General Articles

Pathway to Partnership

Author: Jacob Barton, Staff Accountant

This spring, our staff, seniors, and supervisors had the opportunity to participate in a “Pathway to Partnership” information session. We had an outside facilitator help lead the meeting and two partners at the Firm sat in on a panel. This was an informative event that helped all levels of staff see the needed requirements to becoming a partner.

One of the great issues in public accounting is leadership development. It is anticipated that many young staff will advance quickly in their careers. This training was aimed at helping staff understand the expectations to advance in their careers and to get them excited to become a partner.

A few of my takeaways were:

  • Hours requirement
    One misconception was that there was a minimum requirement of hours to be worked in order to become a partner at Brickley DeLong. While hours worked may have a correlation to the knowledge of the job, this is not a requirement to become a partner. In fact, outside of tax season, many of the partners at our Firm do not work over 40 hours in a given week.
  • Compensation
    Another big takeaway from the pathway to partnership was the average compensation for partners in our market at a similar sized firm. Transparency was appreciated as it gave staff something to look forward to.
  • Benefits
    It was refreshing to hear from the partner’s perspective what they liked about becoming partner.  While the reasoning may have been different from person to person, it was refreshing to hear from the other side, what exactly they liked from their role.
  • Timeline
    Another topic that was touched on the pathway to partnership was the timeline to becoming a partner.   While there are expectations and minimum times required in certain staff roles before promotions, there was no limit on time to becoming a partner.

Overall, the pathway to partnership was a worthwhile experience. The pathway to partnership pointed out some misconceptions to become partner and gave staff a better idea of how they can advance in their careers.

5 Things I Learned in My Six Months at a CPA Firm

Author: Lannon Unick, Staff Accountant

I can easily look back and remember my interview with Brickley DeLong. I tried my best to smile the right way and hoped my palms were not sweaty as I shook hand after hand, names and faces blurring together.  The sharp spike of excitement when they made me an offer—I’d been working towards this moment for years and it seemed like my hard work was about to pay off.

In reality, the hard work was only just beginning.

Next week, I will have been here six months. I want to offer five words of wisdom for those starting, or looking to start their career in public accounting.

  1. Take notes.
    I cannot stress this enough.  Take notes… of everything, all of the time.  Don’t walk into a meeting, a training, or an informal “I want to go over X with you for just a moment” without having a binder, a note pad, post-its, or anything.  The early days will be a blur of training sessions, new computer systems, new co-workers, and new rules (both official and unwritten); and, unless you have a proper system in place for taking and referencing your notes on a subject, you’ll be stuck asking the same questions over and over again while you try to explain to a boss or a supervisor that you’re not normally this much of an idiot.
  2. Try to see the bigger picture.
    When you’re starting, you’ll probably be handed lots of little pieces of things to do.  This is to give you the ability to easy into your work, allow you to apply you studies to the real work, and to minimize too much confusion. In the middle of this, it’s very easy to only focus on the form or the documents directly in front of you as you struggle to remember that one class three years ago that discussed the finer points of a Schedule D.  However, you will be doing yourself a favor if you take a moment to step back and consider where this tiny piece of the financial puzzle fits into the bigger picture.  How does this item affect the overall tax form?  Why is this particular item tested in this particular audit?  If you allow the work in front of you to help you develop a more complete vision of all the moving parts involved in your specialty, it will help you predict next steps, identify potential problems, and make learning the next step of the process that much easier.  And along those lines . .  .
  3. Take your time.
    Your first weeks or months on the job you are allowed, or even encouraged, to work a little slower, just to make sure you understand what’s in front of you.  Learn how to do it correctly, push yourself for accuracy instead of time.
  4. Get to know your co-workers.
    These are the people down in the trenches with you.  Make friends, eat lunch with people, and get to know who to go to for help. Keep snacks in your desk and be willing to listen when the people around you are offering advice or bits of wisdom on easier or better ways to do the work or interact with a particular client.
  5. Remember to breathe.
    No, seriously.  Work is whirling around in your head and making you absolutely crazy?  Feel like you’re teetering on the edge of a nervous meltdown?  Stand up from your desk and go walk around the parking lot or find a quiet corner and put your head between your knees.  Take off your suit jacket and run up and down the stairs a few times.  It’s better to step away from your work for five whole minutes of “you” time than to sit staring at the computer screen while your mind races, your eyes cross, and absolutely zero work gets done.

