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Are You All a Twitter About Tax News? Now You Can Follow The IRS @IRSnews

By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA

Oh Yippee, the IRS has joined the Twitter fray.  The social media storm has engulfed the treasury.

But maybe – do you think – someone might have given Timmy Geithner a copy of  Social Media Strategies for Professionals and Their Firms by Michelle Golden also named by Accounting Tomorrow as one of the top 100 most influential people in the accounting industry today.

Who knows – this book is on my Christmas list anyway!

The Internal Revenue Service is using Twitter and other social media tools to share information with taxpayers and the tax professional community.

The IRS Twitter news feed, @IRSnews, provides the latest federal tax news and information for taxpayers. The focus of the IRS Twitter messages will be on easy-to-use information, including tax tips, tax law changes, and important IRS programs such as e-file, the Earned Income Tax Credit and “Where’s My Refund.” Anyone with a Twitter account can follow @IRSnews by going to http://twitter.com/IRSnews

Another important IRS Twitter feed, @IRStaxpros, is designed for the tax professional community. Follow @IRStaxpros by going to http://twitter.com/IRStaxpros.

The IRS also tweets tax news and information in Spanish at @IRSenEspanol. Follow this Twitter feed by going to http://twitter.com/IRSenEspanol.

The IRS Twitter feeds will work in conjunction with http://www.irs.gov and the IRS YouTube channels to bring IRS information direct to taxpayers. Since August of 2009, there have been more than 1 million views of videos on the IRSvideos ( http://www.youtube.com/irsvideo), IRS Multilingual (http://www.youtube.com/user/IRSvideosmultilingua) and IRS American Sign Language (ASL) ( http://www.youtube.com/IRSvideosASL) channels.

In addition to Twitter and YouTube, the IRS provides additional social media tools to inform and assist taxpayers.

Jason Blumer CPA, He’s a Funny Guy

Jason Blumer CPA, the managing shareholder of Blumer & Associates is a funny guy.  No really.  It’s true. There is proof.

I also really like his website:

We believe your numbers are simply telling stories about the relationships, processes and knowledge running deeply through your business and life. The production of numbers is not the end goal of our firm.  We are here to bring clarity to the reasons why your numbers are what they are. We are a next-generation firm, and we are doing this all over the dang world!

That’s some nice copy – wish I had written it!  AND according to Accounting Tomorrow – Jason is the second place winner in the Atom’s Got Talent Video. Congratulations Jason!

Happily Trudging Along Enjoying My New Adventure – Katherman Kitts & Co. LLP

Santa Claus with a little girl

Image via Wikipedia

By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA

From my vantage point on the soft old sofa, I marvel at my husband’s large Italian family as they come together for mom and pops’ 80th birthday party. The cousins, now grown hug, kiss, and laugh about the passage of time and their numerous adventures. My brother in-law snores softly in mama Kitts’ comfy recliner, and from the kitchen, a boisterous aunt tells stories of family members long since past while mama sets out endless supplies of goodies and encourages everyone to eat-eat-eat.

And me, I’m peering at this comforting scene over the top of my laptop as I answer emails and work on a tax return. Such is my life. But I am content, happily trudging along enjoying my own adventure. Because today readers, I want to introduce you to Katherman Kitts & Co. LLP, my new firm.

Oh loyal readers, I have been anxiously awaiting this exciting announcement like a little kid anticipating Christmas morning.

Every day I run through my “how to open your own firm” checklist, you know the one I created the second my adventure started,  (Accountants love checklists)  and  as I tick-off each completed item I feel satisfied – as accountants do.

My website, for which I am very proud, is still a work in progress. But I encourage you to take a peek. Here you will find more captivating information about Katherman Kitts including the services we provide, our experience, and a little bit about our clients.

Oh  well I do anticipate that I will be commenting on my new adventure from time to time so if you’re interested stay tuned.

Music Video – Los Bank Auditors- I’m on an Audit – Fantastic

Do you think auditors aren’t cool?  Well, think again.  Los Bank Auditors got it going on.  Enjoy a quick break from work and watch this video.  It wont disappoint.

Thanks to Accounting Tomorrow for giving me a heads up about this video

Problems with PTIN Online System? Don’t Wait to Register

The IRS building on Constitution Avenue, Washi...

Image via Wikipedia

By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA

Tax preparers heads up, according to the new IRS rules, you have until January 1, 2011 to register for your PTIN (preparers tax identification number).   I’m getting a little concerned about the IRS’s ability to GET IT DONE by the January 1, 2011 due date.

Robert Flach of the Wondering Tax Pro, describes his frustration with trying to register on line in his post  WHAT A MUCKING FESS!

Before I could submit the PTIN application I first had to create an “account”. I completed this process and was “told” that I would receive an email from the IRS with a temporary password for my account.

It never came!

