BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE VIRGINIA SOCIETY OF CPAs
Do you YouTube? CPAs are in on the act.
MAY/JUNE 2012 I VOL. 25 NO. 3 I WWW.VSCPA.COM
Corporate income tax disclosure
Alternative dispute resolution ERP project pitfalls
If you did not get a W-2, see instructions.
Business income or (loss). Attach Schedule C or C-EZ . . . . . . . . . Capital gain or (loss). Attach Schedule D if required. If not required, check here ▶
Other gains or (losses). Attach Form 4797 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . IRA distributions . 15a b Taxable amount . . . Pensions and annuities 16a b Taxable amount . . . Rental real estate, royalties, partnerships, S corporations, trusts, etc. Attach Schedule E Farm income or (loss). Attach Schedule F . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Unemployment compensation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Social security benefits 20a b Taxable amount . . . Other income. List type and amount Combine the amounts in the far right column for lines 7 through 21. This is your total income ▶
12 13 14 15b 16b 17 18 19 20b 21
Secure the Future Using the 1040 Enclose, but do not attach, any payment. Also, please use Form 1040-V.
Adjusted Gross Income
16a 17 18 19 20a 21 22 23 32 24 33 34 25 35 26 36 27 37
28 29 30 31a 32 33 34 35
Educator expenses . . . . . . . . . . 23 IRA deduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Certain business expenses of reservists, performing artists, and Student loan interest deduction . . . . . . . . 33 fee-basis government officials. Attach Form 2106 or 2106-EZ 24 Tuition and fees. Attach Form 8917 . . . . . . . 34 Health savings account deduction. Attach Form 8889 . 25 Domestic production activities deduction. Attach Form 8903 35 Moving expenses. Attach Form 3903 . . . . . . 26 Add lines 23 through 35 . . . . . . . . . . . . . Deductible part36 of from self-employment tax. Schedule gross SE . income 27 Subtract line line 22. This is Attach your adjusted Self-employed SEP, SIMPLE, and qualified plans . . 28 Self-employed health insurance deduction . . . . 29 Penalty on early withdrawal of savings . . . . . . 30 31a Alimony paid b Recipient’s SSN ▶ IRA deduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Student loan interest deduction . . . . . . . . 33 Tuition and fees. Attach Form 8917 . . . . . . . 34
Line 32 gives you more than IRA deductions. 36 37
Domestic production activities deduction. Attach Form 8903 35 Add lines 23 through 35 . . . . . . . . . . . . . Subtract line 36 from line 22. This is your adjusted gross income
For Disclosure, Privacy Act, and Paperwork Reduction Act Notice, see separate instructions.
Cat. No. 11320B
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INSIDE this issue
COVER STORY >>
Getting yourself out there on YouTube may seem like a daunting challenge. But it’s not as scary as you may think. Dozens of members are getting in on the act, speaking for the VSCPA on a variety of professional topics. There are some dos and don’ts you should know, but becoming camera-ready has never been easier.
FEATURES DO YOUTUBE RIGHT!
Get answers to your burning YouTube questions. Are other professionals using YouTube? What are the VSCPA’s goals for putting up videos? And more.
JUSTICE OUTSIDE THE COURTROOM
Sometimes court isn’t the best option to resolve a dispute. CPAs can take a role in other ways to resolve legal conflicts. Learn from a few CPA case studies in arbitration and mediation.
COMMON PITFALLS OF LARGE ERP PROJECTS
Undertaking a large Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) implementation is not for the faint of heart. Pre-planning to avoid pitfalls can make all the difference.
CORPORATE INCOME TAX DISCLOSURE
What can we learn from an erroneous New York Times article?
DOS AND DON’TS OF POWERPOINT
A few visual cues can make your presentations sing.
ADVERTISERS INDEX Accounting Practice Sales inside back cover • AON Insurance p. 41 • Audimation Services Inc. p. 25 • Beth A. Berk, CPA p. 31 • CAMICO back cover • CPA Staffing p. 30 • Digital Benefit Advisors p. 23 • GEICO p. 43 • HD Vest Financial Services inside front cover
VSCPA EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION 40 SELF-ASSESSMENT 42 CLASSIFIEDS 43 I AM
disclosures is published bimonthly for members of the Virginia Society of CPAs.
Our mission is to enhance the success of CPAs.
BACKTALK you said it
VIRGINIA SOCIETY OF CPAs
4309 Cox Road Glen Allen, VA 23060 Ph. (800) 733-8272 Fx. (804) 273-1741 www.vscpa.com
FROM THE VSCPA LINKEDIN GROUP >>
For all you networking CPAs
I was just reading an interesting article about making a good first impression, and there was one bullet point that was actually more of a “don’t”; it said to “Avoid bad days. People who go to events or mixers after having had a bad day typically continue to have a bad day ... If you’re having a bad day, stay home!” Keep that in mind when the tax season pressure and fatigue start to set in; that may not be the best time to be out there at a networking event. Keep the energy level up, and have a productive tax season!
Jill Edmonds Managing Editor firstname.lastname@example.org Jenny Hansen Communications Director email@example.com Tina Lambert, CAE Vice President, Member & Public Relations firstname.lastname@example.org EDITORIAL TASK FORCE Joan D. Aaron, CPA Lindsay S. Andrews, CPA Adam G. Chaikin, CPA
JAY REINER, CPA, Jay E. Reiner CPA, PLLC, Vienna
VIA EMAIL >> Congrats on one of the best places to work. Great example for all CPAs.
ANDREA M. KILMER, CPA,
The ESG Companies, Virginia Beach
David L. Cotton, CPA Gary D. Dittmer, CPA Elizabeth M. Helle, CPA Clare K. Levison, CPA George D. Strudgeon, CPA Thomas L. Visotsky, CPA DEADLINES Articles and advertising for future issues are due by 5 p.m. on the following dates: July/Aug. 2012 Sept./Oct. 2012 Nov./Dec. 2012 Jan./Feb. 2013 Mar./Apr. 2013 May/June 2013
Apr. 15, 2012 June 15, 2012 Aug. 15, 2012 Oct. 15, 2012 Dec. 15, 2012 Feb. 15, 2013
Statements of fact and opinion are made by the authors alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of the officers, members or editorial staff. The Warren Group Design / Production / Advertising www.thewarrengroup.com email@example.com
VIA EMAIL >> [Regarding the Nonprofit Pro Bono Assistance Program]: The connections you are facilitating make a big difference. Particularly, in these times of constrained resources, it allows organizations to stretch. The impact cannot be understated. DAVID TIKKALA
VIA EMAIL >> The information I learned through The Leaders’ Institute has been so valuable for helping me get a job, continue my master’s degree and continue to pursue my CPA. Keep up the great work! BRAD GRIFFITH,
Liberty University student
Get in touch
Great visit with VSCPA today (@ Marriott Richmond West) — @PAMELACDEVINE
Finishing up final item in Senate General Laws this afternoon. After that, most VSCPA legislative issues will be taken care of. — @VSCPAEMWALKER
Early morning mtg with VSCPA incoming YP Advisory Council chair Tres Brackens. Big plans are in the works! — @COURTNEAL_1 BLOG: www.cpacafe.com VSCPA CONNECT: http://connect.vscpa.com TWITTER: @VSCPANews, @FinancialFit LINKEDIN: http://tinyurl.com/VSCPALinkedInGroup FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/VSCPA
At the Virginia Society of CPAs, we love to hear from you. Whether it’s a quick email to a staff member, chat on the phone, Disclosures letter to the editor, tweet, blog comment or something different altogether, let us know what you’re talking about, how you feel about different issues affecting CPAs and how we can help.
Earn 18+ FREE CPE Credits Each year, the VSCPA develops a variety of free member programs that qualify for CPE credit. Mark your calendars for the following events and earn 18+ CPE credits by attending: NEW! Members-Only Webinars
NEW! Young Professionals Coffee & CPE
Earn 1 CPE credit while discussing hot topics related to your career and VSCPA membership. Each webinar is scheduled for 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. More dates to come!
Build relationships with fellow young VSCPA members at a new series of in-person coffee gatherings. Earn 1 CPE credit for participating.
May 24 June 20
June 8 Oct. 8
LIVE! Professional Issues Updates
NEW! Young Professionals Webinars
Meet with VSCPA staff in person and earn up to 4 CPE credits while staying up to date on professional issues and new VSCPA initiatives.
Get information on topics specifically designed for young professionals in lunchtime webinars from noon – 1 p.m. Earn 1 CPE credit for participating.
• • • • • •
• • •
June 5, Tidewater, 8 – 11:40 a.m. June 12, Springfield, 8 – 11:40 a.m. June 13, Richmond, 8 – 11:40 a.m. June 25, Lynchburg, 1 – 4:40 p.m. June 27, Danville, 1 – 4:40 p.m. Nov. 8, Abingdon, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Virtual Professional Issues Updates These lunchtime webinars invite you to earn 1 CPE credit while getting a quick overview of timely professional issues and new VSCPA initiatives. Each webinar is scheduled for 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. • • • •
July 11 Sept. 19 Dec. 6 March 21, 2013
July 19 Sept. 11 Dec. 11
Business & Industry Webinars These lunchtime webinars invite you to earn 1 CPE credit while discussing hot topics in business and industry. Each webinar is scheduled from noon – 1 p.m. • • •
Aug. 9 Nov. 8 Feb. 21, 2013
Management of an Accounting Practice (MAP) Events Earn up to 2 CPE credits while examining the results of the 2012 PCPS/TSCPA National MAP Survey. • • •
Jan. 8, 2013, Richmond Jan. 15, 2013, Tidewater Jan. 17, 2013, Fairfax
Additional opportunities for FREE CPE credit are added throughout the year! Go to www.vscpa.com/FreeCPE for details and registration or call (800) 341-8189.
New licensing fees almost reality A slate of revised CPA-related fees that has been in the works for a few years is nearing implementation. The Virginia Board of Accountancy’s (VBOA) fee proposal, “Licensure Fee Adjustment,” was submitted to the Virginia Registrar in February and entered a public comment period this spring that was planned to end, as of press time, on April 27. CPAs, CPA Exam candidates and CPA firms will all be affected by the changes. The cost to apply for a Virginia CPA license will increase from $24 to $75, and the cost for applying for a firm license will jump from $24 to $100. The license renewal fee will also increase from its current $24 to $60 for individuals and $75 for firms. The license restatement fee will jump from $250 for both individuals and firms to $350 for individuals and $500 for firms. CPA Exam candidates will face a new $20 fee for processing additional applications to take one or more sections of the CPA Exam, and a new $25 fee for the preliminary evaluation of whether a person has met the requirements to take the Exam. Other fee changes address timely communication with the VBOA and processing certain requests. For a full chart of the current and proposed fees, visit vscpa.com/VBOAFeeProposal. While not specifically supporting the proposal, the VSCPA recognizes the need for the VBOA to increase fees in order to remain solvent. In a December 2011 letter to Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, the Society urged the governor to approve the proposal so the public comment process could begin.
The VBOA expects to deplete its funds by January 2013. In its letter, the VSCPA said: “While a logical response to this might be to direct the VBOA to reduce expenses and streamline operations, we have watched the VBOA evolve over the past several years and are confident that there are, at best, minimal adjustments that could be made without significantly damaging the quality of operations and customer service functions of the VBOA.”
