• Assist Student Learning through Scaffolding

    Mar 02, 2020
    Learning is sometimes thought of as a solitary endeavor. A student attends class where a professor lectures and demonstrates accounting problems, and then the student attempts to replicate or extend the demonstration by completing homework assignments. Student learning is then assessed through testing. This column introduces another perspective on teaching and learning: scaffolding.
  • Accounting Plan Plagiarism: Is It Time to Strengthen the CPA Code of Professional Conduct?

    Mar 02, 2020
    Over the past 20 years, audit reports and tax returns have largely become commodities – at least that seems to be the perception in the marketplace. As a result, a CPA’s ideas or intellectual wherewithal have become crucial to the success of an accounting practice. Consultation and planning are sweeping the profession, and the resulting services can enhance a firm’s bottom line.
  • SSARS No. 21 a Year Later

    Mar 02, 2020
    Statement on Standards for Accounting and Review Services No. 21 has been effective for more than a year now – for engagements on financial statements for periods ending on or after Dec. 15, 2015. Sufficient time has passed to allow the peer review process to shine a light on some of the implementation issues that firms and practitioners may be experiencing.
  • Triple Net Leases: An Investment Opportunity Fraught with Peril

    Mar 02, 2020
    As a CPA and a federal agent, I appreciate the importance of maintaining a current understanding of the proper application of accounting principles and the ever-evolving accounting landscape. Once you have a firm understanding of how legitimate businesses operate, fraudulent enterprises can become more apparent. This is true for lease agreements too.
  • Essential Skills and Attributes for Emerging CPAs

    Mar 02, 2020
    After four or five years of college, you’ve landed a great job – maybe even your dream job. It’s time to put all of your accounting education to work. You’re likely preparing for one or more certification exams, which means having to recall details from all of your previous coursework.
  • New Section 987 Foreign Currency Regulations Hold Trap

    Mar 02, 2020
    In the global economy, companies operate foreign business in various currencies. U.S. taxpayers must translate their foreign currency transactions into U.S. dollars. Many times the rules are misunderstood.
  • Dynamic Decision Making through Data Visualization

    Mar 02, 2020
    Vast amounts of data are generated every day – about 2.5 quintillion bytes according to estimates from IBM. This “big data” originates from numerous sources: from individual social media posts and text messages, to corporate supply chain management activities and financial transactions. Businesses are gaining valuable insights through the analysis of all the data they can gather.
  • 2020 Is Going to Be a High-Stakes Year

    Feb 28, 2020
    PICPA’s full-time presence in the state capital and our dedicated volunteer members contributed greatly to a very successful 2019 advocating on behalf of our more than 20,000 members and the broader CPA profession.
  • Red Flags for Nonprofit CPAs

    Feb 28, 2020
    CPAs working for or serving on the board of a nonprofit organization will likely be the most business-savvy person on the leadership team. As such, you can add critical value by assessing performance results and identifying troubling trends as they develop. This requires a CPA to look beyond the numbers by integrating financial and nonfinancial data to uncover serious threats before they become crises. Here are six common red flags that you should be actively monitoring and addressing.
  • Robotic Process Automation and the Accounting Curriculum

    Feb 28, 2020
    Robotic process automation is an emerging technology that automates tasks traditionally performed by humans, resulting in cost savings, efficiency gains, and increased accuracy. A recent survey conducted by Information Services Group reveals that RPA technology skills were the second-most in-demand automation skill set in 2019. RPA is driving innovation in accounting and auditing applications, from bank reconciliations to detail testing during audits.
  • Repeal of Downward Attribution Rules Creating More CFCs

    Feb 28, 2020
    The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 modified the stock attribution rules for determining if a foreign corporation is a controlled foreign corporation by repealing the downward attribution rules under Section 958(b)(4). The reason for repealing the provision was to have more companies that undertook “inversion” transactions classified as CFCs so their U.S. shareholders would be subject to inclusions under the U.S. anti-deferral subpart F provisions per Section 951(a) and global intangible low-taxed income per Section 951A.
  • Free Wi-Fi: A Client Convenience that Could Upend a Practice

    Feb 28, 2020
    Most retail centers offer free wireless, and consumers have come to expect free customer Wi-Fi wherever they go. It’s handy and flexible. Quick-serve restaurants generate revenue by promoting it; the supermarket has free Wi-Fi; and banks are turning their waiting areas into café-type lounges with Wi-Fi.
  • Reasonable and Certain in the Context of Damage Calculations

    Feb 28, 2020
    Case law, industry publications, and a host of other sources all say economic damages have to be estimated to a reasonable degree of certainty. Once a calculation is prepared, you review it for mathematical accuracy and determine whether the calculation itself is reasonable. This seems straightforward, but there is some confusion as to what is considered “reasonable.” This column looks at what is (and what is not) meant by reasonable certainty.
  • Lessons Shared: A CPA’s Letter to Her Younger Self

    Feb 28, 2020
    I was conducting an interview to hire a tax season intern, and across the table from me was a college-age applicant who was eager to impress and interested in learning more about the real world. I flashed back to my own internship interview almost 20 years ago, and a case of self-reflection filled my head. With all that I have experienced and learned along the way, what would I tell that younger version of myself?
  • How CPAs Should Respond to Subpoenas

    Feb 28, 2020
    A subpoena is usually a formal request for documents and/or appearance. The request may come from an attorney in the course of litigation or by a government agency in the course of a criminal or civil investigation. CPA firms are often uncertain about how to respond to subpoenas because they also need to comply with a number of rules and regulations that are intended to protect client confidentiality.
  • The Rise of the State and Local Tax Specialist

    Feb 28, 2020
    A career in state and local tax can be challenging but also rewarding. With 50 states, the District of Columbia, and thousands of localities, there are numerous types of state and local taxes, including income, nonincome-based entity taxes (gross receipts, franchise), sales and use, real and personal property, excise, transfer, and many other industry-specific taxes. Pennsylvania alone has about 34 state-level taxes.
  • The Taxpayer First Act and Innocent Spouse Claims in the Tax Court

    Feb 28, 2020
    The federal Taxpayer First Act, enacted July 1, 2019, altered the procedures governing innocent spouse relief in Tax Court1 by requiring practitioners to submit all available information to the IRS during an audit. Specifically, Section 1203 amended Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 6015 to add a new subsection – (e)(7) – that provides for a de novo standard of review for a Section 6015 determination by the IRS based on “the administrative record established at the time of the determination” and “any additional newly discovered or previously unavailable evidence.” Taxpayers who wish to assert an innocent spouse claim for tax or penalty relief from liability on a joint return should be advised to make a complete disclosure of all relevant facts during the audit.
  • Week Ending Feb. 28, 2020

    Feb 28, 2020
    In this issue: PICPA Provides Testimony on Data Privacy Bill; Pa. Department of Revenue Provides Clarity on Membership Fee Tax; Pennsylvania Budget Hearings Continue at the Capitol; and more.
  • ASU 2016-15, 2016-18, and the Statement of Cash Flows

    Feb 28, 2020
    Two Accounting Standards Updates (ASUs) from the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) in 2016 may require changes to Dec. 31, 2019, financial statements: ASU 2016-15, Classification of Certain Cash Receipts and Cash Payments, and ASU 2016-18, Restricted Cash.
  • The Next Management Breakthrough: EPM, Non-GAAP Measures, and KPIs in a Digital World

    Feb 28, 2020
    Tremendous confusion persists about how to successfully implement non-GAAP measures and key performance indicators within an organization for assessing business performance. In this article, we aim to bring more clarity on this topic to CPAs involved in enterprise performance measurement initiatives.
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