Two hours later I went online to try again, stating that I needed help with my password when “logging in”. After properly answering the security question I had established in my initial try I was again “told” that I would receive an email with a new password.

It never came!

I gave up for the day.

Ultimately Robert decided to mail in a Form W-12 IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) Application,  the alternative to applying on line.  If you choose this option beware, the IRS indicates that it could take 4 to 6 weeks to process.  The IRS has also posted the following warning on their site:

**The PTIN sign-up system and toll-free number are experiencing high volumes of users. We appreciate your patience and encourage you to try again later if you encounter delays.**

Good luck preparers, and my advice, don’t wait to GET IT DONE!

Tax Professionals Must Now Pay The IRS For The Right to Prepare Tax Returns PTIN’s Are Now For Sale

People filing tax forms in 1920

People filing tax forms in 1920

Stacie Say:  Well, now a tax professional must buy the right to prepare a tax return.  I suppose this isn’t any different from having to pay a fee every year to renew my CPA license.  Just one more thing to add to my overhead costs.

WASHINGTON — As part of an initiative to ensure that tax return preparers are competent and qualified, the Internal Revenue Service today issued final regulations requiring paid tax return preparers to register with the IRS to obtain a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). A new online application system to obtain a PTIN is now available.

All paid tax return preparers who prepare all or substantially all of a tax return are required to use the new registration system to obtain a PTIN.

Access to the online application system will be through the Tax Professionals page of IRS.gov. Individuals who currently possess a PTIN will need to reapply under the new system but generally will be reassigned the same number.

“Getting a new, industry-wide registration system in place is essential to our efforts to improve the standards and oversight of tax return preparation,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “These efforts are essential to the future of the nation’s tax system. This will create higher standards for the tax preparation community and ensure quality service for taxpayers.”

The IRS set up a special toll-free telephone number, 1-877-613-PTIN (7846), that tax professionals can call for technical support related to the new online registration system.

Applicants will pay a $64.25 fee to obtain a PTIN, which will be valid for one year. As part of that fee the IRS will receive $50 per user, as authorized by final user fee regulations issued by the IRS today, to pay for technology, compliance and outreach efforts associated with the new program. And a third-party vendor will receive $14.25 per user to operate the online system and provide customer support.

Receipt of a PTIN will be immediate after successful online registration. Or a paper application may be submitted on Form W-12, IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number Application, with a response time of four to six weeks. Before registration, applicants should consider that the date the PTIN is assigned is established as the annual renewal date.

Individuals without a Social Security number will also need to provide one of the following: Form 8945, PTIN Supplemental Application for U.S. Citizens Without a Social Security Number Due to Conscientious Religious Objection, or Form 8946, PTIN Supplemental Application for Foreign Persons Without a Social Security Number.

The new online registration system and final regulations are part of a series of steps underway to increase oversight of federal tax return preparation.

In January, Shulman announced the results of a comprehensive six-month review of the tax return preparer industry, which proposed new registration, testing and continuing education of federal tax return preparers. With 60 percent of American households using a tax preparer to help them prepare and file their taxes, higher standards for the tax return preparer community will significantly enhance protections and service for taxpayers, increase confidence in the tax system and result in greater compliance with tax laws over the long term. Currently, many return preparers do not have to meet any government or professionally mandated competency requirements before preparing a federal tax return for a fee.

Work on Testing, Continuing Education Components Continue

The start of the PTIN registration process begins as the IRS continues to review the testing and education components of the return preparer initiative as recently announced in proposed regulations that would amend Treasury Circular 230.

The proposed Circular 230 regulations announced that attorneys, certified public accountants and enrolled agents would not be subject to additional testing or continuing education requirements in order to obtain a PTIN. These professionals are currently subject to strict professional standards of conduct and ethics.

Pending finalization of guidance, the IRS has under serious consideration extending similar treatment to a discrete category of people who engage in return preparation under the supervision of someone else — for example, some employees who prepare all or substantially all of the return and work in certain professional firms under the supervision of one of the above individuals who signs the return.

The IRS will provide guidance defining this area in the coming months, and will continue to seek feedback during this process to help ensure the creation of a fair, equitable oversight system that minimizes burden.

On the continuing education requirements, the IRS recognizes the need to have transition rules in place and plans to issue additional guidelines by the end of the year.

For more, see the Tax Professionals page on IRS.gov, which features an FAQ page on the new registration system and who needs a PTIN.

Preparer Terror – It’s Real – How to Prevent It

Figure 20 from Charles Darwin's The Expression...

Image via Wikipedia

By Stacie Clifford Kitts CPA

A phenomenon affecting tax return preparers often proceeded by recurrent nightmares centered around tax return preparation. People experiencing Preparer Terror may exhibit the following symptoms:

  1. Extreme anxiety  and temporary inability to remember simple tasks such as how to spell your name
  2. Being jolted from sleep accompanied by an overriding desire to run to the office
  3. Weight gain or if you’re lucky weight loss
  4. Constant fear that you are forgetting something  – like what return was I working on, where did I put that piece of paper, who am I – ya know stuff like that.

