News & Releases

CPA.com and Vertex Offer Insight on Impact of Supreme Court Ruling on Online Sales Tax

Two July 10 Webcasts Explore Implications of Wayfair Decision for CPA Firms and Their Clients

NEW YORK (June 25, 2018) – CPA.com and its preferred provider of sales and use tax solutions, Vertex, are offering a pair of July 10 webcasts on the impact of the Supreme Court’s major ruling Thursday on state collection of sales tax for online retailers.

In South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., the Supreme Court held that e-commerce companies can be required to collect sales tax, even in states where they have no physical presence. Brick-and-mortar businesses had long complained that online retailers had an unfair advantage because states’ authority to collect revenue from them was limited.

“Sales and use tax compliance is an area of growing complexity for businesses, and many will need help navigating the outcomes of the Wayfair decision,” said Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA.com. “We saw these issues coming to a forefront several years ago, which is why we launched our program with Vertex. Companies will likely need new technologies or processes to comply with this latest ruling, and CPAs can play a key advisory role for these clients.”

The two webcasts are:

“We are going to see states responding immediately and it will get even more complex for businesses as they face new rules and regulations,” said Craig Cookle, CPA, partner-in-charge of the state and local tax group for Wipfli LLP, a Top 20 accounting firm that uses the Vertex program through CPA.com. “As a trusted business advisor, there is a huge opportunity to reach out to clients, help them through the process and analyze next steps.”

To learn more about the impact of the Wayfair decision, see these FAQs from Vertex. For more information about resources for sales and use tax compliance, visit cpa.com/vertex.

About CPA.com

CPA.com is known for bringing innovative solutions to the accounting profession, either in partnership with leading providers or directly through its own development. The company has established itself as a thought leader on emerging technologies and as the trusted business advisor to practitioners in the United States, with a growing global focus.

Our company’s core mission is to drive the transformation of practice areas, advance the technology ecosystem for the profession, and lead technology research and innovation efforts for practitioners. 

A subsidiary of the American Institute of CPAs, the company is also part of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, the world’s most influential organization representing the profession. For more information, visit CPA.com.

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Melancon calls for the transformation of the audit

American Institute of CPAs president and CEO Barry Melancon challenged the leadership of the profession to embrace technologies like blockchain and cognitive computing that are going to have a major impact on accounting – and in particular, he called on them to join in the transformation of the audit.

Speaking at the Spring Meeting of the AICPA’s Governing Council in Arizona on May 21, Melancon gave those in attendance a serious charge: “We have an obligation to keep pushing these technologies and embedding them in the profession,” he said. “Our job is to bring as much of the profession forward as we can in this environment.”

While he discussed cognitive computing, robotics and data analytics, he focused on blockchain in particular, citing a survey that suggests that half of CEOs expect the distributed ledger technology to fall in the bailiwick of finance and accounting, where he expects it to have an enormous impact.

“We don’t need to really understand the underlying software,” he said. “It’s the implications and power of blockchain that are more important that the actual software.”

For those who are concerned that blockchain -- with its promise of a digital ledger that essentially audits itself – will disintermediate auditors, Melancon pointed to the need for outside experts to attest to the reliability of the blockchain. “There are going to be public blockchains and private blockchains, and we may need to create a new kind of SOC report around blockchains and whether a blockchain is achieving what it’s supposed to,” he said.

He illustrated the potential by referring to the switch from SAS 70 reports to the family of SOC reports. “It was so emotional to move away from SAS 70 -- we had to brand SOC reports as ‘formerly SAS 70’ so people could wrap their heads around the change. But firms are now doing thousands and thousands of SOC reports – we even have a Top 100 Firm where that’s all they do.”

He reported that the institute recently hosted a profession-wide symposium on blockchain, and tasked a number of working groups to report back on various issues in the fall. “That’s a little quicker than in the past,” he acknowledged, “because blockchain’s not going to sit around and wait for our working groups to report. Instead of thinking, ‘We have to get these things perfect before they go out the door,’ we need to accept that things will be iterative.”

“If we wait for perfect, we’re going to miss it,” he warned.


AICPA president and CEO Barry Melancon

Transforming the audit

Incorporating technology but also moving beyond it, a central part of Melancon’s message revolved around the coming transformation of the audit, and the institute’s role in leading that transformation.

To start, he recalled the institute’s decision three to four years ago to begin focusing on improving audit quality. “We needed to move the needle without breaking the gauge,” he said. “We have asked a lot of state societies from the peer review perspective, and we’ve asked a lot of individual peer reviewers, and we’ve created new approaches, new oversight and new guidance that have improved audit quality.”

The results, he reported, have been very positive, with 86 percent of firms demonstrating improvement. “It’s not perfect,” he said, “but directionally we clearly see a difference in quality.”

