AICPA takes on the IRS

Yates 2007by Ron Yates, Former AICPA Council Rep,
MSCPA Past President 2010-2011

Greetings MSCPA Members. As you may have seen recently, American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) President/CEO Barry Melancon said the AICPA is pushing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to improve its services for both taxpayers and CPAs. As reported by Michael Cohn of Accounting Today on January 26, 2016, Melancon gave a speech to the Accounting Club of America regarding the AICPA and the future of the profession. Pertaining to the IRS, Melancon is quoted as saying, “Basically the service levels in the Internal Revenue Service to preparers and taxpayers are at an all-time low,” he said. “To use a South Louisiana French term, it sucks. We do not have a 21st century IRS, and we are not likely to get one in the short term. We’re not going to get one because the Congress absolutely loathes the Internal Revenue Service and the leadership of the Internal Revenue Service.”

According to Cohn, Melancon went on to discuss some of the political challenges facing the IRS in Congress, and the $290 million that Congress earmarked in the December 2015 tax extenders legislation, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015, toward improving taxpayer service and cybersecurity and combating identity theft. “They [Congress] refuse to fund the Internal Revenue Service with any additional dollars,” he said. “In the last tax extenders bill, it looked like they funded it, but it was sort of a shell game, moving dollars around. And it is not going to change with this administration and this Congress and this IRS commissioner. On the political side, bridges have been burned and it is just not going to change. We have been big advocates that it needed to change. We have actually been on the Hill advocating for specific, dedicated funding to the IRS only for customer service—which, by the way, the IRS hates because they want just general funding—and even on that, we couldn’t get any traction from Congress.”

According to Cohn, Melancon hopes to make some headway this year. “We have called upon Treasury—and we are working with the Department of Treasury…to convene a group in 2016 prior to the results of the election, prior to us moving into a new election, to map out a vision of what a 21st century IRS might look like so that when we have new players and a new Congress and a new deal, we’ve got a blueprint to try to get that done,” he said. “Treasury has not yet been totally receptive to doing that, but we envision a forum in which preparers and not just CPAs, but lawyers and enrolled agents and others, come to the table, with representatives of the Service, representatives of Congress, and try to create a meeting of the minds, a rational way rather than the irrational political way. Hopefully we can be successful with that. No guarantees.” Finally, Melancon noted that an identity theft bill currently moving through Congress may provide an opportunity for the AICPA to address some of the current IRS funding and service concerns.

As Montana CPAs and accountants, what has been your experience with IRS service lately? Please share with us your thoughts and comments on what you are seeing and any “tips of the trade” that might be helpful over the next 10 weeks of tax season. Also, please share your opinion about the current level of IRS funding and what can be done to improve both customer service and move toward a “21st century IRS”.

How to Make Friends and Influence People (Clients!)

Want an opportunity to look really good to your clients? Tell them about MSCPA’s Industry and Financial Professionals Conference.

2016IndustryBannerThis conference, scheduled March 23 and 24 in Helena, is a great opportunity for CFOs, controllers and business managers. It’s designed to educate attendees in areas critical to performance and provide an opportunity to network with peers from across the state. They’ll have a chance to establish relationships with other business professionals facing the same challenges and attend a wide variety of relevant topics that affect their jobs every day. The opportunity to network with other business and accounting professionals can be an invaluable experience for your client who may be flying solo back at the office.

When you refer a client to an event like this with a proven track record of success you are becoming an even more valuable resource for your clients. Check out the great classes your client can attend:

  • Opening Keynote: Fraud – Andy Fastow, was the Chief Financial Officer of Enron Corp.
  • Beyond Traditional Budgeting: Use Performance Metrics to Improve Financial Planning & Control
  • A New Day, A New Technology Way
  • Communicating Financial Information to Non-Accountants
  • Cyber Security
  • Leaders Eat Last
  • Be Proactive, Not Reactive: Internal Controls with Limited Staff
  • Economic Update
  • The Art & Science of Compensation System Design
  • FASB/GASB Update
  • Using Financials to Evaluate Business Performance
  • Affordable Care Act Compliance
  • The Powerful Mind
  • Cash Flow Forecasting

If you have questions or need more information, contact Jean Rieden (jean@mscpa.org or 800.272.0307). She can provide you with detailed information you can share with your clients about the conference.