Ways to prevent Preparer Terror:

  • Set the proper level of client expectations.

Let your clients know the drop dead due date for receiving 100% of their tax documents. If I receive tax documents after my due date, I let the client know that I might not be able to file the return on time. I will try my best. I’ll even stay up all night. But there are only so many hours in a day. If your stuff arrives late so might your tax return.

  • Evaluate your level of staffing.

If you have a tax practice, the notion is that you have some idea how long it takes to prepare a tax return. Um maybe not. Sometimes partners are so far removed from the daily prep grind that they have NO idea how long it should take a staff to prepare a return. The general rule for me is if I can prepare a return in 8 hours, a new staff may take 3 to 4 times that amount of time. So partners, listen to your staff when evaluating your staffing levels.

  • Be organized.

Well duh, you say. Well ya this is a duh moment. When your mind isn’t working and you are on the verge of losing it, knowing how and where to find the information you need might save you. So if your administrative staff is responsible for filing stuff away, you had better make darn sure your processes, and procedures are being followed like their lives depend on it!

  • Set clear expectations of your staff.

The other day I was visiting a CPA firm, it was pretty late at night, and there were partners and staff in the office working away. Then an extraordinary thing happened, the staff up and left before the partners.

In my day, leaving the office before the partners created a clear and present career danger. It just wasn’t done. I am all about work life balance, heck my kids grew up in my office. However, if you want to have some sort of lasting career in this industry – might I suggest that you get permission before leaving the office during busy time?

Making sure your staff understands what it really means to OWN a project and take responsibility for its completion is an important part of not only managing your firm but also helping to prevent Preparer Terror.

Snubbed Again! And a Sincere Apology

By Stacie Clifford Kitts CPA

I don’t get it. I didn’t make Accounting Today’s top 100 most influential people a-g-a-i-n. I mean, they don’t appear to think that my stay home tax practice or my quirky blog posts are influential enough to name. But I guess I should have been tipped off when I wasn’t contacted to supply a cute pic or provide a snappy bio.

*Heavy sigh* I guess there is always next year….

This year’s list includes many predictable faces. It also includes some fun new ones. Some of which I include in my list of Facebook friends.

Michelle Golden of Golden Practices makes this year’s list. Yeah Michelle. Michelle is the lady you want to know if you are looking for some social networking techniques that will benefit your CPA firm.

Geni Greer Whitehouse also makes the list – Geni is an expert in accounting technology and shares this with her accounting clients through her consulting services.

Other influential women listed are:

  • Teresa Mackintosh,  General Manager and Senior Vice President, Workflow & Service solutions, Americas – Professional, Tax & Accounting business of Thomson Reuters. (Good job, but might I suggest that you think about shortening up that title – what a mouthful!)
  • Krista McMasters, CEO Clifton, Gunderson
  • Gale Crosley, Present of Crosley &+Co.
  • Cindy Fornelli, Executive director, Center for Audit Quality
  • Rita Keller, President Keller Advisors
  • Judy O’Dell, Chair FASB Private Companies Financial Reporting Committee
  • Nina Olson, National Taxpayer Advocate IRS
  • Rebecca Ryan, Founder Next Generation Consulting
  • Mary Schapiro, Chair SEC
  • Sue Swenson, President, and CEO Sage North America
  • Jennifer Warawa, Senior director of partner programs Sage North America
  • Sandra Wiley, Partner, senior consultant and COO, Boomer Consulting
  • Jennifer Wilson Co-founder and owner, Convergence Coaching

My personal congratulations to all the professionals who made this year’s list.

On another note – Dear Geni – I screwed up.

Geni Greer Whitehouse provided me a copy of her fabulous book How to Make a Boring Subject Interesting so I could post an interview on my blog. To date I haven’t sent her any questions – this does not speak well for my follow through skills. Which really are good – I swear – or I wouldn’t have the client base that I have?

Regardless, I owe Geni an apology so let’s make it public –

Dear Geni

I want to send you my sincere apologies for failing to send you the list of questions for the interview. You may notice that I have ordered another copy of your book. This is because the initial copy that you so gracefully sent was “barrowed” by a client. It was apparently so helpful that I never saw it again. I will get those questions over to you. I found your book to be quite helpful. It played a key role in helping me to win a best speaker ribbon.

So there it is my lame excuse. If there was any good to come from my failure, it was what I learned  1) never lend out a book before I’m done with it, 2) don’t forgot – branding is important but consider the time investment and follow through necessary to pull off your strategy.

She’s a Neurotic Heathen Slut with a Cinderella Complex, I’m a Bitter, Divorced, Wine Drinking Man Hater – But Do You Have A Life Plan B?