That improvement matters not just for the immediate benefit of audit clients and the public markets. “It’s important to remember how strategically and reputationally import audit quality is,” he said. “But audit quality is also an important issue when it comes to transforming the audit. The market won’t give us permission for this if they don’t trust us on quality.”

He noted that the profession had two pathways open to it: to attempt to merely streamline and improve the current audit – or to come up with “an entirely new approach to audits.”

In consulting with the profession’s leaders, the institute discovered a clear preference for the latter. “And the overwhelming response was that the AICPA has to lead the transformation in audit,” he said.

One of the institute’s initiatives in this area is a new tool for preparations, compilations and reviews that will be unveiled at the institute’s Engage conference in mid-June. “It will use cognitive technologies to examine your responses to certain questions and indicate areas where you might have made a mistake,” Melancon said. “It will also use AI to take the information you’re putting in and put it into Word in the appropriate engagement letter.”

Created in a partnership with CaseWare, it’s the first step and a test case in the longer-term creation of what Melancon described as a “dynamic audit solution.”

“The larger firms need to see the value in this and make the necessary investments,” he explained, noting that the DAS would be a $50-$60 million project, with half those funds already pledged by firms in the Top 500, and particularly the Top 100. “They can’t do it on their own; it’s a consortium approach. The results will be available to all. These are firms that compete with each other, but they understand the importance of it from a profession-wide perspective.”

Building the tool will be one thing, he warned; convincing the profession to get behind the transformation of the audit will be another. “There’s an unconscious bias in the way we think,” he said. “I was sitting next to the CEO of a major firm recently, and he told me, ‘We absolutely need to transform auditing, and I guarantee that 100 percent of my line partners in audit will disagree with it.’”

That only underscored Melancon’s charge to the Council members: “We really are a profession with limitless possibilities -- if we can push the profession to think about the opportunities and take chances,” he told them.

Article source: https://www.accountingtoday.com/news/barry-melancon-calls-for-the-transformation-of-the-audit

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Moving up the value chain

New technologies are freeing accountants up from much of the drudge work that once characterized the profession, while at the same time offering powerful analytical tools that can help accountants provide more “value-added,” proactive and strategic services to their organizations and their clients. Greg LaFollette, strategic advisor at CPA.com, discusses the opportunities.

Article source: https://www.accountingtoday.com/podcast/moving-up-the-value-chain

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CPA.com and CaseWare Launch Innovative Solution for Preparation, Compilation, and Review Engagements

OnPoint PCR Combines Powerful Cloud Platform with AICPA Content and Methodology

LAS VEGAS (June 11, 2018) – CPA.com and CaseWare International Inc. today announced the commercial launch of OnPoint PCR, a smart, cloud-based solution that transforms how CPA firms conduct preparation, compilation, and review engagements.

By integrating content and methodology into a leading technology platform, OnPoint PCR offers a unique opportunity for firms to enhance engagement quality and be more productive. The solution – a collaboration of CPA.com, CaseWare and the American Institute of CPAs – offers a guided, smart process for practitioners, from drafting a customized engagement letter and report (where applicable) to documenting specific procedures, all designed to streamline engagements.

Today, more than 19,000 U.S. firms perform preparation, compilation, and review engagements as their highest level of service.

“With OnPoint PCR, we can really help firms drive efficiency and add client value,” Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA.com, said at AICPA ENGAGE. “The platform helps practitioners optimize engagements for each client, and these features will become even more powerful as OnPoint’s artificial intelligence capabilities evolve.”

OnPoint’s features include:

  • Guided engagements – The smart, interactive process eliminates unnecessary steps and facilitates compliance with standards
  • Integrated data – Simplifies data management and the import of client data, and reduces redundant data entry
  • Robust cloud platform – Real-time updates to data and built-in collaboration tools that eliminate the need for external programs, such as less-secure email

“A solution that includes intelligent checklists informed by AICPA technical guidance will help practitioners focus on adherence to standards and the firm’s quality control process,” said Susan Coffey, CPA, CGMA, the AICPA’s executive vice president of public practice. “CPAs still must exercise professional judgment, and OnPoint supports proper documentation and promotes consistency and quality in engagements.”

CPA.com will be demonstrating OnPoint PCR’s features at its booth in the exhibit hall throughout AICPA ENGAGE, which runs through June 14. There will also be a demo at 6 p.m. PDT on Wednesday, June 13, at the event’s TECH Zone.

“Technology offers great potential in attest services, but it’s only part of the equation,” said Dwight Wainman, CEO of CaseWare. “Our collaboration with CPA.com and the AICPA gives us greater visibility into CPA firms’ needs, plus the critical content and methodology these firms rely on. Together, we believe we can really bring positive change to this practice area.”

For pricing information and other details, please visit CPA.com/OnPoint.

About CaseWare

CaseWare International Inc. is the leading global provider of cloud enabled audit, financial reporting and data analytics solutions. With efficiency, quality and value in mind, CaseWare provides cutting-edge technology to accounting firms, businesses and government entities. Over 400,000 users, in 130 countries and in 16 languages, use CaseWare solutions.

