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What does a CPA firm have in common with Apple and MIT?

Steve Jobs convinced Steve Wozniak to help him start Apple Computers in the mid-1970s.  He knew there had to be a better way of doing business in the field of technology.  The success of Apple is built on his vision.

Put People First
Fourteen years earlier in 1962, two other innovative entrepreneurs also set out to change the way of doing business in their industry.  Jim Kaufman and Jay Rossin envisioned a CPA firm that was truly different from the others. They wanted to build a workplace where people wanted to come to work. If employees feel joyful, challenged and fulfilled, they believed, they’ll provide the best possible service for clients.  This vision led to profits and growth for the business, now in its 50th year.

Share the Vision
To realize his goal, Jobs assembled people who shared his vision and values.  At Kaufman, Rossin & Co., that common purpose is the basis for a strong company culture.

“For optimum success and power of people in an organization, you must have goals and values that are clearly defined and commonly shared with a culture that supports it,” Kaufman told 300+ team members at his recent semi-annual seminar. 

Pixar's atrium

The central atrium at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, California

Foster Personal Connections
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s famous Building 20 became known as one of the most innovative spaces in the country.  Completely by happenstance, the building’s design and amalgam of experts promoted collaboration.  Walls were torn down and offices were constantly shuffled around to make space for more big thinkers during World War II.  Professors of all disciplines mingled with students in the long corridors of the building. People interacted, shared, and created like nowhere else! 

Jobs also saw the power in fostering personal connections to spark creativity and serendipitous problem-solving. As CEO of the budding animation studio Pixar, he designed the company’s headquarters with a central atrium housing essential services, so employees would meet, interact and brainstorm.

Likewise, Kaufman, Rossin’s main office in Coconut Grove encourages employees to meet in the central kitchen, gym, community center and other common areas. These chance meetings spark conversation, creativity and collaboration.

While modern technology makes it increasingly easy to communicate via email, text and social media, Kaufman reminded employees that there is no substitute for face-to-face interactions when it comes to developing and nurturing valuable personal connections with co-workers, clients, and other members of the community.

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Lisa Cawley Ruiz is a brand journalist at Kaufman, Rossin’s Miami office. Kaufman, Rossin & Co. is one of the top CPA firms in the country. Lisa can be reached at lruiz@kaufmanrossin.com. Connect with Lisa on LinkedIn.

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Create STRONG passwords that you won’t forget!

Too often we are expected to create random, complicated passwords with special characters and lots of restrictions. Especially now, with all the security breaches, we recommend the following method to help you develop passwords that are strong and easy to create and remember:

For website passwords, use the first four or five letters of the website to start the password. For example: 

Website Password
www.amazon.com amaz
www.citibank.com citi
www.hotmail.com hotm

 

For added security, add the @ symbol and a number (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,0) to the first letters of the website. For example:

Website Password
www.amazon.com amaz@1
www.citibank.com citi@1
www.hotmail.com hotm@1

 

Pick a phrase that is easy for you to remember, but that no one else will be able to attribute to you. For example:

Passphrase: “My Wife’s Birthday Is April Twenty-Fifth Nineteen Sixty Six”

Use the first letter of each phrase to form an abbreviation. For example:

m – My
w – Wife’s
b – Birthday
i – Is
a – April
t – Twenty-
f – Fifth
n – Nineteen
s – Sixty
s – Six

Abbreviated pass phrase: mwbiatfnss

Add the passphrase to the first letters of the website, the @ symbol and number. For example:

Website Password
www.amazon.com amaz@1mwbiatfnss
www.citibank.com citi@1mwbiatfnss
www.hotmail.com hotm@1mwbiatfnss

Following this pattern will help you develop strong passwords that are easy to create and remember. Remember that at a minimum the passwords must:

  • contain at least 1 letter
  • contain at least 1 number or punctuation mark
  • be at least 8 characters long

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Jorge Rey, CISA, CISM, CGEIT is an associate principal and the director of information security & compliance for Kaufman, Rossin & Co. Kaufman, Rossin is one of the top CPA firms in Florida. Jorge can be reached at jrey@kaufmanrossin.com.

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Using payroll service for QuickBooks 2009? It’s time to upgrade!

Payroll service for QuickBooks 2009 will be discontinued on June 30, 2012, and all payroll subscriptions for customers with QuickBooks 2009 will be inactivated.