Dear loyal readers, I have been so extraordinarily busy that I have fallen behind on my posting.  So I’ve decided to rerun some of my favorite old ones.  Enjoy!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
You see – As a CPA and advisor, my mind works a little differently.

For instance, when I hear from friends news like – “we’re having a baby” or “I’m getting married”, before any form of congratulations escapes my mouth, I am already thinking, tax plan, cash flow, and life plans A and B [you know – do you have a plan B in case plan A doesn’t work out – can we all say prenup’].

Now I suppose this is an excellent trait for your tax advisor or even your lawyer, but I’m thinking maybe not so much for your friend.

Case in point.

Not too long ago I found a book written by an old friend who I had met in college. We had palled around off and on for several years following graduation but had lost touch over the years.

As I settled down to read what she had written, I couldn’t help thinking about how we had met.

I was sitting in a statistics class at a local community college waiting patiently for the class to begin and entertaining myself by watching the students that were timidly walking into the room and quickly finding seats near the door.

I noticed her right away, maybe because she seemed more self-assured than the others did. At first, I even thought she might be the instructor who appeared to be running late.

She stopped in the doorway and assessed the seating situation. Then she walked across the room passing several rows of desks while she cocked her head and smiled over her shoulder.

That’s funny I thought, she reminds me of a beauty contestant flirting with the judges as she walks across the stage.

Before she reached the last row, she spotted a desk that suited her and made her way up the aisle where I was sitting. Then with a slight flourish, she stopped at the desk in front of me, plopped down in the seat and flipped her long blond hair out of her face with the back of her hand where it landed in a messy pile on the top of my desk.

Hmmm that WAS memorable.

Now let’s see – back to the book. The Break-up Diet

I noticed that it had a cute cover, a table of contents and what’s this – a page of acknowledgements. Let’s see what she says here, “My greatest appreciation goes out to”….blah blah blah, my agent, some others, and Michelle somebody – “for being my best friend and chief secret-keeper since seventh grade, and for never suggesting that I come up with a Plan B.”

Urgh. Huh. Ouch. What? Could that be directed at – ME.

That did seem to be my M.O. I looked up from the page and began to think, I do remember – yes – there was a conversation. But – but a Plan B was a completely appropriate suggestion given the situation and her explanation of Plan A. Wasn’t it?

Your plan is what? I asked as my eyebrows rose slowly up my forehead. Did I hear that right? She was going to continue her career as a “professional” dancer [not the good kind] while she wrote the next great American novel and then retired on some tropical island. That – was Plan A.

Now as I have said, my brain works a little differently from maybe an aspiring writer, because I was thinking, ummm doesn’t “professional dancing” [not the good kind] have a shelf life, and considering all the aspiring writers out there, aren’t the chances of being a rich novelist pretty remote?

So being a good advisor, but maybe not such a supportive friend, I suggested that she think of other ways to make a living as a writer, maybe writing for a newspaper, or magazine, or even freelancing. Yep, I’m pretty darn sure I used the term Plan B.

Well, here it was in my hand, her novel [a memoir] maybe not the next great American, but not bad either.

I continued reading on, and the more I read, the more I realized that not only am I portrayed in her book, but I am also a bitter, divorced, wine drinking man hater. Note to my husband – I love you honey – that was long before I met you.

But in all fairness, she recently sent me a note jokingly describing herself as neurotic heathen slut with a Cinderella Complex so I guess we all had our issues.

Funny enough, it does appear that she has happily stumbled onto her Plan B even if she doesn’t realize it. She got married, she co-owns an online magazine directed toward women writers, she is a professional industry speaker and she teaches online classes. All perfectly acceptable, and might I say all within my suggested Plan B’s.

Ping Your Way To a Successful Social Marketing Strategy – It’s A Whole Lot Better Than Being an A-Hole

By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about a company in the tax industry that appeared to be getting some bad advice on how to conduct a successful social marketing campaign. I discovered this unfortunate strategy when the company spammed the comment section of one of my blog posts. Flabbergasted Reputable Tax Service Company acting like an A-Hole

Jumping head first into a social marketing strategy without first understanding how the game is played is likely to tick off the players or at the very least, your company will have a bad social showing. As with all business strategy’s, you really need to make sure you hire advisors that know what they are doing. For goodness sake, people DO YOUR RESEARCH. For the CPA industry there are people who specialize in helping you with your social strategy – Michelle Golden of Golden Practices is one such advisor.

Which brings me to pinging your way to success. Yesterday I was barraged with “pingbacks” on my blog site.  A pingback is simply a notification that someone is linking to my site.  Wikipedia defines pingback this way:

A pingback is one of three types of linkbacks, methods for Web authors to request notification when somebody links to one of their documents. This enables authors to keep track of who is linking to, or referring to their articles. Some weblog software, such as Movable Type, Serendipity, WordPress and Telligent Community, support automatic pingbacks where all the links in a published article can be pinged when the article is published.

