Monday, October 31, 2011

Wearing a CPA Costume?

It’s Halloween, when children (and some adults) dress up in costumes and celebrate. Whether you’re taking your kids trick-or-treating or going to a party, you can be glad you’re not one of these men who ran afoul of the law by impersonating a CPA.

Two notable cases came from California: Daniel Ford, who opened a tax preparation business without the proper education and then defrauded investors, and Nick Holquin, Jr., who also defrauded investors and added some tax fraud of his own to his impersonation. A more recent case from Washington state saw William G. Ballentine impersonating a CPA to defraud a church.

Fortunately for the public and for legitimate CPAs, resources are available to double-check CPA claims. The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) recently launched, a site that allows citizens to verify a CPA’s status. And CPAs can get a refresher course on the regulations regarding the use of the CPA title in Virginia.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

NACE: Demand High for Accounting Graduates

According to a new survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), employers looking to hire new college graduates express the highest interest in business, engineering, and computer science graduates, with more than half the employers who responded to NACE’s Job Outlook 2012 survey identifying those fields as their hiring focus.

NACE Executive Director Marilyn Mackes identified accounting as one of several “specific disciplines of targeted interest,” along with finance, business administration and mechanical, electrical and computer engineering.

The survey found that employers plan to conduct the majority of their recruiting in the fall, but appear cautious in their plans to hire Class of 2012 graduates, with many saying the bulk of their openings are related to attrition.

Many employers also indicated that they will reassess their needs on at least a quarterly basis,

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Los Bank Auditors Make a Splash on YouTube

In the summer of 2009, at the behest of their bosses at the Winchester office of Yount, Hyde & Barbour, P.C. (YHB), Timothy LeHew, CPA, Greg Mercer, CPA, Bryan Newlin, CPA, and Aaron Poffinberger, CPA, became the Los Bank Auditors.

Tasked with making a short video for YHB’s Firm Day, the four elected to riff on The Lonely Island hit, “I’m on a Boat,” which had just debuted as a “Saturday Night Live” digital short. The result was the tongue-in-cheek “I’m on an Audit” — complete with backing vocals from Newlin’s wife, Karen — which has garnered nearly 25,000 YouTube views since its posting.

“We wanted to have fun with it and at the same time somewhat meet the objectives,” Poffinberger said.

Once the video hit YouTube, the four Los Bank Auditors got a great positive response from clients and friends. Poffinberger was even recognized in an out-of-town restaurant for his role in the production.

“I’m on an Audit” follows the Los Bank Auditors through their work, with several lines and shots taken from real life, including a shot of a coworker working in a broom closet.

“Making the video was a lot of fun,” Newlin said. “Recording the track put us all outside of our comfort zone, but was a blast.”

After Firm Day was over, the Los Bank Auditors went back to business as usual, crunching numbers and serving their clients. But at the end of the day, they’re still the rapping accountants, with some impressive YouTube numbers to back it up.

“Ego aside, I would have to say I am the best rapper of the four of us,” Poffinberger said, “and maybe a top-five rapping accountant in the state of Virginia.”

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Perry Joins Growing Group of Flat Tax Advocates

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is angling for the Republican nomination in the 2012 presidential race, called for the implementation of a flat tax in a speech Wednesday.

Perry, speaking to conservative activists at the Western Republican Leadership Conference, said that getting rid of the federal income tax would be the foundation of his economic plan and that he would release details in about a week. He called for “scrapping the first 3 million words of the current Tax Code, starting over with something simple.”

Perry is the latest Republican presidential hopeful to call for a flat tax. Since September, fellow candidate Herman Cain, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, has campaigned on his 9-9-9 plan to cut taxes. Cain’s plan calls for a 9 percent business flat tax, a 9 percent personal income tax and a 9 percent national sales tax, which would replace the payroll tax, corporate and personal income taxes and the capital gains tax.

Cain argued that the plan provides more certainty for businesses, which would not be penalized for repatriating offshore profits.

What do you think? Does the flat tax idea hold water?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Accountemps: Remote Work Arrangements on the Rise

Virginia companies are nearing the deadline to apply for a tax credit for employee telework expenses. According to a recent survey from Accountemps, the Commonwealth might be busy giving out those credits — remote work arrangements are on the rise.

In the survey, chief financial officers (CFO) were asked: “Have remote work arrangements (for example, telecommuting or working from a satellite office) within your company increased, decreased or remained the same in the last three years?” One-third of respondents said that such arrangements have increased in that time period, with 11 percent saying they’ve increased greatly and 22 percent saying they’ve increased somewhat. Fifty-seven percent of respondents reported no change.

“The prevalence of mobile technologies and wireless communication makes it easier for companies to support flexible work arrangements for their employees,” Accountemps Chairman Max Messmer said. “Although not all positions are suited to remote work arrangements, for those that are, this option can help give professionals more control over their schedules and aid in recruitment and retention efforts.”

Accountemps offered five key areas to monitor in order to engender more productive remote work arrangements:
  • Communication. Employers should keep remote workers in the loop on the latest news in their department and across the company without relying solely on email. Employees should provide frequent status updates on key projects and look for opportunities to interact with their colleagues.
  • Resources. Employers should ensure that offsite employees have the necessary resources to do their job, including remote network access. Employees should make sure their equipment is up to date and maintain productivity at in-office levels.
  • Planning. Employers should establish expectations and guidance at the outset in order to effectively monitor working arrangements. Employees should anticipate potential employer concerns and be prepared to discuss how to handle them.
  • Security. Employers and employees should work with information technology (IT) personnel to set up the requisite security protocols.
  • Camaraderie. Employers should work hard to ensure remote workers feel connected to the group. Possible ways to do this are including them in team activities and recognizing their accomplishments in front of their coworkers. Employees should try to join team activities as much as possible, seek input from coworkers and volunteer to assist them when they need help.
For more information, read this article from Disclosures magazine by VSCPA member Clare Levison, CPA, on how to succeed with nontraditional work arrangements.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

NACE: Average Salary Offer Up 6 Percent

According to a new survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the overall average salary offer to Class of 2011 graduates has risen 6 percent over last year's average.

The average salary offer to a bachelor's degree graduate rose from $48,288 for the Class of 2010 to $51,171 for the Class of 2011, according to NACE's Fall 2011 Salary Survey.

The highest-paid major in the report was petroleum engineering. Graduates in that field had an average salary offer of $82,740, up 7.1 percent.

Business graduates saw their salary rise 4.6 percent to $48,805, while finance majors' salary rose 4.8 percent to $51,503.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Video: CPA Day of Service 2011

Thanks to all of the more than 700 volunteers who took time to serve their communities for CPA Day of Service on Sept. 23! Here's a video summing up our members' efforts:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Career Tips: What to Wear to an Interview

Diane Seaman, M.Ed., of Radiant Style Made Simple stopped by the VSCPA and shared her expertise on job-interview wardrobe selections. Check out her tips:

Monday, October 3, 2011

NACE Survey: New Graduate Hiring Expected to Rise in 2012

According to a new survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), employers are being cautious in their plans to hire new college graduates.

Employers who responded to NACE’s Job Outlook 2012 survey plan to hire 9.5 percent more graduates from the Class of 2012 than they did from the Class of 2011. But a large portion of those hires are related to attrition.

“Many employers say they are focusing on ‘replacement hires,’” NACE Executive Director Marilyn Mackes said.

Employers indicated that graduates of business, engineering and technology-related programs have the best hiring prospects.