Posted: April 16, 2018 Filed under: Guest Blogger
I still have family friends ask me about my career path with a response similar to this: “Accounting, huh? That seems…interesting.” It is hard for people to try and act excited about my college path, especially when they still think of my generation as the technological savvy, entrepreneurial, adventurous type. However, I think a lot of individuals confuse Millennials with Generation Z; furthermore, there are actually a lot of Gen Z’ers that are interested in fields like accounting. Here is a list of reasons why I, as a fellow Gen Z’er, chose accounting:
“Accountants are boring.” Some of my friends continue to joke with me about this idea, but I laugh it off! I think a lot of non-accounting majors do not understand the vast routes you can take. For instance, by the time I graduate, I will have engaged in three internships—all of them will be based on accounting but are completely different at the same time. My first internship was in corporate accounting for a private company in an office-like environment. My second internship will be in internal audit with a lead producing company. I will be able to visit multiple facilities in France, California and New York and assist with conducting audits. Finally, my third internship will be in external audit with a Big Four firm. This will allow me to engage with different clients and review their financial records and documents.
And it doesn’t just end there. There are SO many other different pathways to take in an accounting career, and each one will help you develop a new skill set. Accounting is great for the indecisive but also for those who want to work the same job until retirement.
Stability and Growth
I am personally not a huge risk-taker. In fact, I have already started a Roth IRA to save up for my retirement because I like having a cushion to fall back on. With an accounting career (especially public accounting) I can feel safe knowing that I probably won’t be laid off any time soon. Also, a public accounting career provides almost guaranteed promotions after a certain timeframe. “Hmm, I wonder if I will ever get promoted to senior associate?” is not a question new auditors typically have to worry about. It certainly takes a heavy weight off my shoulders!
Accounting is not Always Forever
But what if you end up hating accounting? This is a question I receive a LOT, and here’s my take on it:
As I mentioned earlier, there are different routes to take, so I could always try a different accounting sector. Even then, if I still did not enjoy my career, I am not forced to stay in accounting just because that is what my degree is in. I know many individuals who have switched from accounting to marketing or human resources and are currently executives at a company. Accounting provides such a strong foundation that is integral in all parts of a business and can allow you to branch out to new departments. That’s why I personally think accounting is a strong degree to pick for undecisive business majors.
I’ll be honest, accounting is typically not the first major that comes to a student’s mind in terms of studies (it may be a last choice for some, in fact). However, the benefits, learning experience and ability to grow, and even travel, are just a few of the factors that attract Generation Z’ers to this field. I think accounting is a hidden gem that not many young students think about, so I consider myself lucky to have discovered it so early!
Blogger: Liz Wood
TXCPA2B is a blog written by Texas students in pursuit of the CPA certificate. The views expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily held by TSCPA or our members.
Posted: April 9, 2018 Filed under: Industry Issues
I write this blog after witnessing a bench player lead Villanova to the NCAA Basketball National Championship last night. I realize Donte DiVincenzo was the third leading scorer for Villanova during the past season, but he still had to come off the bench, which meant being mentally ready to provide whatever his team needed when he came into the game. Professionals could learn a lot by thinking about DiVincenzo’s attitude and work ethic he displayed during the game. You never know when the moment to shine will come, but if you are prepared you can show the world your best. If you are not; if you are pouting because you weren’t given the top project or the starting role, you’ll never be ready when the moment hits.
If you watched the game, the 31 points that DiVincenzo scored wasn’t the only feature of his game that was impressive. He also made several key defensive plays. As professionals, we need to be prepared to do the hard, sometimes dull work that makes our companies successful. There may not be much glory in the scorebook for such work, but it is noticed by those around you. Your co-workers then want to get you more involved, and just as Villanova fed off Donte’s energy, your coworkers can feed off yours.
Finally, when Michigan realized he was going to make those three-point shots, he changed his game and drove to the basket. As professionals we must be prepared to change our game. The needs of our company are constantly changing, and the expectations they have of you are constantly changing as well. It’s up to you to change to help yourself and your company continue to be successful.
While DiVincenzo’s performance cost me winning our office bracket, he was still a wonder to watch. Do your co-workers think you are a wonder to watch?
Posted: April 2, 2018 Filed under: Industry Issues
Many people may have missed a big release by the SEC on cybersecurity reporting. It’s easy to understand why. First off, many people are getting ready for the initial quarter of reporting under the new revenue standard. Second, others probably thought the SEC made some statements on reporting about cybersecurity several years ago and nothing was said about new disclosure requirements, so the news must not be a big deal. That would be a mistake.
The new interpretive guidance came from the Commission, not the SEC staff as was the case in 2011. With the Commission adding its weight behind the new guidance, companies need to pay attention because ignoring the advice can come with much more serious consequences to registrants.
Much of the guidance is like the guidance the staff provided back in 2011, but there are some key additions. The first is around controls being in place to adequately and timely report about cyber-attacks. Legal and accounting groups with SEC reporting responsibility need to start talking to whatever group in the company is responsible for monitoring and managing threats from cyber-attacks. Sox compliance organizations also need to seriously consider adding a new disclosure control specifically about such incidents.
