A&A news

A&A

Victims of ID Theft Applaud New Way to ‘Freeze’ Credit Reports

Bridget Thomas of Prairieville, Louisiana, lobbied for a way to block access to credit reports in her state after she was badly burned by identity theft that destroyed her credit status.A woman with the same name as Thomas, but a different middle initial, obtained her social security number and started spending.Lawmakers in Louisiana and a few other states, moved by stories like Thomas’, have instituted a privacy option called a security freeze.
A&A

Intuit Unveils New Offerings for Accounting, Tax Professionals

Intuit's Accountant Central and Professional Tax business units recently unveiled a lineup of planned offerings designed specifically for accounting and tax professionals.The lineup includes two new professional tax software offerings. One program is being designed especially for the needs of smaller sole proprietors. The second offering is being designed for the needs of practices focused on helping taxpayers get their refunds fast.
A&A

New Law Means Speedy Clearing of Checks

If you regularly write a big check a few days before the funds are actually available in your checking account, it’s time to rethink your check-writing habits.The Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act, which goes into effect Oct. 28, will allow checks to clear in hours instead of days because a substitute check can be accepted as legal.
A&A

The 10 Worst Credit Mistakes You Can Make

Used properly, credit cards offer significant safety and convenience benefits. But mistakes with credit can cost dearly -- in time and money and in terms of credit rating. To help consumers avoid costly credit card errors, the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants highlights the most common credit card mistakes and explains how to avoid them.Mistake 1: Not shopping around for the best interest rate. Credit card rates and terms vary greatly. Financial publications and the Internet are good sources to find the best credit card options.
A&A

FASB's Plan Could Mean ‘Major Hit’ to Earnings

Update: 7-28-04 - second paragraph: Multinational corporations may be looking at a big increase in reported liabilities and a deep cut to profits if a change in deferred-tax accounting is adopted by the Financial Accounting Standards Board.The FASB staff is expected on Tuesday to recommend further study of the feasibility of requiring companies to book a liability for taxes payable on profits earned and held overseas, the Wall Street Journal reported. Increasing companies’ reserves for tax liabilities, which would be a result of the requirement, would chip away at earnings.
Tax

Give Your Financial Institution a Bonus; Bonus Depreciation Will be Lost December 2004

The opportunity to claim bonus depreciation will be lost as of 12/31/04. If they have not already done so, financial institutions should be scrambling to assure they take full advantage of this expiring provision. This tax law has been a true bonus for the banking industry helping fuel branch expansion. Even without the bonus depreciation legislation, the past five years have been extraordinarily friendly towards real estate expansion.
Practice

Ex-Directors of Bankrupt Companies Get Invites to Join Other Boards

Directing a company that filed for bankruptcy amid scandal is apparently not enough to keep former board members from leading other companies.Former directors of scandal-ridden companies such as Enron and WorldCom are in demand, Reuters reported.
A&A

The Value of Proactive Service in Your Accounting Firm

Clients want a proactive accountant. They want you using your expertise to look out for their interests and bring them benefits that they didn’t know to ask for. By being proactive, you show your initiative and you create added value.Reactive service gives you fewer opportunities to thrill clients. You have to wait until they ask for something. When you reach out, you not only have more control, you get more credit for taking the initiative. Proactive service thrills clients.For instance, at the new Park Hyatt Hotel in Japan, many staff members have two-way radios.
A&A

How Do Smaller Firms Compete?

