Reasonable Compensation and Pass-Through Entities: There’s a New Sheriff in Town But, Can He Turn the Gaming Tables Upside Down?

For the longest time, saving employment taxes by means of skimming cash from either a partnership or an S Corp seemed a bit like the lawless Wild West with no sheriff, no posse and no hanging tree. Oh, don’t get me wrong. There were laws on the books. It’s just that the odds of getting caught were slim to none, save for the stray example IRS or an occasional court made of some renegade that got caught.

But, there’s a new sheriff in town. A newly minted IRS Commissioner is at the helm. Under his watch, IRS this spring launched a new partnership and self-employment tax Concept Unit. IRS also recently convinced the Tax Court it does not any longer have jurisdiction to hear S Corp reasonable comp employment tax cases (8th Circuit agrees). IRS plans to exact a mighty pound of flesh in response.

Wait a minute. Have things really changed? IRS’s hot-off-the-press 2018 Data Book reveals the IRS exam rate for partnerships has dropped (from 4% in 2017) to 2% in 2018. Similarly, IRS’s exam rate for S Corps has dropped (from 3% in 2017) to 2% in 2018. Has IRS become a ghost town in a Clint Eastwood western? Though the ranks of the IRS posse be few, are they nonetheless mighty?

Unlike the old west, IRS’s modern day posse is not necessarily made up of a body of local men, typically armed, summoned by a sheriff to enforce the law. Clint Eastwood’s boys in “Hang ‘Em High” did not pack in their saddlebags computers, artificial intelligence, accuracy penalties, preparer penalties and Circular 230. Nor did exist §199A, which directly slates income tax savings and employment tax savings against one another in a gun battle at high noon. The plot has thickened, to be sure.

How to fight the gun battle in the modern day? First by getting a handle on what the sheriff’s boys have wrestled down lately and, perhaps more importantly, what they can do.

Want to sharpen your own skills? Check out Brad’s online course with ACPEN, “Reasonable Compensation for S Corps and Partnerships – Shifting Undercurrents and Brand New Consequences.”

And, we invite you to apply discount code: NEWbrad2019 to save 25% off of any of these great new CPE courses!


                                        This blog was guest written by Bradley Burnett, J.D., LL.M. Bradley is a practicing Colorado tax attorney with 35 years of tax practice experience. His practice emphasis is on tax planning and tax controversy resolution. He also prepares a handful of tax returns.

To view Brad’s list of course offerings, browse our course catalog.

Visit his website for additional information.

Meet Michelle Lederman!

At ACPEN, we are lucky to work with the most amazing presenters—national experts, top-notch practitioners. People who have walked the walk AND talk the talk.

Today we want to introduce you to one such presenter—Michelle Lederman. To say that we have enjoyed getting to know Michelle, would be an understatement. She has spent her career helping people more effectively communicate, connect and network. And after you’ve spent a few minutes with Michelle, that is no surprise. The first time we met Michelle was for a quick lunch while she was in Dallas for the NSA (National Speakers Association) conference. Within minutes we learned that Michelle enjoys traveling (she’s been to more than 70 countries), is not the most adventurous eater, she has two fabulous children, and LOVES her work!

In our minds, we were meeting to see if we thought she’d be a good fit for our network, but Michelle was sizing us up as well. Because, Michelle makes it a point to do business with people she likes! By the end of the lunch, we had swapped funny stories, convinced Michelle to try guacamole (which we had to document with a picture and send to her husband as proof she tried it), and had mutually decided that we wanted to work together.

Michelle is a “connector.” In fact, she wrote a whole book about it—The Connector’s Advantage. Her expertise lies in effective communication, connections, and networking. She helps CPAs, CEOs, HR Managers, and all kinds of other professionals to improve communication and build meaningful relationships to help promote a happy, healthy, and efficient work place. If you’re looking for CPE and want to become a better CPA, manager, employer, and human, in general, check out Michelle’s courses!

Happy Mother’s Day From ACPEN!

We’re thankful for the Moms in our lives every day. But today, we wanted to take a moment to:

  1. Wish all of the moms out there a VERY happy Mother’s Day!
  2. Honor the amazing Moms of ACPEN. These women are the best Moms there are. But they are also the most amazing employees! They work hard all day a home, at the office—balancing conference calls and meetings while making lunches and filling PTA positions. We truly don’t know how they get it all done, but we are so thankful they do. Our ACPEN Moms are crushing it personally and professionally.

If you’re a Mom–thank you for all that you do to raise amazing, responsible, productive, kind tiny humans (maybe future accountants!), while juggling hundreds of other personal and professional responsibilities.

If you’re not a Mom—thank one of the many awesome Moms in your life!

