stumpers

Bill Clinton Is Stumped By Mitt Romney’s Tax Returns (or Lack Thereof)

"It's typical, I think — we all release 10 or 11 years," he told NBC's "Today" show. "I am a little surprised that he only released a year's worth of tax returns. … That's kind of perplexed me." [The Hill]

CPA Exam Stumper: When Does the 18 Month Window Actually Start?

I want to be clear with you guys that though it may feel like I pull most of my CPA exam advice out of my ass, there are usually reasons behind whatever I suggest, and the methods are proven. Despite me never having personally proven them myself (no need).

Sometimes, there are questions I don’t have the answer to. Maybe I could Google this but as anyone who has ever tried to Google CPA exam information ever can tell you, it isn’t always easy to aggregate the answers in a singular place in a way that makes sense to an average human being. Forget about decoding the psychometric scoring system, it’s enough to try and understand why your ths hard as your first two.

So for once, I need you guys to answer this for me. You have NTSs, you have 18-month windows closing in on your asses and you are all around the country so the results should be fairly varied across the jurisdictions.

Here’s the question (via the CPAnet forums):

Can someone please help me?

There is so much conflicting information about the starting date of the 18 month testing window.

I passed AUDIT on May 3rd.2010. Conclusion after reading many blogs is I can take my last section by the End OF November 2011.

IS THIS CORRECT?

18 MONTHS WILL BE November 3rd but it rounds to the end of the month.

Please confirm as soon as possible… Thank you so much for your help.

Now, here comes the obligatory procrastination rant. Why the fuck are you waiting until October 27, 2011 (as per the timestamp on the CPAnet post) to ask this question when you had a full 16 months or so to figure this out? Even if you got your Audit score at the last date possible, you still had at least a year and a handful of months to gather this intel. Also, even if you have until the end of the month instead of the 3rd, you’d really be doing yourself a disservice by waiting until the very last day possible. Why? Things happen. Prometric closes on you and leaves a note. You get the stomach flu. Your girlfriend starts hassling you about your relationship the night before and you oversleep your appointment the next morning.

Now, all of this is moot, it being December 6th. Whether this guy had until the 3rd or the 30th, it’s passed. But maybe there are a few of you out there scrambling for this information a week before your 18 month window closes who this will be useful for a month or 6 or 12 from now.

As far as I’m aware, the 18 months means you have 18 months from the date you sit for and pass your first part. That means exactly 18 months from the day you sat for the first exam part that you passed, regardless of the date you received your score (hopefully this is better with the AICPA’s scoring improvements – those of you rolling over into your second 18 month window know how excruciating it used to be). I have heard that in some states it is the last testing day of the month in which your 18 month window ends, regardless of day of the month but as we know, “hearing” something is not reliable enough to use to actually pass the exam.

According to these folks on the Another71 forum, it can vary wildly from state to state. One candidate claims an expiration date from the approximate date scores were received while another says they received exactly 18 months from the date they sat for the first passed exam.

Which is it? I have no idea and I’m fine admitting that. Help me?

What’s Do We Make of BDO’s ‘Secret Settlement’ in the E.S. Bankest Dispute?

BDO is trying to put the E.S. Bankest/Banco Espirito mess behind it by submitting a “confidential agreement” to settle its litigation with the bankruptcy estate of E.S. Bankest, according to the South Florida Business Journal.

It sounds as though this could be put to rest as the bankruptcy trustee Barry Mukamal is quoted as saying, “I’m satisfied that this settlement is in the best interests of the estate,” although the creditors have to give the stamp approval as well. What’s not immediately clear from the article is to what extent Banco Espirito is involved in this settlement, the only mention being “”Lisbon-based Banco Espírito Santo and the estate of E.S. Bankest sued BDO Seidman regarding more than $140 million lost to a financial scheme run by former officers of E.S. Bankest.” I shot an email over to Steven Thomas who has represented Banco Espirito to sort this out and his spokesperson replied with the following statement, “BDO USA, LLP has entered into confidential settlement agreements with Banco Espirito Santo and Barry Mukamal, the bankruptcy trustee of E.S. Bankest, L.C., pursuant to which the lawsuits against BDO have been resolved.”

