Sustaining a successful career as a Certified Public Accountant takes more than the ability to punch buttons on a 10-key calculator, enter numbers into accounting software or count beans. Even after years of schooling and being one of the few to conquer the CPA exam, the work – and education never stops.
Similar to other industries like teaching, real estate and insurance, laws, procedures, technology and requirements constantly change. CPAs are required to continually increase their knowledge and qualifications in order to meet licensing requirements and provide the best and most accurate services possible to their clients.
Lutsch Attends Accounting Conference
BWLK principal Rick Lutsch recently attended Engage 2019, an accounting conference in Las Vegas, sponsored by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). The conference included more than 350 sessions covering various industry topics, networking opportunities and an exhibit hall. Keynote speakers included top CPAs and business executives from around the country. John Elway, the current general manager of the Denver Broncos, gave an address about “Scoring Big in Business.”
Lutsch earned Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits at the event by updating his knowledge base in the topic areas of accounting and financial reporting, tax and consulting services.
“Training and continuing education are not only mandatory in the accounting profession, but they are extremely important because without them, we cannot provide our clients with the exceptional service they need and deserve,” said Lutsch. “Our clients rely on our expertise and expect us to have the most updated knowledge on tax laws, financial reporting and personal and business accounting.”
CPAs must meet Continuing Professional Education (CPE) requirements established by the State Board of Accountancy of the states where their CPA licenses are held.
All Byler, Wolfe, Lutsch & Kampfer principals and Laurie Chaffee (a CPA) are members of the Ohio Society of CPAs (OSCPA) and American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). These organizations provide CPE and reference materials to help ensure that CPAs are equipped to provide the highest level of service. In order to maintain their CPA license, CPAs must earn 120 CPE credits every three years, including a minimum of 20 each year.
These CPE requirements can be completed using online courses, book studies or attending seminars and training conferences that cover a variety of industry topics and laws. This education is considered a way for professionals to keep up to date on the latest information in the accounting industry.
Our Gene Byler was recently invited back to WFMJ-TV's Midday News to discuss some individual and business tax tips, based on the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The tax law is considered to be the largest tax overhaul in 30 years.
To watch the video, click here.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which is considered to be the largest tax overhaul in 30 years, will have a significant effect on income tax returns next year.
There are many tax law changes comng that will impact both businesses and individuals. Our Gene Byler recently discussed several of the most impactful during an interview with Jennifer Brindisi on WFMJ-TV's Midday news show.
To watch the video, click here.
How did our Daniel Wolfe celebrate the end of a hectic tax season? He went to Disney World in Orlando. While he was there, he laced up his sneakers and participated in the Star Wars Dark Side 5K at Epcot. The Force was with him for the 5:30 a.m. race, as were his son Joel Wolfe and daughter Sarah Carr.
“I would be lying if I said I ran the whole thing,” said Wolfe. “And, my time is a secret.”
Dan is a big Disney World fan, as he and his family have visited Mickey Mouse and his friends practically every year since 2002. He and his wife honeymooned there in 1973, and they began taking their young children there in about 1980.
This most recent visit was a great way to let off some steam after a hectic tax season that often involves 60 to 70-hour work weeks from January to April.
In the gym, Samantha Scott is used to doing the heavy lifting.
Now in her new role as office manager in Byler, Wolfe, Lutsch & Kampfer’s Salem location, she’s preparing to help the firm handle the heavy workload during the upcoming tax season.
Samantha, who competes alongside her husband as a power lifter, joined the team in Salem in November. Her job responsibilities will include assembling completed tax returns, answering incoming calls, filing, setting up new client appointments, applying payments, and assisting the CPAs with anything they need.
“Everyone here has been really friendly and welcoming,” Samantha said. “It’s a little bit different than the legal industry, but there are similarities. I like that I have my own work space where I can do my own thing and get things done.”
Samantha spent the last five years working in a law office in East Palestine. She has a good deal of experience in the service industry, also spending time in the insurance business. She was born and raised in East Palestine and is a graduate of Crestview High School.
After high school, she attended the University of Akron for a year, then transferred to Kent State Salem for a year. She still wasn’t sure what career field interested her, so she took time off from college to work. Ultimately, she decided to use the working world as her classroom.