The second addition is around discussion of trading in the company’s stock with knowledge of cyber breaches. The SEC provided specific warnings about trading by Directors, Officers or other corporate insiders in advance of disclosures about a breach. If those disclosures prove to be material, then such trading would be deemed illegal. Given that materiality is in the eye of the beholder, or in this case regulators, judges, and juries of your non-peers, anyone with such knowledge should probably refrain from any trading until 24 hours after the disclosure is made by the company.
The Commission has graciously provided examples of potential disclosures, so there is no excuse for not knowing what the SEC expects to see in 8-Ks, 10-Qs and 10-Ks. The release was made after calendar year 10-Ks were due, so the first time the new guidance will be effective for recurring reporting is in the next quarterly filing for most companies. You might want to consider taking a breather from putting together those new revenue disclosures and consider what cybersecurity disclosures are now also necessary.
Posted: March 26, 2018 Filed under: Guest Blogger
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 lowered the corporate income tax rate to a flat 21 percent and provided a one-time deemed repatriation tax on controlled foreign corporations’ current earnings and prior untaxed earnings back to 1986. The repatriation rate is 15.5 percent on liquid assets and 8 percent on illiquid assets instead of the prior 35 percent rate. Many large corporations are reporting radical changes to their bottom line from adjustments to their deferred tax assets and liabilities.
It is difficult to estimate the book income effect of the repatriation tax because we do not know how management may have initially accounted the deferred tax, with many companies assuming that earnings would be perpetually reinvested overseas and not booking deferred tax liabilities. Also, there is uncertainty as to when repatriation will be recognized with the new tax law allowing the tax to be paid over up to eight years. Some companies will pick up the tax expense immediately, with Apple announcing that it will pay $38 billion to repatriate its foreign earnings of $252.3 billion that have not been previously taxed in the U.S. It is estimated that more than $2.6 trillion in corporate profits are sitting in foreign bank accounts.
For tax rate changes, recent reports in the press show major companies taking hits: Amgen, $6-6.5 billion; Bank of America, $3 billion; and Credit Suisse, $2.32 billion. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had net operating losses from the financial meltdown and will have to adjust the value of their deferred assets downward by a combined total of $10-$20 billion. However, about two-thirds of the companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average will have a boost in income as a result of reducing deferred tax liabilities. These include Verizon, $18.4 billion; Exxon, $12 billion; Pfizer, $17.5 billion; and Apple, $11 billion.
These valuation changes flow through the income statement, but most savvy analysts view this as not important and a distraction from real operating results. On the first page of his annual letter to shareholders, Warren Buffet commented on the $24 billion increase in Berkshire Hathaway income from adjusting its deferred taxes, saying that it distracted from operating results and, “For analytical purposes, Berkshire’s ‘bottom-line’ will be useless.”
Smaller corporations have less dramatic dollar amounts, but they still must make required valuation adjustments to their deferred taxes and be prepared to explain unexpected results to owners and lenders.
Accounting for taxes is a generally shared responsibility for financial accounting and tax experts, but often they each look at the other as having the primary responsibility. Financial accountants sometimes see tax accounting as tax, and tax experts see tax accounting as having FINs (financial interpretations). The important thing is for everyone to know what is required at this point. Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) 740, Income Taxes, requires adjustments to the beginning of the year balance of a valuation allowance if there is a change in circumstances that causes a change in management’s judgment about the realizability of the recognized deferred tax assets. A valuation allowance is required if it is more likely than not that some or all of the deferred tax asset will not be realized in the future. ASC 740 also requires analysis and disclosure of changes to deferred tax assets, which will help in seeing how corporations are managing their deferred tax assets and liabilities.
William R. Stromsem, JD, CPA, is a technical writer for TSCPA’s Federal Tax Policy Committee and an assistant professor at George Washington University School of Business.
Posted: March 19, 2018 Filed under: Industry Issues
I had the privilege of attending my first in-person Financial Reporting Executive Committee (FinREC) meeting last week in New York. FinREC is an AICPA committee that determines the AICPA’s technical policies regarding financial reporting standards with the ultimate purpose of serving the public interest by improving financial reporting. While the committee is not a standard setter and papers and guides are not considered official authoritative literature under GAAP, the committee’s guides and papers provide our profession with important guidance and insights on how others are interpreting GAAP with the hope of bringing consistency to various issues and topics beyond what the standard setters can provide.
At the March meeting the committee discussed three major topics including an addition to the Employee Benefit Plan guide on Multi-Employer Plans, additional revenue recognition papers for inclusion in the revenue recognition implementation guide, and some of the first papers on the Current Expected Credit Loss (CECL) model which we will all have to implement by 2020.
