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Simplifying Sales Tax

  • Written by T. Steel Rose, CPA

Even Amazon and other major online companies are beginning to appreciate the inevitability of sales tax being charged on online purchases. Despite Walmart and other main street retailers claiming it provides unfair competition, there has been resistance to charging taxes between states partly due to a favorable attitude toward fostering growth of Web commerce. Gradually however states like California have found ways to determine nexus when companies have a presence in their state like a sales office or onsite sales calls.  The Marketplace Fairness Act passed the Senate on May 6, 2013 but still must go through the House. With states taking a much more aggressive stance on sales tax compliance, businesses of all sizes are quickly realizing that it will simply cost more in the long run to ignore this issue.

As the tax on Internet purchases debate continues, most states realize the complication of assessing and collecting the sales tax. It should be fascinating to watch, as most states have a different theory on what is taxable and what is not. Imagine, buying your food from a neighboring state like Texas that does not charge sales tax on groceries, but does tax prepared food; or buying clothes from New Jersey that doesn’t assess its 7% sales tax on unprepared food, medicine or clothing. A total of 24 states joined together to form the Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board to simplify the process if it is permitted by Congress.

One thing is fairly certain; business clients will look to you for answers. This is why sales tax consulting is expected to be a growth area for expanding your practice. Sylvia Dion, CPA at Dion Consulting emphasizes sales tax consulting in her practice. Dion publishes an informative blog at www.thestateandlocaltaxbuzz.com that covers new sales tax topics across the country.

The effort that became the Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board was established in March 2000. The goal of this effort is to find solutions for the complexity in state sales tax systems. This resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court holding (National Bellas Hess v. Department of Revenue of the State of Illinois in 1967 and Quill Corp. v. North Dakota in 1992) that a state may not require a seller that does not have a physical presence in the state to collect tax on sales into the state. The Court ruled that the existing system was too complicated to impose on a business that did not have a physical presence in the state. The Court said Congress has the authority to allow states to require remote sellers to collect tax.

The result of this work is the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement. The purpose of the agreement is to simplify and modernize sales and use tax administration in order to substantially reduce the burden of tax compliance. The vast array of testing determines the proper handling of goods or services based on special taxability, sales tax holidays, and entity exemptions. All must have tax rules in place that correspond with State Taxability Matrices. A snapshot of these six companies follows.

Avalara is a fully-automated sales tax management solution that performs real-time, automated sales tax calculations, integrates seamlessly with financial or e-commerce systems, and provides automatic return preparation and filing, while enabling treasury management and audit defense with sophisticated, web-based compliance management and reporting tools. Businesses of all sizes are able to affordably outsource the most tedious, repetitious and time-consuming aspects of sales tax compliance - researching, calculating, posting, reporting and remitting sales taxes - while simultaneously acquiring the ability to better manage their business via online access to sales tax data.

Its web-based offering provides a complete set of transactional tax compliance services, including tax calculation, exemption certificate management and returns processing. It also offers 1099 filing and reporting. Avalara simplifies the complexity associated with sales and use tax by partnering with 150 accounting and commercial software publishers. These partner applications include enterprise resource planning, point of sale, ecommerce, mcommerce, compliance, and customer relationship management systems.

www.avalara.com

877-780-4848

CCH combines the practical advantages of web-based technology with CPA-designed functionality. The strengths of the CCH Sales Tax SaaS application include: web services and coding economies for real-time accuracy in sales tax determinations, a Sales Tax SaaS Console online administration and service center and a Sales Tax SaaS Service Engine to ensure efficient handling of rule additions and changes.

www.cchgroup.com

Exactor enables sales tax compliance by providing an automated solution for secure, reliable sales tax record keeping and processing. Exactor bridges between all elements of a transaction, starting from the point of transaction, such as the shopping cart, through the final e-filing and remittance of taxes owed.

www.exactor.com

800 851-8226

Taxware solutions are used by various businesses including remote sellers, brick and mortar stores, and manufacturers. Taxware products integrate with a business’ ERP, CRM, POS, shopping cart and home-grown applications. Its products can be accessed remotely through the Taxware hosting center or can be deployed onsite within a business’ firewall. Taxware processed the first certified tax transaction in 2001during the pilot run by the Streamlined Sales Tax Project.

www.taxware.com

919 782 0628

AccurateTax TaxTools are integrated into online stores, with plug-in solutions for a variety of software platforms, as well as a custom API. The TaxTools suite brings SSTP-certified rules and transactions to the online point of sale for retailers to ensure they are calculating, collecting, reporting and remitting the accurate tax information. 

