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Company Culture – Why Is It Important?

18/04/13 8:00 am | Comments (0) | Posted By:

 

Would you normally wake up and want to go to work? Most people would probably answer NO to this question, especially during tax season.

Tax season is a stressful time for employees of CPA firms. Does it make a difference if there is a good company culture to help alleviate some of the stress? The workplace should not be something an employee dreads. While work may be difficult, the culture should not. On the contrary, a positive and fulfilling work culture should be designed to alleviate stress not increase it.

How do you create a positive and fulfilling company culture? The most important and first step in the process, starts by hiring people who fit your company’s goals and vision. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, one of the strongest advocates of company culture, states “when you hire people, they represent your company even outside of work, and if you have a positive opinion about this person most likely you’ll view their company in a positive light.”

It’s key to be flexible to change. These days employees are looking for more flexibility in the workplace than ever before. More companies are recognizing how important the work+life issue is for everyone, not just women and parents. Studies have shown that flexible schedules decreased employee “burn out” and have helped retain valuable employees that may otherwise leave.

Most importantly, build a culture where everyone is part of a team. This is a big one! If you feel valued and part of a team, you contribute to the overall success of the company. You may have a specific job function; however, you are joined with other members of the company to accomplish the overall goals of the company.

When you’re part of a company that has achieved a good culture, you may just wake up and answer that question, YES I do want to go to work!

 

It’s Tax Season – Be on the Lookout for “The Dirty Dozen”

04/04/13 12:06 pm | Comments (0) | Posted By:

 

As tax season begins to draw to an end, the Internal Revenue Service is issuing its annual “The Dirty Dozen” warning to consumers about fraud on and by taxpayers.
This year’s list is little changed from 2012, and is again headed up by identity theft. A growing problem every year worldwide, the IRS is stepping up its vigilance in this area, from establishing an Identity Protection Web Portal, and increased prosecution of offenders. Last year over $20 billion in fraudulent refunds were prevented, up from $14 billion in 2011.

Another scam is “phishing”, where taxpayers are sent fake e-mails asking them to provide the IRS with sensitive personal information such as social security numbers. A good rule of thumb to remember is that the IRS never will attempt to contact you by e-mail, text message or social media.

Tax fraud is not just committed by outsiders, however. Unscrupulous tax preparers are also lurking. The amount of fraud committed (or attempting to be committed) by taxpayers rises every year as well.

Beware of any tax preparer that offers to get you “free money” by claiming tax credits that you do not in reality qualify for. Some preparers have also been known to exaggerate wages or self-employment income to inflate refundable credits.

Taxpayers have also been known to try to avoid taxes with hiding income offshore. While offshore income was always reportable income, only in recent years did it come to light that many people were not in fact reporting it. In 2009 the IRS implemented an Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program that to date has 38,000 participants. In 2012, the program was extended indefinitely. Penalties for not reporting this income can be steep.

So whether it’s a scam artist, an unscrupulous tax preparer or just you, remember that the IRS is watching out for you AND over you.

 

The CPA…Your Trusted Advisor…And Congressional Representative

28/03/13 10:29 am | Comments (0) | Posted By:

 

It is bewildering to witness the “goings-on” in Washington DC these days…partisan bickering, gridlock, inability to meet critical deadlines…the list goes on and on. It is definitely a time for a change. Sweeping change? Not highly likely, nor possible. But how about a slight change that is happening gradually as we speak. CPA’s are gaining a presence in Congress. After last November’s election, the CPA profession can claim to have twelve members roaming the halls of Congress. In the November 2012 election, our profession added two members to the House of Representatives, Tom Rice (R-South Carolina) and Patrick Murphy (D-Florida). They join eight Representatives who were re-elected to serve additional terms in their districts in Texas, Kansas, Mississippi, Minnesota, California and Ohio. In addition, there are two CPA’s serving terms in the Senate, Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin).

CPA’s are known for their ability to advocate for their clients, address difficult situations with solutions and compromise where needed with poise and dignity. These sound like traits that could be useful in Washington DC these days. Let us hope that our CPA Congressmen can brings those characteristics to the halls of Congress and infiltrate the toxic atmosphere that seems to reside on the Hill over the past few years.

