Category Archives: Education

IRS Webinar: Understanding Tax Relief for Victims of Disasters

In today’s IRS e-News for Tax Professionals, the IRS announced a 2-hour webinar — held twice, once on Oct 18 and again on Oct 19 — geared toward helping taxpayers and their preparers understand various tax relief provisions in the code and administrative rulings.

Following the recent natural disasters in various parts of the U.S., this timely web conference will discuss:

  • Statutory Tax Relief for Casualty Victims (Both Individual & Business)
  • Special Rules for Federally Declared Disaster Areas
  • IRS Disaster Assistance Administrative Relief
  • Calculating and Reporting Disaster Area Losses
  • Involuntary Conversions resulting from Disaster Losses
  • Disaster Related Tax Issues: Harvey, Irma & Maria

A live question and answer session will round out the webinar.

Register and Attend:

Oct. 18 – 11:00 a.m. Eastern

Oct. 19 – 11:00 a.m. Eastern

Closed captioning is offered for the Oct. 19 web conference only.

Source: Understanding Tax Relief for Victims of Disasters

NSAC Cooperative Learning Network – Upcoming Webinars

The National Society of Accountants for Cooperatives offers some great online learning resources from time-to-time, and in today’s e-newsletter update, a few in particular were listed that caught my attention. In particular, George Benson and Teree Castanias are excellent, knowledgeable presenters, and Don Frederick — himself a legend in the co-op tax world — does a great job introducing the concept of co-op taxation.

Current Cooperative Tax Developments
Thursday, October 19, 2017
11:00 AM EST / 10:00 AM CST / 09:00 AM MST / 08:00 AM PST

George Benson, Attorney, McDermott Will & Emery, LLP
The program will include a review of Section 199 developments, including pending Court cases. If there is anything definite to discuss with respect to tax reform, it will address the potential impact on cooperatives and their members. In addition, the program will review areas where historically there has been controversy between the IRS and cooperatives and discuss their current status.


Book vs Tax vs Hybrid Basis of Paying Patronage
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
02:00 PM EST / 01:00 PM CST / 12:00 PM MST / 11:00 AM PST

Teresa (Teree) Castanias, CPA
A cooperative must return the profits of its patronage operation s to the member/patrons based on the business done with the cooperative for the year. But how that income is computed (book, tax or hybrid) will create very different results. How the cooperative addresses this issue can have important financial and member relations implications.


Basic Accounting & Auditing for Co-ops Seminar
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
11:00 AM EST / 10:00 AM CST / 09:00 AM MST / 08:00 AM PST

This 4-hour, 4-CPE credit course, is designed for new hires and other employees of cooperatives and firms serving cooperatives that can benefit from training in the unique nature of cooperatives.

Introduction to Cooperatives – Donald Frederick (11:00 am – 12:00 pm
During this presentation we explain the foundation for doing business on a cooperative basis, with special emphasis on the owner-customer role of a co-op’s members. We discuss the rich history of cooperatives in America, the many types of cooperatives in our communities, and conclude with an examination of the benefits of having businesses operate as cooperatives.

Equity Management & Inter-Cooperative Investments – Phil Miller (12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
The course discusses the various types of Cooperative Equity and introduces the concepts of Equity Redemption. It discusses the Components of Inter-Cooperative Investments and why Co-ops so often invest in each other. It covers Balance Sheet and Income Statement Presentation, Timing and Recognition issues, Footnote Disclosures, and Impairment Questions related specifically to Inter-Cooperative Investments.

Lunch (1:00 pm – 1:30 pm
The audio portion of the CLN will be suspended during this time.

Basic Cooperative Taxation – Donald Frederick (1:30 pm – 2:30 pm
During this session we discuss the unique Federal income tax treatment of cooperatives. We focus on how tax law supports equity accumulation by cooperatives, particularly the patronage refund. We conclude by providing a set of tools to facilitate tax planning by cooperatives and their professional advisers.

Co-op GAAP – Phil Miller (2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
The course discusses how all GAAP is applicable to co-ops, but also how some GAAP applies specifically to only co-ops. We will discuss the two single pieces of GAAP that form the basis for Co-op GAAP, plus one piece of GAAP that applies to electric co-ops. We will discuss how NSAC has contributed to the body of Co-op GAAP over the years and will finish with a discussion of the new FASB Codification and how Co-op GAAP is contained within the Codification.


The full list of online webinars can be found at the NSAC Cooperative Learning Network.