www.accuratetax.com

866-400-2444 

FedTax offers businesses a free way to calculate and collect sales tax. Over 2,500 retailers use TaxCloud to manage sales tax. It claims to handle every aspect of sales tax from calculation to collection to filing. TaxCloud can be integrated into most accounting, order management, and shopping cart systems. It calculates sales tax in real-time for any location in the country and files sales tax returns for 24 states. It prepares monthly state-by-state reports on sales tax collected and monitors changes to tax rates and tax holidays

www.taxcloud.net

206-452-1686

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Creating An After-Tax Pool of Savings

  • Written by Ted Sarenski, CPA/PFS, CFP, AEP

Sarenski Ted

Retirement planning is going to be the focus of your baby-boomer clients over the next ten to fifteen years. The retirement column will be your guide to assist you in delivering services to this group, as well as those younger, so they will enjoy comfortable, stress-free retirement years. The psychological impact of retirement is as important as the financial aspect when working with clients planning for retirement.

I like to use the “F-word” when doing any planning. “Flexibility” is very important for the future non-earning years. The current tax code is linked more closely with investments than it ever has been before. We now have differing capital gain rates, AMT issues, different rates for interest income compared to dividend income and a new 3.8% Medicare tax on unearned income for singles with Adjusted Gross Income over $200,000 and couples with AGI over $250,000. How do you assure the most flexibility? Consider the three-legged stool of retirement.

Ideally, we should encourage our clients to have equal pools of pre-tax savings and after-tax savings. The third leg of the stool, Social Security, will be addressed in future issues. No longer can we assume that someone heading into retirement will be in a lower tax bracket than the tax bracket they were in when they were earning money. Seventy-seven million baby boomers over the next twenty years are going to require more medical services provided by Medicare and collect Social Security benefits, the cost of which cannot be solely born on the shoulders of those younger. Tax rates will most likely be higher for the boomer generation in retirement than the tax rates in effect during their peak earning years. Equal pools of pre-tax and after-tax funds will allow a person to control the tax bracket he or she is in by drawing enough from the taxable pool to take advantage of deductions, exemptions and lower tax brackets and then make up the rest of the funds they need to live on with funds from the after-tax pool of savings.

I have seen many high-earning professionals near retirement with millions in pre-tax savings and a pittance in after-tax savings. These people are then fully subject to the tax rate schedule which makes every incremental dollar they need cost more and more when they draw funds to live on in retirement. Early planning for these folks can help create the after-tax pool by considering converting pre-tax money into after-tax money using Roth conversions. High earning professionals many times have the flexibility (there’s that “F” word again) to control the receipt of their earned income and create low earning years so as to take advantage of Roth conversions in those same years. The ability to undo the conversion through October 15th of the following year gives tremendous flexibility in an uncertain investment environment so a person is never locked into a position that is disadvantageous.   

Another way to create an after-tax pool of savings, and possibly get matching money to boost that pool, is to contribute the remaining years’ 401(k) contributions to a Roth 401(k) if your employer’s plan has been amended or created to include the Roth 401(k) provision. Conversions of prior 401(k) tax-deferred contributions can be converted to Roth 401(k) contributions too! A word of caution is important here. Conversions of pre-tax 401(k) monies to Roth 401(k) monies do not have the ability to be reconverted prior to October 15th of the following year. The individual is stuck with the decision of the conversion; it cannot be reversed later.

Saving after-tax money to the extent one can is the simplest way to build that pool. Time, of course, is limited for the boomers. But, they are in their high-earning years and many of their costs for housing or children’s education are behind them. Sacrificing some desires for the next few years could make a large difference in keeping taxes low and food on the table in their retirement years.

Your baby-boomer clients need you to have these discussions with them before they ever consider not working. While you are discussing these ideas with them it will be the perfect time to suggest to them that they have these discussions with their children. Their children own the one thing that your boomer client is lacking; time. Let’s get the next generation better prepared for the non-earning years than the current one appears to be.

 

Ted Sarenski has authored articles on financial planning that have appeared in many major financial planning resources including a CPAs Guide to Social Security for the AICPA.

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Top 50 Accounting Firm Products of 2013

  • Written by T. Steel Rose, CPA

A 22-year tradition of reviewing tax software continues with CPA Magazine's Top 50 Accounting Firm Products of 2013. While the basic bread-and-butter features are still the core of a product’s importance, special consideration was given to companies with ongoing educational initiatives to the CPA community.

The listing features fifty products spanning ten categories. Products were considered based on four key sets of attributes: usability, imbedded intelligence, integration and overall value. All accounting and tax applications selected provide extended applications such as depth of functionality relative to the cost of the system.

 

Tax Prep

TaxACT Preparer’s Edition

TaxACT Preparer’s Edition contains advanced tools and powerful features at an affordable price. Includes a client organizer, invoicing, multiple preparer support, unlimited return filing, low-cost Form 1040 e-filing, and affordable state packages. In the Journal of Accountancy and The Tax Advisers' 2012 tax software survey users praised its ease of use and price. TaxACT rated among the top three in both categories and received the highest user rating for easy update/installation process.

www.taxact.com | 800-573-4287

 

ProSystem fx Tax

CCH Tax and Accounting’s ProSystem fx Tax is the cornerstone of the ProSystem fx Office, a tax preparation and compliance tool. Designed to handle an extensive range of federal and state individual, corporate, partnership, fiduciary, deferred compensation, exempt organization, and estate and gift tax returns.

www.cchgroup.com | 888-224-7377

 

ATX

CCH ATX can prepare federal, state, city and payroll tax returns. It has unlimited electronic filing of individual and business returns. Software provides complete tax preparation while the  Electronic Filing Center and TaxWise University provide quality training.

www.atxinc.com | 866-345-4172

 

Drake Software

Drake Software Tax Solution forms include in one package: 1040, 1040NR, 1041, 1065, 1120, 1120H, 1120S, 706, 709, 990, 990PF. All states are included. With over 4000 forms, schedules, and worksheets, the software is network ready and includes Federal and state e-filing. Unlimited and PPR packages are available.

www.drakesoftware.com | 800-890-9500

 

Lacerte

Intuit’s Lacerte has a Missing Client Data Utility to reduce the hassle of tracking down client data and the ability to email encrypted PDF copies of your client returns from within Lacerte.  Lacerte includes over 5,600 tax forms including multi-state K-1s, consolidated corporations, publicly traded partnerships, basis calculations, depreciation, amortizations, debt forgiveness, schedule J (farming), and oil and gas. Lacerte has more than 20,000 error diagnostics, including a specific e-file review.

www.accountants.intuit.com/tax/lacerte | 800-446-8848

 

ProSeries Professional

Intuit ProSeries Professional provides planning and review tools for accurate, complete tax returns. The software works well with other Intuit programs such as Quicken and QuickBooks to transfer client data smoothly and flexible data entry methods to input information efficiently. Returns can be reviewed with onscreen diagnostics and quick-help features.

www.proseries.com | 800-446-8848

 

CCH TaxWise

CCH TaxWise offers four packages designed for the full service tax office. The Power Package is for tax professionals who prepare personal and all types of business returns in many states. It includes the federal 1040, 1120, 1120S, 1065, 1041, 706, 709, 990 and 5500 modules along with companion modules for every state with a filing requirement plus the CCH U.S. Master Tax Guide Online and unlimited e-filing.

www.taxwise.com | 866-345-4171

 

UltraTax CS

ThomsonReuters UltraTax CS includes all federal and 1040, 1041, 1065, 1120, and 1120S state programs. The Electronic Client Organizer offers data transfer via email or over the Internet. Data sharing facilitates data transfer; and per-return-pricing allows preparation of a few returns within specific categories.

www.cs.thomsonreuters.com | 800-968-8900

 

 

Tax Research

Bloomberg BNA

Bloomberg BNA Federal Tax Practice and Procedure Research and Guidance provides practical, topical analysis from leading tax practitioners. Hundreds of client communications spell out pitfalls and opportunities. Services can be expanded with report-generating E-Financial Analyst, while tapping into the primary source materials, eliminating surprises with the latest IRS news.

www.bnatax.com | 800-372-1033

 

IntelliConnect

CCH’s IntelliConnect combines CCH’s authoritative content with Internet technology to offer a current, customized and intuitive line of tax research products and access tools, real-time tax news, and training and support, and is integrated into CCH’s tax compliance software solutions.

www.cchgroup.com | 888-224-7377

 

Lexis Advance

Lexis Advance provides research task materials on one page with access to treatises and updates from Matthew Bender, The Wall Street Journal and Shepards. It provides information on developments with tax dailies and weeklies, such as Tax Notes Today, BNA Daily Tax Reports, and others.

www.lexisnexis.com | 800-227-4908

 

Thomson Reuters Checkpoint

Thomson Reuters Checkpoint service provides complete tax law, expert analysis, practitioner insights, tax-related news, cases, rulings, and productivity tools. Some of the sources include WG&L Treatises, AICPA and FASB content. Coverage areas: federal, state and local, estate planning, pensions and benefits, international, payroll and financial reporting and management.

www.cs.thomsonreuters.com | 800-968-8900

 

 

Tax Planning

BNA Income Tax Planner

BNA Income Tax Planner with fifty states calculates individual federal and state income taxes for all resident states, NYC and DC, and many nonresident states. Program offers seven modes of analysis, displays up to 10 years/cases, handles K-1 and 1099 income on an activity-by-activity basis, automatically handles complex tax limitations and phase-outs, produces 1040-ES/1041-ES payment vouchers including annualization, includes clients letters, graphs, and reports.

www.bnasoftware.com | 800-424-2938

 

ProSystem fx Planning

CCH’s ProSystem fx Planning allows tax professionals to streamline tax planning engagements that naturally flow from tax compliance activities. It is customizable and allows practitioners to develop, calculate and review tax scenarios, as well as create effective planning strategies for their clients.

www.cchgroup.com| 888-224-7377

 

Retirement Plan Analyzer 2013.11

Leimberg & LeClair Retirement Plan Analyzer 2013.11 is designed to evaluate pension and profit-sharing distribution strategies. It computes an almost unlimited number of alternatives under methods such as discretionary or attained age, includes minimum distribution rules, prints comparative graphs and many reports. The Pre-59½ Distributions section had several changes. The "Reasonable" Interest Rate selection was updated for The State Death Tax Manager to version 3.20. The following states were updated: CT, DC, DE, HI, IL, IN, ME, NC, OR, RI and TN.

www.leimberg.com | 610-924-0515

 

Planner CS

Thomson Reuters UltraTax Planner CS handles an unlimited number of scenarios and/or years, and includes calculations for all states. Built-in graphing capabilities make it easy to communicate tax plans and alternatives clearly to clients. Integrates seamlessly with UltraTax or operates stand-alone.

www.cs.thomsonreuters.com | 800-968-8900

 

 

Sales Tax

Avalara

Avalara is a fully-automated sales tax management solution that performs real-time, automated sales tax calculations, and provides automatic returns preparation and filing. It enables reporting, treasury management and audit defense with sophisticated, web-based compliance management and reporting tools. Avalara was founded on the premise that businesses of all sizes should be able to confidently, accurately and affordably outsource the most time-consuming aspects of sales tax compliance - researching, calculating, posting, reporting and remitting sales taxes.

www.avalara.com | 877-780-4848

 

BNA Sales & Use Tax Rates and Forms

BNA Sales & Use Tax Rates and Forms has continually updated rates, forms, and instructions for every U.S. taxing jurisdiction and easy rates look-up. Onscreen forms have a built-in calculation ability. A “What’s New” section highlights changes, and interim rate changes are downloadable from BNA Software’s Web site. The Rates File Generator exports rates into formats for use in other systems.

www.bnasoftware.com | 800-424-2938

 

Sales Tax SaaS Pro

CCH’s Sales Tax SaaS Pro combines the practical advantages of web-based technology with CPA-designed functionality. The strengths of the application include: web services and coding economies for real-time accuracy in sales tax determinations, a Sales Tax SaaS Console online administration and service center and a Sales Tax SaaS Service Engine to ensure efficient handling of rule additions and changes.

www.cchgroup.com | 888-224-7377

 

 

Estate Planning

BNA Estate & Gift Tax Planner

BNA Estate & Gift Tax Planner offers a complete set of estate planning calculations, including interrelated marital and charitable computations, GRITs, GRATs, GRUTs, private annuities and SCINs, Sec. 6166, and all “special credits.” The calcs integrate seamlessly and all state current estate tax laws are incorporated. Features include a Quick Start Wizard, customizable graphs, minimum distribution and actuarial utilities.

www.bnasoftware.com | 800-424-2938

 

NumberCruncher

Leimberg & LeClair’s NumberCruncher estate financial planning software couples numbers, Windows graphics, and client-ready explanatory text for each of its many programs which makes it possible for planners to also “cut and paste” any calculation, graph, or report into a Word or other document. The Estate Tax changes from the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2013 reflect the maximum estate tax rate of 40% starting in 2013 and the applicable exclusion amount for 2013 of $5,250,000.

www.leimberg.com | 610-924-0515

 

 

Engagement

QuickBooks Accountant

For engagements accountant can: view income-producing transactions in one place, and take immediate action to get overdue invoices paid. Add attachments to a QuickBooks transaction email, customize email templates and see prior email conversations. Pull in banking transactions from multiple banks and accounts to view and categorize them with Bank Feeds. Work in two company files at the same time with Multi-Instance. Create & customize financial statements with Working Trial Balance.

www.accountants.intuit.com | 888-236-9501

 

Accounting Relief

AccountantsWorld’s Accounting Relief is a fully secure, web-based system for client accounting and bookkeeping, trial balance and write-up. It works collaboratively with clients in real-time using a cloud-based system that can be customized to match needs and resources of each client, enabling accountants to streamline all phases of the engagement.

www.accountantsworld.com/AR | 888-999-1366 ext. 517

 

Working Papers

CaseWare’s Working Papers is engagement software and an assurance and reporting tool. Electronic review has real-time updates, full annotation capabilities, issues management, and version control at the document, cell and account level. Plan, perform and review the engagement on screen, eliminating paper.

www.caseware.com | 800-267-1317

 

 

Time & Billing

BillQuick

BQE Software’s BillQuick tracks projects, staff and billing. A project logged into BillQuick and assigned to a staff member can be their to-do list and lets them know what kinds of projects are in the house and lets a manager track staff as far as due date timing and the workload on their desk. When a new project is launched, employees can see all of the steps that need to be completed to get the project out on time. When a client calls in with a question about the status of their project, the front-line staff can determine exactly where it is in the process. The tool can also track unbilled time, such as answering client phone calls.

www.bqe.com | 866-945-1595  

 

Sage Timeslips

Sage Timeslips manages the entire billing cycle. Features include time and expense tracking, custom bill formatting, accounts receivable tracking, and Timeslips Today.

www.timeslips.com | 800-285-0999

 

TPS Software

TPS Software links directly into Microsoft Outlook 98’ to 2013’s “CONTACT” feature. You can have the entire history of a client’s business individually or grouped together to determine the profitability of any individual engagement, client or company. See the productivity of every CPA recording time and see what time has not been placed in WIP. A remote time entry function  imports all the remote time. Generate time transactions with or without the use of a clock. Multiple Write up/downs including “Provisional”.

www.tpssoftware.com | 888-877-2231

 

 

Practice Management

ProSystem fx Practice

CCH’s ProSystem fx Practice is the practice management component of The ProSystem fx Office, goes beyond tracking time and billing. It also delivers critical office management information to better manage project activities and reports, capture accurate billable hours, and raise realization rates. Also takes advantage of Advantage Database Server, CCH’s client/server database platform.

www.cchgroup.com | 888-224-7377

 

Practice CS

Thomson Reuters’ Practice CS is an integrated suite of practice management products with data analysis capabilities enabling users to capture and invoice all billable activity, monitor staff productivity and client profitability. Combines time and billing with project scheduling capabilities.

www.cs.thomsonreuters.com | 800-968-8900

 

 

Payroll

Payroll Relief

AccountantsWorld’s Payroll Relief offers a cloud-based payroll processing service to offer to clients and an after-the-fact payroll system that is always up-to-date with current federal and state tax forms and filings. Web-based processing service designed exclusively for accountants.

www.accountantsworld.com/PRAC | 888-999-1366 ext. 517

 

ADP RUN

ADP’s RUN was designed specifically for accounting professionals looking for an end-to-end payroll tax filing service, from do-it-yourself with eFile/ePay to full tax filing. Connectivity to additional services for clients: HR resources, workers' compensation premium payment program and retirement plans and time and attendance solution and benefits administration solutions to help clients comply with regulatory and legislative changes, such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

www.accountant.adp.com | 800-225-5237

 

CheckMark Payroll

CheckMark’s Payroll offers professional payroll services and software for small businesses at an affordable price.

www.checkmark.com | 800-444-9922

 

Intuit Payroll for Accountants

Clients collaborate by visiting a client-accessible payroll website branded with the firm's name. Set client's level of access depending on their level of involvement in payroll activities. Keep track of important deadlines through the Client Dashboard and To Do List. Run payroll on the go with a mobile app. Enter employee hours, review and approve, and pay employees from iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Perform job costing and class tracking. Time-tracking is integrated with payroll. Integrates with QuickBooks, QuickBooks for Mac, QuickBooks Online, Quicken, and Peachtree.

www.accountants.intuit.com | 888-236-9501     

 

 

Clarity Payroll

Paymate offers cost-effective payroll/HR, ESS, time and attendance and scheduling solution for North America SMEs with short implementation, training and migration from other software or service.

www.paymatesoftware.com | 866-729-6283

 

 

Payroll4Construction

Payroll4Construction is a payroll service just for construction that offers standard processing services, fringe management, multiple states, localities, jobs par rates, and free certified payroll and construction reporting.

www.payroll4construction.com | 800-949-9620

 

Sage HRMS

Sage HRMS offers flexible, in-house payroll processing, powerful reporting tools to help with compliance and strategic planning, and maximum security of sensitive data.

www.sageabra.com | 866-271-6050

 

 

Business Management: NFP, Construction and Office Utilities

 Financial Edge

Blackbaud’s Financial Edge from Blackbaud is accounting software with expertise in reporting, grant management, restricted fund management, nonprofit specific workflows, and collaboration with the fundraising department.

www.blackbaud.com | 800-443-9441

 

Foundation

Foundation helps contractors improve their accounting and reporting with job cost accounting software offering 19 modules, a mobile app, and SaaS or on-premise options.

www.foundationsoft.com | 800-246-0800

 

Net Worth Express PRO Edition

KISS Computer Company’s Net Worth Express PRO Edition allows you to compile a personal financial statement based on GAAP. Include a compilation report, provided with the program or by creating your own custom report.

www.networthexpress.com | 888-848-8105

 

CPA SafeSign

CPA Paperless’ CPA SafeSign allows users to e-sign accounting documents with their PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone. Users can e-sign engagement letters, Form 8879s, management representation letters and partnership agreements. Internal documents can be signed from anywhere, anytime via a PC, laptop, tablet or smart phone.

www.cpaperless.com | 800-716-2558

 

 

Document Management

CyberCabinet

AccountantsWorld’s CyberCabinet is a document management and client portals system that supports Send/Receive files of virtually any size securely with easy drag-and-drop functionality.

www.accountantsworld.com/cc | 888-999-1366 ext 517

 

iChannel

Conarc’s iChannel features an integrated document manager, CRM, email manager, secure email, client portals, tax workflow, links to engagements, tax, scan, practice, caseware and XCM.

www.conarc.com | 770-849-0508

 

Doc.It Suite

Doc.It Suite is easy to interact with. The system utilizes embedded intelligence methodology for organizing the electronic process.

www.doc-it.com | 888-693-6248

 

 

Workflow

Beyond415

Beyond415 provides current guidance on individual, business and payroll areas of IRS practice and procedure, including the following categories: authorizations, agreements, Section 7216 consents, IRS client account research, audits, penalties, return corrections & adjustments, collection, IRS e-services, past-due returns, tax identity theft, and taxpayer advocate service. For each issue, Beyond415 provides a step-by-step work plan with instructions, practice tips and examples of the documents and forms needed. Beyond415’s sample documents, including forms, letters, analysis tools and work papers.

www.beyond415.com | 866-414-6004

 

Office Tools Professional Practice Management Software

Office Tools Professional Practice Management Software from Office Tools Professional provides accounting and tax professionals with next generation practice management software, providing a single interface for client, staff, office and documents. Simplified office management while tracking time, due dates and assignments.

www.officetoolspro.com | 888-667-8440

 

SPbinder

SurePrep’s SPbinder automatically bookmarks and organizes source documents and exports data to tax software. Workpapers are then reviewed using the integrated electronic workpaper system, SPbinder.

www.sureprep.com | 800-805-8582 ext. 3

 

 

Write-Up

Client Write-Up

PC Software Accounting’s Client Write-Up system keeps all financial periods open. Changes can be made to produce financial reports for any period at any time. It includes an integrated bank reconciliation program, payroll sub-system, and a Computer Checkbook feature that can be used by the accounting firm to write checks or by clients at their offices. Payroll reports are generated from plain paper without requiring a form. The system can handle MICR checks and direct deposit. The Client Write-Up system interfaces with other accounting programs and many tax preparations programs. It produces reports that can be placed in Excel or Microsoft Word.

www.pcsai.com | 800-237-9234

 

Accounting CS

Thomson Reuters’ Accounting CS offers transaction and after-the-fact payroll processing and a flexible report writer that enables creation of customized financial statements. The heart of an integrated suite of software, the product enables seamless data flow between UltraTax, and Practice CS.

www.cs.thomsonreuters.com | 800-968-8900

 

Swizznet

Swizznet cloud accounting and QuickBooks hosting is a premier Citrix cloud accounting and Intuit-authorized QuickBooks hosting provider offering a fast mobile and online solution for accessing accounting applications anytime, anywhere.

www.swizznet.com | 888-794-9948

 

QuickBooks Accountant 2014 Plus

QuickBooks Accountant 2014 Plus enables an accountant to gather beginning balances, period transactions and adjustments, and ending balances for any time frame with Working Trial Balance. Create complete financial reports with QuickBooks Statement Writer. Find and fix client entry errors with Client Data Review. Batch-enter checks, deposits, or credit card transactions on one screen. Identify checks written from the wrong account and reassign them to the right bank account. Track unpaid invoices, make the right adjustments and charge bounced check fees. Email journal entries from QuickBooks and let clients import them with Send General Journal Entry. Send Accountant’s Copy files through secured Intuit servers with Accountant’s Copy File Transfer Service.

www.accountants.intuit.com | 888-236-9501

 

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Top 3 Time and Billing Solutions for 2013

  • Written by Jasmine Temares, Joshua Fluegel

Making the Most with Your Time

Tracking Time Fundamental for Practice Management Workflow Success

Time and billing is a moneymaker for any firm of any size. Failure to use it is failing to capture valuable time. It not only provides a more realistic invoice but also creates the budgeted time for the project in subsequent years, and provides an example for accepting similar projects. As part of CPA Magazine’s mission to provide tax professionals with tips and techniques to help them manage, enhance and expand their practice. We are going to take a closer look at time and billing and its integration into the tax professional’s practice.

A time and billing solution is normally the first order of business for firms. It is a common mistake for time to be accounted for after the work is complete. When billable time is estimated, or guessed at, it’s often lower than the actual time spent which translates into lost revenue.

“Many firms mistakenly believe they are tracking time, when in fact they are just guessing," said Felecia Dixson, Principal at Alfermann Gray & Co. “If you don't track real-time on billing, how do you know if you have made any money on that project?”

This inefficiency can be remedied by integration. Having your software environment thoroughly connected can reduce keystrokes and save time.

“If I am working on a document or looking at an email, I should have the ability to track time,” said Mike Giardina, CEO of Office Tools Professional. “What we believe software has to do is reach out and touch all the other applications and processes so we don’t have to do work and then go log time in retrospect.”

Many time and billing solutions have also incorporated automatic alerts to remind staff to record their time. They automatically apply the correct billing rate, monitor hours worked, create invoices for engagements and generate management reports. Most products have a stopwatch located on the desktop to allow users to track time for projects with the click of a button and to enable multiple accountants at the same time. Each one can be set to start and stop as the phone rings, inbox messages are received and if clients drop by throughout the day.

A large firm is always looking for the best workflow to get all the jobs completed without overburdening any one employee. Dixson recommends tracking everything, including pro-bono clients and others that receive discounted work. After work with a client is completed management can then study the tracking information and easily see exactly how much was made working for that particular client.

This efficiency can be pushed further by examining the general needs of tax professionals today. Much like the rest of technology, everything is now on the move.

We have a mobile need,” said Giardina. “I think that’s the greatest benefit. Whether we are hosting office tools with a cloud provider or using the web-based software, so many people need this mobility. Ultimately, that should in most ways be leading to mobile applications. I would say that mobility is the greatest benefit that we have out there.”

 

 

Reviews

 

Record Expenses From Smartphone

Practice Relief

- Practice Relief is preconfigured with the standard tasks and expense types most commonly used in accounting practices.

- Can record tasks and expenses for users on the go from any smartphone or tablet with Internet access. Tasks and expenses can be added, edited, or deleted anytime and are synched automatically in Practice Relief.

- Supports hourly, variable rate structures, flat fee, non-billed, and recurring retainer billing types.

- The Integrated Scheduler keeps track of client appointments across the firm, and completed appointments can be sent immediately to billing. 

- Features complete managerial overrides for all billable events.

 

What Users Say

“I use Practice Relief to get paid right away,” said Fernando Maisonave at AccuBooks. “I can create an invoice while I'm at the client's office, get paid immediately, and because all the [AccountantsWorld Power Practice System] modules are integrated, the invoice goes right into Accounting Relief [AccountantsWorld’s complete write-up and bookkeeping package]. Practice Relief also helps us manage past-due invoices.”

Practice Relief | AccountantsWorld

accountantsworld.com | 888-999-1366

 

 

Calendar for Viewing Work Loads

BillQuick 2013

- The color-coded calendar allows users to see assignments for each employee and instantly learn which team members are overextended or under-utilized. You can Keep an eye on not only your forecasted work, but also who is available to work on your next project.

- Users can include all files (contracts, nondisclosure agreements, confirmations, engagement letters and other documents) linked to a single record in an email with a single click for estimates.

- Invoice approval alerts notify users when their draft invoices are approved by a manager to reduce the time between working and getting paid.

- Users can compare past project performances to current jobs by applying date filters to further narrow down snap-shot information available on the project screen and in the project center.

- As soon as users finish a deposit transaction, BillQuick can immediately make the related deposit slips available for printing or emailing.

