Tuesday, February 20, 2018

What do you mean I can’t deduct that?


This weekend I made my annual pilgrimage to see Rocco, my trusted tax preparer since 1990. I’m convinced that he is a real-life version of Dorian Gray, as he, at least in my eyes, has aged almost imperceptibly over the past 27 years. Although he claims that the new tax law changes enacted under the Trump Administration has increased his number of gray hairs exponentially.

After ranting for a half-hour on the byzantine guidelines he now has to follow as a result, he assured me that my return won’t be any more complicated than in years past, as I didn’t have any unusual deductions.

So as I do every year at this time I did some research on some of last year’s most outrageous attempts at tax deductions and subsequent rejections by Uncle Sam. Here’s but a few of my admitted favorites.

Friday, February 16, 2018

The CPA advertising battle for your mind


Harkening back more years than I probably want to remember, I arrived in Denver anxious to begin my college experience. It was my first trip to the Mile High City and after one of the hottest summers on record in New York it was a welcome relief to experience the refreshing atmosphere of the Southwest.

Strangely, one of the first things that struck me was the difference between the two cities in the quality of advertising – whether on television, radio or print. Coming from the literal heartbeat of advertising – Madison Avenue – the commercials in Colorado seemed humorously amateurish including one – and I kid you not - for a used car lot run by a man who went by the moniker “Honest Ira.”

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

No Excuses

During summer breaks in college, I held some interesting jobs. One year I sold season tickets for the-then New York Nets when they were part of the defunct American Basketball Association.

Another year I worked for a collection agency, calling delinquent customers to, well, pay up or face legal action. The latter taught me research skills and how to track people that would serve me well during my quarter-century as a journalist, while the former taught me the importance of being prepared to pitch a $1,000 ticket package. In other words, I had to know not only who I was talking to but a lot about the company I was pitching.

That is why today that my patience wears thin when I get cold-called about a pitch for a service or services which cannot possibly align with our company’s needs or on a personal level, my needs.

Years ago when I worked for a business newspaper that covered the restaurant industry a public relations person pitching a client actually asked and I quote, “so you guys like, um, write about restaurants?”

Click.

But more recently, a case in point, or more accurately, cases in point.

Friday, January 26, 2018

There oughta be a law!

I’ve often wondered why it is when your children graduate college and land a job, they still remain on your payroll. Or when they need something, say a new mobile phone they (wink, wink) promise they’ll pay you back.

That eerily echoes the time I lent my brother-in-law money (lots of it) to save his house and his business and who promised to pay me back as soon as he got back on his feet.

That was 1999. I have not seen a dollar since then. I’m sure that rings all-to-familiar with many of you.

So this past weekend my youngest and I took a trip to the local wireless carrier. For the past several years their new pricing plan now mandates that customers pay for the phone either outright or in monthly installments. So my daughter and I forged a contract, she would pay me the difference between my previous monthly statement and the new total.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Only Fools Rush In….

I always had a caveat when it came to attending out of town conventions – go to bed before midnight because nothing good rarely happens after that. That was particularly true in venues like Las Vegas, Miami or New Orleans where late-night trouble was easy to find – if you were so inclined to look.

In fact, in the category of “strange but true” convention tales, I was about one month into my first publishing job when I returned from an out of town meeting and learned that one of my former colleagues – a married woman with children, had literally run off with one of the conference speakers and never returned either to work or home.

That’s taking first impulses to the extreme.

The same cautionary measures can also be applied to mergers. It’s not uncommon for two parties to become smitten with each other after the first or second meetings. But after that, some common sense needs to come into focus.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

You could file this under the headline “in other news, water was found to be wet.”

A report came out this week announcing the winner of the “most unpopular company of 2017,” an award that lends new meaning to the word “dubious.”

To exactly no one’s surprise the company was Equifax, the consumer credit reporting agency that collects and aggregates information to nearly 1 billion customers and nearly 100 million businesses around the world.

Unless you’ve been on another planet, you probably know that Equifax suffered a massive data breach last year that affected some 145 million customers. And no, that’s not a typo - 145 million. That’s a lot of sensitive information circulating somewhere. You would think that a company of this size and scope would have had something resembling an impenetrable firewall, but apparently not.

In addition, the government watchdog, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fielded some 30,000 complaints about Equifax. I’m just guessing here but that probably didn’t do much to help their reviews on Yelp.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Are You Using the Right Bait?

In truth, I’ve never cared much for fishing. Having cast out my lines on riverbanks and various boating charters to much frustration, I can assure you I will never wind up on the cover of Field & Stream.

One time, a grizzled veteran of the sport subtly suggested my poor fortunes were the result of not using the right bait. Even a change in lures and night crawlers did little to improve the quantity of my catches. I did however manage to hook one of nature’s least attractive creatures – a horse shoe crab – which I had no regrets about immediately dumping back in the drink.

But I thought about the wrong bait analogy and strangely saw how it applied colloquially to CPA firms with regard to recruiting and retention.