Bramwell’s Lunch Beat: CPAs Prevail Over Computers – For Now

You can now download your tax return transcripts from the IRS
So the White House held an event on January 16 called “Datapalooza,” comprising hackers and policy leaders who explored how open government data can help the country’s education system, Valentina Palladino of The Verge reported yesterday.

A big announcement during the event came from the US Department of the Treasury, which let taxpayers know they can now download their tax returns directly from the IRS from the new service Get Transcript.

“Get Transcript sounds like a much needed technological upgrade, letting taxpayers view, print, and download years worth of tax transcripts,” Palladino wrote. “If it can avoid having as many glitches as HealthCare.gov had during its rolling-out, it could restore some of the faith Americans had in online government tools, and the future of open government data.”

Computers can win at chess, but not at taxes
Despite big improvements in tax-preparation software over the years, most Americans still turn to preparers to handle their taxes. Data from the IRS shows that roughly 60 percent of individual tax returns are done by a preparer, wrote Jonnelle Marte of MarketWatch on January 17.

Why? Because many consumers feel they still need help navigating and understanding the ever-changing tax code, especially if they are higher earners facing hefty tax bills.

“Some financial experts contend the industry just has a software problem,” the article stated. “More people might break up with their tax advisers if the preparation software available could streamline the process of scanning and interpreting all the paperwork, and if the programs offered clearer guidance on filing decisions and deductions.”

Four ways investing in startups will become easier for you
Ryan Caldbeck, founder and CEO of CircleUp, an equity-based crowdfunding platform, wrote an article for MarketWatch on January 17 on how crowdfunding is becoming a disruptive force in business.

“In September 2013, Title II of the JOBS [Jumpstart Our Business Startups] Act – which allows for general solicitation of accredited investors – was implemented,” he stated. “As of October, however, the Securities and Exchange Commission had merely proposed rules for Title III, which allows unaccredited investors to enter the market.”

In his article, Caldbeck offers four ways the industry could gain momentum in 2014.

[Click here for AccountingWEB’s article on the SEC’s proposed crowdfunding rules.]

Accounting chicanery galore
Bill Tatro, president and CEO of GPSforLife and a forty-year veteran of the financial services industry, gave his take on how large banks are padding their top-line revenues, as well as their earnings reports, by aggressively decreasing their loan-loss revenues.

“In essence, they’re removing money from one pocket only to put it into another pocket, thus creating an illusion of increasing profitability,” he wrote on TownhallFinance.com. “In the case of Bank of America, over one-third of their recent so-called growth came directly from this accounting gimmick.

“It would appear that all have embraced the utilization of loan-loss provisions in order to satisfy Wall Street, and now it would seem that ‘managed basis’ is the newest trick discovered by the TBTFs.”

Five tech battles to watch in 2014
In a blog for CPA Practice Advisor, columnist Dave McClure previews the top five technology battles that will play out this year.

“And if the lines being drawn now are any indication, 2014 should be a fun year to watch as companies and politicians enter the fight cage,” he wrote.

Ten accounting solutions for small businesses
Sara Angeles of Business News Daily recently wrote: “Instead of being inundated with crunching numbers, balancing incomes with expenses, and figuring out how much to pay whom and how much to pay Uncle Sam, the right accounting solution can do away with the grunt work.”

She provides ten accounting apps, software, and Web-based solutions to help small businesses manage financials online, on the Cloud, and on the go.

Advisor opportunity? Emerging millionaires, study shows
A study released by Fidelity Investments on January 15 found that America's emerging millionaires are well-positioned for asset growth, but are also in need of more financial planning, Andrew Coen of Financial Planning reported.

“The study from Fidelity's Insights on Advice series shows that 77 percent of those averaging $800,000 in total assets and an average household income of $150,000 do not have a written financial plan, with 70 percent reporting they are ‘not very knowledgeable’ about investing,” the article stated. “Even so, only 51 percent said they work with financial advisors and 39 percent are ‘choosing to go it alone’ with investing. Of those not working with a financial planner, 46 percent indicated they felt advisors ‘aren't interested in investors with smaller assets’ and 53 percent were turned off by advisor fees.”

Beyonce’s dad – ‘mo money problems … sued for $60k
And this from TMZ about Mathew Knowles, Beyonce’s dad: “TMZ has learned he's being sued, ironically, by a company that used to handle his cash.”

It seems a credit bureau is trying to collect $64,587.14 from Knowles – money it claims he owed to an accounting firm he hired.

“The firm handles finances for high-end entertainers and athletes – a world MK used to run in back when he was Beyonce's manager,” the article stated. “Of course those days are long gone, and Mathew's finances took a nose dive when Bey dumped him in 2011.”

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