December 31st of this year is the last day tax preparers can complete the continuing education (CE) requirements for a new voluntary IRS program intended to help taxpayers determine 2015 return preparer qualifications.
According to the press release, “The AFSP Record of Completion allows uncredentialed return preparers who complete required CE to be included in a new Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications scheduled to launch on the IRS website in early 2015.”
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen explains, “This will be part of a wider effort at the IRS to help taxpayers understand the options available if they need help with their taxes during the upcoming filing season.”
For the 2015 tax year the AFSP usually requires tax return preparers to complete 11 hours of continuing education (CE) credit, including a six-hour Annual Federal Tax Refresher course, three-hours of federal tax law topics, and a two-hour ethics course, all of which much be earned from an IRS-approved CE provider (Universal is an IRS-approved continuing education provider). Specific requirements are detailed on the official IRS website.
Return preparers who have earned credentials as attorneys, certified public accountants and enrolled agents do not need to meet these particular requirements as they have higher levels of qualification and practice rights, including unlimited representation rights before the IRS for clients on any tax matter.
In order to acquire their AFSP record of completion, a return preparer must consent to the duties and restrictions relating to practice before the IRS as noted in subpart B and section 10.51 of Treasury Department Circular No. 230. They must also renew their preparer tax identification number (PTIN), complete their CE credits and receive notice from the IRS that they are eligible to log into their online PTIN account. Only then will they be allowed to print their AFSP record of completion.
Universal Accounting Helps Tax Preparers Succeed
At Universal, we also believe it’s important to prepare for the future, and we’re interested in seeing your future success as a tax preparer. Our Professional Tax Preparer Program is IRS-approved and designed to help professionals like you master tax preparation, becoming efficient in the completion of individual and business returns. If you would like to learn more, visit Universal for a free video today!
–. “Deadline Nears for Return Preparers to Qualify for New IRS Program.” 9 December 2014 IRS.gov
What You Should Focus on in December
December often comes before we realize it,and when caught unaware we can miss key opportunities to acquire new clients, secure more business, and create more loyalty with employees. This season, take command of the holidays and make key preparations that will enable you to take advantage of this crucial time. The following are “six days of business” that will help your practice become stronger during the holidays:
1. Wish your clients a Happy Holiday. Everyone likes a little gift for the holidays, regardless of what they may be celebrating. Consider offering discounted services or a promotional offer that will appeal to clients. Regardless of what you choose to do, it’s important that you acknowledge your customers during the holiday season.
2. Send holiday cards. This is a great way to promote your services while spreading a little holiday cheer. Use this as an opportunity to share your mission and goals with current and prospective clients. This is a great excuse to use direct-mail advertising in order to get the word out about your business. Also, including a promotional offer will often get your business the attention you desire.
3. Plan company celebrations early. Most businesses plan a dinner party or other such holiday celebration. If you had planned on holding an office party, you need to begin preparations early in order to secure the necessary reservations, catering or room scheduling. The sooner you begin the better.
4. Get in the spirit. Don’t be a Grinch! Decorate your office for the holidays. You don’t have to spend a lot of money in order to spread holiday cheer to walk-ins and employees alike. Because the month promises to be busy, take care of this at the beginning of the month so you don’t have to worry about it later.
5. Bring your website into the festivities. Use your website to offer season’s greetings and promotional offers that may generate more traffic for your business. If anything, your ability to maintain a clean, up-to-date website will impress all visitors.
6. Practice seasonal marketing. Target prospective clients at the beginning of the month with seasonal marketing. Take some time to brainstorm your holiday promotions and then delegate the final project to a trustworthy staff or family member so you can focus on billable hours.
Most importantly, take time to enjoy the holidays. They do come but once a year, and it would be a shame if you didn’t revel in the season for a bit.
Building Your Business is a Great Strategy for the New Year
And Universal Accounting Center can help! Here’s a holiday package intended to enhance any bookkeeping service or individual ready to start one. You’ll attain the three things all business owners need to achieve true success: professional certification, marketing know-how, and enhanced service offerings.