Now in WordPress, my blog host, I also have the option of posting the URL of the blogger linking to my post in the comment section of my blog.   It’s kind of like a handy built in quid pro quo for you saying nice stuff and linking to my blog. I in turn allow a link back to yours. Neat! And might I say an appropriate use of the comment section of my blog.

Curious about what all the links were about, I instantly clicked over to read what was being said about my blog.  I discovered that they were coming from a company that I assume got  some good advice on how to promote their social networking strategy,  Tax Resolution University. And let me say, if theirs isn’t a planned strategy, it certainly should be.

I was pleased to read the praise for Stacie’s More Tax Tips offered by blog author Michael Rozbruch at Tax Resolution. His writing shows that he actually read and appreciated the content of my blog. He spent the time to identify elements that he liked and continued on to make great comments in his post  Tax Help and Tips from Tax Blogger Includes Refreshing and Candid Look at Issues Facing Today’s Taxpayers here’s some tid bits:

From why she thinks American Express sucks to the true story of a magazine door-to-door sales person who encountered nightmarish tax consequences from her self employment status, Stacie’s unique take is both entertaining and enlightening.

Stacie’s More Tax Tips provides a wide and eclectic mix of tax information. The blog is well organized and quite informative – taxpayers can find excellently categorized information concerning tax, accounting and business advice, mixed in with quirky commentary. The blog offers information published by the IRS, such as IRS Patrol and IRS Presents, news releases and tax tips.

Other great content featured on the blog includes interviews with interesting individuals who put a new spin on everything tax, book reviews, Education Credits, Tax Guidance (need any help filing out those numerous tax forms?), coaching, and types of tax explained. You can even check out Abigail’s story of sex, drugs, and taxes for a bit of jolting tax reading.

While these comments are well thought-out and flattering –  heck they make me feel all good inside, more importantly they are a good social networking strategy. Because of this well written post, the Tax Resolution Blog will show up under, the blogs I like category on Stacie’s More Tax tips. And I will allow the ping backs all like eight of them – some quid pro quo.

And just as a side note  – Well-done Tax Resolution, your blog campaign tells me that you are a good strategist. This is a wonderful quality to have when you are in the business of resolving tax controversies. I am a fan!

Flabbergasted Reputable Tax Service Company acting like an A-Hole

By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA

I was totally amazed a few days ago when I received a spam comment from a reputable organization that describes themselves as premier providers of specialty tax services. Like I mean flabbergasted. I’ve done business with these people. They aren’t stupid. But come on. They don’t know that spam commenting is sleazy and disgusting and just plain wrong?

Needless to say, it really really ticked me off and got me to thinking who the heck is giving out the bad advice.

For those of you who aren’t bloggers maybe you can still understand the premise here. Bloggers put forth effort. You know, a real time investment involving research, examination and compiling of information for their posts. And for the most part, bloggers do it for free. There is the payoff of course, the showcasing of your expertise, the expansion of your web presence, the name recognition yada yada yada.

Then you get some sleaze ball who looks at your blog site (or they hire some slimy low life company that does it for them) and says, gee I’m going to post a spam comment on this blog to get some free advertising off the back of someone else’s hard work.. Come on WHAT TYPE OF A-HOLE thinks that is a good idea.

If you are wondering, what a spam comment looks like. Well – it generally advertises the services of another company. It reads like marketing literature. It links back to someone else’s website, and for the most part has no real reference back to the original blog post. It’s the blog world equivalent of a form letter, cold and impersonal.

Bloggers post content that they often hope will relate back to a reader on a personal level. It showcases not only the writers knowledge, but also their personality and opinions. Think of spammers like this, you are out having cocktails with a friend chatting happily about what knot when some greasy slime bag wedges his way into the conversation and tries to sell you a used car – eewwww get away from me you creep.

The comment section of a blog is meant for readers who are interested in commenting about the post, sometimes a reader thanks you for the information, praises the writer on a job well done, asks a question about the content or maybe the commenter wants to express their own opinion on the subject .

Hello, the comment section of a blog post IS NOT FREE ADVERTISING SPACE FOR YOU OR YOUR BUSINESS. If you want to capitalize on my time investment and my readership, contact me and I will be happy to discuss the fee for advertising on my site.

