Expanding your app-titude

A monthly look at apps and websites that can make the CPA’s job and life better.
By Greg LaFollette, CPA/CITP, CGMA

An "app" used to be simple to describe. An app was a self-contained program, written specifically for a mobile device and operating from that device while (usually) interacting directly with remote servers. However, with their wild proliferation, the term has begun to blur. We now have "native apps"—those that fit the traditional definition—being joined by "web apps" that are not downloadable, but rather are sophisticated versions of websites designed exclusively for mobile devices. The bottom line here is that going forward this column will cover both apps and websites, because at the end of the day, it's usefulness that counts, not lineage.


If you're using photos in your personal branding efforts on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter (and you're missing an opportunity if you're not), you'll want to know about this quick and easy way to step up your game and stay abreast of the ever-escalating quality of user-provided content. Word Swag is a slick typography generator with a simple user interface. Choose the picture or background you want to augment, and then type in your text. Or choose from sample caption text or quotes. Word Swag includes a large database of backgrounds and hundreds of captions and quotes. Apply any of the various font styles, and you will immediately see your own highly stylized design. Don't like it? Simply select another option, or use the "dice icon" to see a seemingly infinite number of choices. Caveat: I was disappointed to find that even after a relatively stiff $3.99 purchase price, I was required to "like" the app on Facebook to unlock some of the premium fonts and designs.

  • Website: wordswag.co
  • Cost: $3.99
  • Operating system: iOS


The idea of this service is startlingly simple: help users remind themselves of something at a certain time. FollowUpThen allows users to forward any email to one of a multitude of cleverly named email addresses at FollowUpThen.com. Forward an email to 2hours@followupthen.com and the platform will dutifully send you that same forwarded email exactly two hours later—or tomorrow@followupthen.com or nextmonth@followupthen.com or perhaps nextyear@followupthen.com—each address results in the email being returned to you at exactly the right time.

The platform provides extra functionality via the To, CC, and BCC fields. I am certain there are at least as many uses for this platform as there are pages in the Internal Revenue Code, but I have just scratched the surface over the past few weeks. It feels eerily productive to be reminded by my past self to get busy on some project now rapidly approaching its due date. Procrastination doesn't die easily around here!

  • Website: followupthen.com
  • Cost: Freemium/$2—$9 per month
  • Operating system: Web app

Greg LaFollette (greg.lafollette@hq.cpa.com) is a strategic adviser with CPA.com, the commercial subsidiary of the AICPA.


Year-end tax planning and what’s new for 2016

Practitioners need to consider several tax planning opportunities to review with their clients before the end of the year. This report offers strategies for individuals and businesses, as well as recent federal tax law changes affecting this year’s tax returns.


News quiz: Retirement planning, tax practice, and fraud risk

Recent reports focused on a survey that gauges the worries about retirement among CPA financial planners’ clients, a suit that affects tax practitioners, and a guide that offers advice on fraud risk. See how much you know with this short quiz.


Bolster your data defenses

As you weather the dog days of summer, it’s a good time to make sure your cybersecurity structure can stand up to the heat of external and internal threats. Here are six steps to help shore up your systems.