Friday, November 14, 2008

Two big accounting firms chosen for rescue program

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government has selected two major accounting firms to help it manage the $700 billion rescue program for the financial system.

The Treasury Department said Tuesday it had chosen PricewaterhouseCoopers to be the auditor for the program. Ernst & Young will provide general accounting support.

The two firms will work on the part of the rescue program that is handling the purchase of troubled assets from banks as a way of encouraging them to resume more normal lending.

Treasury said that Ernst & Young will be paid $492,006.95 initially while Pricewaterhouse Coopers will be paid $191,469.27 for its services initially. The two contracts last until Sept. 30, 2011.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ten Tips for a Smoother, More Profitable Tax Season

At the beginning of every tax season, I have the best intentions. I exercise, eat right, and get enough sleep. Then it happens. Two-thirds of the way through the busiest months, something really big goes wrong, and my balanced life snowballs into chaos. Does this happen to you?

Even if something doesn't go wrong, you might be the type of person who reaches the edge of burnout every year at the end of tax season. You might hate the high-pressure, deadline-riddled, fast-paced environment. How can you find your balance amid the chaos? Here are ten tips to help you survive this season.
  1. Remember why you're there in the first place. Our business is an excruciatingly detail-oriented affair, and it's easy to get caught up in the minutiae of the moment. When you realize you're drowning in details, stop, take a deep breath, and take in the big picture. Think about what your overarching business and personal goals are. Remind yourself of your friends and family. This exercise will help you reframe what's really important to you and will help you put the daily details back into the right perspective.

  2. Communicate your appreciation. Without a team to help you get your work done, tax season would be much harder. Show your gratitude to your team (and your family) with frequent positive comments, ranging from the general "I really appreciate the work you do" to the specific "Your spreadsheet covering the Cassidy project was very well thought out."

    Do this more often than you think you need to. People can't get enough personal feedback in this digitally detached world. Praise keeps the stress level down in the office. It will give you a lift too: gratitude is one of the fastest ways to change your mood for the positive.

  3. Systematize your processes. Lost productivity and mistakes often stem from misunderstood responsibility and authority. A smooth tax season starts when everyone knows the flow of work, what their jobs are, and how much authority they have to make decisions. Make all of these items clear by designing systems, processes, and procedures that your team can follow.

  4. Train, train, train. Inevitably, one of your team members will get sick, pregnant, or resign at exactly the wrong time. Cross-training your team to be able to do each others' jobs will save you time and reduce your stress. It's hard to stop and make time for training, but there are rewards to taking the extra time. Your employee feels more empowered and becomes more valuable once the new skill has been mastered. The next time the skill is required, you can delegate the task and free up your time.

  5. Just say "no." Saying "no" can be difficult for some people. But I promise you will get at least one client who will try to monopolize your schedule at the last minute, will not have all the input you need so that you have to start and stop five times on the work, and will insist on a bargain price!

    Set deadlines for client input. Be able to say "no" to unreasonable requests. You'll be able to help five clients in the time one unruly client takes up, and your profitability will soar.

  6. Commute calmly. On your way to and from work, listen to an upbeat music CD, a comedy act, or a motivational tape. You'll be in a better mood no matter what the traffic was like. Buy CDs for your staff, too.

  7. Perk up your staff. A great way to de-stress your office is to add some perks, and I don't just mean bringing in a few sugar-laden sweet rolls in the morning. In the middle of your busiest time, consider some of the following ideas:

    • Bring in a masseuse who can do ten-minute neck and shoulder massages during lunch.
    • Hire a personal assistant who can be shared among your employees to help them with errands like dry cleaning pickups, grocery runs, and gift shopping.
    • Send employees' spouses a wonderful appreciation gift.
    • Supply healthy in-office snacks and meals that build energy rather than drain it.

  8. Prioritize. If you begin to feel overwhelmed, get organized. Prioritize your to-do list, and work it, one at a time. When you cross a task off, do a little dance or shout a "Woohoo!" Make sure your staff is clear on their priorities, too.

  9. Take the high road. In a high-pressure environment, we're often tightly wound. It doesn't take more than a small slight from another to set us off into a rampage. If you're prone to reactive behavior, it will help to understand a quick fact about how your brain is wired. We have two pathways in our brain:
    1. The low road (the fast pathway) to reaction that is wired directly from our senses to our emotion center. This is what keeps us alive when we swerve quickly to avoid a car accident or when we notice a snake on the ground. It also gets activated when we might feel a bit threatened at work.
    2. The high road (the slower pathway) that is wired to the reasoning center in our brain. Here we can take the time to analyze, process, and react accordingly to what's happening in our environment.

    If someone says something to you that activates your "low road," become aware of it, take a breath, and if there is no immediate danger of dying, let your "high road" catch up before you say or do anything.

  10. Model leadership. Emotions are contagious. So is stress. If you are in a negative mood, everyone in your office won't be far behind. But if you come in every morning in a calm and cheerful mood and with your sense of humor intact, you can influence the whole office to follow your lead. It's a lot more fun for everyone to work in a cheerful office.
When you and your employees are happier and de-stressed, you'll be more productive, do better work, make fewer mistakes, and be healthier, too. I wish you a joyful and profitable tax season.

Source :

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Heritage to be 'valued' under new bookkeeping

NEW DELHI: Fancy buying the Taj Mahal or the Qutab Minar for Re 1? Well, that could be the price the gov government may assign to most heritage structures when it switches to a more transparent system of accounting its assets and liabilities over the next two-three years.