More Reader Questions – “I was wondering what I should do in the next year to help my chances in getting a job out of college”

Recently I received this email from a reader.  I am convinced getting and retaining employment is a hot topic, so I thought, why not included my response in a post.
Stacie Kitts,
My name is Ryan and I am currently a rising junior at East Carolina University. I read your blog and I thought you did a phenomenal job with the blog. I enjoy reading your blogs about Accounting and have used some of your tips to help me in the internship process. I have a couple questions regarding the accounting job process.
Since I [am a] rising junior, I still have a couple more years of college but I was wondering what I should do in the next year to help my chances in getting a job out of college? I’ve tried going around to local CPA firms for any type of volunteer work and they all turned me down. Most local CPA firms have interns in graduate school and aren’t willing to mentor a student. If you have any advice for me, please feel free to contact me.
Thank you,
Ryan

Dear Ryan:

You know, I can remember a time when accounting students were only concerned with choosing the right job offer. That was true for almost everyone who wasn’t sporting a 2.0 GPA and had like – no personality. Otherwise, most people were assured a job.

Today though with the downturn in the economy and accountants losing their jobs in public and industry, a guaranteed job appears to be something of the past.

So Ryan, what can I tell you that will help you in this job search process? I guess if I had a surefire answer, I could sell my secrets- you know like some sort of accounting job guru and make like a gazillion dollars.

Frankly, almost every day I am reminded how lucky I am that I am not dependent on someone else for a paycheck. In this type of job market, about the only people who can feel some comfort are the “rainmakers.” These people generate their own revenue by attracting clients to their firms.

I do hate to be a downer. Nevertheless, we need to face facts. In order to get and keep a job, you must present yourself as the ideal employee.

Now that I have totally depressed you – I guess I should at least try to give some tips that might help. Maybe you can try these out and report as to your progress…

I have been known to write posts intended to share the stuff I have learned working in the accounting industry. You may have seen some of these already:

ACCOUNTING STUDENTS -Don’t put yourself at the bottom of the potential hire list

An Accountants Search For The Bat Cave – A Story About Networking – A Tax Season Rerun

How To Be a Partner

What Does An Accountant Really Do? Fave Rerun

I think the most relevant post in regards to your question is this one:  Accounting Students – don’t put yourself at the bottom of the potential hire list. So let’s dissect the tips I provide here.

In this post I talk about working an internship

1)      Work an internship during college. An internship is a vital part of the learning process. It gives the accounting student the opportunity to learn skills and office processes that are not taught in a classroom environment. It can help new accountants determine the size of firm they feel comfortable working for. It also provides an opportunity for students to narrow career focus by providing opportunities to try out their real world skills in areas such as tax return preparation or income statement audits.

Now, your question is:  how do I get this internship. Well, that relates to item number two of the post:

2)      Attend the career events or “Meet the Firm” events hosted by the accounting associations at your college. Many firms send a representative sample of partners, managers, and staff to these events. Firms are often looking for students who are outgoing and display personality traits that will meld easily into their firm culture. Firm members who attend these functions often gather resumes and discus which students they believe should be offered an opportunity to interview for an internship or for a permanent position.

Based on the current job market, I suggest that you step this advice up a bit. Rather than just attending the functions, you should consider running for a position within your accounting association and working on the committee’s that are arranging firm events. This will give you more exposure in front of potential employers and provide some experience coordinating and managing the events – besides there is nothing like some management skills to add to your resume.

Remember, the time to look for an internship is busy season.  This typically starts around February and lasts until April 15.  You can start your inquiry process now by asking firms if they hire interns during busy season.  If they do, follow up with questions about the hiring process.

Also, don’t discount the friends you make in college as sources of potential jobs. Many of these people will be moving on to take jobs at accounting firms. Stay in touch with these people. Let them know you would like an internship. There’s nothing like having an insider championing your cause.  My first public accounting job was the direct result of knowing someone on the inside.  For that matter, I was referred to my second public accounting employer by a friend I had met in college.

That leads me to item number three.

3)      Maintain a higher than average GPA. The closer [your GPA is] to 4.0 the better your chances of standing out from other candidates. Although there is some debate regarding the relationship between a low grade point average and work performance, a low grade point average does tell a potential employer several things about the student.

The idea here is not to damage your chances by blending into the crowd or setting yourself up to be portrayed as a slacker. In the post, I say:

Here are some examples of what a low GPA may convey to potential employers:

a. The student may not understand the material or may not be able to grasp accounting concepts. Students who have difficulty grasping basic accounting concepts in a college setting will most likely need to learn them on the job. Firm managers and partners are busy running engagements and managing clients. This leaves little time to teach concepts that should have been learned in school. Firms are becoming less and less tolerant of students who enter the workforce without having learned the basic concepts of accounting.

b. The student doesn’t test well. This concept is based on the theory that the testing process is not representative of a student’s actual ability. The problem with this philosophy is that the nature of public accounting is similar to test taking. As public accountants, we are often handed a set of facts and based on those facts we are expected to dissect, analyze, and conclude. Basically, this is the same process one goes through when taking a test. Therefore, public accounting may be unsuitable for someone who doesn’t “test” well.

c. The student didn’t have time to focus on school. For accounting students, college is an essential step towards moving your career in a positive direction. College provides you with the basic technical skills, the basic organizational skills, and the basic social skills necessary to survive in this demanding field. Students who are unable to maintain an acceptable GPA because of other commitments may not be able to perform at his or her highest level in a work environment for similar reasons. Maintaining a “good” GPA even when you have outside life commitments demonstrates good management skills and a commitment to your career choice.