Your clients trust you to help them make good decisions. Attending the 2016 Industry and Financial Professionals Conference is one decision they’ll thank you for and you’ll fortify yourself as a true trusted business adviser.

MSCPA INDUSTRY GROUP
Amber Bauer, PayneWest Insurance
Craig Birgenheier, Big Sky Brewing Company
Jill Burger, Wipfli
Julie Eik, Off the Beaten Path
Dena Gormely, MT School Services Foundation
Sherrie Hogan, MHA
Reidun Johnston, Historical Research Assn
Merna Lechman, DA Davidson Companies
Clint Morrison, Summit FInancial Advisors
Jim Mourich, MasterLube
Teri Norcross, Missoula County Airport Authority
Jeremiah Rouane, Stockman Bank
Sarah Smith, ALPS Corporation, CHAIR
Kyla Stafford, Anderson ZurMuehlen
Craig Stahlberg, PayneWest Insurance
Becky Turner, Glacier Bancorp

 

 

A Note of Gratitude-and a Few Year-End Requests

Yates 2007

Ron Yates Eide Bailly

by Ron Yates, former AICPA Council Representative

Greetings MSCPA Members.  I hope that each of you find time to enjoy the wonder and blessings of Christmas without succumbing to the madness of the holiday season or the angst associated with year-end planning and the fast-approaching “busy season” 2016.  In no time at all Christmas and New Year’s Day will be past, tax and audit deadlines will be complicating our recreation and weekend plans, and once-again we’ll be anxiously awaiting the arrival of spring.

First of all, I want to sincerely thank each of you for the opportunity to serve as your elected AICPA Council Representative over the past three years.  Serving as your representative at the national AICPA level has been a great honor, a tremendous learning experience, and truly one of the highlights of my professional career – challenging, exciting, professionally rewarding, and great fun!  I have actively attempted to represent the diverse interests of Montana CPAs at the national level and move our profession forward against the ever-present challenges of staffing, student recruitment, examination & certification, professional education, legal liability, client expectations, specialization, and expanding professional, geographic, and technological boundaries.  Thank you all for this opportunity, as well as your friendship, advice, and support.

ThompsonGordy08 CMYK

Gordy Thompson, Anderson ZurMuehlen

Please enthusiastically congratulate Gordy Thompson of Havre on his election as your AICPA Council Representative for the 2015-2018 term. Gordy is a strong leader that will represent Montana CPAs extraordinarily-well at the national level.  Gordy is a friend to all and a stranger to no one!  He has already established tremendous professional contacts within the AICPA that will serve to benefit all MSCPA members going forward.

Please offer your outstanding support to President Brenda Byrnes, President-Elect Annette Hill, and all MSCPA board members and office personnel.  The MSCPA’s mission is to inspire, empower and impact members to achieve professional excellence and this is exactly what our MSCPA board and staff do each day!

Egan Jane color

Jane Egan MSCPA Executive Director

Please keep Jane Egan, MSPCA’s fearless leader and our great friend, in your thoughts and prayers as she continues to successfully battle cancer.  As politicians, regulators, and certain other disagreeable individuals know, Jane is not to be messed with!  Cancer doesn’t have a chance to prevail in this fight!

Please continue to be actively involved in our profession at the local chapter, MSCPA, and AICPA levels.  I am fortunate to have gotten involved at each of these levels during my public accounting career and plan to continue doing so.  I have truly personally received much more back than the effort and time I have invested.  We have a wonderful, dynamic, evolving profession that actively seeks your input, involvement, and leadership.  Please take advantage of these fantastic personal and professional growth opportunities by personally getting involved.  E-mail me at ryates@eidebailly.com or call me at 406-896-2423 if you have any questions or if I can be of any assistance regarding your professional involvement.

Finally, please consider financially supporting the MSCPA Legacy Foundation, our very own 501(c)(3) charitable organization, with your year-end gifting.  The Legacy Tree project currently happening in the MSCPA office is a touching visual tribute to the many people—past, present and future—who support the greatness of the accounting profession in Montana.  Let’s each do our part to support the foundation for the betterment of the Montana accounting profession for generations to come!