After the public comment period, which included a public meeting held on April 10, the VBOA will make any changes and submit the final regulations within 180 days. While an effective date is not currently set, the new fees could be in place as early as Jan. 1, 2013. n
SYSTEM OVERLOAD >>
IRS is overburdened and underfunded Taxpayers should be very worried, based on the National Taxpayer Advocate annual report released in January. An expanding workload and declining resources are hampering services to taxpayers and resulting in reduced tax compliance, the report says. Increasing complexity of the tax code, constant code changes, increases in fraud and identity theft and many other challenges contribute to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) work overload, resulting in the following problems: SHORTCUTS >> Automated procedures could be compromising the IRS’s ability to assess return accuracy, and do not solicit or allow for taxpayer response. In 2011, an “auto-void” procedure used to detect fraudulent returns violated due process, the report alleges. PROBLEMS WITH MATH ERRORS >> Math error notices sent to taxpayers from the IRS are often vague, unspecific and inaccurate. Taxpayers often do not respond because they are confused.
REFUND DELAYS >> Taxpayers who had refunds withheld under suspicion of fraud ultimately waited months for their refunds to be released, due to automated systems, which put undue hardship on those taxpayers. SERVICE CONCERNS >> The IRS’s ability to quickly answer telephone calls and respond to taxpayer correspondence is declining. TRACKING DOWN UNPAID TAXES >> Inadequate funding is severely hampering the IRS’s ability to pursue unpaid tax liabilities, which ultimately affects lawabiding, tax-paying households — which end up paying “noncompliance surtaxes” to cover the difference. The solution? A Taxpayer Bill of Rights. The National Taxpayer Advocate recommends Congress codify a Taxpayer Bill of Rights to clearly list the rights and responsibilities of taxpayers. The report cites a recent taxpayer survey in which 55 percent of respondents said they didn’t know they had rights before the IRS, and 61 percent did not know what their rights were. The full report is available at www.TaxpayerAdvocate.irs.gov. n
Free CPE? Renew now and it’s yours There are plenty of reasons to renew your VSCPA membership, and the free 18 credit hours of CPE is just one. Visit www.vscpa.com/Renew by May 31, 2012, and follow the instructions provided. Choose from a variety of CPE opportunities throughout the year, including webinars, virtual and live professional issues updates, networking breakfasts and more. For more information on these opportunities, check out www.vscpa.com/FreeCPE. Of course, you’ll also get all the great member benefits you’ve come to expect, like Disclosures, networking opportunities, e-news, advocacy efforts and more. To renew online, you’ll need to log in to www.vscpa.com. And if you have questions about renewing your membership, contact us at (800) 733-8272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. (Remember: Student, Lifetime and Firm Administrator members — you don’t need to do a thing!) n
“I don’t feel any pressure at all to go along with anybody. I feel pressure to do the right thing for U.S. markets and U.S. investors.” — Mary Schapiro, chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), on February 24 regarding implementation of International Financial Reporting Standards
CGMA LAUNCHES >>
New CPA designation addresses global business CPAs now have another opportunity to gain a specialized designation that will demonstrate their abilities in a niche area. The Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation was launched in January by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). The CGMA is tailored to CPAs working in a range of management accounting roles in business, industry and government, who have core financial expertise and business acumen. The AICPA and CIMA have big plans for the designation. “The CGMA is poised to be the global designation for management accounting, and this joint venture with CIMA further enhances the position of the U.S. CPA as a worldwide leader,” said AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA. “We envision the CGMA as a new type of designation that remains focused on a constantly changing world.” CGMA holders receive the benefits of a new website, www.cgma.org, which has access to a global community of peers and resources such as thought leadership papers, business tools and magazine and newsletter communications. Visit the CGMA site for more information on CGMA qualifications and registration. n
Empty houses = Lower home values Virginia foreclosures may be down, but high vacancy rates are taking a toll. FACT>> From 2010 to 2011, the total
number of foreclosures in Virginia declined 32 percent. FACT>> Foreclosures in the
Commonwealth remain 1,000 percent greater than in 2006, before the recession. FACT>> Vacant properties accounted
for 9 percent of the total housing stock in 2010. FACT>> Approximately 23 percent
of Virginians with a mortgage are underwater. FACT>> In the last two years alone,
Virginia homeowners who lived in close proximity to a vacant property lost $26 billion in home equity. Source: “The Impact of Foreclosures on Economic Recovery in Virginia,” Home Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia Inc., www.phonehome.org
BY THE NUMBERS
95 The number of counties in the Commonwealth of Virginia (not including 39 independent cities). That’s a lot of local governments with their own local taxes!
HOW MANY CHANGES? >>
Random tax facts It’s no surprise the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is inundated with numbers. But what some of those actual numbers are may surprise you. Or maybe not. >> From 2001–2010, there were approximately 4,430 changes to the tax code, an average of more than one a day. An estimated 579 changes were made in 2010 alone. >> In 2011, the IRS’s Electronic Fraud Detection System flagged 1,054,704 returns on suspicion of fraud, an increase of 72 percent over 2010. >> Also in 2011, the IRS’s centralized Identity Protection Specialized Unit received more than 226,000 identity theft-related cases, an increase of 20 percent over 2010. >> In 2010, the IRS made about 15 MILLION contacts with individual taxpayers to adjust their tax liabilities, but it treated only about 10 percent (1.6 MILLION) as audits. >> The IRS issued notices correcting 10.6 MILLION “math errors” in 2010, up from 4 million in 2005. Source: Internal Revenue Service, www.irs.gov n
Ten forces shaping the future of business Major issues in sustainability will seriously affect the way we do business over the next 20 years, according to a new KPMG report, “Expect the Unexpected: Building Business Value in a Changing World.” KPMG analyzes the following 10 sustainability megaforces that will affect every business. 1. CLIMATE CHANGE
2. ENERGY AND FUEL
3. MATERIAL RESOURCE SCARCITY
8. FOOD SECURITY
4. WATER SCARCITY
9. ECOSYSTEM DECLINE
5. POPULATION GROWTH
Find the report at www.kpmg.com/global.
ADVOCACY SESSION 2012 >>
Protecting the taxpayer FINANCIAL LITERACY GRADUATION REQUIREMENT: PROTECTED
The Virginia General Assembly hit the national airwaves during the 2012 session, but it was smooth sailing for the VSCPA with regard to its legislative agenda. Starting with CPA Assembly Day on Jan. 17, the VSCPA and its members made their voices heard throughout session, communicating with legislators to advocate for the interests of Virginia CPAs and taxpayers. The VSCPA took action on 18 bills, monitored 185 in all and was successful with all of its issues. Visit www.vscpa. com/SessionWatch for more details on the VSCPA’s involvement and the up-todate status of each bill.
VIRGINIA TAX CONFORMITY: LAW Gov. Bob McDonnell signed HB 516 into law Feb. 7, conforming the Virginia tax code to the U.S. Internal Revenue Code (IRC) as of Dec. 31, 2011. Another conformity bill appeared poised to become law at press time, as an amended SB 462 was on McDonnell’s desk for his signature. That bill would conform
Virginia’s tax code to Sec. 199 of the IRC, allowing the entire amount of the deduction allowed for domestic production activities pursuant to that section to be deducted for Virginia income tax purposes for the 2012 tax year.
CONFIDENTIALITY OF CERTAIN FINANCIAL INFORMATION: PASSED ASSEMBLY The VSCPA also fought hard for HB 275, which was introduced at the Society’s request by Del. Chris Peace (R-Hanover). The bill closes a loophole in the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that subjected certain Virginia Board of Accountancy (VBOA) records to disclosure under FOIA. The bill was on McDonnell’s desk at press time. Previously, all VBOA records associated with closed enforcement investigations were subject to disclosure under FOIA, allowing private citizens to request those records, which may contain taxpayers’ personal and private financial information.
The VSCPA was concerned with HB 1295 and SB 679, which, as introduced, would have struck the recently implemented economics and personal finance graduation requirement for Virginia students. Along with other groups in the financial services industry, the VSCPA was successful in getting substitute legislation introduced in both chambers that stripped all language related to the financial literacy requirement, which went into effect for students entering ninth grade in fall 2011. The requirement will remain in effect.
AUDITOR OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTS OUTSOURCING: DEFEATED The VSCPA also expressed concern over HB 341, which would have required the Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts (APA) to outsource the audits of any department or agency handling any state funds. The Society was concerned about making such a drastic change without conducting a thorough analysis to determine whether it would be in the best interest of the Commonwealth and opposed the bill as introduced. The House Appropriations General Government Subcommittee decided not to proceed with the bill, and its chair, along with the bill’s patron, will ask the APA to look into the concept and make recommendations. The VSCPA has offered to assist with that process.
PUBLIC PROCUREMENT ACT AND PREFERENCE FOR LOCAL BIDS: DEFEATED The VSCPA was among several organizations that voiced opposition to HB 529, SB 525, HB 530, SB 526, HB 1232 and SB 589, which would have instituted various requirements favoring local and Virginia bids, products and firms under the Virginia Public Procurement Act. The VSCPA opposed the bills because of the potential for a retaliatory impact on Virginia firms that bid on contracts in other states and the lack of specificity in determining what constitutes a Virginia business. All six bills were defeated in committee.
LICENSING FOR MILITARY MEMBERS AND THEIR SPOUSES: CONFLICTS REMOVED As introduced, HB 937 and HB 938 created conflicts with Virginia’s accounting statutes. The bills deal with expedited professional licenses for spouses of military service members and substantially equivalent military training and education for professional licenses, respectively. The VSCPA worked directly with the patron to resolve the conflicts in each bill, and the bills moved forward with amendments that removed those conflicts.
EXTENSION OF TIME TO FILE TAX RETURN: ISSUE RESOLVED
penalties for tax due returns on extension that are electronically filed. The VSCPA reviewed the bill at the patron’s request and participated in discussion about issues with the bill; the Virginia Department of Taxation (TAX) determined the legislation had been drafted incorrectly and referenced the wrong section of the statute. TAX indicated the problem could be solved with an administrative process change, and after a meeting between the VSCPA, TAX and the patron, it was determined that an administrative fix was preferable to legislation.
REGISTRATION OF CHARITABLE ORGANIZATIONS: PASSED ASSEMBLY The VSCPA supported SB 86, which dealt with the threshold at which charitable organizations are allowed to form Form 990-N with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The agency recently raised that threshold from $25,000 — where current Virginia law places it — to $50,000. The bill passed both chambers of the General Assembly and is currently awaiting McDonnell’s signature.
ONLINE SALES TAXES: PASSED ASSEMBLY The VSCPA did not take an official position on the highest-profile taxrelated bill to go before the Assembly, but monitored it closely. SB 597 would require certain online retailers to collect sales and use taxes in the same manner as a brick-and-mortar retailer. McDonnell’s office, along with several Assembly members, reached an agreement with online sales giant Amazon authorizing Virginia to require an out-of-state seller with distribution facilities or other related entities in the Commonwealth to collect sales taxes on the sale of goods to in-state purchasers without regard to the location of the seller. Previously, Virginia taxpayers were required to self-report consumer use tax. The amended bill is currently awaiting McDonnell’s signature.
Thanks to all VSCPA members who made their voices heard on these issues by communicating with their legislators, whether in person at CPA Assembly Day or via letters or emails. n
ALL RECENT DEVELOPMENTS ONLINE
Visit www.vscpa.com/SessionWatch for the most up-to-date legislative information, including a video recap of the VSCPA’s advocacy efforts during the 2012 Virginia General Assembly session.
HB 1264 dealt with late payment
7 Steps to C nnected In March 2012, the VSCPA launched Connect, a new social network just for members. Connect allows you to create a profile, connect with peers, join or create special interest groups, share resources and much more. Here are seven easy steps to help you get started:
1 2 3
Log onto http://connect.vscpa.com using the same username and password you use on www.vscpa.com. Can’t remember your password? Visit https://www.vscpa.com/content/loginrecovery.aspx. Complete your profile. Share as much or as little information as you’d like. Hint: If you already have a LinkedIn profile, grab your profile information from LinkedIn!
