While basic accounting functions can be handled by a bookkeeper, advanced accounting is typically handled by qualified accountants who possess designations such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Certified Management Accountant (CMA) in the United States. In Canada, the three legacy designations—the Chartered Accountant (CA), Certified General Accountant (CGA), and Certified Management Accountant (CMA)—have been unified under the Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation.
For example, let’s say you’re a single filer with $32,000 in taxable income. That puts you in the 12% tax bracket in 2020. But do you pay 12% on all $32,000? No. Actually, you pay only 10% on the first $9,875; you pay 12% on the rest. If you had $50,000 of taxable income, you’d pay 10% on that first $9,875 and 12% on the chunk of income between $9,876 and $40,125. And then you’d pay 22% on the rest, because some of your $50,000 of taxable income falls into the 22% tax bracket.
If you use accounting software, it likely performs many of these steps automatically. Once income and expense items are identified and entered into the software, the system updates the accounts and general ledger. Users can run reports directly from the system. A quarterly or annual audit of the entire general ledger can reveal any accounts of out balance that must be corrected through adjusted entries.
Finally, a few aspects of gift and estate tax planning will see some changes in 2019. The federal estate tax lifetime exclusion amount will rise to $11.58 million in 2020, up from $11.4 million in 2019. However, annual gift tax exclusion amounts of $15,000 remain in place and unchanged for 2020, and the traditional exemptions from gift and estate tax -- including transfers to spouses and charities as well as amounts paid toward educational or medical costs -- are also still available.
Meanwhile, the Lifetime Learning tax credit offers additional educational tax breaks even beyond traditional college. A 20% credit on up to $10,000 in eligible expenses every year is available to taxpayers making less than $59,000 if they're single or $118,000 if they're filing jointly, with reduced credits available up to $69,000 in income for singles and $138,000 for joint filers. This credit is available for graduate school, vocational training, and certain other nontraditional educational expenses.
Managerial accounting uses much of the same data as financial accounting, but it organizes and utilizes information in different ways. Namely, in managerial accounting, an accountant generates monthly or quarterly reports that a business's management team can use to make decisions about how the business operates. Managerial accounting also encompasses many other facets of accounting, including budgeting, forecasting and various financial analysis tools. Essentially, any information that may be useful to management falls underneath this umbrella.