NCBA Co-Op Professionals Conference, Oct 5-6 2017

For the past three years I’ve been honored to participate in planning the NCBA Co-op Professionals Conference — a get-together for attorneys, accountants, developers and other professionals that work with cooperatives. It’s an amazing opportunity to learn, network, and connect.

Please join us in examining “The Regulated Cooperative” at the 2017 Cooperative Professionals conference, October 5-6, 2017, in Alexandria, Virginia. The first day’s professional development program is devoted to the many ways in which federal regulation affects and controls cooperative enterprise, including regulation of financing, immigration, tax and labor. All four sessions have continuing professional education credit for CPAs and attorneys — the schedule is here (scroll down to Thursday & Friday — Wednesday is IMPACT- and Purchasing-only).

We are especially excited to present our luncheon speaker, Nathan Schneider, a thought leader in the new realm of Platform Cooperativism. He is Co-editor of the new book, Ours to Hack and to Own: The Rise of Platform Cooperativism, A New Vision for the Future of Work and a Fairer Internet, which explores how the cooperative model can thrive in the Internet economy and inquires into the effects of antitrust enforcement, or its absence, in that highly consolidated landscape.

In the evening we will join the NCBA plenary session with mayors and city leaders who are taking different approaches to supporting the co-op ecosystem so that people can use cooperatives to create economic opportunity and address challenges within their cities.

On the second morning, we will be considering and framing a formal organization for this to-date informal grouping, a Cooperative Professionals Guild. After four years of successful conferences, is it time to create a permanent organizational home for planning the conference and other year-round professional development activities? In the spirit of cooperation, the ad hoc CPC planning committee invites you to participate in this effort.

This year’s conference is held in conjunction with Cooperative IMPACT convened by NCBA on October 4-6. We look forward to seeing you there!

Linda Phillips
Nancy McClelland
Thomas Beckett
Therese Tuttle
Sushil Jacob
Camille Kerr
Roland Hall
Elizabeth Van Der Wiede
Jason Wiener
Sara Stephens

Free Socially Responsible Investing Seminar 9/23

A colleague of mine, Khloe Karova of Modern Capital Concepts, is offering a free seminar on Socially Responsible Investing this Saturday, September 23 at 10 am, at the Logan Square Chicago Public Library — details at the facebook event page here: Socially Responsible Investing.

She stays after each seminar to answer questions from attendees on financial planning, identity theft, and related topics.

Ultimate Annual vCon Sept 21-22, 2017

For QuickBooks bookkeepers and accountants interested in growing their businesses, the upcoming 2-day virtual conference put on by Michelle Long and Sandi Smith Leyva — two of the QB world’s thought leaders and trainers — is a great opportunity for learning and networking.

Intuitive Accountant made a good point a few years back about the value of this v-conference: for the price ($199), the content (educational sessions) and exposure to potential vendors (networking with reps) can’t be beat, not to mention the fact that it’s all accessible from your computer, wherever you and the internet are found.

The theme this year is “Accelerate Your Success”, and is much more oriented toward marketing/ pricing/ business development topics than usual, including:

  • How to price both old and new services
  • How to find new revenue stream ideas
  • How to get clients
  • How to learn how to introduce clients to new technologies
  • How to transition clients to new technologies without losing your revenue

The schedule is here, the vendor list is here, and registration is here.

Source: Join us for the Ultimate Annual vCon next week – Long for Success, LLC

IRS Webinar – Electronic FBAR Reporting

The dreaded Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts Reporting — a mystery to so many! Well, the IRS is offering a webinar to help:

August 30, 2017
2 p.m. Eastern Time
1 p.m. Central Time
12 p.m. Mountain Time
11 a.m. Pacific Time

This webinar features the latest information on how to properly report foreign financial accounts on the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, commonly called the FBAR. You’ll learn:

  1. Who must file the FBAR
  2. What accounts must be reported on the FBAR
  3. When the FBAR must be filed
  4. How to file the FBAR

Plus, it’s eligible for CPE credit in Federal Tax. Check it out: Internal Revenue Service Webinar Registration Page

Advice: Connect with Other Freelancers

For those of you out there who run their own business, as I do — whether you’re a fellow accountant, bookkeeper, tax preparer… or you freelance (as many of my clients do) in a particular field such as photography, architecture, psychology, acupuncture, consulting, etc. — this advice is for you. Your colleagues are not your competition (even when they technically are).

