Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Four Criteria for Construction Accounting Software

NOTE: The editor of the article linked, Houston Neal, works for the commercial enterprise Software Advice. I am not knowledgable enough regarding construction software to either endorse or object to his business--nevertheless, I thought that he made some good points about desirable qualities of construction software.

Houston Neal, in an article called "Five Reasons to Replace Accounting Software," cited elimination of double-entry (presumably in the same way that a sales journal replaces the double-entry form of a general journal), provide improved audit trail, handle multiple pay rates, manage equipment and machines and improve job costing. While the first is only acceptable for internal use situations, the last four are certainly worthy goals for any computerized accounting system and appropriate (if not necessarily exhaustive) criteria to use in evaluating either a present construction accounting system or in helping decide between alternatives if a construction is replacing/upgrading or initiating an accounting system.

Certainly, evaluation of a business's accounting, whether construction or otherwise, is appropriate to make sure that a business has both effective and efficient software. I also recommend "CPA Firm Technology Blog," "Do You Know," or "The TechGap" as good blogs to visit if you are looking at evaluating the quality of your construction accounting software.

Three Blogs (One Returning, Two Brand-New) to Welcome in the "Twelve Blogs"

  • AGA Blog

  • Benefits Blog

  • Get Rich Slowly

  • The following three blogs were always going to be in the "Twelve Blogs of Christmas" this year; the only question is whether they were going to replace prior-year blogs gone dormant or be year-specific.

    The AGA blog is published by the Association of Governmental Accountants, an important organization of professionals in the governmental accounting area. This blog was chosen for two reasons: [1] the blog filled an important need in governmental accounting blogging and [2] the authors are major players in state and local government accounting. Example articles include "New Tools for Governmental Financial Managers" by Anthony Rainey on November 21 (hereafter 11/21)(see link above) and "Why Service and Effort Accomplishments and Citizen-centric Reporting are So Important" by Eric Berman on 11/14.

    Get Rich Slowly appears to emphasize debt reduction, a worthy goal in days of a wobbly economy and queasy mortgages. Sample posts include "How to Invest in a Bad Economy" on 11/26 (linked above) and "Plant a Tree to Add Beauty and Value to Your House" on 11/23.

    Benefits Blog by Janell Griener returns. A previous edition (2005?) of "Twelve Blogs" included Ms. Griener's blog, but for some unknown reason she quit blogging for about a year. Thankfully, she has returned to blogging with tax insights plus coverage of pension issues, a topic intimidating to even many professional accountants. Worthy of attention are: "Proposition 101 (universal health care) Defeated in Arizona on 11/24" (linked above) and "Announcement from the SEC Regarding Mutual Fund Disclosures" on 11/20.

    Congratulations to each of these three worthy blogs. Year-specific blogs will start with accounting-oriented blogs next week.

    Friday, November 21, 2008

    Nominees for 2008 Twelve Blogs of Christmas

    First of all congratulations to the following blogs: AGA Blog (which substitutes for Neil Mc Intyre), Get Rich Slowly (coming in for My Money Forest) and Benefits Blogs (which re-enters 12 Blogs as a replacement for Taxalicious). These blogs will be treated as 2007 (or earlier) blogs and enter this "hall of fame of sorts."

    Nominees for 2008 entry in accounting (four to be chosen): CPA Blog: Marketing for Accountants; CPA Firm Leaders blog, FEI SOX blog, Jeremy Newman, re:Auditors, Skeptical Accountant and 10-K Detective.

    Nominees for 2008 entry in personal finance (four to be chosen): AccountingWEB Bloggers Crew, FIRE Finance, Tax Guy, Two Pennies Earned, Tough Money Love, Wise Bread, Wisdom from Wenchypoo.

    Nominees for 2008 entry in tax (four to be chosen): A Taxing Matter; Roni Deutch: Tax Lady; IRS Hit-Man; Tax Girl, Tax Lawyers' Blog, Tax Policy Blog

    Best wishes to the nominees. FEEL FREE to propose other blogs for the "12 Blogs;" I will be taking nominations until November 30.

    A Review of Prior "Twelve Blogs"--How Is Everyone Doing?

    Just finished looking up how the "Twelve Blogs of Christmas" blogs of years past were doing. In the accounting area, AccMan, Anaylst's Accounting Observer (public domain), Accounting Onion, CPA Trendlines, CPA Firm Technology Blog, Directors and Officers Diary, Found in the Footnotes (public domain), TechGap and White Collar Fraud are actively posting while Big4Guy's posting has slowed but continues. Unfortunately, Neil Mc Intyre has suspended his blog; I will have to find a replacement.

    In personal finance, All Financial Matters, Blueprint for Prosperity, Consumerism Commentary, Financial Rounds, Free Money Finance, Mighty Bargain Hunter, My Money Blog, No Credit Needed and pfBlogs continue apace. Frugal for Life apparently had some problems in transferring to a new site but appears to be back to publishing. My Money Forest, however, has left the blogosphere--yet another blog to replace.

    In taxes, Death and Taxes, Don't Mess with Taxes, Gina's Tax Articles, Mauled Again, Roth CPA Tax Updates, Tax Guru, TaxProf, Taxable Talk, Wandering Tax Pro and Wills, Trusts and Estates continue the good fight. Tax Info Blog appears to be in hiatus (hopefully temporary and short) while Taxalicious must have found blogging overly taxing (pun intended).