One of her job stops was at a tanning salon, which proved to do more than provide a paycheck. While she was there, she met her future husband, who had moved from California to work as a personal trainer at the gym next door. Three years later, they are married and traveling the country competing in power lifting events.
“I met my husband at the gym,” said Samantha. “His dad was originally from Beaver Falls and lives in East Palestine, so that’s how he ended up back here. Power lifting keeps us pretty busy, and we really enjoy it.”
While they’ve competed at events all over the country, they’ve recently narrowed their focus to a special event that is about more than being the strongest or taking home the biggest trophy. Twice a year, they lift in an event called Relentless. These meets serve as fundraisers for children who are terminally ill. Funds raised from the competitions are donated to HopeKids, a non-profit organization founded in 2001.
As members of “Team Hope,” lifters are introduced to a HopeKids children and their families who they will be raising money and lifting in honor of. They are invited to the private Relentless Kickoff Events in Minnesota and Detroit where they will be introduced to their HopeKid honoree and their family.
Competitors are encouraged to stay in contact with their HopeKids family as they focus on training and fundraising. The lifters’ strength will inspire the HopeKid, and hopefully the HopeKids’ strength will inspire the lifter to press on in training and fundraising.
“It means so much more than competing for some trophy that will just sit on a shelf collecting dust,” said Samantha, who dresses up as the Elsa from the movie “Frozen” during the events to make it fun for the HopeKids who attend. “It’s for a great cause.”
BWLK has hit the big screen!
To increase the firm’s visibility and support Salem’s local movie theater, BWLK recently agreed to participate in an advertising program coordinated by a company called Before the Movie.
Salem Twin Cinema on State Street recently began showing BWLK’s commercial on the big screen prior to movie presentations.
“We have always felt that supporting local businesses is very important,” said Rick Lutsch, one of the firm’s principals and coordinator of the commercial project.
“It was a creative and unique way to communicate with prospective clients and showcase the capabilities of our firm.”
The commercial is 15 seconds in length and features information about the firm, as well as several photos recently taken as part of BWLK’s website upgrade.
Salem Twin Cinema has been a part of the Salem community since it opened under its original owner in 1972. Previously owned by Geoff and Kim Goll of Salem, it was sold in 2014 to Jock and Natalee Buta.
The theater was then completely remodeled and upgraded to use digital projectors allowing 3-D movies, surround sound audio equipment, and deluxe seating featuring both reclining and vibrating seats.
You can watch BWLK’s commercial here.
Tax reform is complicated. But when you get a group of tax accountants all in one room, the topic seems a little more simplified.
Recently, the Youngstown Business Journal invited some of the Mahoning Valley’s best and brightest tax accountants to participate in a roundtable discussion about the complexities of the state and federal tax codes.
Our Daniel Wolfe was among those offering his viewpoints. Comments from Dan and the other accountants were featured in the Business Journal’s print and online editions.
Dan was also featured in the newspaper’s ‘3 Minutes With’ video, which can be viewed here.
Throughout its long history, Byler, Wolfe, Lutsch & Kampfer, CPAs has always been willing to change when needed. Whether it was expanding the firm’s tax and business services to better accommodate clients’ needs or adding more staff or locations to serve more business communities, BWLK has maintained an eye toward progress.
Changes in technology
In the past decade, the changes in technology have been incredible across all industries. From cell phones and other mobile devices to the Internet and wireless connections, technology has transformed the way the world does business. Clients and customers have more access to goods and services than ever before. Indeed, it’s possible to get virtually everything one needs to survive – goods, services, information - without even leaving the house.
Recognizing these changes, BWLK has embraced the use of technology to better serve its clients. While we certainly value the good old-fashioned handshake and face-to-face meetings and communication, we also understand that technology has its benefits. These include speed and convenience of business transactions, improved customer service and increased access to information.
Improving your online experience
In 2009, BWLK launched its first website to provide current and prospective clients access to tools and information that would benefit them. Three years later, in 2012, a major website upgrade was completed to further improve clients’ online experience.
We added a news blog and email newsletter in 2015 to better communicate with our client base, prospective clients and the communities we serve. Much of the news in these communications are housed on our website.