Small-business accounting is a specialized service that will appeal to a large target market that you already work with! Most accountants are trained in big business accounting, which doesn’t address the unique needs of small business owners. When you enroll in the Professional Bookkeeper program, you receive specialized training in the day-to-day accounting tasks required by small businesses. Not only that, but upon completing the course, you will have the opportunity to earn professional certification, demonstrating to clients your newfound expertise.
Regardless of how good your services are, you won’t secure quality clients without employing effective marketing techniques. And without clients, your business won’t go too far. The Universal Practice Builder program will train you in 12 marketing strategies designed to help you secure 15 to 25 qualified leads per month! Additionally, you will be guaranteed a $30,000 increase in annualized billings in just one year. That is 10 times the cost of this special holiday package! Talk about a low-risk investment with high returns.
Enhanced Service Offerings
In addition to offering small-business accounting, you will also be able to provide QuickBooks services. Our QuickBooks Made Profitable program will teach you how to use your QuickBooks skills to attract even more clients! You’ll learn how to leverage your time, meet more prospective clients and offer services that will enable them to reduce taxes, increase profits and put more money in the bank.
Get a jump start on the new business year by enrolling in these three programs, today! You’ll be giving lots of gifts this season. How about giving yourself a gift that continues to give, in profitable returns, year after year? Call Universal at 1-877-833-7908.
December 10th, 2014 in
, For Business Owners
, Get Educated
, Growing Your Practice
, Helping Your Clients
, Increasing Your Profits
, Offer Accounting Services
, Small Business
, Start an Accounting and Tax Practice
, Starting & Running a Practice
, Web Marketing
Give Yourself the Gift of Profitability
Who wouldn’t want the gift of profitability? That’s probably even on Santa’s wish list. A solid investment in yourself and your business would make a great present that may not fit in your stocking, but will definitely fill your bank account! What’s the investment?
Every successful business thrives on three things: a service that’s in-demand, effective marketing, and complementary offerings. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could find all these components in one package? You can, and they’re all right here!
A Service that’s In-Demand
In order to run a successful practice you must offer a necessary and valuable service. Small-business accounting is such a service. By law, businesses are required to keep books. Not only that, but many small businesses are in need of knowledgeable and skilled accountants who will perform that needed function and help them achieve greater profitability.
To appreciate the demand for small-business accountants, consult the US Department of Labor. They report that between 2012 and 2022, employment of accountants and auditors is projected to grow by 13%. They predict “As the economy grows, these workers will continue to be needed to prepare and examine financial records.”
Universal’s Professional Bookkeeper Program will not only teach you small business accounting with a practical, hands-on approach, but it will enable you to earn a designation that evidences your skill and expertise, putting potential clients at ease. The program covers four units which each take less than 15 hours to complete, all on your own time and at your own pace. The units include:
In less than 60 hours you could complete all four modules and be on your way to a successful accounting practice with a certificate to hang on your office wall. That’s much more appealing than 4 years on a university campus.
Regardless of how unmatched your services may be, you won’t have any clients unless you market effectively. While accountants are good with numbers, they generally aren’t as comfortable promoting their services.
With over 30 years’ experience training professionals like you, Universal Accounting Center knows how to market accounting services to small businesses! Our Universal Practice Builder Program will arm you with the ability to accomplish the following:
- Become your area’s Profit and Growth Expert
- Produce 15 to 25 qualified leads per month
- Utilize 12 proven marketing strategies
- Practice effective marketing via phone, newsletter, and professional websites
- Practice tactical goal planning and setting
- Prepare and present seminar training for three different instructional courses
In addition, this program is guaranteed to earn you $30,000 of additional annualized billings in just 12 months! Talk about a risk-free investment!
Successful practices continue to grow and generate profit when they offer complementary offerings their target market finds valuable. You probably already know that Intuit’s QuickBooks is the accounting software used by more than 80% of small business owners. Mastering this program will enable you to increase your offerings by providing QuickBooks setup and consultation services. QuickBooks Made Profitable will teach you just how to use this program to draw and retain more clients to your accounting practice. You’ll learn how to leverage your time while saving clients money in taxes and helping them increase their profitability as well. Imagine how much this program alone could increase your bottom line.