“Life doesn’t come with a manual. It comes with a Mother.”

Happy Mother’s Day.




Small Business Week!

Small Business Week Image

Sure, we serve Accountants, CPAs and Finance professionals nationwide. And we partner with organizations and associations across the country. But we are actually a small, family-run business. Seriously—CEO Dad, I’m one of three kids who work for the company, I used to babysit our now Family Pictureaccountants kids when I was 17, our neighbor books our travel, our cousin runs production. So—we’re as small and family-run as it gets. And our family (and employees) all have unique professional backgrounds that all required some type of continuing education. We’ve got teachers, accountants, lawyers–and we’ve all sat through what we’d consider the good, the bad, and the ugly (and everywhere in between) of Continuing Education.


So we’ve committed to doing Continuing Education better.

And as some of you may know, working for a small business is no easy feat. It means:

  • We have to work harder and smarter to compete with some very big companies with some very deep pockets.
  • We often work very long (and sometimes very strange) hours.
  • It means we all wear many hats (from the HR director, to the janitor, to the lunch delivery driver, to the COO).
  • It means that your vacation may include a conference call and some email checking (because there isn’t anyone to fill your shoes when you’re gone).

But it’s totally worth it. Because it also means:

  • We’ve got the flexibility to take time off when we need it—to help at a child’s school, visit with a friend, or just take the occasional “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off!” (this is a real thing for some of our folks)
  • When the babysitter cancels or school is out, the “tiny interns” can come to the office (and eat ALL the snacks)!
  • Our studio (decidedly NOT an office—because no one likes offices) is a reflection of all of us!
  • We’re not confined by a lot of red tape and restrictions. If we want to try something new…we just do it!
  • We’ve got the freedom to do what is right for any customer, any time.
  • We get to choose to work with and partner with people we LIKE!
  • And our coworkers aren’t coworkers, or even friends. They are family.

Long story short, we are really lucky to be able to work with our favorite people, and to be doing something we are all passionate about. We promise to continue to do our best to do online CPE better than anyone else out there! We know you have a lot of options when it comes to Continuing Education. Thanks for choosing us. Welcome to the fam!

In honor of Small Business Week, enjoy 30% off of your entire order with code: SmallBiz19

Click here to start shopping!

New Year, New You!

ACPEN presenter, Joy Principe, kicks off 2019 by helping us better manage our money and our relationships! We love having Joy in studio. She brings her expertise and energy to every presentation, and it results in a truly engaging CPE experience. Be sure to check back in the summer for new content from Joy! Now, check out Joy’s blog below for tips for you (and your clients) on successfully navigating the potential mine field where money meets relationships.
Joy’s ACPEN Courses

Navigating The Money & Relationship Dilemma

“Money Dilemmas” can sometimes create awkwardness and discomfort in relationships. In my work as a Success Coach and CPA, I hear all kinds of situations that will either create walls between people or create opportunities to thrive financially. After all, we all have patterns and beliefs around money. And, when our set of money beliefs and patterns mingle with another person’s, there is potential for conflict and difficulty. However, relationships also offer the opportunity to try on new money beliefs and grow into our prosperity consciousness. Here are a few tips for navigating money and relationships in a healthy, positive way.

1. Building Trust:

We need to feel safe, encouraged and empowered in order to create an environment where abundance thrives. Relationships can offer an opportunity to create safety around the topic of money and receive encouragement.

One simple, yet powerful way to build your trust in money through relationship is to share your “money secrets” with another. What do I mean? Secrets such as the amount of debt you have and the feelings of possible shame and overwhelm that may go along with it. Maybe it’s your overspending habit or denial about the dreaded ‘bill pile”. Come clean with one of these money secrets and watch your world transform.  A friend, spouse, relative or your Coach will do. Choose someone who you know will be supportive and be clear as you make the request – “I’d like you to just listen, with no judgment or advice”. Feel yourself lose about 10 lbs of heaviness, when you share this secret with someone who will meet it with a warm heart and encouragement.  We all need to feel forgiven about one money secret or money mistake.  Then, offer to be that person in return.

2. Establishing Boundaries:

Relationships give us an opportunity to learn how to say “yes” with enthusiasm or “no” with kindness. Anytime that a friend or loved one makes an invitation or proposal involving money, you have this opportunity to create a healthy boundary. Make it a practice to be clear about money, even when it is uncomfortable.

For example, when going out with colleagues, establish at the beginning of the evening how the bill will be handled. If you are invited to something that is outside of your comfortable price range, speak your truth without shame or embarrassment, and stand in pride for managing your finances responsibly. If someone asks to borrow money, be very clear about your decision and its potential repercussions. The key to boundaries is clarity, and clarity that you create in your relationships with other people is then mirrored in the clarity you make in all your financial decisions.