Now is also the time to work on your networking skills. In my post An Accountants Search For The Bat Cave – A Story About Networking – A Tax Season Rerun I talk about the different ways you can improve or develop your networking skills. Again, the idea is to stand out from the crowd. Get yourself noticed. Make friends with the people in the firms that you are interested in working for. When you are at firm events, you should be networking. If you want a job offer, these people need to remember you and be interested in talking to you more or requesting your resume.

I know how hard this is. I am not a natural marketer. In fact, in social situations I often need to force myself to talk to people. Otherwise I can find myself standing in the corner watching all the socializing while I peer over the rim of my cocktail glass like some pathetic wallflower. To help curb this, before you go, think of questions that are fairly generic that you can ask people, and try to keep them talking. This avoids the need to find things to say which contributes to those awkward silences that I dread.

Here are some networking tips I offer in the post:

1) Begin your quest by sharpening you craft. In order to sell your services, you need some services to sell. Have your “elevator speech” ready. Practice what you will say when people ask you questions about your profession, your employer, and your background. Treat it like an interview process because that is what it is – a five second interview meant to grab someone’s attention just long enough for them to find you interesting.

2) Socialize Socialize Socialize. Okay, so networking is directed socializing – meaning it’s about meeting people, in a particular profession, with a particular goal in mind. But as intimidating as that might sound, all it really is, is dating… In fact, networking for referral sources has many of the same elements as relationship dating. Don’t think so -Let’s explore the typical referral dating scenario:

First you attend a social event, you meet someone who interests you, you exchange phone numbers, you call the next day and set up a “referral date”, typically coffee, breakfast, lunch or dinner, you explore whether this person is someone who is going to help you get what you want, and then you consider if a more committed relationship is warranted.

Ummm sounds like a typical date to me. So sharpen your dating skills, be sure to follow up [you know, call the next day], be engaging, have fun, and for heaven’s sake, act as if you want to be there.

Now the question is – how to find people to “referral date.” Here are some ideas:

a. Join a business-networking group – this can help you to focus your energy towards people who have the same business goals.

b. Volunteer your time – besides just being a rewarding experience, you will undoubtedly broaden your social horizon.

c. Join social clubs that interest you such as a running club, bicycling club, softball team, the girl scouts… well you get the point – again the more people you know…

d. Tell people you are looking for clients – hey, it doesn’t hurt to ask – and if you don’t ask – frankly people might not realize that you are looking.

e. Get on the internet – write a blog, create a web site, join online social networking groups, send out email reminders with handy tidbits of info to people in your network – the point is to remind people you are around so when someone needs a service, your name is on their mind.

3) Be fearless in your quest. And I mean just that. Don’t be afraid – get out into the world and tell people what you do. Ask for business. Hand out your card – and do it over and over and over again until you find the right, group, network, or formula that works for you. Keep in mind that your partner’s journey may be different from yours. As networkers, we each have our own styles. So don’t get discouraged if someone else’s journey isn’t for you.

Lastly, one other avenue to consider is to work an industry job while you are going to school.  Look for a job in an accounting department.  Anything in the accounting department is good –  such as a clerk or even data entry.  You would be surprised how many firms are interested in accountants with real world experience outside of public accounting.  If you checkout my bio, you will see that I started my career in industry working full-time while I attended college full-time.  The experience and knowledge I gained helped me to progress in my career and provided insight that many of my peers just didn’t have.

Well Ryan, I hope that these tips are useful in your job search.  Don’t give up and be sure to let us know how you are coming along.

Stacie

Sky Mall Reaffirms My Belief That All Things Are Possible

By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA

You are well into your plane flight and looking for something to occupy your time. You reach into the seat pocket and pull out – Sky Mall – the magazine with unarguably the greatest collection of “what were they thinking – how did this get to market”  or  “OMG I must have it” products on the planet.   

I’m not ashamed to admit it – Sky Mall provides hours of satisfying entertainment.  I love marveling over the quirky gadgets that actually found a distribution channel let alone a manufacturer.  But as a business advisor, I think that my favorite thing about Sky Mall is that is just reaffirms my belief that all things are possible if you are business minded and want it bad enough.

Here are a few of my favorite faith affirming products – If these made it…..the possabilities are truly endless….:

Golfers – Rid Yourself of Those Ugly Sock Tan Lines

If you always feel like people are gawking at your white feet and the unsightly tan lines around your ankles when you wear sandals or pumps, then you need the Solafeet foot tanner. Those tan lines can be gone in 5 to 10 days with just fifteen minutes a day. Then you can go from the golf course to the clubhouse in confidence. The Solafeet is ideal for flip-flop wearers, tennis players and joggers. It meets or exceeds all FDA standards, and cleans easily with a mild detergent and non-abrasive cloth.