    This weekend or next week, I will announce replacement blogs for Neil McIntyre, My Money Forest and Taxalicious. Over the first two weeks of December, I will announce the 2008 Class of "Twelve Blogs of Christmas." With a VERY busy schedule otherwise, posting between now and Christmas probably will be limited to 12 Blog posts.

    Friday, November 14, 2008

    An Abridged "Twelve Blogs of Christmas" Coming Soon

    For the fourth straight year, "Tick Marks" will present the "Twelve Blogs of Christmas," traditionally four new accounting blogs, four new personal finance blogs and four new tax blogs. By convention, blogs once chosen cannot be chosen again--a list of blogs from prior years is linked through the title above. I have an extremely busy schedule during the next two months; so while the "Twelve Blogs" will appear again this year, the coverage of prior blogs may be less than in years past and the summary of each new blog may be relatively short. Next week, I plan to announce six blogs in each category that are under consideration; I encourage readers to submit their ideas for about a week after the announcement of the "semi-finalists" for any blogs which they feel were omitted. Congratulations to all blogs linked above and good luck in advance to the "semi-finalists."

    One final note--Once the "Twelve Blogs" series is done for 2008; blogging will be very light until about Inaugeration Day 2009.

    Woman [Accountant] of the Year Chosen by ASWA

  • ASWA Award

  • Jacqueline Akerblom, Managing Partner of Women's Initiatives for Grant Thornton, has been chosen by the Educational Foundation of the American Society of Women Accountants as its Woman of the Year. Akerblom was praised by Grant Thornton CEO Ed Nusbaum for her skills as partner, her passion for bringing talented women to Grant Thornton, her skill at balancing work and personal life and her mentoring to many Grant Thornton women. The awards were made at the ASWA Joint National Conference (with the American Woman's Society of CPAs) in Dallas. Five other women received regional recognition.

    Congratulations to Ms. Akerblom and the regional winners. Whether man or woman, balancing work and family are not easy to do.

    Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    Tax Predictions--2009

  • Forbes Tax Revolt article

  • Not surprisingly, rumors and projections of 2009 tax legislation have started. US News insider James Pethokoukis claims a payroll tax credit for low income taxpayers could cause the top marginal tax rate to approach 45% and Rich Kaarlgard of Forbes predicts that eventual inflation, the sunseting of Bush tax cuts and the $250,000 income tax rate increases could produce a suburban tax revolt to accrue to the favor of the 2012 GOP nominee. While my guess is that the US News story is a Democratic trial balloon of sorts and Kaarlgard could be a Republican nightmare/fantasy; I certainly don't expect the next year to be quiet on the tax front.

    A few of my predictions for next year: The Democrats will either eliminate the AMT OR effectively make sure that no one with adjusted AGI under $200,000 is affected; the maximum income for OASDI (or Social Security) will increase to at least $250K and the ceiling may be eliminated entirely a la Medicare; Obama will not be able to cut taxes to $250 K; instead, only those earning under $120,000 if MFJ ($60 if MFS, $90 if single, $105 K if HoH) will get tax cuts. Going forward to 2010, assuming some improvement in the economy, tax rates will be increased, not at $250K, but at about $180K ($90 for MFS, $135 for single, $160 for HoH). Two other predictions: the Bush tax cuts for estate and other taxes will be allowed to lapse in 2010 and gay couples will get some explicit recognition: one possibility is expanded availability of Head of Household (HoH) status for gays/lesbians living in civil unions.

    Thursday, November 06, 2008

    Appeals Court: DoD Need Not Set Aside Business for Racial Minorities

    The Federal Court of Appeals has invalidated, or at least put at risk, a 5% provision for businesses headed by racial minorities. This provision, in existence for over 20 years, considered groups such as African-Americans and Native Americans, "socially disadvantaged;" allowing such businesses to win contracts even if their bid was not the lowest so long as it was close to lowest. Judge Xavier Rodriguez found no strong evidence that the Defense Department has been a passive participant in widespread racial discrimination.

    My guess is that this will be appealed to the Supreme Court; nevertheless, an interesting decision. One question: will an Obama-led Justice Department file a brief supporting overturning of this ruling?

    Monday, November 03, 2008

    2008 Political Projections

    [1] Barack Obama gets about 2 million more popular votes than John Mc Cain, with most of the difference already in place from early voting. Senator Obama will recieve almost exactly 50% of the vote, Senator McCain 47-48% and minor parties 2-3%.
    While I project that Obama will get about 310 electoral votes (270 needed to win), I do give McCain a weak (about 25%) chance--especially if he somewhat sweeps FL, OH and PA. [Disclosure--I early voted for McCain]

    [3] Democrats gain about 7 Senate seats, leaving them with 57 or 58, depending on whether Lieberman continues to caucus with the Democrats. With an Obama presidency, this increase combined with a significant number of moderate Republican senators means that the GOP would only be able to filibuster the most extreme of legislation proposed by the Democrats.

    [3] The GOP also sings the blues in the House, where the Democrats pick up about 15-20 new seats, mostly open seats from Republican retirements.

    In all likelihood, the above predictions will be worth about what you paid for them!

    My blog is worth $7,903.56.
    How much is your blog worth?