Technology news March 2007

Technology

IRS Names New Director of Electronic Tax & Credits

The Internal Revenue Service named David R. Williams as director of the electronic tax administration and refundable credits unit.The electronic tax administration office oversees the e-file program that is now used by most taxpayers, the IRS said, as well as the
Technology

Houston, We Have a Problem

When it comes to filing tax returns, Houston is the worst procrastinating city in the United States, according to an Intuit study. The company tallied last-minute online tax filings to rank which American cities are the biggest procrastinators when it comes to filing federal income tax returns. The "Top 10 Procrastinating Cities in America," was determined by the number of tax returns electronically filed online via the TurboTax Online service from April 14 - April 17, 2006. Houston, along with Chicago, has consistently ranked near the top of the list each year it has been published.
Technology

IRS Enhances Online Payment Application

Two recent enhancements provide added functionality to the Internal Revenue Service’s Online Payment Agreement application. The first permits individuals who have not yet received a bill to establish pre-assessed agreements on current tax year Form 1040 liabilities. The second allows practitioners with valid authorizations to remain in the application to request agreements for multiple clients.
Technology

CFP Offers Draft Ethics Webcast

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc.
Technology

Self-Prepared e-Filing Up 8 Percent

The Internal Revenue Service announced that e-filed returns from tax professionals have climbed more than 4 percent. But one of the biggest areas of growth is in returns filed electronically from home. Self-prepared e-filed returns have grown more than 8 percent from last year. “Taxpayers are filing electronically at a record pace this year,” said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson. “We encourage people to consider e-file and Free File as the tax deadline approaches.
A&A

White Paper: Reduce the Headaches of Infrastructure Change in 5 Easy Steps

No matter how well prepared you are, managing change in the network infrastructure can be a bumpy process. There are many infrastructure changes that can cause significant problems for an organization if they are not appropriately planned, implemented, and supported with the right practices and technology.
Technology

SEC Will Not Require XBRL Data Audits

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox announced that companies adopting eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) for regulatory filings will not need an additional audit of the conversion of their data, reported Reuters. As part of an XBRL roundtable discussion Monday, Cox said requiring an audit on converted financial data could result in "crib death" for the XBRL project.Currently, only about two dozen companies, including Comcast Corp. and General Electrics Co., are participating in the SEC's voluntary XBRL pilot program.
Technology

e-Filing Tip: Form 8886, Reportable Transaction Disclosure Statement

Previously, Form 8886 needed to be e-filed in XML format as part of the electronically filed return. Now, it can also be attached as a PDF.Taxpayers required to file electronically can provide the Form 8886 in either XML as part of the electronic return file or as a PDF attachment. Taxpayers electing to include Form 8886 as a PDF attachment must use the most current version of the form as posted on IRS.gov, Forms and Pubs, and the file should be described as "Form 8886".
Community News

Texas CPA Wins Blog Award

Pannell Kerr Forster of Texas, P.C. (PKF Texas) was honored by the Texas Public Relations Association (TPRA), with a Bronze Best of Texas award for the business blog, www.fromgregshead.com.The blog, authored by Gregory Price, CPA, Director of Consulting Solutions at PKF Texas, provides insight, information and commentary on accounting and technology trends.“We are very excited that TPRA awarded PKF Texas with such a prestigious award for our blog.
Tax

Where's My Refund? Boosts IRS Web Traffic

Use of the IRS Web site has increased 9 percent over this time last year to 83.3 million visits, according to IRS e-News for Tax Professionals. One of the most popular features is Where’s My Refund?, the IRS Internet-based service at which tax preparers and their clients can check the status of a refund anytime from anywhere. Nearly 21 million requests have been received on Where’s My Refund? this year, representing a growth of more than 3.9 million users compared to the same period last year.“Where’s My Refund? is easy to use,” said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson.
Technology

Dangers of BlackBerry Addiction

Washington may be the first state in the country to outlaw DWT.Never heard of it? It’s driving while texting, and the Washington State House has voted to ban it. The move was prompted in part by a December pileup that shut down a stretch of Interstate 5 outside Seattle for more than an hour. Police say the accident was caused by the driver of a Dodge Caravan, who admitted that he was checking e-mail on his BlackBerry.The bill now makes its way to the Senate in Washington, and Oregon and Arizona are considering similar bills.
Technology