Customize your privacy settings to share or lock down certain aspects of your profile. Hint: You can make various aspects of your profile public, which could help connect you with potential clients.
4 5 2 10
3 5 6 4 5 6 7
Connect with colleagues. Search for your peers using the Directory or check out your automatic networks, which group you with other members you might have something in common with based on your profile information. Check out your communities. Need to make a change to your practice-specific communities? Click on “Edit contact information” in your profile.
Determine how you’d like to receive notifications from your communities by going to “My Subscriptions” under “View Discussions” in the “Communities” menu. Post a discussion or share a resource! Both features are accessed under “Communities.” The discussion forums work like our email listserves, but with enhancements, like better email formatting, attachment storage and the ability to view listserve member profiles.
Be sure to check out other cool features, like the blog and glossary, too. Need more help? Check out the FAQ and feel free to contact us at email@example.com with questions. Happy Connecting!
Corporate income tax disclosure: Time for a change? BY GARY DITTMER, CPA, CMA
length. The disclosure requirements are stated in seven paragraphs (43 through 49). Missing from FAS 109 is mention of contingent income tax liabilities, which were initially covered by FAS 5, Accounting for Contingencies, and are now governed by FASB Interpretation 48 (FIN 48, ASC 740-10-50), Accounting for Uncertainty in Income Taxes.
Despite increasing complexity in both U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and the U.S. Internal Revenue Code (IRC) since the 1992 publication of Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No. 109, Accounting for Income Taxes [FAS 109, now part of Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) 740], there has been little change in income tax disclosures that would enable a reader to easily determine the amount of income taxes incurred by a corporation during a given year. This lack of transparency led to the erroneous March 25, 2011, New York Times article reporting that General Electric Company (GE) did not pay any federal income taxes in 2010 and instead was receiving a refund of $3.2 billion. 1 A recent article by Allan Sloan in the Dec. 12, 2011, Fortune magazine highlights the GE case and the difficulty determining the amount of income taxes incurred by large public corporations. 2 Sloan argues that there is little correlation
between the reported current income tax expense and the actual income taxes incurred by a corporation.
The relevant income statement disclosures for deriving the amount of incurred income taxes are as follows: 1. Current tax expense or benefit 2. Deferred tax expense or benefit
This article is a response to calls for more transparency by publicly held corporations and will review the GE issue in light of the present disclosure requirements. It will also present an enhanced disclosure that would benefit users of financial statements and make the corporate income tax structure more transparent.
3. Investment tax credits
PRESENT DISCLOSURE MODEL
7. A reconciliation of changes in the liability for unrecognized income tax benefits that includes at a minimum:
FAS 109 represented an improvement over its predecessor, the ill-received FAS 96 with its requirement to schedule reversals of temporary differences. Although the topic of accounting for income taxes is regarded as a complex area of financial accounting, FAS 109 as originally published was only 23 pages in
4. Government grants treated as a reduction to income tax expense 5. The benefits of operating loss carryforwards 6. Tax expense from allocating certain tax benefits either directly to contribute capital or to reduce goodwill or other noncurrent intangible assets of an acquired entity
a. The balance at the beginning of the year b. For income tax positions taken during previous periods, gross additions and gross reductions c. For income tax positions taken during the current period, gross
TAXATION additions and gross reductions
GE DISCLOSURES — MISREAD BY THE NEW YORK TIMES
d. Reductions resulting from settlements with taxing authorities
The New York Times reporter relied on the footnote disclosure of GE’s current U.S. federal income taxes, which stated that current income tax expense includes amounts applicable
e. Reductions resulting from the lapse of the applicable statute of limitations f. The balance at the end of the year
to U.S. federal income taxes of a benefit of $3.253 million for the year ended Dec. 31, 2010. The term “benefit” was interpreted to mean “refund,” which is a logical assumption. However, the term is also used to describe adjustments of liabilities or assets that reduce income tax expense.
TABLE 1: EXAMPLE REVISION TO GE’S DISCLOSURE FOR THE YEAR ENDED DEC. 31, 2010 >>
Incurred Income Taxes
U.S. Income Tax Expense (Benefit) Current Deferred U.S. Income Tax Expense
Current Deferred Total Income Tax Expense
Deferred Foreign Income Tax Expense
Deferred Income Taxes
Contingent Income Tax Liability $
$ (3,254) 2,213 (1,041)
$ (1,167) (1,167)
– – $
Deferred Tax Asset Valuation Allowance
(1,112) – (1,112)
(1,167) 2,091 $
4 1,046 1,050
$ 2,700 EXPLANATION OF CERTAIN AMOUNTS
Current and incurred income taxes: Total current income tax expense is disclosed in GE’s notes as is the reconciliation of contingent tax liabilities. The change in the balance of contingent liabilities affects current tax expense; therefore the difference between total current tax expense and the change in contingent tax liabilities reveals incurred income taxes. Deferred income taxes: The total change in deferred income taxes is affected by the change in the deferred tax asset valuation allowance; an increase in the valuation allowance increases deferred income tax expense. GE’s total valuation allowance increased from $1.179 billion to $1.321 billion, producing a change of $142 million. I reduced this by $29 million to agree with GE’s disclosure.
TAXATION For example, a reduction of contingent income tax liabilities caused by a lapse of the statute of limitations produces an income tax benefit (lower tax expense). However, it does not produce cash — it is simply an entry on the corporate books. The same is true for a reduction in a deferred income tax asset valuation allowance because of an increase in projected taxable income; it reduces income tax expense but it also does not produce cash. FAS 109 (ASC 740) requires a current tax liability or asset to be recorded for the estimated taxes payable or refundable on tax returns for the current year. 3 This amount should reflect the actual expense or refund that will be reported on the tax return plus or minus an adjustment for contingent income tax liabilities. Contingent income tax liabilities may include accruals for interest and penalties, which in GE’s 2010 financial statements reflects a reduction of accrued interest of $169 million and an increase of accrued penalties of $10 million. Therefore, the current provision consists of estimates of taxes that will be currently payable or refundable and taxes that may be payable in the future. Keep in mind that the tax provision is recorded months prior to the preparation of the actual tax returns, and there will always be differences between estimates and the actual amounts reported on the tax return. However, the estimated taxes payable or refundable recorded for the financial statements should be very close to the actual amounts reported on the returns — otherwise, a Sarbanes-Oxley deficiency may result.
CALLS FOR ENHANCED DISCLOSURE OF TAXES INCURRED The Dec. 12, 2011, article by Sloan calling for disclosure of income taxes incurred is part of increased calls for more transparency in corporate reporting. Sloan reports that he asked the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) why the disclosure of incurred income taxes is not required, to which the FASB replied that it has not been asked to require this disclosure. That does not seem like a proactive course of action from this elite standard-setting body. There is much misunderstanding about our tax system, particularly as it applies to U.S. global corporations like GE. Enhancing income tax disclosures of large public corporations to clearly indicate taxes incurred would add clarity to our national debate over taxes and the global economy. I propose some simple modifications to the present required disclosures that would be a proactive step in adding more light to the tax policy debate. Most of the amounts in my revised disclosure appear in the footnotes to GE’s 2010 financial statements, a few require simple calculations. I also made some assumptions to tie in to amounts reported. See Table 1 on page 13 for an example of a revision to GE’s disclosure for the year ended Dec. 31, 2010.
SUMMARY Adding a few columns to the income tax disclosure reveals the relationship among incurred income taxes, contingent tax liabilities, deferred income taxes and
the related deferred tax asset valuation allowance. The disclosure of income taxes paid is a required disclosure of the statement of cash flows; however it is more relevant to the income tax disclosures and should be moved. These changes will require modification of templates used to gather tax information. However, the additional cost of providing this information would be insignificant, as all the information is readily available and now disclosed elsewhere in the financial statements. An additional disclosure that would add clarity to the total tax burden on shareholders would be an estimate of the taxes shareholders paid on dividends. For example, GE distributed $4.9 billion in dividends in 2010 and its shareholders, if individuals, would have paid $719 million in federal income taxes on these earnings, which are taxed twice — once at the corporate level and another at the shareholder level. n 1 Kocieniewski, David, “GE’s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether,” The New York Times, March 24, 2011 2 Sloan, Allan, “Big Corporations Need to Show Us How Much They Pay in Taxes,” Fortune, Dec. 12, 2011 3 Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No. 109, Paragraph 8a, Financial Accounting Standards Board of the Financial Accounting Foundation, Norwalk, Conn.
GARY D. DITTMER, CPA, CMA, is senior tax director at USA Mobility, Inc., and an adjunct tax professor at George Mason University and the University of Virginia. Contact him at gdittmer@gmu. edu or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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From dull to daring: Bring your PowerPoints (and your audience) to life! BY JILL EDMONDS
‘WE DON’T LIVE OUR LIVES IN BULLET POINTS’ It sounds simple, but it’s true: We live our lives in pictures, thoughts, stories, songs. We don’t think in bullet points, and it stands to reason that the presentations that stick with us are the ones that don’t employ bullet points (at least bullets in the way you are used to seeing them). You can blame Cliff Atkinson if you don’t agree. He’s the one behind the BBP way of thinking. BBP stands for “Beyond Bullet Points,” which is a popular book explaining in great detail how to invigorate your presentations. Atkinson speaks around the country on this topic, and his website, www.beyondbulletpoints.com, is a great place to find resources.
We’ve all been there: A victim of PowerPoint slide overload. You may recognize the symptoms. Text-heavy paragraphs on slides begin to run into one blurry, gray mess. Your eyes begin to glaze. The presenter isn’t really holding you captive, because all he is doing is reading the slide. “Couldn’t I just read the slides later?” you may ask yourself. Your mind wanders. “It’s cold in here.” “What is this presentation about again?” “How many more minutes?” There’s a reason you’re tuning out, and
it’s not necessarily that the speaker lacks presentation skills. It’s just that PowerPoint is being used in the wrong way. Luckily, there are easy ways to correct this problem. So the next time you have to give a presentation — to your staff, to your board of directors, wherever — you can put the power back in PowerPoint.
Atkinson has a theory behind why PowerPoint presentations are always the same: “The main reason we approach PowerPoint the way we do is simply because that’s the way that we’ve always done it, and not because any research says it’s better than any other way.” Research is showing, however, the best way that people learn. And we don’t learn from reading gobs of info on tiny slides. Atkinson presents compelling information on people’s capacity for memory, and thus for learning, and
demonstrates how less really is more when it comes to presentations. If you are ready to alter your PowerPoint presentations so that your audience listens to you rather than their own internal musings, there are a few easy things you can do.
FIGURE 1: A POWERPOINT SLIDE THE OLD WAY >>
International Standards What is IFRS? • International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) are a set of accounting standards, developed by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), that are becoming the single global standard for the preparation of public company financial statements • In the U.S., the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is taking steps to set a adate to allow U.S. public companies to use IFRS. • In May 2008, AICPA Council approved IASB as an official standard setting - gives CPAs alternative to use IFRS vs. U.S. GAAP • Nearly all other nations use IFRS
Don’t even think about putting more than one idea on a slide. It isn’t going to kill you to hit the button to move to the next slide for the next idea, and overloading slides just puts too much information into your audience’s brains at once. Picture it: The presenter has a slide with six bullet points on it and is talking about the first one in detail. In the meantime, you read the entire slide before he gets through the points. You start to wonder if he is going to talk about the fifth point for as long as the first. While ruminating, you are actually tuning the speaker out, because you cannot read, listen and process at the same time. As he moves through the points, you forget what he was saying initially because you are sick of looking at the same slide. Instead, you think: “When is lunch?” Hit one idea per slide, and be done with it. And that idea isn’t a long paragraph, either. It’s a quick sentence that gets to the heart of the matter so that your audience is forced to listen to you for the rest of the information.