Full tree with Leaves

The Legacy Tree

 

An Update on Jane

Margaret Herriges, Communications Director

We are so lucky to have Jane. As her staff, as the members, as her friends . . . so many of us feel this way. That’s why we wanted to take a moment and give you an update to Jane’s blog post from October when she announced she had cancer.

She finished chemo and the next step was surgery. She underwent a very successful surgery recently and she will be out of the office recuperating for the next few weeks.

We are handling business as normal here at the office—missing Jane—but taking care of things and making sure your member value stays intact. And if you need to discuss is something you’d normally talk to Jane about, please don’t hesitate to contact Jean or me. We’re here for you.

If you’d like to share get well wishes with Jane, email or mail them to the office (1534 Ninth Ave, Helena 59601). We are happy to get them to her. For the next few weeks she will be healing and regaining her strength. Before we know it she’ll be back at it, answering emails and then we’ll look forward to having her in the office once again.

Thanks so much for your concern for our fearless leader. We count our blessings we have Jane as our Executive Director and we wish her all the best as she heals.

An Update from Jane

Dear Members,

Summer in Montana – you just can’t beat it. Well, maybe you can beat it with our fabulous fall. I love them both.

Jane Egan MSCPA Executive Director

Jane Egan
MSCPA Executive Director

I want to give you an update on what’s been going on this summer. As many of you know I was diagnosed with cancer in early June and missed our Annual Conference in Kalispell to have surgery. I started chemo on June 2nd and am currently on my fourth and last round scheduled to be done on October 13th. My summer and fall been consumed with fighting cancer. Another surgery will follow after chemo and then I look forward to getting back to normal – or even better!

Jean and Margaret have been keeping everything going at the office. Their help and support have made it possible for me to concentrate on treatment. I can’t thank them enough for everything they have done these past four months. Carol and Heidi have also lent a helping hand as they can.

I am working as I can (at the office and from home) and am keeping up with email so don’t hesitate to contact me.

Jane

via MSCPA – Montana Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Presidentially Speaking

It seems like yesterday that we were still all smiles after a terrific annual conference in

Brenda Byrnes, President

Brenda Byrnes
MSCPA President
2015 – 2016

Kalispell and Ann Deegan wrote her last Presidentially Speaking as she left office.  However time marches on and we find ourselves deep into my term as your new president.  I’m honored to serve as President and equally thrilled to pick up where Ann and so many terrific leaders have left off.

In 2013, Past President Paul Nisbet challenged us to consider our role for the next 100 years as an association for Montana CPAs.  The board began focusing on a continuity plan that invited our newer members of the profession to actively engage with the MSCPA and that allowed us to review what we do to provide benefits.  Then Past President Ann Deegan continued that endeavor as we developed the MSCPA strategic plan and implemented the first phase of strengthening the internal operations.

Now “no pressure” as we developed the course of action for the strategic plan to go forth this year… right?  Thankfully with the aid of our excellent staff, we saw where the path leads us.  This year is about involvement!  Involving you, our members, in making this strategic plan yours.

Before you mentally run away from the word involvement, hear me out.

Involvement in MSCPA has traditionally been through volunteering within our committee structure.  We read about other strategies and took a step back from this thinking.  You see, we completely understand how busy your schedule has been, is, and will be.   We respect that you have so many things vying for your attention and we know that the barriers that impact your involvement cannot typically be removed.  So we are proposing that we move away from meetings and conference calls that happen just because “it’s the second Tuesday of the month and we ALWAYS have a committee meeting on that day.” Instead let’s become more task oriented to accomplish the goals set forth in the strategic plan.  We are working to offer you additional, flexible alternatives to volunteering on a committee for a year or more.  We are asking you to contribute your time to a task or project with a known timeline, defined skills and targeted interests.

See here for a REAL example!  It is time to plan the 2016 CPE year.  The class selection and planning is a two-day commitment in Helena on Oct 1 and 2.  We are looking for additional volunteers to represent groups such as CPAs under age 35 who are willing to speak up about the types of training young professionals need, we are looking for input from auditors and government CPAs. Your involvement is for two days only.  No other commitment is required.  However, the impact of your involvement will be felt throughout the CPE year.

Over the course of this year we will be working with each of your current committees to inventory their ongoing projects and to see how many of their objectives could be accomplished in a new format.  This is by no means the death of committees.  In fact, I see this as a rebirth for some committees that will be free to chart their course for your benefit aided by the strategic plan.