So there you have it; a present that will brighten your future and make your practice more profitable. Give yourself the gift that keeps on giving! Call Universal at 1-877-833-7908 to enroll today!
December 3rd, 2014 in
, Growing Your Practice
, Helping Your Clients
, Increasing Your Profits
, Offer Accounting Services
, Small Business
, Start an Accounting and Tax Practice
, Starting & Running a Practice
The Information Reporting Program Advisory Committee (IRPAC) is a federal advisory committee that, using public forums, gathers information regarding IRS reporting issues. Members of the committee come from a cross-section of individuals from the professional community, including tax professionals, financial institutions, small and large businesses, universities and colleges, and securities and payroll firms.
Once a year they submit a report to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue which details new and existing issues needing attention. IRS Commissioner John Koshinen said, “The IRS values the insight and perspective IRPAC provides. The committee members have experience working with an incredibly diverse range of individual taxpayers and organizations both large and small. Their feedback helps us improve tax administration for the nation, and we will study their recommendations closely.”
IRPAC recommendations include the following:
- An expansion of the TIN matching program to include filters of all nonwage information returns to which incorrect-TIN penalties apply.
- The amendment of Revenue Procedure 2003-9 to provide that after filing an information return other than those types potentially subject to backup withholding, the filer may check the TIN furnished by the payee (or other recipient) against the name/TIN combination contained in the IRS Matching database and receive TIN validation information.
- The issuing of a Notice announcing relief from IRC § 6721 and § 6722 incorrect TIN penalties for all nonwage information return types that the TIN Matching Program may not be used to validate payee/recipient TINs.
- The addition of a checkbox to Form W-9 and Form W-4P which can be checked by the payee to indicate that permission has been granted to submit the payee’s name and TIN to the IRS TIN Matching Program for validation.
- The development of a new premium-level TIN Matching service (in addition to maintaining the current basic TIN Matching Program), that, while requiring an enrollment fee paid to the IRS, would process bulk files submitted through the information return filer’s account on the IRS secure site for information return filing.
You can access the full report on the official IRS website.
Universal Accounting Helps Tax Preparers Succeed
At Universal, we believe it’s important to prepare for the future, and we’re interested in seeing your future success as a tax preparer. Our online tax training, the Professional Tax Preparer Program, is designed to help professionals like you master tax preparation, become efficient in the completion of individual and business returns, and establish thriving home-based tax businesses. If you would like to learn more, visit Universal for a free video today!
–. “Information Reporting Program Advisory Committee Issues Annual Report.” 29 October 201 IRS.gov
Everyone likes to be appreciated. Once you realize that your business wouldn’t exist without your clients, it becomes easier to feel genuine gratitude for everyone on your roster. When you are able to express that gratitude, you’ll find that your clients feel better about the services you offer.
Now is the perfect time to let your clients know that you are thankful for their business. You’ll find that they’ll be more likely to refer their friends and family to your business when they recognize your sincere appreciation.
Here are 5 simple ideas for expressing gratitude to you clients:
1. Thank-You Cards. Hand-written thank you cards demonstrate sincere appreciation for a client’s service. And you don’t have to send them all at once. Take the time to write one per week to clients, vendors, and other colleagues.
2. Give a Gift Card. For a low cost you can give clients gift cards for restaurants, movie theaters, gas stations, book stores, etc. It may not seem like much, but this small gesture can do a lot to compliment your clients and inspire customer loyalty.
3. Pay for Lunch. You should consider taking your clients to lunch once a year in an effort to get to know them better while reevaluating their business demands. In this, you ensure that the services you currently provide align with their financial needs. And your payment of the bill will be an act of gratitude they won’t soon forget.
4. Offer Free Financial Tips and Advice. This can come in the form of a free print or electronic newsletter that you distribute to all current and prospective clients. Your newsletter can include at least one article offering valuable financial information. In the process you will demonstrate industry expertise, promote your business, and remind clients of just how valuable your services really are.