The government is finalizing a road map to move to a system of “accrual-based accounting” from the current cash-based accounting system to better reflect the nation’s assets and liabilities in its annual financial statement. The new system is meant to capture some of the government’s liabilities and assets that now find no mention in the annual budget.

One key aspect of the proposed accrual based accounting system is to include national assets through a process called “heritage accounting” . Under this system, historic monuments , museums and paintings will find mention in the government’s statement, but its treatment may be different from other commercial assets.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Accounting Outsourcing Tips

Businesses of all sizes need to ensure that accounting is paid due attention, since accounting it is at the core of any business process. In recent times more and more small and medium size businesses are considering accounting outsourcing. The decision to outsource accounting and bookkeeping allows a company to concentrate in their area of specialization and not worry about the accounting aspect of the business. Outsourcing has several advantages and these include the following:
  • The services of experts are available at a fraction of what would have been paid to hire them on a full time or part-time basis.
  • Outsourcing relieves the company of the tedious and yet crucial process of accounting bookkeeping.
  • When a company considers outsourcing not only does it not bother with recruitment of accounting professionals but also saves on office space and related expenditure.
  • An offshore accounting outsourcing service provider provides reliable and competent services that are an asset to the company and simplify its working.
When outsourcing small business accounting and finance it is important to keep certain tips in mind in order to make informed decisions:
  1. Be clear about what you expect of the accounting company that you are outsourcing to. It is vital that you specify the needs of the job and what you expect from the outsourcing service provider. This will ensure that both companies have a clear understanding of what is expected and what is being delivered.

  2. Is the accounting outsourcing company reliable and dependable?Do not make a decision blindly, but in fact take the time and effort to check on the references provided by the outsourcing company. Accounting needs to be done by certified public accountants and in case of offshore outsourcing you need to confirm that the accountants are qualified to handle and provide accounting solutions.

  3. Don't shy away from asking the vendor about similar accounting management projects that they have worked on. You don’t want a trial and error technique used on your small business accounting. It would be a good idea to ask the accountants to provide material that indicates their skill and knowledge of accounting, auditing and bookkeeping.

  4. Reviewing previous projects that the vendor has done will give you a fair idea of the level and quality of accounting that they can deliver. You could also ask the accountants as to how they would like to handle the accounting information, so that you can judge their line of thinking and working. It is also recommended that you initially start with a pilot project that will assure you of the services that you have been promised.

  5. While the total cost may be a guiding factor when you are selecting an accounting company, it should not be the only factor. The lowest bidder need not always be the best bet. Accounting and any deficiencies in the process can create serious legal problems for the business and you would not want to risk that. A large percentage of small and medium businesses that have turned to accounting outsourcing have done so not just because of the low costs but also due to the quality of work that they are assured.

  6. It is important that you have a contract drawn up that clearly specifies what is expected of the project and how and when it will be completed. Such an understanding facilitates transparency in the dealings with the outsourcing accounting service provider.

  7. Start with a small project and take it from there. To begin with provide a small amount of work and allow the outsourcing accounting company to prove its caliber.

  8. Creating milestones in the project will help create a smooth flow of work to its completion. Also this ensures that both parties are clear on the deadlines and required work. Furthermore it allows the company to make payments in installments as and when the work is completed.

  9. Security issues need to be discussed upfront and you need to be clear on the security measures taken by the accounting outsourcing company to protect crucial accounting data. Accounting information is crucial to the success of every business and any leak of such information can have drastic consequences. You would need to discuss how accounting, auditing and bookkeeping files will be transferred securely to the outsourcing company and also issues such as how accountants will have access to these files.

  10. Communication with the accounting outsourcing firm is of utmost importance and you should be able to interact and communicate freely. Thus the service provider ought to have communication facilities that are satisfactory and should be easily contacted.

    Accounting outsourcing should ideally be an asset for any small or medium business. And keeping these tips in mind can make that a reality.
Source :

Monday, November 10, 2008

New tax policy will save some firms billions

A new tax policy from the Treasury Department will let companies that take over banks hit by the mortgage crisis to write off more of the losses.

One estimate says it could save those firms up to $140 billion dollars in taxes. Private tax experts say in some cases, the tax breaks could exceed the cost of acquiring the banks. And they would come on top of the $700 billion government bailout.

Some members of Congress are upset that such a sweeping tax change was issued with no public hearings or congressional input. But the Treasury Department says it's just trying to give guidance to firms involved in bank takeovers at a time when numerous financial institutions are struggling, and their value can be difficult to determine.

Source :

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Book-keeping basics every business owner must know

Few people get into business so they can do paperwork. Spending time adding up receipts or pushing invoices around a desk is nobody’s idea of fun (unless you’re starting up as a book-keeper or accountant!).

Unfortunately it’s a necessary evil and something you need to stay on top of in your new business. Being disorganised and putting off paperwork just isn’t an option. Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will fine you if you’re late getting essential information to them. And the longer you leave it, the worse the problem gets.

Being on top of your bookkeeping will also help you maintain a healthy cash flow within your business, and allow you to spot trends in your finances early on. That kind of information is invaluable as you grow your venture.

Here’s a Bytestart guide to the book-keeping basics every business owner must know. They’re relevant whether you’re a sole trader or running a limited company.

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