While our Strategic Plan encompasses many projects and goals, the basic structure of it contains five main points under which our committees align:

  • Membership
    • Membership
    • Industry Group
    • Financial Reporting and Technical Standards (FRATS)
  • Sustainability
    • Future of Learning
    • Legacy Foundation
    • Audit Committee
    • Future of MSCPA
  • Connection
    • Local Chapters
    • Raising the BAR
  • Professional Excellence
    • Professional Development
    • Governmental Audit, Accounting and Financial Reporting
    • Annual Conference
    • Peer Review
    • Ethics
  • Advocacy
    • Federal Taxation
    • State Taxation
    • Legislative and Governmental Affairs

Each of our current committees fits under at least one of these strategic categories (as shown above).  Depending on the project, they may cross over into another area.

The Board, staff and I will be working with you over the course of the next year as we discuss this concept, listen to your ideas and concerns, and take inventory of what we all do.  Then our next step is to fine tune how we implement this new concept.  We’ll also be beefing up our website to accommodate a roster of volunteer opportunities and what time commitment is involved with each.   What the outcome of this phase looks like is yet to be determined but I am looking forward to working with you to create a new system that respects your capacity to volunteer, provides valuable volunteer opportunities and effectively enhances the value of your membership in MSCPA.

It’s an exciting time to be a CPA especially a MONTANA CPA. Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your President this year.

Presidentially Speaking–a Goodbye from Ann Deegan

Ann Deegan, MSCPA President

Ann Deegan, MSCPA President

Time really does fly by.  This past year serving as President of MSCPA was a great experience.  When I met with Jane and Margaret to begin planning for the 2014-2015 year, I wasn’t sure what to focus on during the year.  As we talked about some of the past presidents’ plans and successful projects, the idea of reviewing our Strategic Plan, to ensure continued success of those projects, rose to the top.

So, beginning last May, the Board of Directors developed the M S C P A Strategic plan. From there, our very competent Executive Director and Society Staff focused on implementing the plan and making adjustments, with approval and guidance from the Board.  The plan has continued to evolve.

What does this all mean to you as a member? It means your society is continuously working to live up to its Tag Line—“Your Success. Our Business.”

MSCPA—It means much more than Montana Society of CPAs:

Membership:  We want MSCPA to be your professional organization throughout your career.  It is your organization; we hope you will always see the value in your membership, helping you to be successful–from Student Membership through the years to Honorary Life Membership.

Sustainability:  Maintaining a dynamic organization and ensuring our next 100 years of existence. The Legacy Foundation provided 10 student scholarships to attend the 2015 Annual Conference, paying their registration fees.  It was great to meet the students and interact with them during the conference.

Connections:  Your society strives to maintain connections with the local chapters, colleges, other professional organizations and helps you stay connected with your peers.  The Rural Chapter, for members who practice in our less populated communities, was launched this past year and is off to a great start.

Professional Excellence:  Delivering education and providing resources.  What is the Future of Learning?  How will we continue to learn and meet our CPE requirements?  And, resources—how do we continue to assist members and be a professional resource? We will continue to work on these issues to be a state society that is proactive, rather than reactive.

Advocacy:  Advance and protect the profession.  Your organization is advocating for YOU.  The 2015 Montana Legislative Session was a success in terms of bills sponsored and/or supported by our Legislative and State Tax Committees.  In May, your ACIPA council members spent time visiting the Hill in Washington DC, meeting with Representative Zinke and Senators Tester and Daines, advocating on issues important to the profession.

I feel we have accomplished a lot in a year that has truly flown by.  The plan is in place, always ready for adjustments if necessary.  I believe we are well positioned to be a viable organization for another 100 years.  With this, we will work through changes, to help us adapt to an ever evolving profession.  It is time to pass the torch to Brenda Byrnes and the 2015-2016 board.  They have some great ideas to help the MSCPA develop a new structure and new opportunities.  Stay tuned!

Mark your calendar now.  Next year’s annual meeting will be in Great Falls, June 23-24, 2016.  Don’t miss it—the proof of how much fun we had this year—it’s in the pictures!

Thank you MSCPA for a great opportunity and privilege to serve as President 2014-2015.