5. Offer a One-Time Service Discount. Jim Rohn said, “One customer, well taken care of, could be more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising.” Showing appreciation for clients will not only improve retention, but also makes it more likely that they’ll refer your services to friends and family. These valuable referrals are worth far more than the discount or complimentary services you can offer in show of your gratitude. Consider providing a free service or giving them a significant discount on future services. This not only provides incentive to refer friends and family your way, but it gives these clients just another good reason to stay with you long term.
Thanksgiving isn’t the only time of year you can show thanks. Consider the many ways you can demonstrate true gratitude to your clients year-round; they are, in fact, what keep your business running.
Register for Universal’s FREE Start Today Seminar
From DC to Texas and Canada to California—Universal travels the country providing free 3-hour seminars teaching the secrets to establishing a successful accounting and bookkeeping service. There you’ll learn how to enhance your service offerings while increasing your bottom lime! Look at our schedule and register for one of our seminars in a city near you. As attendee Dennis Shumway explained, “I have been involved in financial service for 20 years and have attended seminars all over the country. The quality of this class has been head and shoulders above any class that I have ever taken.”
Take advantage of this FREE opportunity now! Register today!
Whether you own your own practice with a support staff or work for an employer, you need to be a good team player. This requires you to see your employees as teammates working towards the same goals. Otherwise, you might find yourself and your business on the bench. Here are 7 tips in building teamwork in the workplace:
- Communicate. Without effective communication, even the most brilliant team will fail. To facilitate good communication, you must read and respond to all team correspondence. Also, listen to your teammates and contribute when appropriate, which includes accepting and giving feedback.
- Be open. Sometimes ideas don’t sound plausible simply because you didn’t think of them first. Listen to your teammates, and don’t be quick to criticize. Encourage brainstorming and free-thinking. And don’t shoot down ideas simply because they’re unusual or unconventional.
- Be friendly. Oscar the Grouch may have friends on Sesame Street, but let’s be honest, no one wants the Office Grouch on their team. As you build good relationships with your teammates, you foster a positive work environment that enables all to feel comfortable.
- Contribute. Attend all meetings (try not to be late) and respond to team correspondence when appropriate. Give compliments when deserved, and work towards not only your success, but the success of your teammates.
- Be responsible. You must set the perfect example. Allow your teammates the opportunity to see you fulfilling your obligations, going above and beyond what is required of you. This lets them know that your expectations for their performance are no less than your expectations for yourself.
- Don’t be a know-it-all. No one likes a smarty-pants. It’s good to contribute your thoughts and ideas, but your teammates will roll their eyes once you begin to have all the answers. Be willing to sit back and give others the chance to shine.
- Avoid complaining. Whining and complaining only generates negative energy. You also create a reputation as a wet blanket, and employees will not enjoy working for you. Be sure to never complain about others. And gossiping about teammates will always come back to haunt you.
Working as a team is often the best way to generate great ideas and have access to the collective skill-set necessary to carry them out. Sometimes being a team player means you have to put yourself second in order to earn more points in the end. Whatever effort it requires, you will be a better business owner in the end if you learn how to work well with others.
Motivate Your Team
If you need a little inspiration to motivate you and your team to success, we suggest you consider working with UAC’s motivation speakers. Universal Accounting Center has some exceptional speakers on staff that can motivate you and your team to excel. With a number of individuals experienced in a variety of topics, they can help you better serve your clients, better market your practice, and better grow your wealth. Learn more about Universal Accounting Center’s speaker and book one for your next event!
If you’re a paid tax preparer and haven’t already done so, now is the time to submit applications and renewals for your PTIN. The IRS recently released information, including an audio troubleshooting video, designed to help tax professionals complete this important requirement with little time and energy.
It can be accomplished by completing three simple steps:
- Login to your PTIN account (or register for a new one).
- Complete the online renewal application which requires the verification of personal information.
- Pay the $63 renewal fee online using a credit or debit card.
You can also fulfil this requirement using a hardcopy form that can be mailed directly to the IRS for processing.
Annual Filing Season Program
The IRS is encouraging non-credentialed tax preparers to increase their level of professionalism by obtaining continuing education credits. Tax preparers become eligible for the Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) by obtaining 18 hours of continuing education which includes a six-hour federal tax law refresher course with test. All those who received an AFSP Record of Completion from the IRS will be included in a public database of return preparers the IRS will launch in January 2015.