Networking and building real relationships with people who are in the same field as you is essential — invaluable for so many reasons. You can learn from each other, refer business to each other, and get together to vent so that you don’t feel so alone (as we often do when working on our own).

I have four main work-related facebook groups that I participate in: one for tax preparers, two for QuickBooks ProAdvisors, and one general QuickBooks group. It’s been easy to see which of the other regular contributors fit my style and knowledge level, and when I (or a client of mine) need assistance, I feel comfortable reaching out, knowing they’d do the same for me. A local bookkeeping group has an annual retreat that I recently attended, and I met many others who have the same work ethic as I do. We have overlap in our abilities, but there are some areas where I can see that they’re clearly the resident expert — I can reach out to them or connect a client with them directly if there’s a need I can’t fulfill. It’s been a lifesaver. And lastly, I have three colleagues I meet with in-person a few times a year, just to rehash tax season, vent about new local laws, and enjoy each other’s company. When you don’t work in the office, these types of get-togethers are a wonderful substitute for the camaraderie and connections we would otherwise build on a daily basis.

This article inspired me to write this post, and they make many of the same points I did, but with a slightly different angle and some helpful links. A recommended short read: Hustle&Co – The blog for freelancers, entrepreneurs and other hustlers – Forget Freelance Sites: Connect with Other Freelancers to Find New Jobs

The Best Sources for Accountants & Bookkeepers on How to Use QuickBooks

Great, short article chock-full of recommendations, well-organized (Intuit Resources, Third-Party Resources & User Groups/Social Media), and written by one of my favorite colleagues, Stacy Kildal (who also runs a great program for training professional QB folks).

The only two resources I’d make sure to add on top of the ones she mentions are QuickBooks Power Hour (run by Hector Garcia & Michelle Long), as well as Hector’s own free video series, on QB Desktop, QB Online, and especially the Advanced Topics courses.  I believe his entire collection is organized here, though subscribing to his YouTube channel gets you updated videos as they’re released.

Source: The 12 Absolute Best Sources on How to Use QuickBooks Online

2017 Scaling New Heights Conference

A year ago, I attended my first Woodard Scaling New Heights conference. This is one of the three conferences that accounting technology geeks like me get really excited about — the other two being Accountex (formerly Sleeter Technology) and QB Connect (which I’ll be attending later this year for my first time). I absolutely loved it. I’d been to Sleeter for two years in a row, and as much as I enjoyed attending, one of their successes was helping me realize that I really want to be a QuickBooks-centric practice… I’m not interested in branching out into non-QB accounting options such as Xero, Wave, Zoho, etc. I only know this because of excellent presentations such as Greg Lam and Michelle Long‘s overviews — so I’m indebted to them — but colleagues there suggested that maybe SNH was a better choice for me, since it’s more QB-centric. (They were right.)

One problem remains. I’m not one for motivational speeches. I run my own CPA firm, so if I’m going to take time off work and pay for conference fees, travel & lodging, I’d better be spending that time and money learning something that will help me when I get back to the office — measurable results, real-life advice, tips & tricks that I can put into action to improve my clients’ lives and make me more efficient. Motivational speeches and entertainment just aren’t “worth” my time — I sit through them wishing I’d spent the time doing almost anything else. While we’re at it: I also can’t stand sales pitches. Nor information that is so general, I feel I’ve heard it all before. Finding the right conferences can be a bit of a challenge.

I was a little disappointed in the last Sleeter Technology Conference (now Accountex) I attended. In my opinion, there are too many “keynote” sessions… ones that are meant to “fire up” the audience and get us excited, or big names that we can brag about having seen in-person. These sessions are the only ones that are not concurrent with other learning sessions, meaning that 1) there’s nothing else to do during these sessions, and yet 2) there are so many concurrent sessions that I can’t attend because — well, they’re simultaneous. I wish they’d offer some of those during the keynotes so that I don’t miss the chance to go to more of them.

Yes, I know I can play “hooky” during these sessions — as my colleagues regularly remind me — but honestly, come on: I’m paying to be there. Ideally, the entire conference would be so amazing that I never want to skip out on it (though it is challenging, since they’re always held in interesting places). It might be different if my boss paid my way, but I am the boss! I can’t do billable work while I’m in sessions, so I’m effectively giving up my salary for the entire trip; plus, all of the costs are coming out of my own pocket. I’m not inclined to cheat myself out of much-valued education.