Multi-employer benefit plans can be pension, health and welfare or apprentice plans, which are collectively bargained and receive contributions from several different employers. A key feature of such plans is that the contributions are not made only for the benefit of the employer’s employees, but for the benefit of all participants in the plan no matter which employer the participant came from. While financial statements of such plans have many commonalities with single employer plans, there are several unique aspects to multi-employer plans which the proposed guidance addresses.
Work on revenue recognition is winding down with 130 papers already posted for comments. FinREC reviewed five papers at the meeting. Three papers covering health care and construction industry issues had already been exposed, and FinREC was reviewing and responding to the comments received. Two papers covering gaming and telecommunication industry are being prepared for exposure in the coming months.
FinREC reviewed the first two proposed topics in response to the implementation of the new CECL rules. One paper discussed whether the way an entity implemented the required reversion method in determining credit losses was considered an estimation technique or an accounting policy election. The other paper explored the potential for additional financial instruments beyond the U.S Treasury security example in the FASB standard to have zero expected credit losses under the CECL model.
The members of FinREC took their work very seriously, asked numerous questions, and discussed implications of the work throughout the day. We would love for you to do the same when these items are posted for public comment in the coming months.
Posted: March 12, 2018 Filed under: Industry Issues
Many not-for-profit organizations may think the new revenue standard does not apply to them. The thought is that while a not-for-profit university or hospital might need to deal with the standard, it doesn’t really apply to charity and membership organizations. The thought process continues that all they get are contributions and member dues, and those aren’t really revenues are they? While contributions are outside of the scope of the new ASC 606 revenue recognition standard, membership dues are not.
There is an AICPA task force dealing with not-for-profit issues under the new revenue standard. You can find out more details on what they have been up to here, but I will try to cover a couple of the more important issues the task force dealt with in this blog.
First, the task force worked with the FASB staff to clarify that contributions are not in scope of ASC 606. But as I mentioned, membership dues and receipts for service are in scope, so questions were raised about potential impacts on the method for splitting transactions between contributions and “exchange components” (dues, charges for services, etc.). The short answer is that the methods for splitting transactions between contributions and other exchange components are still valid and do not need to change.
ASC 606 will potentially change the accounting for membership dues. Not-for-profits will now need to evaluate if membership dues provide members other deliverables, now known as performance obligations, than simply an annual membership. One example is if members get a reduced price on training courses which are available to non-members. If a course is free to members, but available to non-members at a price, that means part of the annual dues is really for the training course performance obligation. The kicker is the portion of the annual dues related to the training course cannot be recognized until the training course is delivered.
Even if the course is only offered at a reduced cost to members, there is still a potential split of annual dues for the “material right” to purchase the training course at a reduced cost. Once again, revenue associated with the material right can’t be recognized until the course is delivered. As long as all performance obligations are delivered within the period covered by the dues, then a not-for-profits total revenue in its annual financial statements won’t change, although individual line items might change. If, however, the obligation, a training course in this case, is not delivered until after the annual period used for dues recognition, then revenue recognition might be delayed until a subsequent period.
This topic is covered in much greater detail in paper 11-5 which is still available on the AICPA website for a little while. The moral of this story is that even if you don’t try to make a profit, you still have revenue, and the rules are changing under ASC 606.
Posted: March 5, 2018 Filed under: Industry Issues
If you are like most CPAs, the automatic answer to the title question of this blog is of course capitalized interest is an asset. That is what the FASB says, and it is what I was taught in school. The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB), which is also run under the same parent organization as the FASB, has recently come to a different conclusion. In a November 20, 2017 exposure draft, the GASB proposed eliminating the capitalization of interest related to assets being prepared for use. Many of you might have an immediate reaction that the proposal is for governmental accounting; and governmental accounting has nothing to do with financial accounting for business, so why does it matter? My response to such a question is that the GASB revision specifically applies to capital assets reported in a “business-type activity or enterprise fund.” These are the governmental “entities” that most closely resemble a business that is subject to the FASB standards, so it is closer to business reporting than you might first think.
The GASB supported their decision to stop capitalizing interest based on two primary considerations. The first is that if capitalized interest was considered discretely, it would not meet the conceptual definition of an asset. Per GASB Concepts Statement No. 4, paragraph 8, an asset is defined as “resources with present service capacity that the government presently controls.” Capitalized interest by itself does not provide any “service capacity.” The GASB further determined that interest cost “does not enhance the present service capacity of an asset because, regardless of whether interest cost is incurred during the period of construction, the asset will have the same ability to provide services.”
The second consideration was that capitalized interest could not be considered similar to an ancillary charge that is considered capitalizable costs. Ancillary charges include items like freight charges, site preparation costs and certain professional fees, without which the asset could not be placed into service. The GASB took this position a step further in pointing out that unlike ancillary charges where the entity has no choice to incur them in order to get the asset into service, how or whether to finance the construction of an asset is a discrete choice of the entity.
I haven’t had the time to line up the GASB conceptual position against the FASB’s conceptual framework, but I do wonder how different they could be when it comes to defining an asset and what it takes to get the asset ready for its intended use?