Those who passed the Registered Tax Return Preparer (RTRP) test offered between November 2011 and January 2013 must fulfill the 15-hour CE requirement each year to secure an AFSP—Record of Completion. According to the IRS press release, “Those who passed the RTRP test and certain other recognized national and state tests are exempt from the six-hour federal tax law refresher course with test.”
With programs such as these, the IRS continues to encourage paid tax preparers to increase their professionalism by investing in continuing education. Also, changes in the representation rights of return preparers will change come 2016. At that time:
Attorneys, CPAs, and enrolled agents will continue to be the only tax professionals with unlimited representation rights, meaning they can represent their clients on any matters including audits, payment/collection issues, and appeals.
AFSP participants will have limited representation rights, meaning they can represent clients whose returns they prepared and signed, but only before revenue agents, customer service representatives, and similar IRS employees, including the Taxpayer Advocate Service.
PTIN holders without an AFSP – Record of Completion or other professional credential will only be permitted to prepare tax returns. They will not be allowed to represent clients before the IRS.
For more information, visit the official IRS website.
Universal Accounting Helps Tax Preparers Succeed
At Universal, we also believe it’s important to prepare for the future, and we’re interested in seeing your future success as a tax preparer. Our Professional Tax Preparer Program is designed to help professionals like you master tax preparation, becoming efficient in the completion of individual and business returns. If you would like to learn more, visit Universal for a free video today!
–. “New! Annual Filing Season Program.” IRS.gov
–. “PTIN Requirements for Tax Return Preparers.” IRS.gov
Family businesses: they seem to work really well or fail miserably. That’s not to say that family-run businesses can’t be highly rewarding and lucrative. However, if you’re participating in a family business, it’s important that you understand what you’re up against. Working with relatives can be tricky unless you have a game plan—a series of rules to live by in order to achieve maximum success. Here are 5 tips in running an efficient family business:
1. Discourage alliances among family members. This factor often contributes to the failure of family-run businesses. When members of a family business begin keeping secrets from certain factions, creating alliances and excluding individuals from crucial business decisions, a division results that can destroy a company.
2. Communicate. It’s no accident that this tip follows the one discouraging family alliances. In order to avoid poor business etiquette that can seep into family-run organizations, it’s important to have open lines of communication. As with any business, you should have regular managerial and staff meetings to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Also, create email groups so that business correspondence is sure to travel to all vested parties.
3. Only hire qualified relatives. Family-run businesses can become the island of misfit employees if you’re not careful. They are often the go-to business when Cousin Joe is down on his luck again, and your relatives believe you certainly have something that can keep him busy and employed. Don’t get caught in that trap! Just like any other viable business, you must hire qualified and trustworthy employees. Hard as it may be, you shouldn’t lower your expectations in order to hire relatives.
4. Have a succession plan. You may think you or your father or your great uncle Richard will run the company indefinitely, but the truth is, situations and circumstances change, and a company will be more likely to survive those changes if a succession plan is firmly in place. You should go through proper legal channels to ensure your succession plan is solid.
5. Avoid arbitrary compensation plans. Employees should be paid according to their expertise and overall company contribution. If Cousin Joe, the guy who’s down on his luck, begins making more than a long-term employee with considerable expertise and experience, one could argue that this relative is receiving preferential treatment. Don’t put yourself in such a precarious legal and ethical position. Create a compensation chart, with the help of a professional if necessary, and follow it strictly.
Family businesses can be lucrative and fulfilling ventures, but only when handled properly. Take the necessary precautions to ensure that your family business is in the best position to succeed, with all those involved.
Join the Discussion
When it comes to topics like this one, it can be difficult to find a group of small business owners with whom you can ask questions, share insights, and offer advice. Luckily there are online discussions groups, listservs and forums to help you connect with these individuals. Universal Accounting Center has developed a forum for financial professionals to provide just that community environment for which you may have been searching. Please join us and make our community stronger, and to “talk” about issues that matter to you. Members are free to ask questions, provide resources and take advantage of the resources others may offer. Join us today!
