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1. 2014 tax software survey  

BY Paul Bonner
For the second year in a row, the beginning of income tax filing season was delayed. This year, the delay was due to a 16-day partial government shutdown in October 2013 that resulted in a Jan. 31 start date for the IRS to accept electronically filed returns. Other complicating factors included the advent of the net investment income tax, the new 39.6% top tax rate bracket, and the return of the itemized deduction limitation and personal exemption phaseout.Software vendors nonetheless managed to roll out their updated versions on time, and users were generally satisfied with the results

2. 11 tips to optimize QuickBooks reporting  

BY J. Carlton Collins, CPA
Paraphrasing the Kieso, Weygandt, and Warfield textbook Intermediate Accounting, the point of an accounting system is to summarize voluminous data to produce financial reports that management can use to run the business. Despite the textbook’s position, it seems that many QuickBooks users have missed this message as they appear to use the product for little more than getting money in and out the door (via invoices and checks).

3. 10 Excel shortcuts  

BY J. Carlton Collins
1. The SUM function. Pressing Alt+= in the cell below a column of numbers inserts the SUM function and highlights that column of numbers.2. Select a range of data.

4. Tax software: Ethical, legal, and professional liability risks  

BY Deborah K. Rood, CPA
Software is an essential tool for driving efficiencies and profitability in a CPA firm tax practice. Practitioners select software based on various factors, including price, ease of use, scalability to practice size, technology features, and technical support (see “2014 Tax Software Survey,” page 26). Software users also should be aware of maintenance requirements and risks of use.

5. Remotely interested in supervision  

BY J. Carlton Collins, CPA
Q: What technologies should we use to help monitor our “work-from-home” employees to make sure they are working productively and doing their jobs properly?A: According to the Telework Research Network, 30 million Americans (20% of the workforce) work from home at least part time, and Telework projects that number to rise to 48.9 million within the next five years.

6. What does it meta?  

BY J. Carlton Collins, CPA
Q: How much does metadata (webpage titles, descriptions, and keywords) play into improving a webpage’s rating in Bing, Yahoo!, or Google searches?A: Metadata is an essential element to ranking higher in search engine results, and it is important to include relevant metadata in your webpage properties so your webpages rank higher.

7. Expanding your app-titude  

BY Greg LaFollette, CPA/CITP, CGMA
SHOP SMARTER WITH GROCERYIQGroceryIQ, produced by, is designed to be a grocery list manager, but it also offers several features to make your life easier when shopping. If, like me, you’ve been asked to “stop at the grocery store on your way home” and upon arrival stood in a tax-season-induced stupor, trying to remember at least one thing you were supposed to get, GroceryIQ can simplify your life.

8. Combination charts  

BY J. Carlton Collins, CPA
Q: Is it possible to overlay one chart atop another chart in Excel 2013 for comparison purposes?A: Yes, chart overlays are possible. Excel allows you to produce a combination chart that places one chart atop another using a percentage scale for each of the two data ranges. This arrangement allows the reader to visually compare the figures to determine if any relationships exist between the two sets of data in a single chart.

9. Nine ways to improve data security  

BY Jack Hagel
Many businesses continue to underestimate cyberthreats. An urgent change of mindset is called for, says Florian Stahl, lead information security consultant at MSG Systems in Germany. He offers nine tips to bolster thinking around data security.Don’t underestimate the severity of the threat. Many companies think that their data are not of interest to cybercriminals.

10. Expanding your app-titude  

BY Greg LaFollette, CPA/CITP, CGMA
“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” or so goes the old pithicism. While most people use only a few apps regularly, thousands of apps are ideally designed to complete a particular task or solve a really unusual problem. It’s doubtful that anyone will use these apps every day, but there’s no doubt that they are extremely helpful when needed.
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