FIGURE 2: A POWERPOINT SLIDE THE ENGAGING WAY >>
Who will IFRS affect?
Luckily, PowerPoint has a great tool to help facilitate a presentation using pared-down slides.
USE YOUR NOTES The notes section in PowerPoint is your savior. All of the information that you would have put on the slide in the first place can actually go there — that is where your presentation comes from. Instead of your audience reading along with you as you reiterate the same points that are on the screen, they see one topic and then must tune into you for the information. They are immediately much more engaged. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your audience has to take copious notes. You can supplement your presentation with handouts that contain a lot of the important information you want them to take away. The handouts, however, are not PowerPoint slides with tiny text that’s
PRESENTATION INSPIRATION >>
Check out these sites for tips and tricks to spice up your PowerPoints. >> www.beyondbulletpoints.com >> www.presentationzen.com >> www.slideshare.net
BEYOND POWERPOINT >>
Believe it or not, using Microsoft PowerPoint isn’t your only option when it comes to crafting presentations. There are other options out there. Check out Prezi, an online, cloud-based software that aims to “make sharing ideas more interesting.” It’s at http://prezi.com.
virtually impossible to read. They may be outlines of the information, a quick cheat sheet of salient points or anything else you deem essential. So, use the notes section for all the info you need to give the presentation. You can easily set up your computer so that you can see the notes while your audience only sees the slide on the screen.
A PICTURE IS WORTH … MORE THAN BULLET POINTS The idea that people learn better with visual and verbal cues isn’t rocket science. Atkinson uses this information to demonstrate how to craft PowerPoint presentations with visuals that help the audience learn from what you are saying. A slide headline and a simple graphic are all the visuals your audience really needs. You can easily begin now to incorporate visuals into your presentations, and you don’t need a graphic-design background. If you need graphics, there are many online photo subscription sites that make purchasing royalty-free, professional photographs and illustrations easy and cost-effective. The site www.istockphoto. com is used by businesses, design professionals and laypeople to find graphics, and it is very affordable. A quick Google search will find you other options. This article isn’t intended to walk you through the technicalities of importing photos and other graphics into PowerPoint software, but “Beyond Bullet Points,” other PowerPoint manuals and the help files within the software can walk you through the process. Also, while graphics are important, don’t cross the line into anything flashy or over-the-top. A simple photo is enough
to get your point across, and you don’t need to resort to clip art. See Figure 1 on the previous page for an example of the old way of doing PowerPoint. It’s a slide on International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) from an old VSCPA presentation. Because all the information is on the slide, the presenter really has no other option than to read the slide verbatim. Figure 2 shows a new IFRS slide, which illustrates the most important point. All the information from the first slide has been moved to the notes section, which provides background for the presenter to give the talk.
MAKE THE TRANSITION No one expects you to automatically change the way you give presentations overnight. But by incorporating a more visual way of presenting into your PowerPoints, you will begin to build more engaging presentations — and your listeners will start to take notice. Get online and check out all the resources available to you. Play around in the software a bit. Building your presentations may actually start to be — dare we say it? — fun. You’ll know you’ve hit your mark when your audience says, “Is it lunchtime already?” n
JILL EDMONDS has served as managing editor of Disclosures magazine for nine years. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— John Montoro, CPA
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Do YouTube Right! Make the most of your one minute of fame BY GEORGE D. STRUDGEON, CPA
What do cute cats, crazy teenagers and the VSCPA have in common? You can actually find all three on YouTube. While the latter may not get as many views as the first two, YouTube has become a serious tool for professional organizations. As such, the VSCPA now offers members the opportunity to have their own messages recorded, edited and posted to YouTube. In fact, not only does the VSCPA have a few videos, it even has two YouTube channels: www.youtube.com/user/VSCPAVideos and www.youtube.com/user/VSCPAFinancialFit. (Use your smartphone to click the QR codes on the next page and check them out right away!) When I was first offered the opportunity to be in one their videos, I thought, “Sure, why not?” As a five-year member of the Richmond Midtown Toastmasters Club and someone who has presented in front of hundreds of people, I thought a simple YouTube video would be a walk in the park. It was not. Engaging
a group of people was easier for me than reciting a few talking points into the empty abyss of a non-reactive camera lens. People yawn when you bore them, sit upright when you interest them and laugh, hopefully, when you tell them jokes. If they ever ask me back to make a second video, or ask you to make your first video, I thought it would be beneficial to write down some of the lessons I learned. The first lesson: Trust the experts! With that, I reached out to the VSCPA’s resident experts, Hillary Crowder and Chip Knighton. Hillary is the VSCPA’s public relations specialist and spent four years anchoring and reporting for the CBS affiliate in Beckley, W.Va. She also learned how to shoot and edit video and work behind the camera interning for NBC affiliates in Richmond and Bristol. Chip is the VSCPA’s communications specialist, cameraman and video editor. An experienced sportswriter, he is quickly sharpening his skills producing VSCPA YouTube videos by day and home movies of his family by night, which he is proud to show off if you ask him nicely. With the help of these experts, we’ll hopefully take the mystery out of filming for YouTube, allow you to be better prepared for your starring role and possibly prevent you from asking the experts some of the hundreds of questions that I did.
HILLARY CROWDER, VSCPA PUBLIC RELATIONS SPECIALIST
QR CODES Scan this to check out the VSCPAVideos YouTube channel.
To get started, why should a member make a video? The idea behind YouTube or other social media is to provide the same information in a variety of different platforms. Maybe I prefer to read an article in a newspaper, but you would rather get information online. You never want to lose a potential viewer because they don’t like the way you are presenting your information. Additionally, these videos not only showcase you and your personal brand, but also your firm or place of business. If people see your video, they may contact you for services in the future. It’s free advertising. What is the VSCPA’s goal with each of its YouTube channels? The goal of the VSCPAVideos channel is to engage members so that we can identify key issues in the profession, provide them with resources or CPE, make them feel like they are a part of what is going on here at the VSCPA, get conversations
Scan this to check out the VSCPAFinancialFit YouTube channel.
started between them and their peers and bring issues to light that some of them may not have heard about just yet. VSCPAFinancialFit is a little different. The target audience for these videos is the public and the idea is to showcase CPAs as the leading financial experts that they are. Topics discussed there include budgeting, tax tips and retirement planning.
Can members expect to get as many views as those cats and teenagers? The likelihood of these videos going viral and making it in to the national arena is probably slim. But our videos do get a number of views. The VSCPA has more than 10,000 members and these YouTube channels are being promoted to each and every one of them. The Financial Fitness page receives several hundred web hits as well. While it’s unfair to promise a volunteer they will be the next cuddly kitten, these videos get plenty of play.
CHIP KNIGHTON, VSCPA COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST
always quite as applicable to abstract accounting concepts. But videos can be a great way to get accounting-related information out in a different way than usual. And letting your personality shine through in a video is a great way to market yourself. Who decides which members get to make a video? I’ve been the “gatekeeper” of the VSCPA’s video offerings, so to speak, but I don’t find myself turning members away very often, if ever. All of our members have something to offer, and if someone is motivated and knowledgeable enough about a topic to want to participate in a video that thousands of people could potentially see, I’m willing to give them a shot. Who decides what the members get to speak about?
Are other professionals on YouTube or is it just all cute cats and babies? This question barely scratches the surface of the true weirdness you can find on YouTube. But it’s also a legitimate vehicle to disseminate information. There are plenty of professionals out there offering great video content on YouTube, especially on topics where it’s better to show than to tell. For example, I’ve actually learned a lot about the setup and settings of our camera by watching videos online. Now, the “show, don’t tell” edict isn’t
That’s pretty much up to the members. They’re the experts on these topics. VSCPA staff members do look at videos to make sure there’s nothing that could get us in trouble. And we do put together more in-depth, produced videos on topics where we want to get a response, often related to our legislative agenda. But for the most part, I like to let the members drive the content of the videos. Are all videos just stand-and-speak or do members have the option of visual aids? Members can use visual aids if they feel it will help them illustrate their point. It’s easiest for me and for them if they send me the visual aids or direct me to them. Then I edit them into the appropriate
points of the video. How are locations for videos chosen and are there any limits? Most of our videos are shot at the CPA Center in Glen Allen outside of Richmond for reasons of convenience. I’ve gone to members’ workplaces before and shot video of them at VSCPA events, and I’m happy to come to you if you’re in the Richmond area. That’s not to say I won’t travel out of the area to shoot a video, but if I’m traveling, I’d like to get more than just one video. As for limits, it really depends on what you’re suggesting. Like I said, if I leave Richmond, it needs to be worth it to the Society, but we decide that on a caseby-case basis. Lighting and backdrop are factors in terms of where we decide to shoot, and if it’s an outdoor location, weather is an important consideration. Our equipment is expensive and doesn’t like to get wet! Can you give the members an overview of the process for shooting, producing and posting the video to the web? To shoot the video, members go on camera and talk about the issue in question. If it’s a more produced piece, often I’ll try to shoot B-roll, which are the “action” shots that go between the interview-style clips. Then I edit the video in our editing software, Adobe Premiere Elements. That generally takes anywhere from roughly one hour for a simple onetake video to several hours for a more involved piece. When I’m done, I use Premiere Elements to post the video to YouTube and then share it on the VSCPA website and in other communications.
Do members get to approve the final product before their video is posted for the public to see?
the web so that members can read it in advance of showing up for their video shoot?
Generally, I don’t send the video to the member before it’s posted, but I’m happy to let the member take a final look if they want. I think the members I’ve dealt with in the past have been pretty satisfied with the way I’ve portrayed them. To be honest, I don’t have enough in-depth knowledge about the issues they’re discussing to be able to take them out of context.
There sure is! Visit www.vscpa.com/ ModelRelease to see what you’ll be signing.
If a member does a video, will it be on YouTube forever? As long as YouTube exists and the VSCPA accounts are active, yes! But if a member wants to take a video down, we’re willing to discuss the possibility of removing it. We make those decisions on a case-bycase basis. I remember signing a release. I believed it referred to me as a model, which made me laugh. Is there a copy of it on
HILLARY CROWDER If members get to pick their own topics for the videos, do you have any tips for selecting one? If you have the opportunity to select a topic, make sure it’s something you feel very comfortable speaking about. Pick your favorite topic or the one you are most passionate about, not the one you think will get the most attention. That interest will always come across on camera. It will endear viewers to you. If you are comfortable with the material, people will also trust you and be able to tell that you know what you are talking about.
CPAs Take Note.
Is there a rule of thumb for how long or short a video for YouTube should be? I would say to shoot for between one to two minutes if part of the video is not going to be covered with other video. If some sort of cover video is going to be used, then the video should be no more than five minutes. It’s difficult to keep someone’s attention on something for very long, and if they are staring at a talking head for much longer than a minute, they are going to tune out. Is a word-for-word script necessary or can members use outlines? I do not think a member should use a script when doing a VSCPA video. The information given will be something that member is comfortable with and knows because it’s something they talk about with clients on a regular basis. If a script is used, the speaker will not seem as knowledgeable and comfortable with the topic. Of course, I would suggest using an outline in advance of the interview.
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That will allow you to re-familiarize yourself with the key points you want to make sure you include in the interview.
The best advice is to speak as though you are talking to one of your clients. Only say what you know. If you are uncertain,
CAUGHT ON CAMERA
rehearsed or scripted, it will come across on camera. Where should a member look when they are on camera? A member should always look at the person shooting the video or conducting the interview. Remember you are having a conversation. Looking directly at the camera will cause unnecessary nerves and pressure. Forgetting that the camera is there is the ultimate goal, and looking straight at it surely won’t achieve that end. Everyone seems to think they sound funny on voicemail. Is the same true of video?