Are you overwhelmed by stacks of paperwork? And are your files overflowing with documents? Many professionals expected paperwork to diminish as technology advanced, but old habits die hard, and many of us are still overrun by hardcopies. But there is hope!
In a recent Score.org article, Cris Burnam, author and entrepreneur in the self-storage industry, shares “3 Simple Ways to De-Clutter Your Office.”
1. Recycle bins. As Burnam explains, “If your office isn’t full of recycling bins, it should be. Not only does recycling save trees and energy, but placing recycling bins in every room of your office will also eliminate extra paper piling up on desks.” In addition, Burnam states that the average white-collar worker will waste more than four hours a week searching for lost documents, a number that could be significantly reduced by eliminating excess paperwork.
2. Cloud storage. You no longer need to keep large client files in an overrun filing cabinet. You can now backup digital copies of all those files in cloud storage, a remote server enabling you to store, manage and process data. This takes zero physical space while protecting your data and streamlining your processes, ridding yourself of unnecessary hardcopies.
3. Self-storage. If you still have a significant amount of paperwork that you need to save, consider renting a storage unit. Burnam says, “You can use it to store inventory, supplies, records, and other items you don’t need on a daily basis.”
While these tips sound simple, each takes time and energy. Also keep in mind that in addition to eliminating physical clutter, you may also need to eliminate digital clutter as well. Do you need to delete some of the bookmarks from your browser to eliminate confusion? Does your virtual desktop need a good cleaning? And do your file folders contain multiple electronic versions of the same documents? Be sure to streamline your electronic records as well. But don’t feel obligated to tackle all these tips today. In fact, it might be more effective if you spent one week on each task, ensuring that you are thorough and complete.
If you enjoy reading our articles and would like to keep current on all UAC news, join our free accounting and tax forums, follow us on Twitter and like us on FaceBook.
Burnam, Cris. “3 Simple Ways to De-Clutter Your Office.” 7 October 2014 www.Score.com
On October 1st the IRS announced the availability of online seminars filmed at the 2014 IRS Nationwide Tax Forums. Tax professionals can register for these self-study seminars and receive continuing professional education credits.
These 14 seminars can be accessed at the IRS Nationwide Tax Forums Online (NTFO) and cover the following topics:
- Highlights of the 2014 income tax law changes
- Overview of the premium tax credit and the individual shared responsibility provision
- Updates to and overview of Treasury Circular No. 230
- Improvements to the process for securing an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
This online training is delivered through various media, including interactive videos, PowerPoint slides and transcripts.
According to the press release, “The online forums are registered with the IRS Return Preparer Office and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) as a qualified sponsor of continuing professional education (CPE). For a fee, Enrolled Agents and CPAs taking NTFO seminars can earn CPE credits. To earn CPE credits, users must create an account, answer review questions throughout the seminar, and pass short tests at the end of the seminars.”
The seminars can also be audited for free. However, those who audit the seminars will not be able to access review questions, nor can they receive credit for completing the seminar.
For more information or to see seminars from prior-year IRS Nationwide Tax Forums, visit the NTFO.
Universal Accounting’s Tax Training
UA’s Professional Tax Preparer program will help you establish yourself as a trained and trustworthy tax professional. You can earn the Professional Tax Preparer Designation while receiving up to 60 CPE credits, depending on the number of modules you complete.
UAC’s Professional Tax Preparer (PTP) program will not only give you hands-on training in completing full individual (1040) and business returns (1065, 1120, 1120S), but it will also provide you with the following:
- 20 hours of valuable video instruction
- 2 instructional manuals
- Step-by-step instruction in becoming a sole practitioner
- One year of follow-up support from expert tax preparers
- The opportunity to earn valuable professional certification
- Our iron-clad, risk-free guarantee
Call 1-877-833-7909 to enroll today, and improve your competitive advantage while securing your professional standing in the tax industry.
–. “Online Seminars from the 2014 IRS Nationwide Tax Forums are Now Available.” 1 October 2014 IRS.gov