Roth IRAs vs. 529 plans, job candidate questions, and an IRS extension

Hosted by Neil Amato

News coverage on the Journal of Accountancy site touched on numerous topics recently, from financial planning advice to questions interviewees can ask employers to updates from the IRS and SEC. This episode touches on all those topics, plus it has a clip from a recent AICPA & CIMA and Town Hall Series discussion about the CPA pipeline.

Here are links mentioned in the episode:

What you'll learn from this episode:

  • Why a Roth IRA for a child can be a good investment option.
  • Some of the questions job candidates can ask to help them stand out in an interview.
  • The particulars of the recently announced extension related to research and development tax credit refund claims.
  • What recent data shows about the number of students attending college.
  • Some of the hurdles that the accounting profession faces in attracting younger candidates.

Play the episode below or read the edited transcript:

— To comment on this episode or to suggest an idea for another episode, contact Neil Amato at


Neil Amato: Welcome to the Journal of Accountancy podcast. This is Neil Amato. Today's episode is going to hit on multiple news topics that our writers are covering — an IRS update, an SEC announcement, and why you, as a job candidate, should be the one asking those difficult questions when it comes time for an interview. The episode will also feature a clip from the most recent AICPA & CIMA and Town Hall Series, focusing on the accounting profession pipeline.

We'll also highlight an article on Roth IRAs for children and why it's not too early to start thinking about a young person's retirement. That's all coming up after this word from our sponsor.

Amato: Kelley C. Long is a CPA who is also a personal financial coach. Kelley is also the author of a recent Journal of Accountancy article with the headline "The Ins and Outs of Roth IRAs for Children."

Long writes that while it may seem premature to talk about retirement for children before they've started kindergarten, funding a Roth IRA for kids could arguably be a better financial planning move for their futures than putting money into a 529 education savings plan.

The ability to use Roth funds to pay qualified education expenses without incurring early withdrawal penalties or taxes, so long as the withdrawals are from prior contributions, means that starting a Roth IRA for a child can be a more flexible way to take advantage of the power of compounding in those all-important early years of investing. Long's article goes into some of the strategy's limitations and also its key aspects. We will link to that article in the show notes for this episode.

Bryan Strickland has written about a Securities and Exchange Commission announcement that it is reopening public comment periods because of a technological error. Anyone who commented on the SEC's last 12 rulemaking releases is encouraged to make sure comments were received. The article has the details on the releases and on how to follow up if you commented on the proposals. Again, the link will be in the show notes for this episode.

Contributing writer Dawn Wotapka has an article about the questions you can ask that can help to stand out in-between answering questions in a job interview. Here are two examples from the article. What is the typical career path for someone in this role? Was there anything done by the previous holder of this position that you really enjoyed and you hope continues? The article quotes several sources on the topic and includes a very important closing section — what not to ask in an interview.

From the article, don't ask about time off, health benefits, and salary until later in the process. Again, that article will be linked in the show notes for this episode. You can find that or any of the other news mentioned on

The JofA's Paul Bonner has coverage of a deadline extension announced by the IRS. Under the new requirements, taxpayers now have until Jan. 10, 2024, to supply missing information within 45 days of submitting a Sec. 41 research and development credit refund claim.

Next, we're going to have part of a conversation that AICPA leaders recently had on the Town Hall Series, and we'll include a link to the full event, which is in podcast form. Mike Decker, the AICPA's vice president in charge of the CPA Exam and CPA pipeline, talked with Sue Coffey, the AICPA's CEO of Public Accounting, about that talent pipeline and the challenges facing the accounting profession related to the pipeline. Decker mentioned an obstacle facing many professions — the shrinking size of the college population — and obstacles that are more unique to the accounting profession, such as the 150-credit-hour requirement for CPA licensure. Decker also detailed how the AICPA is bringing together key stakeholders to tackle some of the issues. Here's part of that discussion from Oct. 6.

Mike Decker: We are seeing declining college enrollment, not only due to declining birth rates, but just fewer students in college, and COVID clearly did not help that. Between 2019 and 2021, we saw over a million students drop out of the pipeline and drop out of university. That was a drop of 6.6%. Where we thought students would go to community college in that same time frame, community college enrollment dropped 13% — over 700,000 students in that same time frame. You've got fewer students in college, and why is that?

One is increasing college costs. Students are saying, "I can't afford it, it's too expensive, it takes too long." In some cases, the college costs have exceeded many people's ability or willingness to pay for a college education. The Hechinger Job Report just put out for the first time ever — over 50% of teenagers are open to something other than a four-year degree. We're going to see a constricted college pipeline for some time.

You're also seeing a different generation of students. They have different perspectives on education. They have a different perspective around a desire for a more immediate return on investment, and clearly, they're thinking more about work/life and meaning. The other challenge that I know a lot of the firms — whether it's a Big Four, major firm, or small firm — they're trying to address the profession's reputation. They're trying to make it more attractive, address the crazy hours and the burnout, and diversity challenges, where students don't see themselves as CPAs. I think we've got to just change what we're saying about public accounting and work together.

Sue Coffey: We know these demographic issues, though, exist for every profession. This is not unique to the accounting profession. We are a professional, obviously, and with a profession comes education requirements as well as exam requirements. We need to address the challenges. We need to adapt. What are some of the things that the Association is doing to help the profession operate in this changing and challenging environment?

Decker: Great point. The other thing, and you mentioned about the hurdles that we have about being an educated profession and a license. I don't know that there's any one hurdle that's stopping students more than any others. There's a number of hurdles, and in some cases, you need them to protect the public, and it's the reason why we're licensed in the work that we do. The AICPA has taken a leadership role. We've pulled together these key stakeholders in a summit stakeholder group. We've brought in representatives from state societies, firms of various sizes, NASBA state boards, and then from academia and the university.

Real quick, at the highest level, what the AICPA is doing, pulling this group together. We are exploring internships, we're working together with NASBA to develop a program to help students get to 150. We're brainstorming potential solutions. We're going to be doing extensive outreach, and we'll have lots of opportunities for feedback for many of our stakeholders.

Clearly, [CPA Evolution], I'll talk about that in a second. Changing to the exam is going to cause disruption in the pipeline, but we think it's a better exam, we've removed some content. Again, I'll talk about that, but I think it's a better exam that has adapted to the changing profession. We are working very hard with ensuring that accounting is recognized as part of the technology, within STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics], both at the national level and the state societies are helping with that. The Center for Audit Quality has done a great job with advocating for accounting with their accounting plus initiative. A lot of different groups are doing a lot of different things.

Amato: That's our episode for Thursday, Oct. 13. We appreciate you listening. We also invite you to please subscribe, share, rate, and review the Journal of Accountancy podcast. I'm Neil Amato. We'll talk to you next week. Thanks for listening to the JofA podcast.