In a YouTube video for the VSCPA, George Strudgeon, CPA, discusses www.usaspending.gov, a new website mandated by the Federal Funding Accounting and Transparency Act (FFATA). See the video at http://tinyurl.com/StrudgeonVideo.
People are always more critical of themselves than the audience will ever be. No one likes how they sound or how they look. You always think video of yourself is worse than it actually is. Often, people will speak more formally or try to sound “professional” on a voicemail or on camera. It is best to just be yourself, try to relax and talk slowly. How many times should the same segment be shot? The short answer: as many as it takes. The person shooting will be patient with you. They want you to look and sound good, so you should feel free to keep shooting takes until you are happy with how it goes. Any advice on what to wear?
VSCPA member Ryan Losi, CPA, shot a video for the VSCPA on the U.S. Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) letter-writing campaign targeted at paid tax preparers who complete types of returns in which the agency often sees errors. See it at http://tinyurl.com/LosiVideo.
I think solid colors work best. Patterned or printed clothing tends to be distracting. Solid white can also wash you
out, so you may want to avoid that. Bulky, distracting jewelry should also be left at home on interview days. Do you have any advice on gestures and body movements? I think it is perfectly fine to talk with your hands and use any gestures you would comfortably use when you are talking. Don’t try to use your hands or gesture if you would not ordinary do so. The only thing I would caution against in swaying or moving your feet around too much as doing so will make it difficult for the camera to follow you and you will end up walking or leaning out of the shot. Any tips for not saying filler words such as “like,” “uh,” “and,” “so,” etc.? The best advice is to be aware that saying these words is natural. People use these in normal conversation, so it is perfectly fine to say them on camera. Any excessive use of these conversational crutches or
long, drawn-out pauses would need to be edited out because then it comes across as though you don’t know what you are talking about, even if you do. The key to preventing this is preparation. Familiarize yourself with the information you want to say, think about how you want to say it and deliver it how you would in normal conversation. Do not try to memorize a script because you will likely forget what you wanted to say and use words like “like” or “um” while trying to remember that script.
FINAL THOUGHTS FROM GEORGE I’ll admit I was leery of YouTube before I started this process and wasn’t sure if it was the right fit for the VSCPA. Then I had a revelation. Even though textbooks share a medium with cheap romance novels, the CPA profession has long used text to share its knowledge. Online videos are no different. The credibility of a YouTube video does not come from the medium, but from its source. And the VSCPA is one of the most credible sources around. n
GEORGE D. STRUDGEON, CPA, is audit director at the Auditor of Public Accounts in Richmond, and a member of the VSCPA Editorial Task Force. Contact him at george.strudgeon@apa. virginia.gov.
Justice Outside the Courtroom BY BETH HELLE, CPA /ABV
Litigation is a notoriously expensive, slow-moving and uncontrollable process, so companies and individuals alike must evaluate how they manage conflict. At its core, effective conflict management should control costs while maintaining business relationships. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is a method that parties can use to achieve that goal, and CPAs can help.
ADR is any method of resolving conflict outside the courtroom, including arbitration and mediation. According to the American Bar Association (ABA), 95 percent of commercial litigation is resolved before trial. By avoiding the court system, ADR can be more economical, private and streamlined than litigation. In fact, ADR offers the conflicting parties significant flexibility since they can often choose their preferred method of resolution, the length and complexity of the process and the designated neutral third party, among other things. Given these benefits, the terms of many contracts mandate that the parties use ADR to resolve disputes. Additionally, in an effort to ease crowded court dockets, many courts require parties to pursue mediation prior to conducting a trial. ADR is used in a variety of circumstances ranging from marital dissolution to multibillion dollar commercial disputes. Similar to litigation, CPAs are often engaged to assist companies through ADR as expert witnesses, consultants or designated neutral third parties called arbitrators or mediators. While both arbitration and mediation avoid the courtroom, both have differentiating characteristics.
TO ARBITRATE OR MEDIATE Arbitration is similar to litigation in that each party agrees to present its case to the neutral third-party panel of arbitrators, who then typically render a binding written opinion. Many conflicting parties prefer arbitration over litigation because it can be conducted privately through an informal process with less stringent rules. Awards issued in binding arbitration tend to have more finality than litigation, because decisions can only be appealed in very limited circumstances. Also, since arbitrations are held outside the court system, arbitrators generally are not strictly bound by the legal principles established in other cases in the same way as common law courts. Consequently, parties who believe that judicial precedent is in their favor may wish to submit their disputes to the courts, while parties with unfavorable judicial precedents may prefer arbitration. Mediation is a non-binding, confidential settlement negotiation that is led by a mediator who serves as an unbiased third party. According to the American Arbitration Association (AAA), 85 percent of commercial disputes and 95
percent of personal injury matters that are voluntarily submitted to mediation successfully result in a settlement. In contrast to arbitration, the mediator does not render an opinion, but rather guides the negotiations with the goal of reaching a voluntary resolution of the dispute between the parties. The mediator holds joint and separate meetings called caucuses with the parties to understand the issues, evidence and each partyâ€™s positions and priorities. With the help of counsel, mediators may identify key issues and help the parties explore alternative solutions; however, the final settlement decision is at the discretion of the conflicting parties. Mediators and arbitrators are carefully selected and vetted retired judges, attorneys or professional and industry experts. In contrast to litigation, in which decisions are rendered by an appointed jury or judge, mediators and arbitrators are selected for specific cases based on their specialized knowledge. Parties presenting disputes can often assume that the arbitrators or mediators have a base level of relevant knowledge, which allows for potential cost savings. Rather than spending time educating the arbitrator or mediator regarding
industry practices, the parties can focus on analyzing the important issues in the case. Selection of the arbitrators or mediators is paramount to the conflicting parties. While arbitrators and mediators are independent and objective decision makers, each party wants to increase the likelihood that the selected mediator, arbitrator or panel will be open to adopting their positions. Consequently, the legal teams for each party will often carefully evaluate potential arbitrators or mediators with respect to their understanding of the industry, decisions in prior cases and other similar considerations. The rules and protocols of arbitration and mediation can differ based on the selected ADR forum and agreements between the parties. Arbitrations and mediations that follow the prescribed rules of an ADR administrator, such as the AAA, are generally more streamlined and allow for less discovery and fact-finding than litigation. However, the parties can agree to modify the provisions of the selected ADR forum to allow for stricter rules and greater discovery. ď ľ
85 percent of commercial disputes that are voluntarily submitted to mediation successfully result in a settlement. — AMERICAN ARBITRATION ASSOCIATION
THE ROLE OF THE CPA As expert witnesses or consultants, CPAs are engaged to assist attorneys and the ADR panel in understanding complex accounting and auditing issues, financial matters, business practices and damages assessments, among other things. CPAs may support their client through the discovery process, which can include assisting with documentation requests from the opposing party and depositions of key individuals. The CPA will use the information gleaned during discovery to form an opinion regarding the key issues in the case, which can include a business valuation, calculation of economic damages or determination of compliance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) or Generally Accepted Auditing Standards (GAAS). If the CPA is engaged as an expert witness in arbitration, the expert may also provide that opinion to the arbitrators through the issuance of an expert report and testimony. When CPAs are engaged during mediation as an expert witness or consultant, they can provide opinions or analysis related to the merits of a party’s position. In providing these client services, the CPA must be aware of the applicable professional standards governing litigation consulting, including the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) Code of Professional Conduct and the
Statements on Standards for Consulting Services. Varying protocols exist for ADR, depending on the type and form of governance agreed to by the disputing parties, so the CPA must be familiar with the established guidelines for the selected ADR forum. As mentioned previously, arbitrators and mediators are generally selected based on their expertise and, consequently, CPAs may also be engaged in ADR as the designated neutral third party. As an arbitrator or mediator, a CPA may be asked to assist with disputes involving complex accounting issues. CPAs can become certified arbitrators or mediators through a variety of organizations. The ABA Section of Dispute Resolution offers mediation and arbitration certification in Washington, D.C. Virginia’s Judicial System website (www.courts.state.va.us) also provides a list of certified mediation training throughout the state.
CASE STUDY: HOME RUN While the concept of ADR is straightforward, the specific rules and procedures vary from case to case and one example of this is “baseball” arbitration. Baseball arbitration has added drama to some ordinarily less glamorous disputes and CPAs are along for the ride. Baseball arbitration
received its name from salary disputes between Major League Baseball players and franchises, but the principles of baseball arbitration go beyond the field. Under the rules of baseball arbitration, each party submits a figure, such as a proposed salary or damages, to the arbitrator prior to the hearing. After the arbitrators have heard the case, they must select one of the two numbers submitted without any adjustment or modification. In other words, the arbitrators are not allowed to “split the baby,” but must choose a clear winner and loser by selecting only one of the party’s proposed numbers. Parties are incentivized to provide a reasonable number to the arbitrators, because it improves the chance of selection of their number; however, parties that submit too conservative of a number may risk leaving money on the table. As part of baseball arbitration, CPAs are often engaged to help attorneys and clients submit a reasonable, competitive figure to the arbitrators. One of my colleagues at Veris Consulting, Inc., was engaged by a major Swiss financial services company and its counsel in connection with a dispute concerning the post-valuation sale of the company’s international insurance and reinsurance operations in what is believed to be the world’s largest dollar value baseball arbitration. After the sale of its international insurance and reinsurance business, our client was obligated to pay the buyer an amount related to the current valuation of its insurance obligations; however, the parties disagreed about the amount of the exposure and entered baseball arbitration. As a CPA, my colleague
was engaged to calculate the value of the claim liability and perform an economic valuation of the reinsurance amounts. His calculations were used to develop our client’s proposed figure and he presented his findings before the independent arbitrator in London. With an approximate $900 million difference between the proposed figures, the independent actuary who served as the arbitrator selected our client’s proposal.
CASE STUDY: ‘FLEASE’-ING THE TENANT In a more traditional arbitration, my firm and I were engaged to provide analysis and expert testimony for a Northern Virginia auto-auction company in connection with a lease dispute. After entering into a goingprivate transaction, the auto-auction company’s landlord accused the company of defaulting on its lease of land by failing to meet financial covenants specified in the lease agreement. The auto-auction company denied breaking any of the lease covenants and believed the landlord’s actions were motivated by greed to secure a more profitable lease. After a year of unsuccessful negotiations, the parties entered arbitration as specified in the lease agreement. As CPAs, we were engaged by the autoauction company to perform financial analyses of the company’s going-private transaction, including appropriate application of GAAP, financial analytics and ratio analyses, evaluation and recalculation of financial covenants pursuant to the lease and assessment of
the adequacy of financial reporting. Our analyses and opinions were presented to the arbitrators through an expert report and testimony. The panel of three arbitrators found in favor of the auto-auction company, citing that the company had not violated the lease agreement by going private and that the financial covenants were properly met and calculated in accordance with GAAP. Further, the arbitrators confirmed the landlord’s motivation of increasing revenue and securing a better deal, rather than any concern over the security of the underlying lease.
work papers, financial statements, other relevant reports and data and deposition transcripts. As accounting consultants engaged to assist with mediation, my firm prepared an analysis regarding the insurance company’s allegation of auditor malpractice. Rather than providing expert testimony, my colleagues met with counsel and the mediator to explain how their analysis supported their client’s position.
PROTECTING YOUR BUSINESS AND YOUR CLIENT’S BUSINESS
CASE STUDY: ON THE DEFENSIVE
Are you and your clients prepared for future conflict?
Beyond being consultants, expert witnesses or neutral third parties, CPAs may also have a less desired role in ADR as the defendant. Auditors may be a target in litigation, especially if a client declares bankruptcy or restates its financial statements. In the event that external auditors are forced to defend their audit of a client, mediation may provide a private forum for resolving the dispute in a cost-effective manner.