By Bob Lewis Q: How can my two-person firm convince clients we can serve them?A: Have you ever heard of “spin?” Spin is how you position a situation. Is a half empty glass a positive or a negative? It depends how someone looks at it, and how the half glass is presented. As an example, at a restaurant, if you sat down and got a half glass of water, you would think it was odd (and not in a good, eccentric kind of way).
Technology

Microsoft Announces Massive $32 Billion Payout Plan

Microsoft has announced it would pay a $32 billion special dividend to its shareholders, while buying back $30 billion of its shares over the next four years and doubling its regular dividend payment. Pending approval by shareholders, the special dividend of $3 a share will be paid out on Dec. 2. The annual dividend will be increase to 32 cents a share, or about $3.5 billion a year.Observers say Thursday’s announcement is an answer to critics who believe the software giant is too conservative with its cash, the Business Standard reported.
A&A

Bill Would Expand Small Business Tax Break

Small businesses would receive a boost from legislation passed Wednesday by the U.S. House that would save small businesses $10.9 billion in taxes from 2006 through 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported. It is not clear how much support the measure has in the Senate.The House’s bill would extend a small business tax break that allows them to immediately write off up to $100,000 in capital purchases as a business expense.
A&A

Salaries Increasing for Finance and Accounting Professionals

The results of the 15th annual salary survey for the nation's managerial accountants are in, and there is some good news and some bad news. While salary increases have slowed down and have shrunk, they have not stopped, and the gender gap for the total compensation for men and women appears to be shrinking but still significant, according to the study released by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) and published in Strategic Finance magazine.
Tax

Senator Snowe Introduces Bill to Expand Cash Accounting

U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, has introduced the "Small Business Cash Accounting Act of 2004," a bill to simplify the tax code and reduce compliance burdens placed on small businesses by permitting businesses that generally earn less than $10 million during the tax year to use cash accounting methods to report their income. Snowe's bill, S.
A&A

House Limits Stock Option Expensing to Top 5 Officers

A much-discussed proposal to require public companies to treat all stock options as business expenses has been put on hold by the House of Representatives.In a 312-111 vote Tuesday, the House approved a bill that delays new rules pending an economic study, the Wall Street Journal reported. The move rejects the recommendation of the independent Financial Accounting Standards Board and supports technology companies that objected to the proposal.The bill would not prevent companies from treating stock options as expenses if they wish – that’s no change from the current rules.
A&A

More Automated Check Payments = More Scams

In what has been termed “the e-commerce equivalent of mugging,” scammers are targeting checking accounts as an easy access point for fraud.The huge number of automatic checking account withdrawals and deposits is opening the door to the increase in fraud.
Practice Management

Ten Strategies for Client Retention

by Bea Fields Traditional marketing strategies encourage business owners to continually grow their businesses by adding new customers. In today's competitive world of business, it is more important than ever to aim for more transactions with existing customers by using the power of customer follow-up and attention to good service. These ten tips may help you in turning your existing customers into walking billboards for your business. Spend thirty minutes each day talking with two existing clients.
A&A

SEC Votes to Propose Requirements on Hedge Fund Advisers

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted this week to publish for comment proposed new Rule 203(b)(3)-2 that would require hedge fund advisers to register with the Commission under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.
A&A

Bonuses to IRS Attorneys Questioned

Whopping bonuses paid to the Internal Revenue Service’s top attorneys are raising eyebrows on Capitol Hill and among the agency’s non-Senior Executive Service employees, the Washington Post reported.Between 2001 and 2003, the IRS regularly paid its attorneys bonuses averaging about $20,000 with the highest award being $47,000 for an attorney singled out by President Bush.The bonuses have caused a stir between the IRS and the National Treasury Employees Union, which believes that performance bonuses are now institutionalized among top employees and are not based on actual performance.
Practice Management

Creative Strategies for Delivering 5-Star Customer Service

by Bea Fields Customer satisfaction is valuable, but customer loyalty is priceless. In today's competitive world of business, it is becoming more and more important to deliver customer service that is unbeatable. These ten creative strategies can support you in turning your customers into walking billboards for your business.
A&A

GASB Issues Proposal on Net Assets Restricted by Enabling Legislation

The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) this week issued an Exposure Draft of proposed standards intended to clarify for the preparers of state and local government financial statements the requirements for reporting net assets contained in GASB Statement No. 34, Basic Financial Statements—and Management’s Discussion and Analysis—for State and Local Governments.

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