On July 1, 2012, QuickBooks 2009 will no longer automatically calculate correct payroll taxes or provide payroll tax forms. Live technical support and add-on business services such as payroll, credit card processing, QuickBooks Email, and online banking will also be discontinued.

However, if you don’t use live technical support or any of the add-on services, and are happy with your current version of QuickBooks, you can continue to use it.

Products for which services will be discontinued are:

  • QuickBooks Pro, Premier and Simple Start 2009
  • QuickBooks for Mac 2009
  • QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions 9
  • QuickBooks Premier Accountant Edition 2009
  • Credit Card Processing Kit 2009
  • Invoice Manager 2009

We encourage you to upgrade your QuickBooks software as soon as possible to minimize disruption to your business. If you have any concerns, please contact your Kaufman, Rossin professional or one of our QuickBooks ProAdvisors.

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Lisa K. Grossman is an associate principal at Kaufman, Rossin & Co., and a leader in the Firm’s QuickBooks consulting practice. Lisa is a Certified Public Accountant in the state of Florida and a QuickBooks ProAdvisor. Kaufman, Rossin & Co. is one of the top CPA firms in the country. She can be reached a lgrossman@kaufmanrossin.com.

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Top 10 reasons you should update your estate plan before the end of 2012!

  1. Tax exemption is higher now than ever, but not for long.
    The current estate, gift and generation skipping tax exemption is currently $5,120,000 ($10,240,000) per couple. This is higher than it has ever been and is scheduled to drop to only $1,000,000 (only $2,000,000 per couple) in 2013 unless Congress and the President can reach an agreement. This may be a use it or lose it!
  2. Your plan may disinherit your spouse!
    Do your current estate planning documents include a formula for determining the amounts passing to heirs or trusts for heirs based upon the exemption? With the currently high exemptions, your plan may disinherit your spouse!
  3. Is your business safe from creditors or predators?
    Do you have a succession plan for your business? Does your plan include the use of asset protection trusts funded up to the amount of your exemption to safeguard your business from your heirs’ creditors, spouses and predators?
  4. Interest rates are historically low!
    The interest rate that the IRS requires to be used for interfamily loans, sales to family trusts, and other planning techniques is at historical lows. The current required interest rate for a 9 year loan made in June 2012 is only 1.07%.
  5. Discounting the value of assets is still available.
    Discounted values for lack of control and lack of marketability for interests in Corporations, Partnerships and LLCs are still available for interfamily transactions. There has been much talk about limiting such discounts, but currently, discounting is still available for planning purposes.  When discounting the value of assets by 33%, the effective interest rate on a note as mentioned in item four above drops to only 0.7%!
  6. If you’re feeling generous – there’s no estate or gift tax!
    If you are currently giving or planning to give significant sums of money or assets to your favorite charity, the current low interest rates allow you to help your charity and transfer assets to your heirs with no estate or gift tax. Ask about the use of a charitable lead trust.
  7. Consider a Roth IRA conversion for estate tax savings.
    If you have a large IRA or retirement plan as part of your taxable estate, which is in excess of the exemption, you should consider a Roth IRA conversion. This will reduce your taxable estate and provide years of tax free cash flow to heirs.
  8. Avoid aggressive taxation on your vacation home.
    Do you have a vacation home outside Florida that will be subject to state estate tax and the costs of an ancillary probate administration in that state? Simple steps can avoid the often very aggressive taxation of these homes.
  9. Is your life insurance subject to estate taxes?
    An irrevocable life insurance trust can avoid the estate tax and provide asset protection for your heirs.
  10. Do you have a family member who has special health needs?
    You may want to consider unique provisions in your estate planning documents.

Don’t wait until the end of the year to get started.  Do it now!

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John R. Anzivino, CPA is in charge of Kaufman, Rossin’s estate, trust and exempt organization practice. Kaufman, Rossin & Co. is one of the top CPA firms in the state and offers a wide variety of services for high-net worth individuals. John can be reached at janzivino@kaufmanrossin.com

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Another IRS email scam

The IRS will never initiate contact via email. If you receive an email claiming to be from the IRS, it is a SCAM!

Below is a screenshot of one of the scam emails being sent.

If you have any concerns or questions, feel free to contact your Kaufman, Rossin professional.

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Scott F. Berger is a tax and accounting services principal at Kaufman, Rossin’s Boca Raton office.  Kaufman, Rossin & Co. is one of the top CPA firms in the country.  He can be reached at sberger@kaufmanrossin.com.