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From John Delaney: Accounting Certificate Program success

john delaney

The 2012/2013 academic year saw 10 students stay for a fifth year at Augustana to complete the 150-hour requirement for the CPA exam through our Accounting Certificate Program. This is a 100 percent increase in the number of students participating in the program from the previous year and roughly 25 percent of the students graduating with accounting degrees from Augustana in May 2012.

The majority of the participants this year already had full-time offers from public accounting firms in hand before beginning the program, pointing to the success of marketing the fifth-year program to this segment of our graduating accounting majors. Students that have paid for four years of tuition at Augustana are entitled to a 50 percent tuition discount for the Accounting Certificate Program. For more information on the program, contact me at johndelaney@augustana.edu.


 

From Pamela Druger: One set of standards

Pamela Druger

Students learn generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) in their accounting courses and often assume that it represents the world's standards, but it only represents the United States' rules and regulations. For over a decade the accounting profession has been on a path to create one set of unified, converged accounting standards for the world. 

Starting with the 2002 Norwalk Agreement, named for the town that hosts the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) headquarters, and strengthened by the Memo of Agreement in 2006, the FASB has worked with the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). The work has resulted in aligning the requirements for U..S accounting with the proposals of the IASB.

There have been many achievements. The U.S. revised the Conceptual Framework, moving Representation Faithfulness to a primary quality and Reliabity to the second tier. This allows more use of Fair Value Measurement in standards. The SEC's decision to allow foreign companies to prepare their statements according to International Standards without a reconciliation to US standards eased the burden of entry into the U.S. financial markets.

The FASB has announced that it will complete a few major projects still on the agenda, and then continue to work with the IASB towards comparable, not converged, standards. In hindsight, it appears that the goal of one set of standards was never achievable. Too many jurisdictions all with their own political agendas.Comparable is good, but is it good enough?

One future action that could be taken is that the SEC could allow U.S. companies to use either GAAP or International Standards in their statements. That would be an historic shift. Since the first opinions by the Accounting Principles Board in the 1950s, and even back to its predecessor CAP in the 1930s, the profession has been trying to standardize accounting practices. Would a choice between two comparable, but not identical, systems make the financial markets more efficient? What will happen next? No one yet knows, but it should be interesting.


janene finley

 

From Janene Finley: Income Tax Learning Community

January for some means the start of a new year, cold and snow, and the Superbowl. But for Augustana's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, January means the start of a new tax season. This year, the Income Tax Learning Community continues to incorporate VITA into the accounting curriculum.

Thirty-three students are enrolled in the learning community. We have continued our partnership with the United Way of the Quad Cities Area, and Augustana students are preparing tax returns at three different sites: the Martin Luther King Center in Rock Island, the Friendly House in Davenport, and the Bettendorf Community Center in Bettendorf.

However, a few changes have been made to the program. This year, instead of participating in training on two Saturdays in January, Augustana students completed the basic training online through the IRS website during Christmas break, and then attended one of two Saturday training sessions to learn how to use the new online version of the IRS's Taxwise software to prepare returns. The online version of Taxwise is used at all three VITA sites and makes filing returns easier for the site supervisors.

Another change this year was the start date of the VITA program. Because of last-minute changes to the tax code for 2012, the IRS was unable to process individual tax returns before Jan. 30. It is still unable to process tax returns that include education credits and a few other types of credits, and is expected to be able to process those returns either later in February or early March. Augustana students are still preparing those returns for VITA taxpayers even though they cannot currently be e-filed. Although there was a delay in the start date, this should be another successful tax season for Augustana's VITA program.