The AAA is a nonprofit that offers a variety of ADR services for attorneys, businesses, individuals, associations, communities and the government. One of the primary goals of the AAA is to connect disputing parties with qualified arbitrators or mediators across the country. The AAA has offices located in major cities throughout the country, including Washington, D.C., but will hold hearings at any location convenient to the parties.
My firm was engaged to provide consultation and analysis related to certain audits performed on an insurance company’s financial statements. The insurance company believed that their external auditors failed to meet their professional duties under GAAS and, consequently, the parties entered mediation. To determine whether the auditors had breached their duties, my firm reviewed the audit
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is another organization particularly relevant to CPAs, because it offers ADR administration services related to business disputes between securities firms and investors. FINRA is responsible for regulating nearly 5,000 securities firms that do business with the public in the United States.
According to FINRA, the most common securities related disputes include breach of fiduciary duty, misrepresentation, negligence and breach of contract. As globalization continues, more disputes are arising between foreign parties. International arbitrations or mediations are defined as those occurring outside the United States, between parties from different countries, or on contracts executed outside the United States. One of the goals of international arbitration is to ensure that all parties have equal advantage with respect to the language used and location of the arbitration. Additionally, parties entering into international arbitration
or mediation want to ensure that any award will be accepted and enforced in the international community. The International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) Commission on Arbitration is one of many organizations that offer a wide variety of international ADR services, including arbitration and mediation. The AAA also has a separate division called the International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR) to handle international matters. By selecting an internationally respected ADR forum such as the ICC or ICDR, the parties increase the likelihood that the decision will be administered fairly and that the award will be enforced internationally.
So if CPAs are looking to aid justice from outside the courtroom, the opportunities are there. n
BETH HELLE, CPA/ABV, is a manager with Veris Consulting, Inc., a provider of specialized forensic accounting and litigation consulting services headquartered in Reston. She is a member of the VSCPA Editorial Task Force. Contact her at email@example.com.
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Attention CPAs: Whether A Decision Maker Looking To Upgrade Your Talent, Or A CPA Looking to Upgrade Yourself/Your Skills, Ask Yourself: Who really chose who in joining your company? Are you/your professional staff really at the right level where you should be/you need them to be? Are you/your staff in a position that truly suits your/their personality, values, and professional and personal needs?
Why leave your future to chance? If you’re seriously interested in making the “right” move for your next hire, I can help you. I am an actively licensed CPA in Maryland and Virginia with over 20 years of experience including public accounting (E&Y) and consulting (KPMG), financial accounting (American Cancer Society), internal audit (Moneyline Telerate), and recruiting (Acsys, formerly Don Richards). As a networker who truly enjoys helping others and sharing my career experiences to guide fellow professionals, here is how I can help you: Decision Makers: Ask you questions, and most likely ask many more questions than other recruiters about your company, duties involved, skills required, corporate culture and more Work with you on finding the “right” professional that is the “right fit” Provide you with valuable information about the professionals I work with, the marketplace, what your competitors pay, and more Career Seekers: Guide you on career paths available in public accounting and industry Enable you to capitalize on your strengths Coach you on how to put your best foot forward to find the “right fit” Advise you when to stay in your current position if that is the right move If you’re interested in working with a recruiter who understands your background, skills, and is genuinely interested in helping you find the “right fit”, then I welcome meeting you!
BETH A. BERK, CPA Independent Recruiter
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Common Pitfalls of Large ERP Projects BY ADAM G. CHAIKIN, CPA.CITP
The time has come. The Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform that you have been using for years, the one that fits like a glove (or maybe not really so well) is due for replacement or upgrade. After making excuses for years, you are now faced with the inevitable. Your system is putting your organization at risk, no longer gives you a competitive advantage or is no longer in compliance with industry regulation. Undertaking a large ERP implementation is not for the faint of heart. Regardless of the competence of your accounting and finance team at addressing monthly statutory or management reporting, the challenges that lie ahead are significant. The process of planning and executing a project to replace that system will be complex and time-consuming. There are a number of reasons that companies delay large ERP projects, such as:
The company’s financial performance has been struggling and it is hard to justify such an expenditure. The company closely monitors the software releases of specific vendors and has put off adoption of the new release because of bad experiences of early adoption of the software — either perceived or actual. The company is awaiting functionality that has been promised in a later release of the software. The company continued to put off annual patches and maintenance to the point that the software company is no longer willing to support the version you are on. Regardless, the company’s business has now grown and matured in such a way that the system you have no longer meets your needs and must be replaced. Initiating such a project within your company may be the hardest of all the steps, though none of them are easy. The initiation of such a project may require expenditures large enough to require board-level approval. The request to do the project may need to be put in front of a capital appropriations committee to allocate the funds over the next several fiscal years. Regardless of the internal decision support processes, one key deliverable is typically the business case.
INITIATING THE BUSINESS CASE The business case becomes a very important aspect of pulling a project together and getting it off of the ground. However, there is often a lot of research and planning needed to derive the inputs for a business case, and not all of them are easily attainable. The first common pitfall in large ERP projects is trying to satisfy the capital appropriation or business case process before fully understanding the project’s scope. Hans Kolbe, president of Celantra Systems, a San Francisco Bay-area company that specializes in the Oracle eBusiness suite for large multi-national companies, says, “Companies need to focus on truly understanding the scope of the project and that typically requires a lot of time and effort on behalf of your finance and IT organizations. A good place to start this discussion is with a detailed tech map. A tech map is a detailed graphical drawing of the systems and interfaces that will be impacted by the systems project. Often customers don't fully appreciate that in order to change the finance system, it also means making changes to boundary systems. This may include Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS), payroll, reporting (Hyperion or similar) or billing systems.” In addition to knowing what systems and interfaces will be affected, you will need to identify what business processes will be
in scope of the project. You will need to decide up front whether you are going to try to make updates to your financial or other processes to match the best-in-class system you purchased, or if you are going to change the system to match your ways of working. The best case scenario is to change your business processes to match that of the system that you just purchased, because it is much cheaper in the long run to organize the process flows around the system than it is to make customizations to the system. As a software purchaser, you have to assume that the software supplier knows a thing or two about your industry and the workflows associated with standard business process. Take advantage of the thousands of hours of investment they have made in researching and developing the application. This highlights the second pitfall of large ERP projects — an excess of invasive customizations.
MINIMIZE CUSTOMIZATIONS Customizations to ERP systems are typically complex to program and often hard to maintain going forward. Depending on the way a customization is done, you may run into issues in the future trying to apply system patches or performing upgrades. An upgrade or a system patch may require you to re-apply your customization, and regression
TECHNOLOGY testing is often required to make sure that nothing was ῾῾broken᾽᾽ during the upgrade process, adding yet another layer of complexity to your upgrade. As noted above, the best way to maintain your system for the long run is to try to achieve your goals though the standard configuration of the system and not an invasive upgrade.
THE ‘PROJECT BEFORE THE PROJECT’ To avoid the first two common pitfalls, consider having a “project before the project” to help you adequately complete the business case process by answering a number of key questions related to scope: What are the overall requirements that we have of the new system? How will unmet requirements be satisfied? Which systems, interfaces and processes will be affected by this project? Will the system require invasive customizations? What staffing model will work best for this project? Pre-planning will help you do the due diligence surrounding what is in scope, what is out of scope and what boundary systems are affected. In relation to the boundary systems, will they require upgrades, patches or further development to work with the new system? In my experience, companies will often look at the box in the middle of the tech map and assume that the project focus is about replacing what is in that box. However, it quickly becomes clear that in order to change that box, upstream and
downstream interfaces require re-writing, adding complexity to the project. When you make an error and underestimate the scope of the project, the team is constantly under attack for uncovering more and more issues that were not considered in the business case and for identifying activities that are not funded by the project’s business case. The project before the project also allows for early stakeholder involvement. This can set everyone᾽s expectations at the same level with regard to project schedule, project involvement and resourcing. For example, if you engage the accounting department early on to discuss appropriate times for launching the new system, you learn that there are windows of time during the year where going live is more taxing on them. Avoiding the yearend or quarter-end close is important. Involving the IT department early on will ensure that you know that this project is synchronized with other key initiatives involving the underlying hardware or software within the company. Last but not least, the project before the project also helps secure executive sponsorship that is in tune with the project’s complexity. Thomas Simkiss, CPA and the COO of ERP implementation firm BizTech, a Pennsylvania corporation with offices in King of Prussia, Pa., New York and Alexandria, cites a few key challenges that large ERP projects face. “Lack of executive leadership — without a C-level sponsor, projects tend to lose focus and grow in scope. A strong leader is required to keep the SME [subject matter experts] of the client team focused as well as the consultants.” He further cautions not to “rely too much on internal people — they still have day jobs more often than not.” And finally, he warns that “the first area
clients look to cut cost during a proposal process is in training and testing. ‘We can do that ourselves!᾿ It᾽s a great goal — and when it works, it works great. But when people are overwhelmed with the sheer magnitude of the change management and tasks involved, they either don᾿t get it done, get it done poorly or the consultants do them, and that means budget overrun.”
SET A REALISTIC SCHEDULE The third pitfall is related to project schedule. Very often, companies set an aggressive timeframe for a project. There are a variety of reasons for this: Some are related to motivation of employees and others involve keeping consulting costs at a minimum. However, setting an unrealistic schedule to the project is very damaging and stressful to the project team. In the first instance, damage is done because the project team will quickly see that the timelines are unrealistic. Once they question the suitability of the timeline, they will begin to question much more about the project’s ability to succeed. All of this undermines the project manager’s credibility. Setting too ambitious a timeframe means that the project team will get bogged down in a constant cycle of re-planning and re-forecasting. These are activities that prevent the team from focusing on getting the project done. In the second instance, setting an unrealistic schedule for the purposes of reducing the duration of consultants on the project creates scheduling conflicts with your consultants who expect a project of a short duration, and then are requested to work longer as the schedule is elongated. Another consideration is the adoption of the agile development model. The
TECHNOLOGY agile or extreme programming method helps companies realize tangible project benefits earlier than the waterfall approach by focusing on the use of prototypes. The main principle is to spend more time working on a suitable instance of the software that is constantly being configured and updated as opposed to creating reams and reams of documentation. However, not all organizations are ready for agile. Tom Achor, a CPA.CITP and principal consultant with Jibe Consulting, a Portland, Ore., ERP consulting firm, states, “There are organizations ready to implement in an agile method, but most companies using ERP are not that nimble. Compressed timelines can easily be more costly because there are dependencies that can᾽t be avoided and key resources that are needed in more than one track. If the impact of fast decisions on large systems is not discovered until integration testing, the project team may have to start over on basic configuration choices, slowing the project and costing more money.”
IDENTIFYING THE PERSONNEL The next key consideration will be to identify who actually does the project. Very often, companies will select a Strategic Integrator (SI) — a third party that specializes in large, complex systems integration projects and will work with your company to get the project done. The selection process for the SI should include a review of their experience with similar projects. You will want to see a proven track record of success. Make sure you assess the chemistry between the SI and the people in your organization. The project will require long hours and lots
of hard work, and you need to determine if this is a company you can work with under those circumstances. Regardless which business advisors you choose, look for the Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) credential from the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). The CITP credential focuses on information assurance and management services, making a CPA among the most trusted business advisors.
SELECTING THE CONTRACT VEHICLE Selecting the right contract vehicle is the final pitfall. Many organizations want to secure the price of the project by selecting a fixed-price option. This very hard to manage when the scope of the project and the timeframe is not well understood. The SI will require change orders to address the elements to scope that they were not aware of when they agreed to the fixed price. “Fixed-price contracts are always written so that the SI has the opportunity to come back with scope change or other reasons for adding on charges above the contract,” Achor says. “Even so, I think the implementer is more motivated by a fixed price contract to complete the project rather than allowing it to become bloated and behind schedule.”