Accountants Go Online for Second Life

By John StokdykThe Dutch firm of Berk, an affiliate of Baker Tilly International, claims to be the first European accountant to open a virtual office in the three-dimensional online world of Second Life. The Second Life phenomenon now boasts more than 4.3 million inhabitants and supports an internal economy funded by Lindendollars, which are increasingly being traded for cash in real life. And where the money flows, accountants are sure to follow. Berk's managing partner Hans Koning, explained the stunt as a recruitment exercise.
A&A

Microsoft to Launch MySpace for Accountants

Microsoft has announced its plans to launch an online community site for financial professionals, similar to the popular MySpace networking site.Calling it a “MySpace for financial pros,” Microsoft has yet to give the Dynamics Live Beta Community site a more marketable name.The site will be aimed at corporate controllers, finance managers, finance staff and accountants and includes blogs, forums, tagging, RSS syndication and other community-specific features.The news follows Reuters’ recent announcement that, it too, will launch a “MySpace for Finance” in the near future.
Technology

Microsoft Access: Best Spreadsheet Add-In

By Simon HurstOf the main office applications used in professional firms, word processors are the least well used, spreadsheets the most overused, and databases the most underused. Part of the reason for this is that database applications are often seen as being the preserve of experienced developers, who use them to create comprehensive database applications.
Technology

Direct-Deposit Refunds Top $100 Billion

Compared to this time last year, direct deposits are up. So is the number of tax professionals using e-file. But, according to IRS e-News for Tax Professionals, about three in 10 tax returns are not requesting the one-time telephone tax refund. Although some of these taxpayers may not be eligible, others may qualify and not know it.
A&A

Junk the Junk: Dealing with the Information Explosion

By Steve RothI am a hoarder. I have always been a hoarder. My school desk used to be a treasure trove of "useful" items – old pens, bits of rubber, half eaten cheese sandwiches, broken bits of Action Man and sticks. Most lay in the desk for years – just in case. Regrettably I can’t have a desk at work. But I have something almost as good – Outlook. Anything even remotely “useful”, contacts I will never contact, things that I’ll “get round to” – when I have the time, can all be stored in Outlook. No doubt they will still be there when I retire.
Technology

IT Zone Guide to Budgeting Systems

By John StokdykFive years ago, I wrote, "In recent years, budgeting has been getting a bad press." Not much has changed on that front. Budgeting remains an entrenched habit - and some would argue a weak spot - in financial management. Even when companies do embrace the concept of business performance management, suppliers report that the most common inquiry they get is for tools to help customers automate and manage their budgeting processes.
Practice

Can Your Firm Use a Global Payroll System?

As the world becomes more and more a global village, organizations are having a greater presence in countries worldwide and where there are people there will always be a need to pay them and the systems to support this. And as we move to this global village state organizations are looking for global solutions and so are looking for global payroll and HR systems. But does such a thing as a global payroll system truly exist or is it all smoke and mirrors? Would such a system be appropriate or even truly necessary?
Technology

Deloitte Survey: Mandatory e-Filing Costs More Time & Money

U.S. companies required to e-file are spending more time and money on compliance than before the electronic process was made mandatory, a new survey conducted by Deloitte Tax LLP has found. A majority of those surveyed said the time they spent on compliance (61 percent) and the costs (68 percent) in filing their 2005 federal tax returns had increased by as much as 19 percent.Recent changes in e-file transition rules and the expansion of the e-file mandate make planning for e-filing an important aspect of compliance planning for tax year 2006.
Tax

White Paper: Assessing Your System Risks Before Attackers Do

By Stephen Northcutt, Jerry Shenk, Dave Shackleford,Tim Rosenberg, Raul Siles and Steve ManciniWith multi-tier network architectures, Web services, custom applications, and heterogeneous server platform environments, keeping data and information assets secure is more difficult than ever. Coupled with this added complexity is the fact that criminal organizations have organized their hacking efforts; it is no longer just “script kiddies” trying to break into your network.