About CPA.com

CPA.com is known for bringing innovative solutions to the accounting profession, either in partnership with leading providers or directly through its own development. The company has established itself as a thought leader on emerging technologies and as the trusted business advisor to practitioners in the United States, with a growing global focus.

Our company’s core mission is to drive the transformation of practice areas, advance the technology ecosystem for the profession, and lead technology research and innovation efforts for practitioners.

A subsidiary of the American Institute of CPAs, the company is also part of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, the world’s most influential organization representing the profession. For more information, visit CPA.com.

About the American Institute of CPAs

The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) is the world’s largest member association representing the CPA profession, with more than 431,000 members in 137 countries and territories, and a history of serving the public interest since 1887. AICPA members represent many areas of practice, including business and industry, public practice, government, education and consulting. The AICPA sets ethical standards for its members and U.S. auditing standards for private companies, nonprofit organizations, federal, state and local governments. It develops and grades the Uniform CPA Examination, offers specialized credentials, builds the pipeline of future talent and drives professional competency development to advance the vitality, relevance and quality of the profession.

The AICPA maintains offices in New York, Washington, DC, Durham, NC, and Ewing, NJ.

Media representatives are invited to visit the AICPA Press Center at www.aicpa.org/press.

About the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants

The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (the Association) is the most influential body of professional accountants, combining the strengths of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) to power opportunity, trust and prosperity for people, businesses and economies worldwide. It represents 667,000 members and students across 184 counties and territories in public and management accounting and advocates for the public interest and business sustainability on current and emerging issues. With broad reach, rigor and resources, the Association advances the reputation, employability and quality of CPAs, CGMAs and accounting and finance professionals globally.

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How Technology is Transforming Accounting and Auditing

If you believe some pundits, technology represents a threat to accountants and auditors. Machines, the thinking goes, will be able to do sophisticated compliance work and the kind of in-depth analysis that only humans can offer now. We see it differently, though: technology is going to change the role of the accountant, not replace it.

"The most obvious application for blockchain and accountants is in the audit, since it provides verification of transactions"

Everyone knows the pace of technological change today is unprecedented, with deep implications for the way we work. But we see opportunity in this transformation, and are pushing to redefine and expand the accountant's traditional role as a trusted business advisor. Automation and innovation are powerful tools in that effort and, if used correctly, will increase the strategic value of the accountant.

Think back to the early days of cloud adoption. One of the biggest trends for CPA firms over the past decade has been the rise of virtual CFO/controllership services, in which practitioners harness technology to offer outsourced finance and accounting services, bill management, human capital oversight, and the like. This category – known in the accounting profession as client accounting services – was a low-margin service mostly seen as a client retention tool before the cloud. But the ability to analyze real-time data, present it in easily-grasped dashboards, and collaborate more closely with clients to shape business decision-making has revolutionized this service line. It's now grown to roughly 10 percent of the average firm's revenue, and it's typically the fastest-growing piece, according to research by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and CPA.com.

Tax and audit practices still anchor offerings for CPA firms, but these areas are undergoing some of the same transformations due to technology innovation as client accounting services. We expect artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain to have a major impact on how these services are delivered in the next few years.

Blockchain – a distributed, secure database that creates an immutable chain of transactions – may be the most interesting case. Gartner predicts the business value added from this emerging technology will exceed $3.1 trillion by 2030, from a negligible base today. Public blockchains – best known as the systems that support bitcoin and crypto-currencies – are probably less relevant to applications in a corporate setting than private blockchains, which are more scalable, have faster transaction speeds and are limited to only authorized users.

The most obvious application for blockchain and accountants is in the audit, since it provides verification of transactions. Unlike some of the hyperbole associated with blockchain and auditing, accountants will still need to provide assurance in several areas, such as configuration of these systems, management estimates of financial statements, etc.

How blockchain's uses will unfold precisely is still unclear, although there is considerable experimentation going on with the Big Four and other top accounting firms. That's one reason the AICPA and CPA.com have joined forces with the Wall Street Blockchain Alliance, an association devoted to education and advocacy surrounding blockchain for financial market professionals, to define the impact of the technology on accounting. It's imperative that CPAs and management accountants educate themselves about blockchain and its potential applications, since it's such a fast-moving area.

Now more than ever, accounting and finance staffs must develop complementary skills to ensure they are providing quality service to employers and clients. The skill set for transactional or compliance services is not the same as for advisory services, which we see as a critical future skill for accountants. Finally, we see the future for accountants who leverage technology and advance their skills as one full of opportunity and increasing value for their clients.

Article source: https://blockchain.enterprisesecuritymag.com/cxoinsight/how-technology-is-transforming-accounting-and-auditing-nid-507-cid-56.html

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