Check out the new BWLKcpa.com
Recently, we upgraded our website again, and we think you’ll like what you see. Some of the changes are easy to notice, while others are more subtle. Here’s what website visitors will notice:
Home page feature photos: We’ve replaced the old “generic” photos of strangers with new professional photographs of our own staff and facilities from both the Salem and East Liverpool offices. We feel this better aligns with the local and personal service we provide to our clients.
About Us page staff bios: We’ve updated the information in our staff bios, including adding a few new ones. We believe it’s important for you to get to know us, as we learn about your business and how we can provide solutions for your needs. We added photos to our bios so you can put a face with a name or voice as you work with us.
Firm History page: Just as you are proud of your company’s history, we feel the same way about ours. In order to share that history and experience with you, we created a new History page on our website. It can be accessed under the About Us menu. We had fun looking back to where we’ve been, what we’ve accomplished and we thank our loyal clients for allowing us to serve them for so many years.
We hope you like the improvements we’ve made to our website as we strive to improve our clients’ experience in as many ways possible – both online and offline. Through it all, our goal remains the same as its always been: To help clients maintain financial viability in the present while taking a proactive approach to achieve future goals.
We invite you to explore our new and improved website, and give us a call to discuss how we can support your business. You might be surprised at all our services that could help your business.
Gene Byler was quoted in a recent Youngstown Business Journal news story about the new overtime laws that the U.S. Department of Labor are implementing starting Dec. 1.
In the article, Byler said "managers of fast-food restaurants and department managers at retail stores paid less than $913 a week are the two groups that often work beyond 40 hours and aren’t paid for the extra hours they put in."
He noted that "maybe we’ll see more part-time workers hired.” He suggests that "it’s more likely part-time employees will see their hours increased and more duties reassigned to them."
Read the entire story here.
In business and friendship, communication is critical.
In order to deepen relationships with its clients, prospects and friends, BWLK recently launched a new social media program. The firm created BWLK Facebook and LinkedIn pages and began posting information intended to more regularly engage clients and followers.
Posts will educate and inform followers on accounting and business matters, update them on firm news, and highlight how partners and staff are involved in the communities they live and work in.
You can find BWLK’s Facebook page here. Once you find us, Like our page. You can also follow us on LinkedIn. We encourage you to interact with our content by liking, commenting and sharing it with your friends and followers.
A Salem native who wanted to work locally has marked her 25-year anniversary with Byler, Wolfe, Lutsch & Kampfer CPAs, Inc.
Laurie Chaffee, a certified public accountant and manager at the Salem office, reached the milestone this Spring.
“I wanted to stay in the local area,” said Laurie, 48, still a Salem resident. “Over the years I have developed good relationships with many of my clients and in the community. We have a good team in our Salem office, and each of us has specialties.”
Among Laurie’s strengths is work with Intuit QuickBooks accounting software. She does most of the firm’s QuickBooks training and consulting.
Her work also includes tax return preparation, accounting and financial statements and business consulting.
“She’s become an instrumental component for all of our client services, including tax, consulting and financial statement preparation,” said firm principal Rick Lutsch.
Laurie graduated summa cum laude from Youngstown State University in 1990 with a bachelor’s of science degree in business administration. She had amassed real-world experience by that point through her work for a professor who had a tax practice.
The offer from BWLK’s predecessor, A.S. Fricano Inc., enabled her to stay in the Salem area.
“I wanted to work in public accounting, and I lived in Salem, so getting an offer from a firm so close to home was great,” she recalled.
Laurie started as a staff accountant, entering data and preparing simple tax returns and payroll reports. She “learned quickly that the neat and tidy exercises they teach with are nothing like the real-world accounting problems, especially when working with small businesses,” she said.
As QuickBooks became more popular among small businesses, Laurie was “elected” by her colleagues to bone up on it. Her work as a certified QuickBooks consultant now ranges from helping clients complete a new install to answering a few questions to various levels of service in between.
Over her 25 years, she’s become involved in the community. She is now treasurer of the Salem Rotary, where she’s been a member for 18 years, and has served on the organization’s board.
She has also served on the board of the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce and was a treasurer of the Salem YMCA.
Asked what BWLK clients like about the firm, she points to its local roots. In addition, “we are willing to tailor our services to meet the needs of each client,” Laurie said. “We do our best to provide quality services while keeping our fees affordable.”