Accounting can be divided into several fields including financial accounting, management accounting, external auditing, tax accounting and cost accounting.[5][6] Accounting information systems are designed to support accounting functions and related activities. Financial accounting focuses on the reporting of an organization's financial information, including the preparation of financial statements, to the external users of the information, such as investors, regulators and suppliers;[7] and management accounting focuses on the measurement, analysis and reporting of information for internal use by management.[1][7] The recording of financial transactions, so that summaries of the financials may be presented in financial reports, is known as bookkeeping, of which double-entry bookkeeping is the most common system.[8]
Keeping tax returns and the documents you used to complete them is critical if you’re ever audited. Typically, the IRS has three years to decide whether to audit your return, so keep your records for at least that long. You also should hang onto tax records for three years if you file a claim for a credit or refund after you filed your original return.
Tax Advice, Expert Review and TurboTax Live: Access to tax advice and Expert Review (the ability to have a Tax Expert review and/or sign your tax return) is included with TurboTax Live or as an upgrade from another version, and available through December 31, 2020. These services are provided only by credentialed CPAs, Enrolled Agents (EAs), or tax attorneys. Some tax topics or situations may not be included as part of this service, which shall be determined in the tax expert’s sole discretion. For TurboTax Live, if your return requires a significant level of tax advice or actual preparation, the tax expert may be required to sign as the preparer at which point they will assume primary responsibility for the preparation of your return. Intuit may offer a Full Service product to some customers. For the Full Service product, the tax expert will sign your return as preparer. Payment by federal refund is not available when a tax expert signs your return. On-screen help is available on a desktop, laptop or the TurboTax mobile app. Unlimited access to TurboTax Live CPAs and EAs refers to an unlimited quantity of contacts available to each customer, but does not refer to hours of operation or service coverage. Service, area of expertise, experience levels, wait times, hours of operation and availability vary, and are subject to restriction and change without notice.
The year 2001 witnessed a series of financial information frauds involving Enron, auditing firm Arthur Andersen, the telecommunications company WorldCom, Qwest and Sunbeam, among other well-known corporations. These problems highlighted the need to review the effectiveness of accounting standards, auditing regulations and corporate governance principles. In some cases, management manipulated the figures shown in financial reports to indicate a better economic performance. In others, tax and regulatory incentives encouraged over-leveraging of companies and decisions to bear extraordinary and unjustified risk.[72]

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Health savings accounts are available to those who have high-deductible health insurance coverage and who want to set money aside to cover healthcare costs. Contribution amounts of up to $3,550 for those with self-only policies or $7,100 for family policies apply in 2020, with minimum annual deductibles of $1,400 or $2,800 respectively required to qualify for high-deductible health plan status. Catch-up contributions of $1,000 are available if you're 55 or older, but a qualifying plan must have maximum out-of-pocket expenses of $6,900 for self-only policies or $13,800 for family coverage.
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.
No matter how complicated or simple your personal situation is, it's never too early to think about tax planning for the coming year. By getting an early start on the 2020 tax year and using and referring to this guide to 2020 taxes throughout the year, you'll be in much better shape to take advantage of all the favorable provisions that can result in a lower tax bill this year and beyond.
Public accounting refers to a type of accounting firm in which the accountants provide services directly to businesses and individuals. These accountants often consult with small business owners and help them manage their taxes and finances. They prepare financial statements, audit financial statements, and advise clients on matters pertaining to finance, accounting, and taxes.
The history of accounting is thousands of years old and can be traced to ancient civilizations.[12][13][14] The early development of accounting dates back to ancient Mesopotamia, and is closely related to developments in writing, counting and money;[12] there is also evidence of early forms of bookkeeping in ancient Iran,[15][16] and early auditing systems by the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians.[13] By the time of Emperor Augustus, the Roman government had access to detailed financial information.[17]
The financial statements that summarize a large company's operations, financial position and cash flows over a particular period are concise and consolidated reports based on thousands of individual financial transactions. As a result, all accounting designations are the culmination of years of study and rigorous examinations combined with a minimum number of years of practical accounting experience.
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