3. Expanding Possibilities:

Sometimes our relationships with people have expectations attached to them. When we realize that this person can’t come through in the way we expected, the great news is that this forces our hand to look for possibilities in other ways. Money is a great training ground for expanding possibilities that spills over into your whole life. Try this new belief on for size: “There are literally hundreds of portals of possibility for money to flow to me.”  Close your eyes and image this…hundreds of ways for this money desire to find you.

With this new belief, that one person who just said ‘No,I can’t help,” or “No, I don’t have the money to chip in for that,” or “No, I’m not interested in your service” — suddenly it’s no big deal because you’re not thinking …”OMG, you were my only hope!” Not anymore… now you have a new belief that you are nurturing… the portals of possibility belief. This allows you to smile and move on to the next place. Creating abundance is the practice of seeing new possibilities, and our relationships and interactions with others can help us do that.

4. Sharing a Vision:

Oftentimes we have very different values and desires when it comes to money in our significant relationship.  One quick way to balance this out is to find at least one money goal that you share and can get excited about together.  It builds a bond between you and even though you may disagree about other money values, you’ll have this one common goal that can feel amazing as you complete it together. This is great practice for getting excited about money goals in general. Our experiences of abundance are directly related to our excitement and enthusiasm, so getting excited about a financial goal with another person can increase your experiences of getting excited about your own personal goals.

Choose one experiment each week from these tips and watch your abundance grow this month! Before long, you’ll be known in your circles as the person with “That Money Savvy” that everyone admires and respects.


Joy Principe, is a CPA and a Success & Wellbeing Coach who specializes in the concepts of abundance, thriving & joyful living.
She brings a diverse background to her work. She has been an entrepreneur and CPA business owner for 25 years, and she is also trained as a Certified Rubenfeld Synergist, a Transformative Coach and yoga teacher. She has been leading groups for over 10 years with her rare blend of analytical and creative qualities that inspire people to their personal greatness in a very practical and playful way. Her group programs and one-on-one sessions are focused on leading businesses and individuals to meaningful and sustainable success and happiness. Simply put, she guides people in creating their ideal lifestyle.

Learn more about her philosophy of success at her website: .
She can be reached at

Happy Thanksgiving From ACPEN’s Interns

Happy Thanksgiving from ACPEN’s Interns


Some of the interns are put to work prepping for the feast…


While others share what they are thankful for…

While the smart ones look forward towards Christmas!!!

The Calm Before the Storm

Get to the next signature course before anyone else. It’s much more peaceful before the arguing between the accountants and IRS agents kicks off. So get to the ACPEN Signature: 2018 Annual Tax Update early! And while you’re there check out our other ACPEN Signature Courses!

Five Things Jerry Seinfeld Teaches Us About The Art Of Great Conversation

Submitted by ACPEN presenter Dr. Bruce Weinstein, The Ethics Guy.

Thank you, Netflix, for releasing all at once the latest season of Jerry  Seinfeld’s essential series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. The show pulls off the unusual feat of appealing to people who love automobiles, espresso, comedy or any combination of these.

Most of all, however, Jerry Seinfeld demonstrates the art of great conversation. Specifically, he does the following five things in the show that anyone interested in becoming a better leader would do well to heed.

Jerry Listens

A conversation is like a tennis game. In tennis, you hit the ball to your opponent, she or he then lobs it to you, and back and forth you go. In a conversation, you ask a question or make an observation, and then you stop and listen.

That’s how a conversation is supposed to go but too often does not. For many people (otherwise known as yakkers or crashing bores), the conversational metaphor is not a tennis game but a batting cage. They hurl ball after ball at you. You try to bat one back, but whether you do or not doesn’t matter, because the yakker has already prepared another ball to shoot at you.

Jerry Seinfeld uses the tennis metaphor. You rarely get the sense that when a guest on the show is speaking, Jerry is waiting for the next thing to say.

Converse like Jerry. Listen.

Jerry Looks

“She studied the lines in my face,” sings Bob Dylan in his breakup song, “Tangled Up in Blue.” Like that woman, Jerry Seinfeld studies the faces of every guest he has on the show. Unlike that woman, he’s not in the throes of a troubled relationship. No, Jerry studies faces because it’s life’s details that fascinate him and form the basis of all of his comedy.

I’ve never had the pleasure of speaking with Jerry one on one, and I’ll admit that I’d be a bit self-conscious. But none of the guests on the show appear to be bothered by Jerry’s attention to their faces. That’s because each guest is both a friend of Jerry’s and an observer of life too. It’s not a stretch to say that Jerry Seinfeld and all of his comedian friends are successful because of their attention to detail.