So when I asked if the re-trial was still on, I was simply referred back to the statement which kindasorta makes it sound as though this whole thing is over. But it still isn’t clear to me. Can anyone make sense of this? In the meantime, if I get to the bottom of this riddle, I’ll post an update.

BDO Seidman files secret settlement in malpractice case [SFBJ]

Auditor Made Nauseous By Computer Screens Needs Some Options

Welcome to the Trump-backlash-has-begun edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a young associate has been humming a long except is have a strange physical reaction to staring at a computer screen (no, seriously) and needs some options. Luckily I can stare at a MacBook screen for about as long as I can gaze at pictures of Minka Kelly. Along with your help, I’m sure we’ll come up with something.

Annoyed with a know-it-all in your office? Looking to step up your competitive poaching? Concerned about disappearing act going on all around you? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll explain how this thing called “life as accountant” works.

Back to our patient:

Hi Caleb,

I’ve been lurking on Going Concern for almost a year now. I must say thanks for keeping me entertained during stretches of unassigned time.

About me: I’m a first year auditor at a quickly growing mid-size firm. I’ve passed two parts of the exam, and life would be great if it weren’t for one thing – I’ve become unable to work in front of a computer monitor for long stretches of time. For the past 5 months or so I’ve dealt with daily nausea, dizziness, sweatiness, etc. in front of the screen. It typically begins around lunch time. In the past I’ve had no trouble with long days in front of a monitor, but now even scrolling through a PDF or toggling between excel sheets is too much.

I’ve tried everything I can think of to solve this problem and my doctor is stumped as well. I exercise, eat right (no, really), and have seen two optometrists who both came to the same conclusion – “your eyes are fine, take more breaks.” I don’t believe it’s stress induced, as I get the same effect browsing at home for fun. A weekend away from screens doesn’t help a bit. An MRI of the head/neck turned up nothing.

But I’m not here for medical advice (unless other heavy computer users have experienced this). My question is what the hell to do with my life. Dealing with this daily isn’t possible much longer, and it pretty much guarantees I won’t make it as a senior anyway.

I see lots of career advice on this site, but it’s always people looking for similar work. Do I have any hope of finding a new situation that won’t put me in the poor house? Has anyone made a drastic jump from accounting and landed on their feet?

I know it’s strange to ask about non-accounting careers, but perhaps people with accounting-type personalities have found other niches.

-Nauseous Staff

Dear Nauseous Staff,

This has to be the strangest reaction caused by a spreadsheet allergy that I’ve ever heard. I understand that you’e got a bit of problem though, however, so I’ll cease with the jokes (but no promises).

You say you don’t want to end up in the “poor house” and you’re certainly not doomed but this may take some creative thinking. The first possibility that came to mind is to get a job on your firm’s recruiting team or a professional recruiting job. You know the accounting business, the people and what it takes to be in it, so why not apply that knowledge to those trying to get into or change gears within it? You’d get a lot of human interaction (in person and on the phone) rather than staring at Excel all day and you’d spend a little more time on your feet (especially if you’re in campus recruiting). Obviously as a professional recruiter you’d earn much, if not all, of your comp based on commissions so you have to be cognizant of that change but you already know tons of accountants and so why not use your network to your advantage? You know they’re going to leave public accounting eventually.

The other possibility that came to mind is that of a sales job with a software company that offers accounting/auditing/tax/etc. software. This could range from the enterprise stuff (e.g. Oracle) to the basic (e.g. Intuit). You’ve probably had exposure to a few different applications and again, what you want out of software is probably similar to what other accountants want. Plus you speak their language so there would be very little disconnect when you’re discussing specific needs. Accountants hate amateurs. Because of your work experience, you’re anything but.

Obviously the problem is that these jobs will involve some time in front of a computer but it should significantly reduce the number of staring contests with your computer. If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, just go back to school and get liberal arts degree. You’ll meet cooler people and getting high will pretty much be mandatory. You’ll have to get over the money thing but you may end up happy just the same (no, it’s not impossible).

Anyone got experience with a similar malady? How did you deal with it? Are you now a street performance artist or do you simply take 30 minute breaks every 30 minutes which results in 16 hour days? Help this kid out.