Furthermore, the breakout sessions offered by vendor-partners (presenters that are also at the conference expo, hawking their wares to us) are too often — as mentioned above — 1) either a sales pitch, which is no fun at all and just fosters resentment, or 2) more likely, the vendor has been threatened so hard NOT to make it a sales pitch, that they only offer extremely general “insights” into the industry that motivated them to create a solution. Except… see, we’re already aware of these “insights” — that’s why we attended the session in the first place: to find solutions to the problems we’re already aware exist. What we want when we attend these vendor-presented sessions is in-between these angles: a brief description of the industry issues, and then a specific explanation of how they attempted to solve these issues, and a demo of how it works. That’s not sales — that’s education on a particular piece of software, which allows us to evaluate programs based on how they work, not based on a marketing team’s list of bullet points. (I especially love vendor sessions that are on one particular topic and invite more than one vendor to illustrate their solution to it. That way we get a side-by-side, and can ask questions candidly.)

But the best sessions of all are offered by independent practitioners showing us how they use these various products to solve real-life problems that they’ve come across in their own practices. And that is what I got at last year’s Woodard “Scaling New Heights” conference.

Yes, as with their big competing conference, there were too many keynote “general sessions”. In fact, Joe Woodard’s initial presentation about how Poseidon was going to flood the room (but it’s okay… because he had a “magical force field around us” ???) — was so bad that I was terrified I’d made a serious mistake in attending. (To reiterate: I desperately wish they’d offer an alternative to the general sessions for those of us who prefer to focus on specific learning.)

But — WOW — did they make up for these with some of the best breakout sessions I’ve ever attended. Hector Garcia’s Quickbooks sessions were all incredible, with real-life tips and best practices. I passed the QBO certification with flying colors, no doubt in part to his training. Will English, who I initially met at Sleeter (and who writes for Intuitive Accountant), gave an insightful session on POS solutions — specifically ones that work for retail inventory maanagement. Norman Axelman did a couple great sessions on Excel tricks — he was very generous with his time and eager to solve everyone’s issues. Stacy Kildal was one of my favorite presenters, as she nailed the two-prong approach that most appeals to me: 1) new technologies 2) applied in real-life situations. Her session on QBO apps was insightful and inspiring, and I wish there were a three-hour-long session where I could just watch her work. David Leary from Intuit was one of the most sincere “big-deal” presenters I’ve ever seen; to some extent he restored some of my trust in QB. His eagerness to answer questions and explain the “why” behind big-company decisions was refreshing.

One recommendation to organizers (and DIY attendees) — I always go through the directory of exhibitors and sort them by type of solution: financial analysis, business management/workflow, inventory, publications, POS systems, payroll, 1099/W-2 prep, etc. So it certainly would be helpful if the exhibitors were color-coded by industry, to help us decide who to visit in our limited time away from sessions.

I’m headed back there this week, eager to soak up as much information as I can, and to avoid as many references to the “Yeti” of our practice challenges that we all have to face. (I’m not kidding; that’s the theme.) And if that turns you off as much as it does me, please reconsider, because there are 98 pages of training session information — and I’m just talking about the summaries of the sessions, not the handouts. Plenty of non-Yeti material for us all.

Stacey Byrne will be offering Restaurant Industry Tips & Tricks; MB Raimondi will be teaching the QB Desktop Advanced ProAdvisor Certification Exam Prep; Michelle Long is teaching Apps 101; and Stacy Kildal and Ingrid Edstrom are teaching the session that most interests me: a People’s Choice Peer-Led Apps Training that compares Fathom and LivePlan.

I hope to see you at Scaling New Heights!

Source: 2017 Scaling New Heights Schedule – Woodard

Upcoming Webinar on Internal Controls Self-Assessment

The National Society of Accountants for Cooperatives is offering a webinar on Monday, June 19 entitled “Internal Controls Self-Assessment: How to recognize warning signs and prevent potentially problematic situations”.  This short webinar promises to be useful and informative not just for cooperatives and their accountants, but for any business that may have as-yet unidentified risks inherent in their internal controls.

It’s being presented by Bill Judd and Jim Halvorsen of CliftonLarsonAllen LLP — I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Jim at a couple of the National Cooperative Business Association’s “Co-op Professionals Conference” get-togethers, and I’m sure they’ll do a great job with this topic.  Jim will be presenting later this year at the NSAC Tax, Accounting & Finance for Cooperatives conference as well.

Source: NSAC Cooperative Learning Network – Internal Controls Self-Assessment-How to recognize warning signs and prevent potentially problematic situations