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The bank account is open, the name is on the building, the product is ready to be sold, and the CPA and attorney have been hired. The small business checklist has been completed. Initially, a small business owner may be the only person working in the business to keep costs down. However, as the business begins to grow I will get questions such as: “If I need help and would like to hire someone, do I have to set them up as an employee?” and “Can I pay them cash and issue them a 1099?” In these instances, I refer to this 20-point checklist from the IRS for independent contractors.  These questions are adapted from court cases and rulings, ...
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INCPAS has been focusing on Innovation now for a while, and when my time came to contribute to the Smoke Detector blog, I had just opened up the Indianapolis Business Journal ’s Innovation issue. What timing, right? It is their third annual Innovation issue, which is truly inspiring. I just find it amazing the discoveries and creations from all types of companies, non-profits, schools and individuals. There are office buildings that give control to each individual’s space for lighting and temperature (for those of us that work in these environments, temperature is always an issue!), apps that can help you reserve a parking space or just to find open ...
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Cybersecurity … a term we continue to hear more and more. In a blog I wrote earlier this year on the 2017 trends and predictions for the CPA profession, I identified cybersecurity as being a top priority in 2017. This prediction seems to hold true. In the first five months of the year, two white papers have been published specific to cybersecurity and the CPA profession. In February, the AICPA published a white paper on the top cybercrimes including how CPAs can protect themselves and their clients. In May, the Center for Audit Quality published a white paper titled The CPA’s Role in Addressing Cybersecurity Risk . The remainder of this blog will highlight ...
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I am a financial accountant and will never forget the time I was sitting in one of my final classes before finishing my Master’s Degree. I was talking to a tax accountant who was also finishing her degree and she confided in me that she could not understand why anyone would work toward an accounting degree and sit for the CPA exam if they were not going to do tax. Well I have to say that, while I do some income tax out of necessity, that is just a tiny piece of what I do. My true passion is overall business functionality and helping to increase margin, improve cash flow, and decrease administrative costs. One of the biggest challenges for businesses ...
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“How’s a milkshake machine salesman build a fast food empire with an annual revenue of $700 million…” That is the story of how an individual forged a partnership with two brothers in establishing a famous restaurant known as McDonald’s and is depicted in the movie “The Founder.” The brothers developed an efficient system to provide meals in a quick manner , while the other individual, Ray Kroc, developed methods in franchising the restaurant. So both parties were innovators in their own way. Today if someone were to mention the word “innovation,” they generally associate it with technology. However, the reality is these two are neither synonymous nor interchangeable. ...
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Tax reform has always been a hot topic among both political parties. There are very few people who disagree it’s needed, but the ability to pass tax reform under either major political party has been impossible to date. Why is that? In order to understand why tax reform is so difficult to pass, we need to look back in history to see how taxes were used to affect political, social and economic policies. The first income tax was enacted in 1861 to pay off the massive amounts of debt due to the American Civil War. The tax was levied on income exceeding $800 and was not rescinded until 1872. During this time period, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service was founded ...
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Times are changing in the CPA profession. The age of technology is upon us, and most CPAs have slowly but surely started to migrate to the world of practicing paperless.  However, we, as CPAs, still seem to be perpetually drowning in paper. Client files, audit workpapers or old tax returns always seem to pile up and sit untouched in boxes for years and years. As trusted advisors to our clients, we are relied on to maintain discretion over their information (both hard copy and otherwise). In the age of ever-increasing cyber security risks and identity theft, the fear in our clients of having their information compromised is more evident than ever. This ...
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The theme for the spring INCPAS Leadership Cabinet meeting on May 18 and 19 will be “Innovation for Everyone.” Many of us spend time after busy season ends reflecting on how we can grow our business and what we should change going forward. I would like to challenge everyone to reflect on how innovation is, can and should be transforming your professional life. There is an excellent article in the April edition of the Journal of Accountancy entitled “Rethinking the Audit” that explains some of the new technologies Deloitte is using to improve and transform the audit process. With innovation being such a buzz word in the business world, I am sure you ...
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How competitive are you? It’s easy to turn anything into a competition - from a seemingly friendly game of ping-pong, to your grades at school, to the experience you have on your resume. As you move through your accounting career, there will be no shortage of competition. Maintaining a competitive mindset has the potential to take your career to new heights, but it can also be a dangerous game to play. Here are some tips to keep in mind when it comes to competition in the workplace: 1. Use the 80%/20% rule. You may have heard about the 80%/20% rule if you or someone you know is looking to change their eating habits. The idea is that you eat healthy ...
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It was the stress of times, it was the worst of times. CPAs may make this slight alteration to the Charles Dickens classic, Tale of Two Cities . The parallels stop there, however, between the war accounting professionals call “busy season” and the French Revolution. Our worst of times are voluntary. There is really no way of explaining January through March to others outside the profession.  The best I have come up with is, “for three months I voluntarily sacrifice 30 hours per week at home with my family to accept doing more work than there is a reasonable amount of time to complete.” Well who wouldn’t want to sign up for that?? The time right after ...