These are just five of my takeaways. Public accounting is truly both a challenging and a rewarding field. For more information about working at Brickley DeLong, please visit our career pages.

How to Save on Childcare Pt. 2

The rising cost of childcare is an issue that many working parents face. Knowing ways to help save on childcare can help relieve the burden of continuing to work when there are young children at home.

The second cost saving that will be addressed is the Employer Provided Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP).

What is a DCAP?

A DCAP is a tax-favored arrangement by which the employer:

  1.  Reimburses employees for dependent care expenses,
  2. Makes payments directly to third parties for care of employee’s dependents, or
  3. Provides a dependent care facility for employees exclusively.

An employer must have a written plan document to establish a DCAP.


  1. Certain non-discrimination testing must be met for highly compensated employees to be eligible to participate, but all non-highly compensated employees are eligible.
  2. Reasonable notification to employees must be provided of the program’s availability.
  3. A written statement showing the amounts paid or expenses incurred by the employer must be provided to each employee on or before January 31 of the subsequent year.
  4. Reported on W-2 (but not as taxable wages)
  5. If a reimbursement plan, the employee makes elective pretax contributions to fund their individual reimbursement account.  These amounts are gradually reimbursed to the employee upon the submission of receipts for dependent care to the employer.  It is use it or lose it meaning any unspent amounts remaining in the account at the end of the year are forfeited.  There is a 2 ½ month grace period.

For more information on child care savings. Please contact Brenda Jacobs at (616) 608-8530 or

How to Save on Childcare Pt. 1

The rising cost of childcare is an issue that many working parents face. Knowing ways to help save on childcare can help relieve the burden of continuing to work when there are young children at home.

The first cost savings that will be addressed is the Child and Dependent Care Credit. This is credit for a percentage of work-related expenses paid to a qualified care provider for a qualifying individual.

Do I quality?

To qualify for the credit, one must meet the following criteria:

  • You, and or your spouse, must have earned income
  • You (and your spouse if filing jointly) must have paid child and dependent care costs so that you could work, seek employment, attend school, or if you were disabled.


Who is a qualifying individual?

  • A child under 13 years of age
  • A person who is physically or mentally incapable of caring for his or her hygiene or nutritional needs (criteria apply).


How much is the credit worth?  

The credit ranges from 35% of qualifying expenses, if adjusted gross income (AGI) is less than $15,000, to 20% of qualifying expenses, if AGI is greater than $43,000. The maximum qualifying expenses is $3000 for one qualifying individual and $6000 for two or more qualifying individuals.


How do I claim the credit?

The credit can be claimed on Form 2441 with Form 1040 or 1040A. One cannot duplicate child/dependent care expenses under both the Child and Dependent Care Credit and under a Dependent Care Assistance Program (see next week’s blog post).

The credit is nonrefundable.

For more information on child care savings. Please contact Brenda Jacobs at (616) 608-8530 or

Learn about our tax services.


Brickley DeLong Next Gen Conference

Author: Elizabeth Kramb

Following tax season, select Brickley DeLong employees had the opportunity to travel to Chicago for our second annual “Next Gen Conference”. The conference is held in conjunction with Mueller LLP, a fellow CPAmerica International firm. Our two firms have teamed together to create an annual conference to pave a path for future leaders through relationship building and continual leadership development.  The conference highlights each firm’s commitment to helping up-and-coming leaders grow independently and within the firms.

This year’s emphasis was on leadership and bridging the gap of generational difference. Some takeaway’s from this year’s conference:

  • “We have a great group of people who are really interested in pushing this conference to its limits”
  • “The Next Gen conference is a great opportunity to learn and develop my leadership skills so I can rise quickly within my firm”
  • “I really enjoyed attending the Next Gen conference this year.  It was an eye opening experience recognizing our subconscious thoughts about different generations and very helpful to learn how to conquer some of those pre conceived notions and really get work done”
  • “The Next Gen conference helped me identify how to better communicate with my peers in other generations than myself.  I learned that sometimes, I need to stop typing and pick up the phone, especially when working with Baby Boomers!”

The goal of this next gen initiative is to equip staff with the opportunity to advance in their careers, as well as promote a healthy firm culture. We are excited to see where this initiative will lead us!


IRS Relaunches Get Transcripts Online

The IRS has just announced that its “Get Transcript Online” site is now available for taxpayers to access a copy of their tax transcripts and other documents that summarize important tax return information.