 

No really you can tan your FEET at work. Why not?

  

  

  

NEW! A fun way to run with the herd.

Sometimes one car horn just isn’t enough. When that’s the case, give your truck or car an extra pair-and generate double takes, broad smiles and belly laughs. A great gift for drivers with a sense of humor.

In weatherproof molded plastic. Includes everything you need for quick and easy installation without tools. 13″ H x 12″ W x 1″ D. 8 oz.

 

What I always wanted  – antlers for your truck. 

Migraine Magic Plus – It’s the Best Thing for Migraine Relief Short of a Prescription

Little else is as debilitating as a splitting migraine. It can interfere with work and make you physically ill. But there’s relief on the horizon with Migraine Magic Plus. This massaging eye mask is engineered to gently relieve tension by stimulating and restoring circulation around the eye. In no time you’ll feel refreshed and revived, and ready to take on the world. The secret is in the soft silicone poly magnetic feelers that soothingly manipulate the front of your face around your eyes. Also helps to relieve sinus pain, double vision and dry eyes.

A CPA’s Take on Extreme Customer Service

By Stacie Clifford Kitts CPA

Ya that’s right.  I am a CPA and I’m in the customer service business.

In fact, I’m in the – work all night into the next day and then into the next night if that’s what it takes to meet customer expectations – business.  Frankly and as a general rule, the IRS just doesn’t give a good gosh darn if I have the flu or my child is missing his Easter pageant.  The work must be done and since I have committed to doing it accurately and on time – well duh that is what I am going to do even if I need to miss a few nights of sleep.  And yes as unfortunate as it is, over the years I have had to disappoint a pageant participant or two.

But I think I can take this even further, because  it’s fair to say that as far as customer services goes,  I am in the “extreme” customer service business.  And just like other extreme activities, like skydiving or base-jumping, I’ve experienced my fair share of adrenalin heightened heart pounding moments where I thought I might not make it. 

Oh the rush – can you feel it- a major tax deadline is fast approaching – will – YOU- make – it? 

The nature of a CPA’s work requires courageous customer service.  However, there’s also that smidgen of trepidation weaved in.  It is this combination of emotion that truly makes the level of customer service provided by a CPA extreme.   

However, maybe it’s also that investment of conflicting emotion that makes me so frustrated by businesses that can’t seem to pull off even a moderate level of good customer service.  Believe me; high-quality customer service can be done.  All you have to do is do it.

Today is March 15, our first major tax filing deadline and I’ve strapped on my tax knowledge safety-chute and jumped.  And as I hurdle toward the end of the day, I know that at least this time I am going to make it. For now, it’s time to pull the ripcord and float smoothly in for a soft landing.

IRS Patrol: An Installment of the IRS’s Own Stupid Preparer Files With Elements of the DUH Factor Too

Looks like the IRS has caught on to The Stupid Preparer Files.  This is the second news release by the IRS about stupid preparers in a couple of months.   If you are a loyal reader of  More Tax Tips you know that I like to keep readers up to date on IRS tax tips and news releases, so I am – shall we say – on top of these releases.  I can’t recall seeing this particular topic – not in the last few years anyway.  

One other point of interest you will notice as your read about this Stupid Preparer is this story also has elements of the DUH factor too. 

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IRS Wins 48-Month Suspension of a Lawyer for Failing to File His Own Tax Return and Late Filing

WASHINGTON — Massachusetts Tax Attorney Kevin Kilduff was barred from practicing before the Internal Revenue Service for 48 months for failing to file one federal tax return and for filing another five returns late.

“Professionals who demonstrate a lack of respect for our tax system by failing to meet their own tax filing obligations should not expect to retain the privilege to practice before the IRS,” said Karen L. Hawkins, Director of the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).

The OPR had originally sought the 48-month suspension, alleging Kilduff’s conduct was willful and disreputable. OPR enforces standards of conduct under Treasury Circular 230, which governs enrolled agents, attorneys and certified public accountants. Kilduff formerly worked for the IRS Office of Chief Counsel.

The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) subsequently set the penalty at a 24-month suspension. Kilduff appealed the ALJ decision to the Secretary of the Treasury’s Appellate Authority, which in fact ultimately imposed the harsher 48-month suspension.

Kilduff’s suspension is for a minimum of 48 months. OPR has sole discretion regarding his reinstatement to practice before the IRS. At the very least, Kilduff must file all federal returns and pay all taxes he is responsible for, or enter an acceptable installment agreement or offer in compromise.

The complete decisions of the ALJ and the Appellate Authority are available on the OPR page on this web site.

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So not filing your own tax return is not a good idea. – DUH

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