Other organizations opt for a time and materials model. A time and materials model requires constant attention to the productivity of the project team. You want people to be working productively at all times and that is sometimes a challenge on a large project, especially if the team is bogged down awaiting key decisions. There is no magic elixir that can help select the right contract vehicle. Know your company, know your employees, know your scope and choose what works best for you.
SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS There are a number of common pitfalls to large ERP implementations. My key recommendation is to instigate the “project before the project” to help reduce risks related to scope and schedule. Use pre-planning to also evaluate what contract vehicle best suits your company. Even with the best planning, issues will still arise, so be prepared. Create the business case with an amount, perhaps 25 percent of the project cost, to be held as contingency to address those unknowns. An ERP upgrade can be daunting, but, done correctly, it can be implemented efficiently and effectively from both a financial and human resources perspective. n
ADAM G. CHAIKIN, CPA.CITP, is the founder and principal of Thought2Execution LLC in Northern Virginia, a consulting firm specializing in project management, software package selection and ERP implementations. Contact: adam.chaikin@ thought2execution.com | www.linkedin.com/in/adamgchaikin.
Congratulations to the following members! KRISTEN SOLES, CPA, has been named a
NEW HIRES >> ALLISON PARSONS, CPA,
has been hired as a manager at Homes, Lowry, Horn & Johnson, Ltd., in Fairfax. JOSH SHOCKLEY, CPA, was named
as treasurer of the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce.
Falls Church firm Murray, Jonson, White & Associates has hired MIKE SPENCE, CPA, as audit director and JOSHUA CRADDOCK, CPA, and AMY TILLETT as staff accountants.
FIRM NEWS >> JANIE MEDLEY
has been named a member of the Leading Edge Alliance, an international association of independent accounting firms.
NADDER, CPA, have been promoted to
BUSINESS & TECHNOLOGY SYSTEM
JOSHUA KERR-HOBERT, CPA, has
been named principal at Yount, Hyde & Barbour in Middleburg. SUSAN PITTMAN, CPA, has been
promoted to senior vice president and commercial lending administrator at Bank of Lancaster in Kilmarnock.
BROWN, EDWARDS & CO., LLP,
HOLMES, CPA, and VINCENT
tax partners at Glen Allen firm Keiter.
director of the Ballston Business Improvement District in Arlington.
Fairfax firm THE BURDETTE SMITH GROUP, PC, and Tysons Corner firm BISH AND HAFFEY, PC, have merged to form BURDETTE, SMITH & BISH LLC. The firm’s offices will be located in Fairfax.
PAUL HECKMAN, CPA, DENISE
MARK FOSTER, CPA, was re-elected
TINA LEONE, CPA, was named executive
Fairfax firm Burdette Smith & Bish, LLC, has promoted KEVIN GREEN, CPA, to senior, RYAN PERRY, CPA, to supervisor and SUE RANCK, CPA, to senior manager.
APPOINTMENTS & AWARDS >>
chief financial officer at Eggleston Services in Norfolk.
member of the Government Contracting and Technology Group at Watkins Meegan in Tysons Corner.
INTEGRATORS has changed its name to ARGY TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS. The
firm also earned the Silver Midmarket Solution Provider Competency in the Microsoft Partner Network. Norfolk firm WALL, EINHORN & CHERNITZER, PC, was named one of the 2012 Best Places to Work in Virginia by Virginia Business magazine and Best Companies Group.
VSCPA STAFF NEWS >> Two employees mark their sixth anniversary with the VSCPA: Education Coordinator JANIE MEDLEY on June 5 and Finance Manager DIANE JONES on June 19. Celebrating four years with the Society are Executive Vice President MAUREEN DINGUS on May 15 and Information Technology Consultant RANDY COOPER on May 21. Public Relations Specialist HILLARY CROWDER marks her first anniversary with the VSCPA on May 31. The VSCPA welcomes Marketing Specialist CHRIS MURPHY, who began Feb. 27, and Conference Planner RICHARD GORDON, who began March 12. Welcome to the team! n
The VSCPA mourns the loss of: LEONARD AARON, CPA, a VSCPA Life member
from Newport News. He graduated from the College of William & Mary and attended Virginia Tech. He served as president of Rodef Sholom Temple in Hampton and was an active member of the Peninsula Rotary Club and the American Cancer Society. He is survived by his wife, JOAN AARON, CPA, also a VSCPA Life member. ODELL HAMDEN, CPA, a VSCPA Life member from
Galax. He was VSCPA president from 1972–1973 and later served for five years on the Virginia Board of Accountancy. He served in the U.S. Army in the office of finance before earning his degree from National Business College. He was a managing partner at R.L. Persinger & Co. and led the firm’s Galax office for 40 years. ARMANDO LIBERATI, CPA, of Bumpass. He practiced
in Northern Virginia and served on the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) Trial Board. He was also a member of the Kiwanis Club, Ducks Unlimited, the Knights of Columbus in Falls Church and St. Matthew Catholic Church in Spotsylvania. JOHN SATTERWHITE, CPA, a sole proprietor from
Richmond. DONALD TIMMONS, CPA, of Harrisonburg. He was
chief financial officer (CFO) at Shenandoah Valley Poultry in Bridgewater and also worked as CFO of Hebrew National and president of John Krauss Inc. A World War II veteran and graduate of Hofstra University, he also served as national director and Long Island chapter president of the Institute of Management Accountants and on the accounting committees of the American Meat Institute and the National Independent Meat Packers Association. He was also an adjunct faculty member at Hofstra.
Fill your ethics requirement with the VSCPA CPAs are required to take an ethics course each year based on an outline provided by the Virginia Board of Accountancy. To help you fill that requirement, the VSCPA offers its own course, Ethics 2012 — Your License Depends on It! The VSCPA offers in-person and online options to help every member fulfill their ethics requirement. This year’s class was developed by VSCPA member Brian Kush, CPA, who also wrote the 2011 class. The course also satisfies some of the requirements for licensure in Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee and Washington, D.C. For more information on the requirements in those states, contact that state’s Board of Accountancy. Visit www.vscpa.com/Ethics for more information on the course. n
NORTHERN CHAPTER GOLF TOURNAMENT >>
The Northern Chapter of the VSCPA will hold its 17th annual golf tournament Tuesday, May 22. The 17th Annual Celebration of Golf, a four-person scramble format, will be held at 1 p.m. that day at the South Riding Golf Club. Proceeds benefit the chapter’s professorship in public accounting and accounting scholarships at George Mason University. For more information, visit www.northernchaptervscpa.com.
In the spotlight: Associate membership It may sound counterintuitive, but the VSCPA isn’t just for CPAs. The Society also offers its great member benefits to a host of other professionals at a lower rate through its Associate member category.
• Non-CPA professional staff working in an accounting or finance position or employed by or under the supervision of a CPA • Non-CPA college accounting instructors
Associate members pay $215 a year, a savings of $45 from the rate for Virginia CPAs. Professionals eligible for associate membership include: • Those who have completed the academic requirements for the CPA designation and are pursuing further requirements necessary to obtain the credential
• Non-CPA firm owners When an Associate member becomes a CPA, he or she will be elevated to Fellow member status. For more information on VSCPA membership categories, visit www.vscpa.com/Dues. n
FOCUS YOUR SEARCH AND GROW. The new VSCPA Career Center makes searching for jobs or candidates more efficient, leaving you more time to focus on growing your business opportunities. Simply set up an Agent and receive updates whenever jobs or resumes matching your criteria are first posted. (800) 733-8272 WWW.VSCPA.COM
VSCPA HP_CR.ad.indd 1
PROFESSIONAL PROFILES SEARCHABLE PORTFOLIOS AFFORDABLE JOB POSTINGS RESUME ACCESS INCLUDED
V S CPA CARE E R CE NT E R JOB SEEKERS | EMPLOYERS
5/11/2009 2:41:44 PM
VSCPA 100% Member Firms VSCPA 100% Member Firms show their commitment to their employees, the profession and the association. A 100% Member Firm is simply a Virginia CPA firm or company that has all of its CPAs enrolled as members in the VSCPA. Interested in being listed as a 100% Member Firm? Contact VSCPA Member Relations Director Brenda Fogg at firstname.lastname@example.org or (804) 612-9409. THANK YOU FOR YOUR COMMITMENT, 100% MEMBER FIRMS! Anderson & Reed, LLP Anderson, White & Company, PC, CPAs Barnes, Brock, Cornwell & Heilman PLC Beale & Curran, PC Beck & Company, CPAs, PC Bennett, Atkinson & Associates, PC Biegler & Associates, PC BlackHeath Company, PLC Bowling, Franklin, & Co., LLP Boyce, Spady & Moore PLC Britt & Peak, PC, CPAs Burdette Smith & Bish LLC Burgess & Co., PC, CPAs Cameron, Moberly & Hamrick, PC Charles S. Pearson, Jr., CPA Charles W. Snader, PC Cherie A. James, CPA, PLC Chesapeake Accounting Group PC Cole & Associates CPAs, LLC Coley, Eubank & Company, PC Corbin & Company, PC Craver, Green and Company, PLC Creedle, Jones and Alga, PC CST Group, CPAs, PC Dalal & Company David L. Zimmer CPA PC Diane Y. Smith CPA PC Didawick & Company, PC Dominion Benefits Donald W. Coleman, CPA, Inc., PC Douglas L. Thompson, CPA PLLC Duvall Wheeler, LLP Eggleston & Eggleston, PC Elmore, Hupp & Company, PLC Everett O. Winn, CPA, PLC First Capital Bank Frank Edward Sheffer & Company Fritz & Company, PC Garland & Garland, CPAs, PC Garris and Company, PC G.L. Roberson CPA, PLLC Gregg & Bailey, PC Gregory & Associates, PLLC
Gurman & Company, PLLC Hantzmon Wiebel Harris, Harvey, Neal & Co., LLP Henley & Henley, PC Henry R. Hortenstine III, CPA, PC Hogan & Reed, PC, CPAs Holland & Brown LLP Homes, Lowry, Horn & Johnson, Ltd. Honeycutt & McGuire CPAs Hunt & Calderone, PC, CPAs Jay E. Reiner CPA PLLC John M. Watkins, CPA Jones, Adams & Delp, PC Jones, Madden & Council, PLC Jones & McIntyre, PLLC Keiter Kositzka, Wicks and Company Kuehl Shepherd Kozlowski & Associates, Inc. L. P. Martin & Company, PC Lane & Associates, PC Larry D Greene CPA PC Lauren V. Wolcott, CPA, PC Lent & Hawthorne, PC M. Lee Winder & Associates, PC Martin, Beachy & Arehart, PLLC McPhillips Roberts & Deans PLC Michael B. Cooke, CPA, PC Michael R. Anliker, CPA, PC Miller Foley Group Mitchell, Wiggins & Company, LLP Moss & Riggs, PLLC Murray, Jonson, White & Associates, Ltd., PC PBGH R.T. McCalpin & Associates Renner & Company, CPAs, PC Roger L. Handy, PC Rubin, Koehmstedt & Nadler, PLC Russell, Evans & Thompson, PLLC Rutherford & Johnson, PC Salter & Associates, PC Scheulen, Patchett & Edwards, PC Sells, Hogg & Jones, CPAs, PC Spencer, Hager & Mosdell, PC Stephen Merritt CPA, PC Steve Guy & Associates, PC
Steve Walls & Associates, PLLC Strickland & Jones, PC Sullivan, Andrews & Taylor PC Terry L. Jones, CPA, LLC Thomas E. Fraley, CPA Thompson, Greenspon & Co., PC Tongelidis Consulting, LLC Updegrove, Combs, McDaniel & Wilson, PLC Valderas & Fishel, PC Walker Consulting Group Wall, Einhorn & Chernitzer Wells, Coleman & Company, LLP Yancey, Miller, Helsley & Bowman, CPAs, PLLC Yount, Hyde & Barbour, PC
The above list was compiled March 1, 2012. Check www.vscpa.com/100percent for a complete, up-to-date list. n
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Living the American dream
Always a Hokie
It’s a safe bet that very few VSCPA members have a background like Fatima Sbai. The junior at George Mason University is a non-traditional student in every sense of the term. Sbai, 34, a 2011–2012 VSCPA Educational Foundation Minority Scholarship recipient, spent two years at Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC), earning her associate’s degree in business administration with a 4.0 grade point average. That feat is all the more impressive, considering her full life at home in Alexandria with her husband and 7-year-old daughter. “I sometime wish there were more hours in a day,” she said. “When I am not at school or doing my schoolwork, I am catching up on laundry, cooking dinner or helping my daughter with her homework. I wish I could be more involved with the extracurricular activities.” >>
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As a CPA, you know how important achieving the designation has been in your life. Help make that a reality for deserving students across the state. Donate today at www. VSCPAFoundation.com.
