future, but really being there.” Like accounting, baking is all about precision, and there’s a peace that can be found in paying attention to the details. It’s important to measure ingredients carefully when baking; otherwise, you may end up with a cake that’s too dense or too sweet.

Baking invites creative expression. Despite the required precision, baking also allows you to express yourself. How you flavor the next quick bread you make or decorate the next cake you bake is completely up to you. Have you thought about making tax-themed sugar cookies? What about cupcakes with your company’s logo on top? There aren’t rules as far as I’m concerned, and that’s part of the fun. 

Baking spreads joy. Sure, you could devour the batch of cookies you made all by yourself, but why not share? There’s something special about seeing people’s faces light up as they savor your homemade baked goods. Bake up a batch tonight and share them with your colleagues tomorrow. They’ll appreciate being able to share in your procrastibaking bliss.   

After your baking break, check out these tax season resources to set yourself up for a smoother filing season. The AICPA tax return due dates page can help you keep track of what's due when, the personal finance scorecard can help you discover client needs and ways you can add value, and this busy season fun calendar features ideas for keeping staff motivated during this time of year.

Alexis Rothberg, Communications Manager - Public Accounting, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants