Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Accounting software is vital

Many Australian businesses don’t have adequate financial systems. Michael Rich discusses the most common questions around accounting sofware.

More than 300,000 Australian and New Zealand businesses are using out-of-date accounting software, resulting in a deficiency of vital information that is needed to perform core business activities, according to Michael Rich, managing director, Attaché Software.

This issue is particularly relevant considering we are moving from one financial year to another.

There are opportunities for resellers to advise their clients if their financial software is out-of-date and help them source an alternative solution.

Rich explained that as the economy slows the risks increase so it is more essential than ever for businesses to update their accounting software.

This is to ensure business owners and managers are in better control of basic business procedures including vital business lifelines such as cash flow and stock control.

Read More Article...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Accounting vs. Technology - Who’s At Fault

Did technology play a role in the financial services meltdown?

A columnist for a major IT publication documented his positions on the role of IT in the current financial services meltdown. He asked questions such as “Were the internal IT groups in these firms working on projects that were misaligned with the financial services firms’ business strategy?” The article attempted to place blame where it does not belong.

At the heart of a these spectacular business failures rests a complex and intentionally opaque maze of documents that were designed to obscure anyone’s understanding of the true risk involved in the financial instruments being sold. These instruments wrapped up a mix of high, medium and low risk mortgages into prepackaged bundles that few people could understand. Fewer still understood that these mortgage portfolios would be so vulnerable to a drop in housing values nationwide. Over time, we will probably learn that this obfuscation was absolutely intentional. The firms that created these documents and the financial instruments that went with them were built them in a way that few people could ever understand.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Accounting error may cause Medicis to restate earnings

Medicis said Wednesday that it will likely restate earnings since 2002 due to an accounting error, an announcement that prompted shareholders to bid down the stock 13 percent.

The Scottsdale-based marketer of prescription and aesthetic skin products said it did not immediately know how much a restatement may affect earnings and revenue, but it said cash flow will not be affected.

The accounting snafu comes as the company faces pressure on two fronts - looming generic competition for its Solodyn acne treatment and the potential that a slowing economy could diminish consumer appetite for its anti-wrinkle skin fillers Restylane and Perlane.

Those factors and the potential restatement prompted the company to say that its earnings guidance for the remainder of 2008 is no longer valid.

Medicis shares closed Wednesday at $15.58, down $2.34.

The company described the accounting issue as a technical error measuring its sales-return reserves. Its balance sheet reflected the cost of making such products rather than the wholesale price.

Read More Article...

Friday, September 26, 2008

10 Tips to help you get an Accounting Degree Online

There are many excellent and growing opportunities for accountants in the corporate world at present. A degree in accounting helps brighten your future prospects in the field of accountancy. You can opt for an associate's degree, a bachelor's, master's or doctorate program.

If it is not possible for you to attend a regular university, you can still consider a career in accounting by going for an accounting degree online. The online course covers most of the aspects of accountancy and online college degrees from accredited institutes are considered to be at par with regular college degrees. There can also be the chance that the degree from a reputed institute might lead to better employment considerations by some of the organizations.

Here are 10 tips that will help you get an accounting degree online:
  1. Select a reputed college with accreditation. If the college isn't a completely virtual one, it should have a physical address and a phone number where you can easily reach them.
  2. Check out their different courses or programs available. An accounting degree online program should include courses in financial accounting, managerial accounting, taxation, and auditing.
  3. Find out how long it will take to complete a particular course. Some online college degrees can be completed in less time than a regular college. According to the U.S. Uniform Accountancy Act, you require at least 150 hours of coursework to be able to appear for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) qualifying exam.
  4. Inquire about the online course fee structure and if there are any scholarships or financial aids available. It is also important to find out if they have a refund option available incase a student wants to discontinue the program or course taken.
  5. Inquire about the educational qualifications and previous teaching experience of the faculty taking the accounting degree online course.
  6. Find out about the number of students taking the accounting degree online course in different batches. If a significantly large proportion of people are taking the course, it may hamper the amount of time and attention that the teacher can give you.
  7. Inquire about class schedule and contact details. Find out if the faculty can be contacted in case you want extra help with the coursework or need any advise regarding the technology used.
  8. Make sure you have all the necessary technological equipment and software. For an Online College Degree, you will need to have a computer, an Internet connection, and some software necessary for online education. Some colleges provide the software as part of the course package.
  9. During online education the basic mode of interaction is through discussion and emails. So it is important to inquire about the timings for online group discussions. It is an effective way to know your subject and co-students better.
  10. It is important to be more organized when it comes to online education as you study from the convenience of your home and may lack the dedication to complete the course at times. Make sure you are regular with your study schedule and complete your assignments on time.
It is definitely a good thing to check out all the details about your accounting course before you enroll in one.

Source : http://www.education-advancement.com

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Software combines document management, accounting functions.

Intacct offers on-demand financial management and accounting applications as well as full integration with Accounts Payable Automation Solution. Latter replaces printed documents with electronic processes, complete with audit trails and version control, while promoting collaboration between finance and accounting departments. It includes automated extraction/population of index data, automated invoice/purchase order matching, and automated exception handling/escalation.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Counterpoint: Accounting rules are not to blame

The loss in market value of mortgage portfolios is real, not an artifact of accounting rules

There is something seriously wrong with the financial press when an opinion article on the current financial crisis such as the one by William M. Isaac (“How to Really Save the Financial System”, Sept. 20) is given the prominence associated with publication in The Wall Street Journal, and is then reprinted in the Financial Post and endorsed by Terence Corcoran (“Regulatory Train Wreck”).

According to Mr. Isaac, the villain primarily responsible for the current crisis is Fair Value Accounting, the set of regulations adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission that forces corporations to report their financial holdings in terms of market value on their balance sheets. In this particular instance, the assets in question are mortgages and mortgage-based securities that lost most of their value after the end of the housing bubble, and whose write down devastated the balance sheets of financial institutions like Lehman Brothers that were holding them. Mr. Isaac doesn’t believe that market values reflect the true economic value, which should be estimated from “a discounted cash flow analysis”.

Read More Article...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Cost Benefit Analysis-whether you Should Outsource your Bookkeeping to Professional Book Keeper

What is a role of a bookkeeper in your organisation :

BOOKKEEPERS keep complete, up-to-date, and accurate records of accounts and financial arrangements. Bookkeepers verify and enter information into journals and ledgers or into a computer. They periodically balance the books and compile reports and financial statements. Bookkeepers also receive, record, bank and pay out cash. They balance checkbooks with monthly bank statements. They may calculate employee wages from plant records or time cards and issue payroll checks. Some of the other work they may do includes posting accounts receivable and payable, prepare and make bank deposits, record payrolls, maintain inventory records, purchase supplies, prepare purchase orders and do expense reports. Bookkeepers may also make schedules, sort documents, and file bills. These type of jobs are found in every industry and may have various job titles, such as accounts payable clerk, accounts receivable clerk or assistant bookkeeper.

Cost of a Bookkeeper :

The pay for these jobs depends upon experience, clerical skills, the level of responsibility and the job location. Beginning salaries go from minimum wage to $ 15 per hour. Experienced Bookkeeper can make $ 20 an hour. After having worked for three years with the same firm, a Bookkeeper can earn at $ 25 per hour. A Bookkeepers usually work 40 hours a week; sometimes it may be necessary to work overtime. Some employers have fringe benefits such as paid vacations and sick leave, life and health insurance, and bonuses. Other benefits that the employer may include are participation in a credit union, or retirement and profit sharing plans.

Advantage of outsourcing Bookkeeping work to a professional bookkeeper :

There are several distinct advantages to outsourcing your bookkeeping functions. First and foremost is saving money. You get what you pay for and if you don't pay for quality than you won't have quality service. However, you can save money by outsourcing because you won't be paying for employer payroll tax expense, workman's compensation and general liability insurances, vacation time, sick time, health insurance and other benefits a good full time bookkeeper will expect from his/her employer. Just remember, however, that these costs will be built into the consultant's hourly rate and their fee will reflect these costs. Any bookkeeping consultant who has not taken these costs into consideration is not a bookkeeper you want - if they don't know enough to include these costs into their fees, then they don't know enough to be a help to your business. You should expect to pay at least three times what you would pay an experienced full charge bookkeeper.

And just how do you save money by paying three times the amount you would pay an employee? Well, let's see. There will be no recruiting, interviewing and training costs for start. And if you should find yourself unhappy with the services there will be no additional recruiting, interviewing and training to replace your bookkeeper. Also, you will not have to be concerned about law suits such as sexual harassment, unlawful firing, age discrimination, sexist, etc. Or an increase in your unemployment rates because you laid off an employee that you really wanted to fire but had no lawful cause to do so. So right away we have less time and money spent and potentially less hassle if things don't go well.

And of course you will not be paying workman's compensation and general liability insurance premiums. Also any worthy bookkeeper will expect at least two weeks vacation, coverage for sick time, health and dental insurance and even perhaps more benefits.

Most professional bookkeepers will have their own offices saving you space within your office. So you will not be buying that extra desk, calculator, computer and computer software. Your bookkeeper will be providing all of that as part of his/her fee. No software updates, computer maintenance, training costs, etc. Of course should you prefer to have your computerized bookkeeping records available to you at your office, a small investment in software installed on your computer makes this possible. Also no office supplies to be paid for. You will be amazed at just how much pens, pencils, and paper can be used by a bookkeeper. Your consultant bookkeeper will either ask you to drop off the work at their office, will pick it up at your office or some may even offer remote bookkeeping service. And by having your bookkeeping done off site, your bookkeeper will be able to work more efficiently and accurately because her/his office will most likely offer less distractions than your busy office. All of this is saving you money.

And the best reason for outsourcing is that you control the amount of money spent on bookkeeping. What I mean by this is that the person you hire to do your bookkeeping will be doing just that - not answering the phone, dealing with drop-bys, chatting to other employees, etc. Also you can start with just a few hours a month and add on when you need to and then adjust downward again should it be necessary. Can you imagine finding an employee to start with only four hours a month, then asking them to put in 20 hours a week for awhile and then back down to four hours a month again. I don't think you would keep them for very long, but a free lance bookkeeper is able to work around these variables and even more importantly expects to work with flexible schedules.

So have I convinced you yet? If so, then just remember "you will get what you pay for". Go for top quality because your financial records are the core of your business and without great bookkeeping you cannot expect to succeed no matter what type of business you have. After all don't you think you are worth it ?

About the Author:

Mr.Bhaskar Thakkar is a qualified Chartered Accountant and professional bookkeeper from India. He is a president of M/s. BT Associates, Chartered Accountants. The said firm provides Book keeping, Accounting, Auditing and Tax preparation services to various Chartered Accountants in UK, US and Canada. The firm is also specialized in preparation of VAT returns, Payroll Processing. Visit 1. btassociate.com,. A division of said firm provides various outsourcing solutions please visit 1. jobs2india.com., to get more details.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Accounting and financial reporting are like scorekeeping

Chennai: All of a sudden, conferences and seminars on IFRS (the International Financial Reporting Standards) are the in-thing, where you can find accounting professionals busy taking notes and asking questions, so that they are ready for the 2011 deadline when India will be converging with IFRS.

But why should we be focussing on the IFRS now? When posed that query, Dr Kamal Gupta, former Technical Director of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), asks in response, "Can India be isolated, if more than 100 countries already adopt IFRS, and more than 150 will adopt it by 2011?"

Even in the US, with a prime GAAP, something epoch-making has happened - subject to certain conditions, the domestic US companies will be moving towards IFRS, he adds. "If the US does it, the UK does it, Brazil, China, Russia… how can India be left."

Most of our companies have global kind of links, be it for exports, imports, shareholding, and so on, reminds Dr Gupta during an evening interaction with Business Line recently. "Therefore, we must do our accounting in a manner that the world understands. So I think more than ever, there is a need for it. The Institute, the Government, the industry recognise it."

Read More Article...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Start An Accounting & Bookkeeping Business

You've dreamed of being your own boss, having your own business, and setting your own work hours. It seemed out of reach because of the high start-up costs of opening a store-front business and your lack of experience running a company.

We Make It Easy

You don't need to rent a store-front business. We show you how you can work from home. You don't even have to leave your present job. You can work part-time until you have sufficient income to tell your boss good-bye.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Tax Advantages of a Home-Based Business

What Kind Of Tax Advantages Do Home-Based Businesses Enjoy?

You have probably thought of many of the benefits of running your own successful accounting and bookkeeping service. From the independence of working for yourself to making better income than you may currently make, there are many reasons that starting a home-based business might be right for you. One consideration that you might not have taken into account is the tax advantages that you will enjoy with a business run out of your home. Let's explore these qualifying deductions, starting with the better-known ones.
The Home Office Deduction

The deduction that likely comes first to mind that home-based businesses can take advantage of is the "Home Office Deduction". The Home Office Deduction allows you to deduct some or all of the expenses of your office at home and related expenses.

To qualify for this deduction, your home office must be the principal place where your business is done. Secondly, the office space must be used exclusively for business use to qualify. For example, if you use your kitchen as your primary workspace, it is likely that you cannot take the home office deduction, assuming that you use it for personal use as well. To be on the safe side, set aside a room as your home office where possible. This will keep you on the safe side should the home office use ever come into question.

Detailed explanations of who qualifies for the Home Office deduction are defined in detail by the IRS themselves.

Read More Article...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Grand Terra Introduces ArrowBooks Online Accounting Software for Small Business Owners

New, easy-to-use web-based software is designed to make accounting, bookkeeping and business report generation as easy as possible for small businesses.

ArrowBooks Accounting Software, a new online offering from Grand Terra LLC, is designed to help small business owners efficiently handle their accounting and bookkeeping needs using web-based software. The concept behind ArrowBooks is to enable today's small business owners to spend more time focusing on their businesses instead of their books by removing the intimidation that usually goes along with self-managed accounting and bookkeeping programs.

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IASB proposed pension accounting rules "unpopular"

US - Employers facing swelling pension plan demand must assume more active influence in the International Accounting Standards Board accounting rule-change process, according to a Watson Wyatt consultant.

"We want to make sure that companies are letting the IASB know their views," said John Steele, a retirement consultant at global consulting firm Watson Wyatt.

"This is the fundamental groundwork for how they're going to proceed."

The IASB's proposed rules shorten the cost measurement period for pension plans in order to follow volatility in the markets. In addition, the rules expect to improve cash balance measurement, place stricter rules on when plan gains and losses are recognised and compile plan performance and experience in the profit and loss account of the company.

Cathy Graham of North Carolina-based The Employers Association said pension plans were already declining in popularity and rules changes would not help the matter.

Read More Article...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Basic Tax Tips Anyone Can Follow: Save Money, Pay Less Tax

Tax Tips For Single People
  • If there are going to be tax cuts in the next financial year, make sure you prepay membership fees for unions & professional associations and make any charitable donations before the end of this financial year (June 30)
  • If you have a few $1000 in spare cash, don’t leave it in your transaction bank account earning no interest, instead put it in an Online Savings Account with a High Interest Rate and No Bank fees
  • If you’re single and going to earn more than $100,000/year (from July 2008-June 2009) make sure you take out a basic private health insurance plan (with an Excess of $500 or less) or your Medicare levy will rise from 1.5% to 2.5%.
Read More Article...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Survey: IT and accounting hiring in D-FW could increase in Q4

The hiring of CFOs and chief information officers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area is expected to increase in the fourth quarter, according to surveys from Robert Half International and its technology subsidiary.

The report is published from data compiled during surveys of 200 CIOs and 200 CFOs working in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The latest index indicates that 16 percent of the surveyed CIOs expect to hire new staff members in the fourth quarter. Only 4 percent of CIOs anticipate personnel reductions in the quarter.

Read More Article...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Accounting Firm Launches New Website for Students and Job Seekers

Aronson & Company (A&C), a nationally-ranked top 50 accounting and consulting firm, recently announced the launch of its TeamAronson.com website geared toward college accounting and finance majors entering the job market. The site, which was designed in support of the firm's recruiting efforts, is part of an initiative to help reinforce their employer brand and put a recognizable face on their on-campus recruiting program. Furthermore, the firm intends to develop the site as a resource for prospective and current accounting professionals, by giving them direct and immediate electronic access to industry information. The company expects to add a blog function to the site shortly, which will open a direct line of communication between recruiters, college students and job seekers.

As part of this initiative, A&C is giving away a Dorm Room Super Bowl Party grand prize. In addition to the prize entry form, the site features information about the company, press releases and other news, useful links about the accounting industry, and even profiles for their recruiters, giving job seekers direct access to the staff and humanizing what can be a daunting process for many college students.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

AccountMate Releases Latest Version of LAN Accounting Software

New Version of Accounting Software Released With Over 200 Enhancements

Today AccountMate Software Corporation released AccountMate 7 for LAN with more than 200 enhancements over the prior version.

Thousands of growing companies have been successful employing this software package to manage their day-to-day operations since AccountMate introduced this software platform 13 years ago.

Between the flexibility inherent in the product and the extensive enhancements that continue to be added, this business asset continues to help companies manage their bottom line. The latest upgrade of AccountMate 7 for LAN includes more than 200 enhancements improving functionality and reports.

Read More Article...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tips On Starting Your Accounting Career

Accounting is the language of business. Its knowledge is fundamental to any businessperson that seeks to plan expenditure and strive for a profit. Most business professionals are therefore required to study some accounting. Accounting professionals interact with all levels of a business and for many it's a very interesting job.

  • Individuals with an analytical approach and technical expertise of accounting, good mathematical aptitude, knowledge of the technicalities of a business system and those who are well versed with computers.
  • Basic eligibility is 4 years of college for a professional degree in accounting or a related field.
  • A Bachelor's degree with a minor in another subject from an accredited college or university to apply for the Master's in accounting.
  • People who have done their course in accounting over the Internet are also eligible for jobs in the accounting industry.
  • In terms of job, prior experience as a trainee auditor or accountant can also help.
  • Different courses and licenses require accreditations and licenses of certain organizations. For example, Certified Public Accountants (CPA) should have a license by the State Board of Accountancy (STA).
  • A certain number of semester hours plus work hours are considered for 4-year bachelor's degree.
  • Public accountants are taken as trainees. Management Accountants start as junior internal auditors or cost accountants.
  • A master's degree in business administration (MBA) is preferred by many companies.
Types Of Accounting Jobs
  • After a degree in accounting, one could qualify for a certified public accountant (CPA) or registered public accountant (RPA) license. Even though many do not have a license, they do get jobs as auditors or accountants in government offices or private companies.
  • In the long run, one could excel to a position like chief financial officer (CFO).
  • A certified accounting professional could become an auditor, financial officer, management accountant, budget analyst, or tax accountant. Tax accountants are preferred with a legal background.
  • An independent job could prosper if the individual has a good network of contacts.
  • There are specializations in accounting; for example, the forensic accounting where the accountant investigates the different crimes breeding on the company's finances.
  • Teaching accounting can also be a good career option.
Tips On Starting a Career in Accounting

Following are a few tips on getting started
  1. Decide which field of accounting you would like to get into.
  2. Research related information and shortlist colleges and universities for the given courses.
  3. Consult accountants or even teachers who have knowledge of the subject.
  4. Enroll in a bachelor's degree or course in accounting.
  5. Start off as a trainee after getting a degree from a college. Most of the companies look for an accredited college.
  6. Keep looking for hiring by the major companies of the industry.
  7. Update your work knowledge according to the industry standards.
Accountants have a decisive role in the future of a company. Budgeting and adjusting according to the current market trends is one of the analytical decisions an accountant makes. Because they are problem solvers, the company can rely on an accountant to sort out any financial problems.

About The Author

Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution's Six Sigma Online ( http://www.sixsigmaonline.org ) offers online six sigma training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.

Source : http://www.streetdirectory.com/

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Income tax tips

Find out some of the common mistakes people make when filing their federal income tax return, and how to avoid them.

Every year, the Internal Revenue Service churns out hundreds of thousands of notices to taxpayers. If you've ever received one, you know how stressful - and scary - this can be. In many cases, however, this can be avoided if you learn to think like the IRS and understand the strange logic involved in filling out your tax return.

First of all, a few common-sense tips:
  1. Write legibly. If your tax return can't be read, it can't be processed, or it will be processed incorrectly.
  2. Check your math. The IRS has a department that checks your math, but if they can't figure out where some of your figures came from, they will contact you.
  3. Put your Social Security number on your return (unless you are using a pre-printed label), and make sure it's the right one. If your name and Social Security number don't match, this will send up a red flag. If you have dependent children, their Social Security numbers must be reported accurately too.
Many people fill out a rough draft and then make a "good" copy that they send in. If you do this, make sure you copy from the rough draft carefully. Many taxpayers put an amount on the wrong line or miss copying an amount completely, which means, of course, an IRS notice gets sent out. Some taxpayers then send in their rough draft to prove that their return is correct as filed, but the only copy that matters is the one sent in the first place. You can even ask the IRS to send you a copy of the return you filed to see where - and if - you went wrong.

When sending in your tax return, attach only relevant forms to the front. Copies of your W-2s and any other forms showing income where federal tax was withheld should be attached. The more you staple to the front of your return, the more difficult it is for a tax examiner to check your return. Make sure things are attached securely, with a few staples (but don't go overboard).

One of the most common mistakes taxpayers make involves Social Security benefits. The form used to figure out taxable benefits is quite convoluted. Take your time with it, check it over a few times, and even get someone else to check your work. Beware of tax preparers who hand back your benefits statement and tell you your benefits aren't taxable without even filling out a form. It's usually not easy to tell just by glancing at your paperwork. Most importantly, if you have taxable Social Security benefits, be certain to put you gross benefits (total benefits you received for the year) on the line to the left of the taxable line. The IRS will check your math on the Social Security form using this number. If you do not put a number on the gross line but you have one on the taxable line, the IRS will contact you. If they do not hear from you, they will assume your gross benefits were zero, meaning you had no taxable benefits, and they will cross out your entry on the taxable benefits line. This, of course, throws your whole return off, and you could get a refund you weren't expecting.

Some taxpayers keep an unexpected or unexpectedly large refund figuring the IRS people know what they're doing. If you get an amount back you weren't expecting, find out why. Later on down the line, the IRS may find a mistake and most likely it will turn out to be yours (through IRS logic, of course). In the case of the Social Security benefits, it is the taxpayer's fault for failing to put down the gross benefits. When they received that unexpected refund, they also got a notice stating something like, "We [the IRS] have changed your return. If you think this is incorrect, please contact us." That's the IRS's way out: they gave you a chance to correct the error but you kept your mouth shut and kept the money.

Another problem taxpayers run into involves self-employment wages. If someone tells you they're paying you "under the table," first of all, that's illegal (so don't use it as an excuse to an IRS employee!) Some employers will lead you to believe you're being paid this way, and then they report your wages "over the table" - to the IRS. In this circumstance, the boss considers you a freelancer or subcontractor, not his employee. This means you must pay not only your half of Social Security and Medicare wages (normally deducted from your wages by an employer) but you must pay the employer's half as well. Since you are considered "self-employed" essentially you are your employer. You are allowed to deduct expenses to reduce the self-employment tax, but if you weren't keeping track of expenses or didn't have any, you will have to pay the entire tax.

If you get married and take your spouse's last name, the only way the IRS will know this is if you contact the Social Security Administration. If you don't, your Social Security number won't match your new name and this will cause the IRS to contact you. Your return will not be processed until you make that change with the SSA.

After checking to make sure your return is filled out accurately and completely, sign it. Quite a few people neglect to do this. It will be sent back to you for your signature, and by the time you send it back, you may miss the deadline.

Remember, if the IRS contacts you, don't panic, get to the bottom of the problem right away. Interest and penalties are growing as time ticks by, which can really add up if the fault is yours and you take a lot of time owning up to it. If you take the time to fill out your tax return carefully, you might never hear from the IRS - except when they send you a refund check.

Source : http://www.essortment.com/

Monday, September 8, 2008

Seven Signs of Internal Accounting Fraud

Many small business owners feel that their companies are immune to internal accounting fraud and embezzlement for two reasons: they don't have many employees, and the ones who deal with money are usually close to the owners. But regardless of size, any business is vulnerable to fraudulent activities by employees.

Following up on signs of fraud can stop accounting theft, saving a company from financial loss or ruin. In today's Workshop, contributor Jeffrey Moses lists seven indicators small business owners should consider.
  1. An in-house accountant works without direct supervision on every aspect of a company's financial operations. When one trusted bookkeeper or accountant is responsible for records, payroll, receivables, deposits, payments and so on, the company is placed at risk for fraudulent activity.
  2. An in-house accountant refuses to follow recently established accounting and/or payroll guidelines. In such a case, owners should demand that guidelines be strictly followed and investigate financial and payroll records for up to several years in the past.
  3. An accountant continually works after hours, comes in frequently on weekends or insists on taking work home. Fraudulent activities are easier to accomplish when work is unobserved and unsupervised.
  4. An accountant refuses to take a vacation. This individual may be thought of as a highly dedicated and hard-working employee, but it could be that he or she simply doesn't want anyone to discover how the books are being cooked.
  5. An accountant insists that he or she handle activities for which other departments are normally responsible. These can include picking up the daily mail (for fear that something could arrive that would tip-off management), acting as the sole go-between with the company's financial contacts (banks, auditors, creditors, etc.) and working with police when items or money are found missing.
  6. An accountant continually misfiles important items such as payroll receipts, deposit records, supplier correspondence and estimates.
  7. Deposits frequently seem too small. Owners should always carefully monitor income and deposits, comparing sales receipts against actual amounts put into the bank.
Usually, there are no sure-fire tip-offs to internal accounting fraud. But by being on the lookout for any of the above seven danger signals, a small business can avert a potentially disastrous and embarrassing financial loss.

Source : http://www.nfib.com/

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Why small accounting firms matter

How they can save you money in the current economic downturn.

With the current economic slowdown, mid-sized companies need to overcome their bias towards the larger professional firms and become more discerning buyers of audit, accounting and legal services in pursuit of better value for money and greater efficiencies.

Smaller and medium-sized legal and accounting firms have built up their specialist services, their teams and their broad capabilities and have shown that they can compete with the much larger firms at a much lower price.

In addition, the draft Companies Bill exemption of small businesses from rigorous financial reporting requirements and audits has acted as a catalyst for a change in buying behaviour.

The Companies Bill is good for South Africa's accountancy profession as smaller companies will be drawn to those firms that are focused on providing non-audit services that are better suited to their requirements.

The new legislation will not kill off the livelihood of the smaller accountancy firms but that they will need to redefine their roles and rethink their structures.

Read More Article...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Global Accounting Rules: Simpler, Yes. But Better?

Dumping GAAP could ease the burden on some companies, but adopting the streamlined British model has its pitfalls

In the latest example of the waning financial leadership of the U.S., the Securities & Exchange Commission wants to dump the country's complex accounting rules in favor of a simpler set of international principles. It's a major step toward a single worldwide standard—a necessity for creating seamless global markets. But adopting the model, which is relatively new and untested, has its own pitfalls.

Junking the U.S. rules, known as generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP, would have seemed preposterous a decade ago. Back then investors and companies, both in the U.S. and worldwide, viewed GAAP as the gold standard, a transparent system for reporting earnings and other financials. As more European and Asian companies rolled out results in the American style as well as their own, it seemed GAAP would be the top choice among bean counters in an increasingly global marketplace.

Read More Article...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Accounting boom shows no signs of slowing down

Enrollment in college accounting courses is up 19 percent since 2004, according to a nationwide survey administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

The Department of Accounting, within the McCombs School of Business, has also seen an increase in students studying accounting.

"I believe the program is growing, but the quality of the program has not decreased," said Rowland Atiase, an accounting professor. "The classroom size is restricted to keep a top quality learning environment."

Last year, U.S. college campuses graduated 64,221 students with bachelor's or master's degrees in accounting - the most since the institute began its annual survey in 1970.

Urton Anderson, an accounting professor, said he has seen interest in accounting increase since 2002.

"There is never a shortage of students," he said.

This fall, 396 students out of 683 applications were admitted to UT's Master in Professional Accounting program, according to records.

"We have a very long tradition of community and faculty," said Steve Limberg, faculty director of the master's program. "Plus, our program does well because of the outstanding students it attracts."

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Accounting standards and IT demand

Last week the SEC put forward proposals that would see the US move to the International Financial Report Standards (IFRS), as already implemented in the majority of other countries globally. This is likely to have a large impact on the IT industry generating mid-market accounting systems change projects in the US market, through the proposed implementation period of 2010 to 2014. In addition, the change is likely to result in an increased flow of overseas firms listing in the US, as the accounting burdens of dual listing are lessened.

Enterprises in the US market should reassess their ERP strategy in the light of IFRS

Mid-market enterprises in the US need to review their ERP system choices, rather than automatically addressing IFRS requirements through their existing systems. This should include radical options such as reviewing switching to a software as a service (SaaS) solution or deciding to outsource all or part of their F&A function, not just the safe option of selecting a new ERP software application from the usual list of suspects. IFRS alone should be a sufficient stimulus for this review and generate an upturn in the domestic US mid-market ERP software and services market.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Top ten tax tips

You may find the following tax tips useful.
  1. Stay informed
    Rely on TaxCentral to provide you with the latest tax information.

  2. Keep all your records
    It has been a legal requirement for you to keep records of your income and expenses for tax purposes since April 1996. Did you realise that you must keep records for at least 22 months after the tax year to which they relate?

  3. Do not pay too much tax
    Is your employer deducting too much tax? Ensure that you are receiving your full pay entitlement using the payslip checker.

  4. Fringe benefits may save you tax
    Fringe benefits, such as a company car, can be a tax-efficient way of being paid rather than a salary increase.

  5. Electronically file your tax return
    Use Internet filing to complete, validate, calculate, and file your tax return for free.

  6. Find a professional tax adviser
    Trapped in your tax return? Professional tax advice can be found quickly and easily.

  7. Choose growth over income
    If you are a higher rate taxpayer, it may pay you to invest in schemes that generate growth rather than income. No tax is payable on capital growth while you hold an asset. Although you will incur a capital gain when you dispose of the investment, you can use your annual capital gains tax exemption to reduce the tax liability.

  8. Maximise your pension entitlement
    Use the pension calculator to see if you have any unused relief that can be contributed to your personal pension.

  9. Do not forget stamp duty
    Remember that you will be charged stamp duty on all purchases of property and shares.

  10. Increase your tax knowledge...
    ...and then test yourself using the TaxCentral IQ test.
Source : http://www.taxcentral.co.uk/

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Accounting Software (R)evolution

It’s time to take a long, hard look at the accounting software your office uses to serve clients. Not because there is anything wrong with what you’ve used all these years, but because the software we use has improved so dramatically over the past few years that the decisions made in decades past may no longer be valid.

Some 15 years ago, when I first started writing this column, accounting software was a mess. Rooted firmly in DOS, static and often spreadsheet-based, it sat there like a three-color lump on the screen. In those days, the big question was, “Which tax program would print a return the fastest?” Heck, they even held “shootouts” to time them and declare winners and losers.

No one even thought about Windows For Workgroups 3.11, or the Mac. If there was any thought given to the impending release of Windows 95, it was half anticipation and half trepidation. Today, the software has improved so rapidly that it is almost less an evolution than a revolution. In the space of a single half-decade, we have seen whole genres of software, like payroll, become an online service … with full HR support incorporated. Virtually every type of software has gone through an extensive upgrade in usability, navigation and appearance. Colors in the output have become more vibrant and now routinely include not only printed output but full-screen presentations in PowerPoint and web output.

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