Tax tools

With tax season now officially under way, we thought we'd mention some of the slew of handy products that we got word of in the run-up to January 31. We'll start with books, of which there are more than a few, like Ed Mendlowitz's How to Review Tax Returns (CPA Trendlines), which offers step-by-step guidance on and checklists for a critical process that can always be made more efficient. Then there's CCH's U.S. Master Tax Guide, which is as authoritative as they come -- and now comes in all kinds of e-book formats, making it even easier to access. CCH has also issued a Tax Brief: 2013 Tax Year-in-Review to keep you up to date on all of last year's developments. Meanwhile, Bloomberg BNA has added two new features in its Daily Tax Report: "Key Tax Issues in Congress" will keep subscribers abreast of the progress and fate of all major tax-related legislation, while "Regulatory Watch" will track significant regulations proposed by the Internal Revenue Service. Thomson Reuters' Quickfinder Tax & Financial Tools bring together more than 300 calculators, worksheets, financial tools and hard-to-find tax forms to try and make preparers' lives a little easier. And finally, we'll note that CCH Small Firm Services' TaxWise 2013 and TaxWise Online 2013 tax prep solutions have both been deemed Section 508-compliant, which means they're accessible to visually impaired individuals.


Required reading

CPA Firm Mergers & Acquisitions: How to Buy a Firm, How to Sell a Firm, and How to Make the Best Deal

AICPA; paper - $73.75, e-book - $66 (member discounts available)

Mergers are no longer a trend in the accounting profession - they are a more or less permanent factor that will, at one point or another, affect pretty much every firm in the country. With that in mind, we strongly recommend you read Joel Sinkin and Terry Putney's CPA Firm Mergers & Acquisitions. As two of the leading brokers of firm mergers, they're perfectly positioned to explain the current market, how it's going to change, and how to buy low and how to sell high, depending on your firm. They also offer great advice on how to make your firm more attractive as a deal partner.


If you must have clients ...

Sqrl Company

How much time do you spend gathering information from your clients? The correct answer is "Too much," but there are ways to fix that. For instance, we recommend not having clients. The group of accountants who created Sqrl, on the other hand, are suggesting that you use their new solution to automate and streamline the process. Their Web application creates, tracks, auto-reminds and gathers your information requests. Templated requests and the fact that it's all handled through e-mails, and not a portal, mean it's easy for you and your clients. And it even gives you analytics on your clients, so you can figure out which ones are really wasting your time. We suggest you start by getting rid of them ... .


Positively deviant

The Star Factor: Discover What Your Top Performers Do Differently - and Inspire a New Level of Greatness in All

Amacom Books; $25

Talent is at a premium in the accounting industry these days, with firms desperately seeking high-quality staff. While The Star Factor can't make up for the absolute shortage of warm bodies, it can help you turn all the staff you currently have into high performers. The first step is to identify your "positive deviants" -- those few employees who consistently deliver performance that's above and beyond -- and then to figure out how they do it. The trick here is that they often don't know themselves, and are just naturally, unconsciously really good at their jobs, so the book details a methodology for teasing out their secrets, and then shows you how to teach the rest of your employees how to be like your current stars.


Come together

The Journey Ahead: A New Roadmap to Collaboration in Your Firm

CreateSpace; $17.99

According to well-known consultant Sandra Wiley's new book, the firm of the future will be working a lot more closely with its clients. This may be terrifying or exciting, depending on your clients, but it's also inescapable, as technology commoditizes many traditional services, and true value comes more and more from strong relationships with, and in-depth knowledge about, your clients. The Journey Ahead is a great guide to this new model, with case studies, interviews, tools and more to guide you in creating a firm that can succeed through collaboration, both inside and out.


Your marketing director

Accounting Growth Institute

Catalyst CPA Marketing Solutions

All the recent talk about marketing for accounting firms may have left you with the impression that it's only for the big firms, but even if you can't afford to hire your own marketing director, you still need to begin finding ways to promote your firm. Enter Catalyst CPA Marketing, with its new Accounting Growth Institute program. Aimed specifically at local firms with one to three partners, the program helps them develop a strategic growth plan, build a Web site to support it, and produce sustained organic growth.


Your own newsletter

Monthly Client Newsletter Service

Tenenz Inc.

Tax and accounting product provider Tenenz Inc. has launched a new digital newsletter service for firms using its new Client Centric Communication tool. The Monthly Client Newsletter Service leverages the CCC tool to publish a custom-branded newsletter, with monthly content provided by Tenenz, that is automatically made available to be read on various devices, as well as being auto-published on firm Web sites, through their social media accounts, and through e-mail marketing tools.


When Harry speaks ...

Risk-Return Analysis: The Theory and Practice of Rational Investing, Vol. 1

McGraw-Hill Education; $50

With a Nobel Prize under his belt and the founding of Modern Portfolio Theory to his credit, Harry Markowitz's is a name to conjure with in investment theory, and his new book, the first of a planned four-volume series, will undoubtedly be taken up eagerly for that reason alone. For those with the math to follow him, though, it's an illuminating look at the underpinnings of risk-return analysis.


Enhanced analytics

Audit Analytics

Ives Group Inc.

Audit Analytics has made a number of enhancements to its public audit market research platform, including adding "Saved Search Alerts," which send reports to you at whatever frequency you like based on parameters you choose. Auditor Profile pages now include an interactive matrix that lets you research the clients of a given firm, while the search capabilities for the Canadian audit market have been boosted, too. U.S. audit fees have been added to the Auditor Ratification download, and a field for emerging growth companies has been added to the Auditor Engagements and IPO downloads.


New and improved!

Franchiser Bookkeeping Express has added payroll and cash management, including bill payment and invoicing, to its roster of services. ... Accelya Kale Solutions has released Revera Next, a revenue processing solution for airline revenue accounting teams.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access