Converse like Jerry. Look.

Jerry Laughs

One of the intoxicating pleasures of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee is the good-natured humor and ready laughs that permeate every episode. The lightness and airiness of the conversations make whatever professional or personal problem you’re dealing a little easier to bear. Yes, it’s that good. (That’s also a characteristic Larry David’s interactions with his real-life pals on Curb Your Enthusiasm, but a proper analysis of that marvelous show would require a separate column.)

I once remarked to a friend that Jerry’s laughter on Comedians sometimes feels forced. He will howl at something his guest says that hardly rates a 4, let alone a 9, on the Richter scale of comedy. “But that’s how friendships are,” my buddy replied. “Friends laugh at things others wouldn’t find amusing at all.” He was right.

We’ve all had conversations with people who regard their every utterance with deep reverence. I fear that I’m like that on occasion, and the show reminds me of the dangers of being this way.

Converse like Jerry. Laugh (some of the time).

Jerry Respects

There is no more touching example of how Jerry Seinfeld treats his guests with respect than the final episode of this season. Jerry Lewis is his guest, and the love and admiration Seinfeld has for the true king of comedy is evident in every moment of its twenty minutes.

Lewis appears fragile, and the episode must have been filmed not too long before he died. That makes it even more touching than it would have been already, and your eyes will be welling with tears by the end.

Seinfeld evinces the same respect with other legends of comedy who have been on the show: Don Rickles, Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks and among them. One can only imagine how amazing it would have been to see Jerry with Phyllis Diller, Joan Rivers, George Carlin or Richard Pryor.

Converse like Jerry. Show respect.

Jerry Exudes Confidence

As far as conversation partners go, a milquetoast is almost as bad as a cocky, arrogant fill-in-the-blank. Jerry Seinfeld is no milquetoast. He makes no bones about his unmatched success in both comedy and television. On a couple of occasions that level of confidence does become boastful, but when I observe that, I ask myself, “Who wouldn’t be guilty of braggadocio from time to time if they had Jerry’s level of achievement?”

Even Bruce Springsteen, whose leadership style I wrote about in a previous column, admits to hubris. As he told Scott Pelley on 60 Minutes:

I got as big an ego and enjoy the attention. My son has a word, he calls it ‘Attention Whore.’ But you have to be one of those or else why would you be up in front of thousands of people….”

Overall, Seinfeld’s degree of self-regard is absolutely right for the spirited conversations he has with his friends and colleagues.

Converse like Jerry. Believe in yourself.

The Bottom Line

On Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Jerry Seinfeld makes you feel as though you’re right in that car with him and his esteemed guest. It’s not just because the show strategically uses GoPro cameras inside the vehicle. Seinfeld is a gifted conversationalist who shows what talk can be like when it’s done right: enlightening, engaging and just plain fun.

If you fancy yourself a leader, or simply want to be a better friend or colleague to someone, watch the show and follow suit.

Check Bruce’s availability to speak to your group on high-character leadership here.
And check out some of Bruce’s ACPEN courses here.

Behind The Scenes ACPEN Signature: Accounting and Auditing Update

ACPEN Signature: 2018 Accounting and Auditing Update took place this week, and it was another successful Signature course. Take a look at some of the behind the scenes pictures of the good times we had. And–if you missed it, be sure to check out the on-screen action at the next live webcast replay.

Chick-fil-a Chicken Minis: Breakfast of Champions


Tina making our speakers look their best!

Before the show starts there’s a lot of work to do, but apparently it isn’t in the control room. Where’d everybody go?

Margie Reinhart prepping for her session.

If the audio for this course sounds better than normal its because Charlie La Costa is an audio ninja.

Again, if you missed the live course, you can catch a live webcast replay! There are lots of replay dates before year end, so if you’re trying to get all of your CPE by year end, you’re in luck. And don’t forget that we offer discounted group pricing for all of our ACPEN courses (including the 2018 ACPEN Signature: Accounting & Auditing Update)! If your firm would like information on Group Registration, just email for pricing and info!

New Ways to Save!

ACPEN is happy to announce two new ways to reward our Customers! Visit the ACPEN Catalog and start saving!

Earn 1 reward point for every $1 you spend. Once you’ve accumulated 100 points, redeem your reward. 100reward points = $15.00 off of your next purchase!

Refer a friend to ACPEN and if they register for a course you both get rewarded. 25% discount for them and 100 reward points for you! Learn more about both of these rewards by logging into your ACPEN account. From your “My Account” page, you will be able to access your reward points and have the opportunity to refer your friends and co-workers! If you are among the first 25 ACPEN Customers to successfully refer a friend or colleague, there will be a special bonus coming your way!