Friday, January 29, 2016

The No Fly Zone of Tax Deductions

As accountants go, Rocco – my CPA for the last 23 years – is fairly conservative when it comes to tax deductions. In full disclosure, he’s not very creative regarding potential write-offs, which is why he probably became an accountant.

He went out on a limb last year and bought a candy apple red Corvette which sits quietly in his garage under a tarp. He only takes it out when the temperature is above 60 degrees and the sun is out in full blast.

Again that’s why he most likely opted for a career as a CPA. His idea of taking a chance is to drop $5 in a slot machine which hopefully, will last all night.

So as a result my return is pretty plain vanilla – no surprises or outrageous refund claims. But each year, I inevitably stumble across an article that chronicles some of the more outlandish attempts at tax deductions.

And 2015 was no different.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

What’s wrong with my firm?

This weekend marked an historical first at Chez Carlino.

I engaged in my inaugural Face Time chat with my daughter who is studying in London for her spring semester.

While many of you may be quietly giggling – or even laughing out loud for that matter - that 20-minute exercise for me represented the next level in what has been a slow build in getting me up to speed with millennial technologies.

In a similar vein, I was presenting a session on executing a successful succession before a group of about 35 practitioners last week when one of them asked me outright what was wrong with his firm as he could not seem to attract young talent.

At first I assured him his problem was not unique; there were currently thousands of firms facing that exact problem. As many of you know my last column focused on how too many firms rely on the fantasy of a young CPA walking through their door like the cavalry and miraculously solving their succession issues.

Second, since I had not personally visited his firm I explained it would be difficult to ascertain exactly what was driving away potential candidates.

So I began with a few questions.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Recurring Pipe Dream

It happened once again.

Just as I thought I was about to wind up another day at the office my mobile phone told me otherwise.

On the other end was the managing partner of a firm in New York who inquired as to whether we offer executive recruiting services. He was in desperate need of a senior tax manager as filing season was rapidly approaching.

Imagine my surprise.

To his dismay I told him we don’t “head hunt” so to speak. And for the record we also don’t consult in technology or sales training either but I told him we can refer him to others that do offer those services.

At our next company retreat I may respectfully suggest that we at least look into adding an HR unit considering the number of calls we get on the subject.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year – For M&A!

In just a few short weeks, firms that normally would be proactive in contacting our company nine months out of the year for succession advice will suddenly view us in a similar light as a 24 hour telemarketer trying to sell you a chia pet or Ginsu knife.

Doors that swung wide open for in-office visits complete with personalized welcome mats in June are largely double bolted with “no trespassing signs” targeted at consultants and other such non-preparers by mid-February. Until the end of April I would have better luck trying to get in and see the current occupant of the Oval Office than the owners of CPA firms neck deep in 1040s.

But such is the circle of life in public accounting.

Yet as counter-intuitive as it sounds, tax season may be the ideal time in which to close on a merger.

Sound crazy?

Read on. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

We’ve All Seen This Movie Before

Sadly, I was not the lucky winner of the $900 million Powerball jackpot, so in light of expenses such as food, the mortgage, car loans and credit card charges from the holidays, I was, ahem, “inspired” to return to work today.

I’ll give it another shot on Wednesday when the prize will eventually balloon to a reported $1.3 billion, the largest in history. Imagine investing $2 and overnight, earning a spot on the Forbes 400?

But I digress and on to the topic de jour.

Over the weekend I happened to read a New York Times article that spotlighted the problems at Yahoo, where approximately more than a third of the company’s workforce has exited over the past year. Now there are myriad reasons at Yahoo or any company for that matter for such a mass employee jailbreak, not the least of which is the rank and file’s loss of confidence in the company’s current leadership in the C-suite.

Now I’m sure many of us have seen that movie before.

And in a time when so much emphasis is placed upon hiring and retention and building a steady pipeline of human capital at CPA firms or any business, it never ceases to amaze me the some of the strategies or lack thereof that eventually lead a company to such a state of chaos.

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Technology Gender Gap

Should you ever want to accurately gauge the chronological chasm between Millennials and most of those in the Baby Boomer generation and prior, you probably need only to have a discussion on technology.

Now in full disclosure, no one has ever accused me of being a tech nerd – in fact compared to my daughters, I’m probably a level or two above using an abacus or, giving me the benefit of the doubt – an adding machine. But I’m fairly competent in most of the basic functions and having covered the profession for the past 15 years or so, at least am cognizant of many of the current trends in technology.

But case in point.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Time to Reflect Before the 1040s Come!

Welcome back.

I’m sure for many of us, 2016 has ushered in an unwanted weight gain physically and an equally unwanted weight loss in the wallet.

Present company included.

For the next two weeks I am banning all selfies on Facebook and will try to instill the value of omelet or tuna fish dinners to my family.

I look at it this way at least I was not one of those gullible idiots who shelled out $400 per person for a table at the Olive Garden in Times Square. And no, that’s not a misprint.

The land of the unlimited salad and breadsticks was actually charging that obscene amount for the privilege of being partitioned from 1 million other people sardined within a five-block radius to watch the New Year’s ball drop.

Rumor has it some of those who purchased those overpriced Olive Garden ducats put their tickets online for resale at $1,000 per pop!

Apparently Olive Garden wasn’t alone in their price gouging. Applebee’s and Ruby Tuesday units in the area charged between $300-$400 as well. I always say, there’s a reason they make 50-inch flat screen TVs – so you can watch an event in the comfort of your own home.

But I digress.