Do You Need to Verify that Someone is a CPA?

Do you need to verify that someone is a CPA?

If yes, click here for

Their website says:

Free and open to the public, is a CPA lookup tool populated by official state regulatory data sent from Boards of Accountancy to a central database. The website represents the first ever single-source national database of licensed CPAs and CPA firms. Determine a CPA or CPA firm’s credentials without having to search each of the 55 Boards of Accountancy website individually.

Looking for Answers to Independence Questions?

If you are looking for answers to independence questions, check out the AICPA’s Plain English Guide to Independence. Click here. This is a great resource.

Getting Someone to Give You a Estimate

Have you ever asked a client for an estimate–as in a ballpark number–and he responds, “I have no idea,” but you suspect that he does at least have some idea.

Picture is courtesy of

Picture is courtesy of

For instance, you’re talking with the revenue director of a December year-end client and you need an estimate of April revenues. So you ask, “What do you think your April sales were?” and your client says, “Oh the revenue numbers change so much, I don’t know.” You are in a hurry, so you don’t have time for the director to look the number up.

What can you do?

Try this: Throw a number out there (or a range of numbers).

For example: “Do you think the April revenues were more than $150,000?”

Most of the time, a question of this nature will elicit a response. Now the client is likely to respond with something like, “No, it was less than that.” My next question is, “so maybe around $125,000 to $135,000?” The client’s response might be, “well yes, that’s probably in the neighborhood.”

Now you have your number.

It may not be a perfect estimate, but at least you have some idea–and that’s all you wanted.

Where did this opinion come from?

Does your peer reviewer ever ask, “where did the wording in this opinion come from?” And you can’t remember.

It’s a good practice to keep a copy of sample reports (e.g, PPC, McGladrey, CCH) in your audit, review, or compilation files. That way, when the peer review question arises, you can point to the support in the file. This is especially true when you use wording that is not common (e.g., going concern, emphasis of a matter, disclaimers).

Using Post-it Note Stickies While Reviewing Financial Statements

Most of the time I review financial statements from my computer screen, but sometimes (true confession time) I print them and make review notes with a pen.

In doing so, I used to have a problem with my Post-it notes (until I started using the tip below).

If you print your financial statements and then review them, you might do the following:

  • Pencil in changes
  • Attach yellow Post-it note stickies to pages with changes (so you will know what pages need changing)
  • Remove the pages with the yellow Post-it note stickies
  • Scan the pages with changes so they can be emailed to staff (for changes to be made)

Scan Tip

Tip: When you attach a Post-it note sticky to a page, place the Post-it note sticky at the bottom of the page so it is pointed vertically; then you can scan the pages with the stickies still attached. Don’t point the Post-it notes out horizontally and your scanner will jam. Now you won’t need to remove the Post-it notes in order to scan (and if you place these pages back into the original printed financial statements, you will know what pages need changes).


From Skitch (003)


Where to Find Sample GASB 68 Notes and Required Supplementary Schedules

GASB 68, Accounting and Financial Reporting for Pensions, is effective for fiscal years beginning after June 15, 2014. So governments with  June 30, 2015, fiscal year-end financial statements should follow this standard.

You may be asking, “where can I find example notes and required supplementary information?” Good news. GASB provides an implementation guide titled Guide to Implementation of GASB Statement 68 on Accounting and Financial Reporting for Pensions. You can find it here. The sample notes and required supplementary information start on page 117 of the guide. See illustration 2 for a county government example.


Tech Tip #4: How To Quickly Bring a Quote from an Email into a Response

Do you ever read an email, and a particular sentence elicits a response from you. Often, in responding, we click reply and begin to type, attempting to restate the original thought from the email.

Is there a quick way to copy the relevant sentence into your response? Yes.

First, highlight the words you desire to bring into your response.


Next, click the reply button (as you normally do).


The highlighted sentence appears in your response. Now you can comment on it. Your correspondent will love you since you’ve made it easy for her to understand exactly what you are referring to.



Tech Tip #3: Link Your Work Papers to Your Trial Balances

Many CPA firms link their trial balances to their work papers, but I still see many that do not. The consequence of not linking: Inefficiency. Firms that don’t link will re-create all their work papers every year. It doesn’t have to be that way.

How does linking work?

First, linking assumes your firm is using a paperless software package (the trial balance is a part of your paperless software).

Second, create a work paper in Excel (for example).

Third, link a cell in Excel to a number in your trial balance (say the adjusted balance for a cash account). See your paperless software package instructions for directions (the specifics of how this works is different for each paperless software package, but the concept is the same).

Once your work papers are linked, you can do magic. How? Download your trial balance, and your work papers automatically populate. It’s awesome!

So, for those work papers that look the same from year to year, build your links, and you’ll never have to re-create them again.

After you create these work papers in the first year, you will roll them over for the subsequent year’s engagement; the links will remain. When you download the trial balance for the next year, the numbers will again populate your linked work papers. Then go play some golf–you’ll have more time to do so.

Tech Tip #2: How to Select Several Pages of Text or Data

Suppose you want to select text starting on page 2 of a Word document and ending on page 7, what’s the easiest way to do so?

  1. Double-click the first word (e.g., This) that you desire to include; the word “This” will be highlighted
  2. Scroll down to the last word you desire to include on page 7 (e.g., “project”), press the shift key and click that word once; the full expanse of the text starting with “This” and ending with “project” will be highlighted

Now you can perform actions on or with the selected text (e.g., copy or delete)–depending upon your desired result.

This same selection technique works on web pages, Excel spreadsheets, or email.

Note: This selection technique does not work on a smartphone or a tablet.