 

What Users Say

"I would have to say that of all of the software that we use in the daily operation of our business, the purchase and use of BillQuick has had the most dramatic effect on our bottom line,” said Al Truss, Fountainhead Group Consulting. “Highly recommended!"

BillQuick 2013 | BQE Software

bqe.com | 866-945-1595

 

 

Multiple Timers Run Concurrently

Practice Management 2013

- Features a single screen interface and can be integrated with Intuit’s QuickBooks, Microsoft Office products, Intuit’s Lacerte and Demandforce.

- Multiple time keeping options are available and all time data entered is immediately available for invoicing. Users may key time manually, but the system is designed to prompt users to complete time entry sheets upon finalizing assigned tasks. Timers are available and multiple timers may run concurrently from any part of the program.

- Invoice adjustments may be made on each invoice as required.

- New invoice templates have been added, totaling 22 template types with over 35 print options.

 

What Users Say

“Before Office Tools Professional our Time and Billing software was Time Slips and we used File n Time to keep track of the projects,” said Patti O’Neill at O’Neill & Bergado. When we looked at Office Tools Professional it basically combined both of them and if you can get rid of redundant systems then that’s the way to do it.”

Practice Management 2013 | Office Tools Professional

officetoolspro.com | 888-667-8440

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The Keyword for Retirement Planning

  • Written by Ted Sarenski, CPA/PFS, CFP, AEP

 

Retirement planning is going to be the focus of your baby-boomer clients over the next ten to fifteen years. The retirement column will be your guide to assist you in delivering services to this group, as well as those younger, so they will enjoy comfortable, stress-free retirement years. The psychological impact of retirement is as important as the financial aspect when working with clients planning for retirement.

I like to use the “F-word” when doing any planning. “Flexibility” is very important for the future non-earning years. The current tax code is linked more closely with investments than it ever has been before. We now have differing capital gain rates, AMT issues, different rates for interest income compared to dividend income and a new 3.8% Medicare tax on unearned income for singles with Adjusted Gross Income over $200,000 and couples with AGI over $250,000. How do you assure the most flexibility? Consider the three-legged stool of retirement.

Ideally, we should encourage our clients to have equal pools of pre-tax savings and after-tax savings. The third leg of the stool, Social Security, will be addressed in future issues. No longer can we assume that someone heading into retirement will be in a lower tax bracket than the tax bracket they were in when they were earning money. Seventy-seven million baby boomers over the next twenty years are going to require more medical services provided by Medicare and collect Social Security benefits, the cost of which cannot be solely born on the shoulders of those younger. Tax rates will most likely be higher for the boomer generation in retirement than the tax rates in effect during their peak earning years. Equal pools of pre-tax and after-tax funds will allow a person to control the tax bracket he or she is in by drawing enough from the taxable pool to take advantage of deductions, exemptions and lower tax brackets and then make up the rest of the funds they need to live on with funds from the after-tax pool of savings.

I have seen many high-earning professionals near retirement with millions in pre-tax savings and a pittance in after-tax savings. These people are then fully subject to the tax rate schedule which makes every incremental dollar they need cost more and more when they draw funds to live on in retirement. Early planning for these folks can help create the after-tax pool by considering converting pre-tax money into after-tax money using Roth conversions. High earning professionals many times have the flexibility (there’s that “F” word again) to control the receipt of their earned income and create low earning years so as to take advantage of Roth conversions in those same years. The ability to undo the conversion through October 15th of the following year gives tremendous flexibility in an uncertain investment environment so a person is never locked into a position that is disadvantageous.   

Another way to create an after-tax pool of savings, and possibly get matching money to boost that pool, is to contribute the remaining years’ 401(k) contributions to a Roth 401(k) if your employer’s plan has been amended or created to include the Roth 401(k) provision. Conversions of prior 401(k) tax-deferred contributions can be converted to Roth 401(k) contributions too! A word of caution is important here. Conversions of pre-tax 401(k) monies to Roth 401(k) monies do not have the ability to be reconverted prior to October 15th of the following year. The individual is stuck with the decision of the conversion; it cannot be reversed later.

Saving after-tax money to the extent one can is the simplest way to build that pool. Time, of course, is limited for the boomers. But, they are in their high-earning years and many of their costs for housing or children’s education are behind them. Sacrificing some desires for the next few years could make a large difference in keeping taxes low and food on the table in their retirement years.

Your baby-boomer clients need you to have these discussions with them before they ever consider not working. While you are discussing these ideas with them it will be the perfect time to suggest to them that they have these discussions with their children. Their children own the one thing that your boomer client is lacking; time. Let’s get the next generation better prepared for the non-earning years than the current one appears to be.

 

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