Blogs

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Identity theft has been a huge buzz word the past few years with tax-related identity theft becoming a prominent concern for tax firms and tax preparers. As a Certified Fraud Examiner, tax identity theft has been a topic of interest for me and I am always looking for ways to help combat it and help my clients avoid it. The reality, even if a client has not been a victim of it, tax identity theft has had an impact on them in some way. Let’s go over some of the changes the IRS has implemented because of tax identity theft, and how they impact not only us as tax preparers, but our clients. One such change is Form W-2 Verification. In 2016, about 2 million W-2s ...
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Thinking back over this past busy season, how many of your audits did you test 100 percent of the transactions before you issued your audit opinion? In addition, were there any of those that you were able to look at 100 percent of the transaction in a matter of minutes? Proponents of Artificial Intelligence (AI) claim this is exactly what AI can do when incorporated into a financial statement audit. Imagine the day when you can “click a button” and the software immediately looks at every transaction. We are not too far away from that day. So, the question remains what impact will AI have on the audit of the future? A huge pro of using AI in an audit is the ...
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As a college educator who spent over 30 years in the business workplace, I commonly hear discussions about how to improve recent college graduates/new staff’s critical thinking skills. A quick Google search of “ Employer Critical Thinking ” yields well over a millions hits on this topic. A quick survey of the results yields two certainties: 1) Many employers do not think new graduates have proper critical thinking skills, and 2) “Critical Thinking” is tough to define. Revealing articles include the following: Wall Street Journal ( Employers Find ‘Soft Skills’ Like Critical Thinking in Short Supply -Aug. 30, 2016) Forbes ( These are the Skills ...
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Just this past May, as a CPA exiting busy season, inevitable reflection ensues regarding the past year. Either irony, fate, or pure coincidence led to ESPN’s 30 for 30 series premiering their documentary “One and Not Done” covering the University of Kentucky men’s basketball program. Despite your feelings or biases towards the leader of basketball in the Bluegrass State, there are some considerable lessons to be learned in being an engaging leader from the school’s coach John Calipari. Brief background, super quickly: John Calipari fought through the assistant coaching ranks to become the head coach at UMass at the age of 29. After the program ...
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Innovation in a CPA firm or an accounting department? That may sound like an oxymoron. In today’s world we must become innovative to survive. At the May 2017 INCPAS Leadership Cabinet meeting we heard a large firm encourage all of us to invest in innovation. The dollars a national or large regional firm has may not be attainable to a small firm or business, however we can all allocate some of our resources to “innovation.” Please take a few minutes to read the May 2017 Journal of Accountancy article Innovation showcase: CPA employers on the cutting edge . The article points out “even in the fairly traditional world of accounting, some employers of CPAs ...
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Among the many issues impacting my community is the continuing trend of seeing our best and brightest leaving for college and not returning to the region to begin their careers, purchase a home, start a family or to start a business. I came to Richmond in 1992, and the issue of dealing with “Brian Drain” has seemingly been on the list of challenges facing our community for 25 years, and sadly it does not appear we are having much success in overcoming the problem. In April 2017, Purdue University, in partnership with the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Lilly Endowment, Indiana Department of Workforce Development, and Indiana INTERNnet, hosted Indiana’s Talent ...
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In September 2016, I discussed how the role of the CFO continues to evolve . During my tenure at Concordia, my role has shifted from chief financial officer to chief business officer (CBO) to reflect my responsibilities more accurately. I shared a one-day glimpse in the spring 2017 CPA IN Perspective . Like many of you, my days can vary considerably throughout the entire day and evening. Helping lead an organization such as Concordia Educational Association (dba Concordia Lutheran High School ) is exhilarating given its very unique structure. Back in March, I introduced and painted a picture of some of my role in “ The CPA as a Leader and Trusted Business ...
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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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