Sbai was born and raised in Morocco and moved to the United States to take a job as a nanny. She spent several difficult years in Northern Virginia, learning English and struggling to make ends meet while trying to help her family in Morocco. Sbai chose NVCC because of its value for the money, taking her lower-level classes before transferring to George Mason. She decided to pursue her CPA credential after speaking with some of her teachers at the school because of the career opportunities it would open. Despite her limited free time, Sbai is taking advantage of all the opportunities offered by the VSCPA and the rest of the profession. She attended the VSCPA Leaders’ Institute in 2011 and plans to attend founding sponsor Baker Tilly’s upcoming two-day externship. She also hopes to gain a summer externship at KPMG. Ultimately, Sbai hopes to found her own firm and expand it to North Africa, where she can help the community where she grew up. Reaching that goal would mean bringing her career full circle, from Morocco to Northern Virginia and back again. “Although I was content with my life, especially after the birth of my daughter, I never let go of my dreams of finishing my education,” she said. “As a first-generation student, I was determined more than ever to break the cycle and get a college degree.” n
Greg Lawson, CPA, knows the value of a good education — and the value of a good collegiate experience. That’s why he’s kept up his connection with Virginia Tech more than 30 years after graduation. Lawson and his wife, Pam, had already endowed the C. Franklin and Helen M. Lawson Memorial Scholarship in Accounting at the university’s Pamplin College of Business when the 2007 campus shooting took place. Lawson, the chair-elect of the VSCPA Board of Directors at the time, immediately saw the importance of commemorating the three children from Virginia accounting families killed that day. The VSCPA established the Austin M. Cloyd, Matthew G. Gwaltney and Maxine S. Turner Doctoral Scholarship to honor those students and their families. Lawson was a donor from day one, and the shooting affects him to this day. “One of my most moving experiences was listening to the words spoken by Professor Nikki Giovanni at the April 17, 2007, memorial ceremony … ‘We are Virginia Tech,’” he said. “Even writing this brings tears to my eyes. My wife and I try to visit the April 16 memorial on each of our visits to Virginia Tech.”
VSCPA educational foundation
Lawson developed a deep affection for Virginia Tech during his time at the school, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1975. He travels back each year with his wife and keeps in touch with his fraternity brothers. He says the university helped him grow into a strong accountant and a strong person. “Virginia Tech provided not only the educational knowledge that has sustained my career, but helped me to develop a sense of community and social integration has contributed to both E-9002-0312that VA_Layout 1 3/9/12 10:05 AM
my professional career and to my private life,” he said. That career led Lawson to leadership positions in the VSCPA and other accounting organizations. He made partner within three years at Eason, Lawson & Westphal, PC, and is currently a partner at Dixon Hughes Goodman, LLP, in Newport News. In addition to his tenure as VSCPA Board chair in 2008–2009, he served on the VSCPA Educational Foundation Board of Directors.
“Giving something back, whether it be to your profession, community or favorite charity, is a gift that keeps on giving,” he said. “Any contribution I may have made to advance the VSCPA and Ed Foundation has returned a dividend many times my investments. These dividends are paid over a lifetime in the form of knowledge gained, contacts made, leadership skills enhanced and polished and where lifetime friendships are established.” n
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VSCPA self-assessment Complete this 12-question test and submit to the VSCPA for 1 CPE credit. Exams will not be graded until after the submission deadline. A 75 percent or better pass rate is necessary to receive credit. After your exam is graded, you will receive either a certificate of completion via email for your records or an email notification that the 75 percent grade was not met.
SUBMISSION DEADLINE: June 30, 2012. Exams received after this date will not be graded and your money returned. COST: $15 for VSCPA members / $30 for nonmembers. Please note that this exam will not be live online until May 1, 2012. SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS You may submit this selfassessment and make the exam payment online at www.vscpa.com/ May2012DisclosuresExam. You may also circle your answer to each question and mail this paper exam to: CPE Team Virginia Society of CPAs 4309 Cox Road Glen Allen, VA 23060 Fax submissions are acceptable to (804) 273-1741. Name _________________________ Address _______________________ _______________________________ Email Address ___________________ Date __________________________ Method of Payment
• Check (payable to the VSCPA) • Credit card Credit Card Number _______________________________ Expiration Date ________________ Signature _____________________ Date
1. BUSINESS REPORTERS HAVE RECENTLY HIGHLIGHTED THE DIFFICULTY IN DETERMINING THE AMOUNT OF INCOME TAXES INCURRED BY: a. Presidential candidates b. Publicly held corporations c. Small business owners d. Nonprofit organizations 2. CURRENT TAX EXPENSE OR BENEFIT IS A REQUIRED DISCLOSURE OF ASC 740 AND CONSISTS OF: a. Income tax expense reported on the tax return b. Estimated income tax expense c. Income taxes paid d. Estimated income tax expense plus or minus an adjustment for contingent income tax liabilities 3. THE DISCLOSURE OF INCOME TAXES PAID IS A REQUIRED FINANCIAL STATEMENT DISCLOSURE THAT APPEARS: a. On the income tax footnote b. On the income statement c. On the statement of cash flows d. Nowhere — it is not a required disclosure 4. WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING TOPICS ARE ON THE VSCPA’S YOUTUBE CHANNEL VSCPAFINANCIALFIT? a. Budgeting tips b. Tax tips c. Retirement planning d. All of the above 5. WHAT IS B-ROLL? a. Action shots that go between interview-style clips b. Blooper shots that are deleted c. Boring videos on YouTube that no one views d. Bad video with technical issues (e.g. bad sound) 6. INDIVIDUAL MEDIUMS, LIKE BOOKS AND YOUTUBE VIDEOS, ARE: a. Creditable when their content’s source is knowledgeable and trusted b. Never credible c. Always credible d. Should not be used by CPAs 7. IN CONTRAST TO LITIGATION, ARBITRATIONS GENERALLY HAVE MORE: a. Stringent rules b. Extensive fact-finding and discovery c. Opportunity to appeal d. Privacy
8. THE ROLE OF THE MEDIATOR IS TO: a. Render a binding decision b. Guide negotiations c. Offer expert testimony d. Apply judicial precedence 9. CPAS ENGAGED IN ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION MAY: a. Provide expert testimony to the arbitrator or mediator b. Assist counsel with the discovery process c. Act as the arbitrator or mediator d. All of the above 10. COMPANIES GENERALLY FOLLOW A BUSINESS CASE PROCESS TO APPROVE THE EXPENDITURES RELATED TO A LARGE ERP PROJECT, WHICH SHOULD INCLUDE: a. A “project before the project” to adequately define the project scope b. The CFO and controller jointly guaranteeing the project go live date to all stakeholders at the project kick-off meeting c. Creating an overly aggressive project schedule to keep consulting costs low d. Always picking a fixed-price contract 11. COORDINATED ACTIVITIES BETWEEN IT, FINANCE AND PROJECT MANAGEMENT WILL AVOID ALL OF THESE EXCEPT: a. Conflicts between the project schedule for the ERP implementation and other hardware or software upgrades or patches occurring at a similar time b. Having the appropriate amount of vegetarian options at team-working lunches c. Over-committing subject matter experts across the company to too many projects at one time d. Selecting a go-live date during a risky quarterend or year-end reporting time frame 12. A SIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF INVASIVE SOFTWARE CUSTOMIZATIONS TYPICALLY CAUSE CHALLENGES WHEN: a. Performing periodic patch applications b. Calling the vendor for technical support c. Upgrading your software from one version to another d. All of these
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skilled and well liked by clients. They will help make a smooth transition. This is a great Blue Ridge Mountains opportunity!! SALE/MERGER OPPORTUNITY — Well established and diversified small Northern VA CPA firm seeks sale/merger opportunities. Practice clientele includes reviews, compilations, write-up services and three nonprofit audits. The firm has a significant individual income tax practice as well as a variety of business tax returns. The firm enjoys a long-standing on-site and unqualified or pass peer review history. The firm is that of a sole practitioner seeking retirement or semi-retirement over the next two years. Growth and referral opportunities are excellent. Reply in confidence to VSCPA CC # 74, 4309 Cox Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060 or email@example.com.
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Reach more than 10,000 VSCPA members and place your classified ad today! Contact VSCPA Marketing Consultant Kathleen Cunningham at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.vscpa.com for advertising rates. Your connection to success
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I AM the vscpa
ANDY POWELL, CPA >>
Powell was one of a select group of young CPAs chosen to attend last year’s AICPA Leadership Academy. A UNIVERSITY FACT-CHECKER >>
Two minutes with Andy Powell, CPA As audit director for higher education programs at the Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts in Richmond, Powell manages and directs audits of Virginia’s statesupported colleges and universities, whose combined net assets top $17 billion. I AM PASSIONATE ABOUT… Developing
others in the profession. I love to showcase my colleagues’ talent and see them succeed. Something about bringing out the best qualities in people is both challenging and rewarding to me. PEOPLE DON’T KNOW THIS, BUT… I
love video games! I find it to be a great stress reliever, and certainly think that the hobby has improved the speed with which I make decisions and nurtures a more agile mind. Plus, it’s FUN! IF I WEREN’T A CPA, I WOULD BE…
A teacher. Guess you would expect that, given my passion for developing people. Educating others is very rewarding not
only in helping someone else, but it also reinforces your own understanding of concepts. I WISH CPAS KNEW… How valuable
our efforts to increase financial literacy among the public truly are. Living and working in a professional environment can sometimes shelter us from the reality that there are a large number of people who struggle with their own personal finances and basic budgeting skills that we take for granted. If there is one thing I would encourage professionals to do, it is to take time to volunteer through either the VSCPA or even on your own to help promote financial literacy in the communities around us. MY ADVICE TO ASPIRING CPAS IS… Be
resilient. Speaking from experience, if you have a goal, whether it’s passing the CPA Exam, or getting that next promotion, don’t get discouraged when you fail. Just dust yourself off, learn from your mistakes
and keep moving forward toward your target. The CPA profession provides great value to the public and as such requires a great deal of effort and dedication to succeed in it. WHEN I TOOK THE CPA EXAM… In
a rush, on my way to the testing center, I stumbled and thought I sprained my ankle. By the time I got to the testing center it was swollen and bruised and I could barely walk on it. After the Exam and an immediate trip to the doctor, I found out my foot was broken and wore a cast for the next eight weeks. Best part of the story … I PASSED! I NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT…
Coffee! Come on, that’s just obvious… I AM A CPA BECAUSE… I love problem
solving and helping people, and found that I had a knack early in my college experience for the language of business. It was simply a natural fit! n
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