Your CPE tracked a new way

NASBA CPE Tracking

NASBA CPE Tracking

MSCPA is now using NASBA’s cpetracking system. NASBA’s cpetracking will automatically synchronize with the live classes and chapter events you take from the Montana Society AND it will allow you to upload certificates of attendance from webcasts and live classes you take from other vendors. It’s all online and easy to use!

Here’s how it will work on our website:

You’ll find cpetracking under the MEMBERS tab at mscpa.org. From there you will click the link to go to NASBA cpetracking.  Once you establish an account you can log-in to see all your credits* and upload new classes/webcasts and attendance certificates. The Montana State Board sent log-ins to everyone in early May. If you have not seen this letter from the State Board please contact Grace Berger (406.841.2244)

The best part of cpetracking is that all your MSCPA credits from the past three years will automatically be uploaded* for you (these should appear by the end of June 2015). Then, going forward, all the MSCPA live classes and chapter events will automatically upload and you will only have to upload webcasts and events you don’t take from us (most webcasts listed on our site are from another provider).

What’s the advantage to you?

  1. If you are audited by the Montana Board of Public Accountants they will be able to access these records. The only thing you’ll have to do is keep your cpetracking up-to-date.
  2. You can now upload your certificates for classes taken from a provider other than MSCPA. With the old system, you still had to send those certificates to the State Board.
  3. If you already have classes uploaded into MSCPA’s CPE Tracker, those classes will automatically be transferred to NASBA cpetracking*. You may have to upload the certificates for classes not taken from MSCPA.
  4. NASBA cpetracking is free and easy to use.

Check out NASBA’s introduction video for more information and if you have questions please contact Grace Berger at the State Board or Jean Rieden at MSCPA.

*The classes you’ve taken from January 2015 to present may not be reflected on your NASBA cpetracking until the end of June.

5 Ways Web-based Meetings Improve Stakeholder Value (Beyond Saving Travel Expenses)

Closing Keynote Speaker at MSCPA's 102nd Annual Conference

Closing Keynote Speaker at MSCPA’s 102nd Annual Conference

Today’s guest post is by Roger Courville. He’s the Chief Aha! Guy at TheVirtualPresenter.com, author of The Virtual Presenter’s 102 Tips for Online Meetings, and on a mission to make his sessions at MSCPA’s 102nd Annual Conference in June the most fun you will have the entire conference.

In his brilliant book Start With Why, Simon Sinek makes a compelling case for what leading organizations do differently: They put “why” before “how” and “what.”

Professionals who create the most value for their practices with web conferencing do, too.

Let’s start with two easy assumptions:

  1. You “get it” that an online meeting can save time and money versus traveling even a short distance BUT…
  2. You know that people would still rather meet in-person.

Ironically, for a guy who teaches thousands of people to meet, train, and present online, I appreciate in-person communication too! Here’s why you’re leaving money on the table if you don’t add online meetings to your portfolio of communication tactics.

Save travel time
If you’re like most professionals your time a precious commodity. Even a short local trip, whether for you or your clients, might involve 30-60 minutes of travel. If the meeting’s an hour but that travel time is saved, it doesn’t take a scientific calculator to assess the benefit.

Increase sensory richness beyond a phone call
Most people’s learning and communicating preferences are visual and interactive.  They’re more engaged when they see you and your content and actively participate in the meeting.

Increase attentiveness
Video conferencing creates a sense of sitting-across-the-desk presence. If you worry about participants multi-tasking while on a conference call, it might be time to upgrade the experience.

Use VoIP to save audio conferencing costs
Here’s a tip your conference call provider doesn’t want you to know about: Better web conferencing vendors build in all-you-can-eat VoIP (voice over internet protocol). For many professionals this alone saves them more than the web conferencing subscription price.

Improve interpersonal connectedness and trust
Conference calls are obviously audio-only. Being able to see one another (with video conferencing) and share, present, and collaborate visually (seeing a computer desktop with web conferencing) enable natural interactions and trust.

The bottom line
To suggest that online meetings and webinars should replace in-person meetings would be irresponsible. Ignoring them, though, is a missed opportunity.

Now that you have a few more “whys” for online meetings, be sure to come to the Annual Conference in June for an action-packed breakout session of “hows!” with me. See you in Kalispell!