From the Nov. 2009 Issue
Tax and accounting professionals are inundated every year with new and complex tax laws, rulings and other issues that can affect how they provide client services and can even pose liability concerns for non-compliance or improper treatments.
While physicians might argue that their profession faces similar complexities regarding keeping up with the latest treatments, rarely do they face such dramatic rewritings of their body of knowledge and changes in their core knowledge. Yes, they face an evolving profession that requires extensive continuing education, too. And most people would probably agree that the potential consequences of their actions are more significant: After all, the life and well-being of their patients is at stake.
But how often are the basics of human physiology reinterpreted? Certainly not every year, which is what tax and accounting professionals are often faced with when it comes to federal and state tax laws, the impending move from GAAP to IFRS, and the increasingly important role that technology plays in the modern practice. And even these practice-essential technologies change from year to year, adding to the crunch of information overload.
YOU CAN’T KNOW EVERYTHING
Even the most seasoned tax and accounting professionals can’t learn everything there is to know about their field, or even memorize all of the obscure parts of the tax code that may come up during a client engagement. Therefore, one of the most valuable traits shared by successful practitioners is that they know what they don’t know, and they know where to turn if they need information on something with which they are unfamiliar.
For taxation issues, professionals generally turn to tax research systems such as those that will be reviewed in our December 2009 issue. These systems offer users the ability to quickly search through various primary resources like the IRS Code, Treasury rulings, legislation, court documents and state law. Some also provide expert advice, case studies and other insight into tax treatments.
But taxation isn’t the only area in a professional’s life where they need occasional guidance. This isn’t new, of course. Professionals have been networking with each other for decades, adding specialists to their staffs to strengthen the overall firm or finding a non-competitive professional in their area with whom they can exchange strengths. There are also some fortunate professionals who have a mentor to whom they can turn, while others may partner with third parties to send clients for specific services.
FINDING THE RIGHT NETWORK
In the digital world, many professionals also turn to online networks or user communities. These groups, many of which originally started in the early days of the Internet as message boards, are usually offered by companies that offer technologies to the tax and accounting profession. All of the larger developers of professional tax and accounting suites offer such options. So for most professionals, finding a trusted resource should be very simple. Start with what and who you know: Your vendor.
ARNE – THOMSON REUTERS
One of the first of these networks was/is the still popular ARNE community, which was developed by Creative Solutions in the mid-1990s. Now a part of the Thomson Reuters family, the network allows users of Thomson Reuters CS Suite of professional accounting and practice management software to interact with each other through online forums, blogs, groups and other discussion tools. Forums are divided into practice areas, such as tax, accounting, business management and web services, which lets users find answers to questions they might have regarding program usage or appropriate strategies. Examples of recent topics include how to treat sole proprietors or partners who are treated as employees and receive a W-2, how to put reports on client portals, and a professional seeking advice on adding a partner to his practice.