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I'm a big fan of the TV show, Shark Tank, so I was curious when I came across Lindsay Patterson’s blog, “That Time I Told Mark Cuban He Was Wrong About the CPA Profession.“ Cuban was speaking at the SXSW Conference and Festival and stated, “we'll see more technological advances over the next 10 years than we have over the last 30.” In an effort to describe how technology will change the most desirable jobs and skill sets and how important critical thinking will be in the future, Cuban says , “I wouldn’t want to be a CPA right now. I wouldn’t want to be an accountant right now.” Lindsay not only had the opportunity to explain to the public how Cuban did ...
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Why We Love What We Do

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I originally posted this in our firm's website on March 6, 2017, and I thought I'd share it with INCPAS as well. Here at Kruggel Lawton CPAs, as we enter the month of March - well into the heart of "tax season" - our team is working at peak performance. This is both marvelous to behold and wonderful to be involved in. Two recent events reinforced in my mind why we in the accounting profession love what we do - even during our most stressful and difficult time of the year. It's About Relationships The first was when my colleague Alex Schaeffer was recognized as the Young Business Leader of the Year by the Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce (in the St. Joseph-Benton ...
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Flex scheduling. Its a hot topic for many professions. For years, employees have worked the 9 to 5 which is often actually starting much earlier and ending much later than those hours spent in a cube at the office. Many say its the millennials pushing an alternative to the traditional model, however I think it's millennials and all those tired of spending their lives in traffic and in cubes. My company offers flex scheduling options. Heres a peek into a typical day: The alarm clock goes off. I wake up and take a deep breath I am working at home for the day thanks to my flex schedule benefit. I will not be getting dressed up and I will not be sitting ...
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Now that I am 10 months into my role as chief financial officer at Concordia Educational Association (CEA) dba Concordia Lutheran High School , I want to share the inner workings of a private school and what role a CPA can play as both a leader and trusted business advisor. Liken to my days as a software consultant, overseeing the non-academic operations of a school can dramatically change my schedule each day. I love the variety! My role continues to evolve into what many colleges and universities refer to as a chief business officer. Not coincidentally, the role of the CFO in all forms of business continues to expand. There is no difference at an educational ...
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Technology is constantly evolving and changing our interaction with our clients. Think about how our processes have changed dramatically over the past 30 years or so, and how they may continue to change in the future. Trace the history of tax preparation Clients drops off the information and we interview Client drops off the organizer and faxes in the answers to our questions Client sends information to portal and we email questions and answers Trace the history of bookkeeping and financial statement preparation Client drops off one-write sheets and we call for answers Client drops off backup disc and they fax in the answers ...
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I believe we can agree, when asked to think of a creative or innovative profession or business, most at first would not say CPAs or CPA firms. But I believe, for example, that our professions response to the global market and ever-changing regulatory landscape are proof of how innovative we are as a profession. That said, the pace at which our world is changing today is going to require much more than a focus on growing revenue through new service offerings. In order to be resilient and remain relevant in the future we must develop a culture that supports and rewards innovation and creativity. When it comes to culture, lets look first at people. What motivates ...
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During the most recent Professional Issues Update last fall, Gary Bolinger introduced blockchain as an emerging technology. Did any of you fellow PIU attendees catch this? I listened and wondered what is blockchain, and also if Gary was off his rocker? I have heard of bitcoin but not blockchain. If you dont know what blockchain is, you should because it is going to change the way all businesses transact financial information in the future. Blockchain is widely known as the technology that underpins bitcoin, but it is a lot more than just bitcoin. Blockchain is the technology that backs distributed ledger technology, which is a trusted way to track the ownership ...
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At our firm, we just celebrated the half way mark for busy season. Sometimes we become so focused on reaching the end of busy season that we forget to embrace the journey. This happens in both our professional and personal lives. Instead, we need to pause, embrace the moment, and breathe. Too often, we are striving for the next milestone, the next deadline, the next achievement. We see life as a series of end dates vs. the journey. We believe that life will become less stressful and complicated as soon as our child sleeps through the night, the project at work is complete, or the next holiday is over. As soon as life will slow down. We forget that the majority ...
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In recent years, we have been hearing that the trend in the CPA profession is toward specialization. Even hyperspecialization. What does that mean exactly? It means CPAs are becoming less of a generalist and more focused on a specific field, industry or niche area in the accounting arena. That can be as broad as cost accounting and information systems or as specific as practice management in physician offices or cost segregation studies. More and more clients are asking for more specialized advice that not all CPA firms can provide. If you work in a small firm, there may not be enough staff to specialize or the partners have always been generalists and have ...
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Last year, I made the transition from public accounting to private corporate accounting. The time has flown by since then and Ive learned a lot of things along the way. Here are a few of them First, CPAs and other accountants work hard. Being in public accounting previously, I have to admit I felt superior to my friends in private. I thought I worked harder or was somehow better than them. Ive learned this year thats not true! Ive found private accounting to be just as intense and challenging as public. We may not have a tax season on this side, but we do have month ends and year end to keep us on our toes. Second, we all know tax season is a beast. With ...
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