This service was disabled last spring after hackers gained access to hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ sensitive information. However, the IRS states that it has been relaunched with a new, more secure structure.  The new framework features a two-step authentication process for all online tools and applications.

According to the IRS, to use the Get Transcripts Online, a taxpayer must have:

  • A readily available email address;
  • Your Social Security number or Individual Tax Identification Number;
  • Your filing status and address from your last-filed tax return;
  • Access to certain account numbers for either:
    • credit card, or
    • home mortgage loan, or
    • home equity (second mortgage) loan, or
    • home equity line of credit (HELOC), or
    • car loan
  • A readily available mobile phone. Only U.S-based mobile phones may be used. Your name must be associated with the mobile phone account. Landlines, Skype, Google Voice or similar virtual phones as well as phones associated with pay-as-you-go plans cannot be used;
  • If you have a “credit freeze” on your credit records through Equifax, it must be temporarily lifted before you can successfully complete this process.

For more information on this IRS feature, please visit the IRS website, or contact Brian McFarren at (231) 726-5815 or


Learn more about our tax services.

Scam Involving Federal Student Tax

The IRS has recently issued a warning to taxpayers about scam phone calls from an IRS impersonator demanding payment for a non-existent “Federal Student Tax”.

The scammer typically has a piece of personal information, such as the last four digits of a Social Security number or the name of a school attended, which makes the call seem legitimate.

The Federal Student Tax is fake; and, if you receive such a call, it should be reported.

Reminder, the IRS will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

For more information on the scam, please visit the IRS website or contact Brian McFarren at (231) 726-5815 or

Learn more about our tax services.

Gift Acceptance Policy and Not-for-Profits

As a not-for-profit organization, do you accept any gift that is donated?  Sometimes there may be donations that go against your mission, or are more of a hassle than a good thing. Because of this, it is important for not-for-profits to have a gift acceptancy policy. A gift acceptance policy states the types of gifts that a not-for-profit will and will not accept.  Author Ken Tysiac, in a recent article published in the Journal of Accountancy, states four key elements that a gift acceptancy policy should entail:

  1. Explanation of the type of gifts that the organization will accept, conditions for the acceptance of gifts, and what kind of review needs to take place before a gift is accepted.
  2. Descriptions of gifts that the organization will not accept, such as gifts that are too challenging to administer, would jeopardize the organization’s tax-exempt status, do not further the organization’s objectives, or could damage the organization’s reputation.
  3. Description of criteria for acknowledgement and donor recognition and details of how such recognition shall be carried out.
  4. A clause explaining when legal counsel should be sought in matters relating to acceptance of gifts.

Having a clear gift acceptancy policy can help avoid trouble in the future. There are many examples of gift acceptancy policies online.  It may also be beneficial to seek legal advice in constructing such a policy. For more information on this topic, please contact Brenda Jacobs at

Learn more about our services for nonprofit organization.

The 2016 ACFE Report to the Nations Has Been Released

Author: Ed Elsner, CPA, CFE

The ACFE (Association of Certified Fraud Examiners) has recently released its bi-annual study on occupational fraud.  This report includes case studies covering over $6.3 billion in fraud losses. Six billion is a very large dollar amount; however, it is small in comparison to the total worldwide fraud, which is $3.7 trillion annually.

A few key statistics:

  • 23% of fraud cases result in fraud of over $1,000,000
  • The median loss in if the cases was $150,000
  • The median duration of a detected fraud was 18 months

Read the summary of the report.

Download the full report.

For more information on occupational fraud, please contact Ed Elsner at (231) 726-5848 or

New Overtime Rule for Salaried Employees

On Wednesday, May 18, The U.S. Department of Labor announced the Final Rule updating the exemption of executive, administrative, and professional employees from the minimum wage and overtime pay protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This update will affect 4 million workers in its first year of implementation.

Here’s what you need to know:

Starting December 1, 2016, any salaried employee earning less than $47,476 per year (approximately $913 per week) will qualify for overtime pay when they work over 40 hours per week. The current threshold is $23,660 annually ($455 per week).

To qualify, an employee must also pass the “job duties” test, which includes those performing executive, professional, and administrative responsibilities.

For more information on the new overtime regulations, please visit the U.S. Department of Labor website or Brian McFarren at (231) 726- 5815 or

Learn more about our payroll, bookkeeping, and business consulting services.