Thursday, February 25, 2010

Instant Gratification

I think you will agree that we live in a world that demands instant gratification. This is a phenomenon, which is associated more with today’s generations than with mine. I must admit, however, that I have succumbed to the seductive nature of instant gratification. We want everything and we want it now! Just think about it. There is instant messaging, instant food, instant drinks, instant news coverage, instant cures, instant banking, the Internet, e-mail, express mail, and same day delivery. When I sat for the CPA exam it took up to three months before I received my grades; usually just in time to register for the next exam. Now that the CPA examination has been automated you can take the exam online and get your scores immediately thus delivering your instant gratification. This approach to testing has also arrived in the continuing professional education arena with online grading of CPE exams. I wonder why anyone would want to take a test, mail it in for grading and then have to wait weeks for the results when the same service is available online and provides instant gratification. One reason may be that there are people out there of my generation who are still hanging on to the old way of doing things. Do you think that once this generation retires from the profession that at some time in the future the only option available to us will be online grading?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cloudy Computing

Have you heard the term cloud computing? Seems it’s one of the new technology buzzwords everyone is talking about. As I understand it cloud computing is the process of delivery of hosted services over the Internet. The user is given online access to various business applications while the software and the data are stored remotely on the servers of the entity offering the service. This seems like a pretty good deal to me. There appears to be a number of advantages, both cost savings and efficiency, to cloud computing. For example:

· You always have the most current version of the software.
· You don’t have to purchase the hardware and software and then hire someone to keep it running.
· Your data is stored off site so if you experience a catastrophe your data is safe.
· You only pay for the services (time) you use and you can have as much or as little as you want.
· You don’t have to worry about backing up your data.

Could this be the future of accounting? What do you think?

Friday, February 12, 2010

We’re from the Government and We’re Here to Help You

I received an invitation from the government the other day telling me that I could now enroll in Medicare. First of all how did they know it was my birthday and how did they know that I was going to be 65 years old? It’s easy; it’s called your Federal Income tax return. But what I really don’t understand is how more than fifty insurance companies had the same information because within days I had received offers to provide “Medigap” insurance for me from all of them. One of them actually listed twelve different plans I could choose from. Talk about confusing. Now to make things worse I am still covered by the insurance plan offered through my employer. So I called the Social Security Administration and asked if they could explain my Medicare options. They said they would be happy to send me a guide that would explain everything. In a few days I received a 300 page book written in government speak that by the time I had finished reading it I was more confused than ever. Now that I am officially a senior citizen, I don’t think that they should be allowed to treat old people this way. Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid and Long Term Care can be some of the most confusing programs you will ever encounter. There is hope, however. Quickfinder has recently released a guide that has helped me make sense of these programs. The new Social Security and Medicare Quickfinder Handbook provides a wealth of information about these very complex and confusing programs. See for yourself; just click the following link.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Feds Give and The States Takes Away

The 50% first year bonus depreciation and increased Section 179 deductions were extended through 2009 by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Basically, and subject to certain rules and limitations, for 2009, businesses can expense up to $250,000 of qualifying assets, and then claim 50% first-year bonus depreciation and regular depreciation on the remaining cost. Pretty good deal, huh!

Maybe, maybe not. You need to check with your state before making your decision to take that extra depreciation because some states have special rules that are not as special as some taxpayers had hoped. Some states are disallowing the bonus depreciation and the increased Section 170 deduction so check before you elect to take that extra deduction.