Newly-elected Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy displayed an act of bi-partisanship recently when preparing to attend the President’s State of the Union address in February. He chose to sit with his newly-elected Republican colleague and fellow CPA Rep Tom Rice during the President’s speech. Having run on a pledge of bi-partisanship, he felt it important to stay true to his word and reach out to his friends across the aisle for the occasion. Additionally, many of his first votes have been in support of Republican bills that have advanced important budgetary and fiscal measures while also supporting common-sense Democratic amendments to take a balanced, bi-partisan approach to deficit reduction that would protect seniors, veterans, troops, and middle class families from devastating cuts.

Let us all hope that CPA’s can help make a difference in Washington DC.

 

Frustrated with receiving your Form K-1′s late?

21/03/13 8:35 am | Comments (0) | Posted By:

 

The American Institute of CPA’s has long recognized the problem of the late receipt of Form K-1′s for many taxpayers and their return preparers. On February 28, 2013, legislation was introduced in the 113th Congress that was suggested by the AICPA to address this.

As drafted the original tax return due dates would change as follows:

  • Form 1065 would be due on March 15
  • Form 1120S would be due on March 31
  • Forms 1040, 1041, and 1120 would be due on April 15
  • Foreign Trusts with a U.S. Owner Form 3520-A and FBAR Form TD F 90-22.1 would be due April 15

Additionally, the extended due dates would change as follows:

  • Forms 1065, 1120S, 1120 and 1040 would still retain a 6 month extension
  • Form 1041 would be extended 5.5 months to September 30
  • Form TD F 90-22.1 and Form 3520-A would be extended 6 months to October 15 (and for the TD F90-22.1, the Secretary of Treasury could waive penalties for first time failure to file an FBAR extension request)
  • Exempt Organizations Forms 990 (series), 4720, 5227, and 8870 would be allowed a 6 month extension to November 15
  • Employee Benefit Plans Form 5500 would be allowed a 3.5 months extension to November 15
  • Form 3520 would be allowed to be extended separately from the owner’s tax return

These changes would be effective for the 2014 tax years and the 2015 tax filing season.

More information on this topic at:  AICPA.org

 

 

Naps During the Work Day Equal Increased Productivity

14/03/13 7:53 am | Comments (0) | Posted By:

 

Now that we are in the thick of tax season, I have to say…I’m tired. No, not of work. I’m physically and mentally tired, mainly because I don’t get enough sleep during the night. Longer work days and longer work weeks have made my available sleep time appear to diminish. (Oh, and let’s not get started about daylight saving time; I’ve been cursing it all week. I do like sun in the evenings, though.) In order to combat diminishing sleep time, I think we need naps during the work day.

How does that sound? Twenty minutes or so during the day in a quiet, dark room. You wake up feeling refreshed and productivity increases. That is a winning combination. It seems like a cost effective and easy solution to get better and more work out of everyone. The trick is to convince those in charge that naps really are a good thing. Oh, yeah, and have a room (or a pod) where you can nap.

This whole idea isn’t a joke, either. I constantly hear and read stories about Americans being perpetually tired. In the USA Today article linked above, health experts are quoted as saying “worker fatigue is an epidemic that is weighing on workers’ health and productivity.” It only makes sense that a constant lack of sleep would take its toll and a recent study is showing that sleeping insufficient hours can lead to eating more and weight gain. Take the study for what it’s worth, but getting more sleep at night sounds like the right thing to do.

Where does that leave my argument now? I just said that getting more sleep at night is the right thing to do after previously arguing for naps during the work day. I would have to say, ultimately, becoming better rested and finding more time to sleep is up to me (the individual). While I surely wouldn’t mind a chance to nap once in a while, I really should focus on getting to bed earlier and at a consistent time. We should all shut down those electronic devices earlier (TV included) and turn off the lights. So, for now, I’ll work harder at taking care of myself, but to all those in charge reading this: naps during the work day equal increased productivity.

 

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