Accounting Opportunities

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Accounting Professor Dr. Ryan Cating Impacts Through Teaching and Research

In this interview, Dr. Ryan Cating, the UCA Assistant Professor of Accounting known for his love of bow ties, shares why he chose to teach accounting for his life’s work and his research on the effects of local newspapers on firms’ information environments.

Why did you choose the subject you teach?
I grew up in a family of CPAs as my father and two uncles all worked as accountants at one time or another. Being surrounded by conversation that centered on different types of businesses intrigued me and led me to the college of business. Initially not wanting to follow in my family’s footsteps, I began my academic career studying finance. However, I realized that I wanted a deeper understanding of the source material that I was employing to evaluate the performance and valuation of companies. I switched my major to accounting and have never looked back.

After earning his BS and MPAcc in Louisiana, Dr. Cating likes to celebrate LA traditions such as Mardi Gras with the UCA Accounting department.

What about your job brings you the most joy?
I get the most joy interacting with students in the classroom to get them excited about accounting and succeeding on the CPA exam as a direct result of my course as they begin their careers.

What tips or advice do you have for students?
Always seek to have an open dialogue with professors outside of class, regardless of your major (but especially in your major). The more interaction and knowledge that professors have with and about you, the more they can help you connect with potential employers both before and after graduation.

Share about your recent research and its importance.
I collaborated with Kristian D. Allee and Caleb Rawson, both from the University of Arkansas, on an article published in Review of Accounting Studies in October 2023. In our article, “No news is bad news: local news intensity and firms’ information environments,” we examine the effects of local newspapers on firms’ information environments. With newspaper employment dropping precipitously in the last few decades, we posit that these changes will harm local firms’ information environments. In this study, we ask whether the intensity of local newspapers relative to the local economy (i.e., local news intensity) influences the information available about local publicly traded firms in the capital markets.

[Added note for context: Public companies are required to disclose information to help potential investors and other outside entities analyze the health of the company and understand risks to the company’s financial performance or other issues, such as the impact of the company’s business on communities.]

Consistent with local news improving information environments, we find that volatility, spreads, and illiquidity increase as local newspaper intensity declines and that this is associated with firms’ importance in their local economy. We further find that for firms that are more important in their community, or have busy analysts, less local newspaper intensity is associated with significantly lower analyst accuracy and higher forecast dispersion. This is consistent with local newspapers improving information environments, even for sophisticated and likely remote information intermediaries. We also investigate how stakeholders respond to declines in local news and find that managers increase the amount of forward-looking disclosures while analysts increase coverage.

These results provide insights into the methods by which stakeholders attempt to improve firms’ information environments when local news coverage fades.


In Spring 2024, Dr. Cating can be found teaching undergraduate Auditing in person and online and the graduate Seminar in Case Studies in Accounting.

Dr. Cating welcomes guest speakers such as the Arkansas Legislative Audit (ALA), a group that works to prevent fraud and other crimes, to help students understand the many opportunities available and to help them network with potential employers.

Jane Grigsby Arthurs Accounting Lab Established in University of Central Arkansas College of Business

pictured above: UCA Accounting Department Chair, Dr. Stephanie Watson (left), UCA College of Business Dean, Dr. Michael Hargis, Jane’s husband Mr. Bill Athurs, and UCA President, Dr. Houston Davis, celebrate the newly dedicated Jane Grigsby Arthurs Accounting Lab

The University of Central Arkansas (UCA) College of Business has dedicated its Accounting Lab in memory of Jane Grigsby Arthurs, a devoted educator and alumni of UCA. Arthurs gave 35 years of her life to teaching Business Education.

The Accounting Lab helps engage and equip UCA students who are taking accounting classes with hands-on accounting activities and through tutoring both in-person and online. The lab is dedicated to the memory of Jane Grigsby Arthurs (Feb. 12, 1942 to June 25, 2023) who earned her BSE in Business Education at Arkansas State Teachers College, now known as UCA.

“Jane Arthurs was my high school accounting teacher, and she set me on the path to my career. I learned a lot from her, not just about the field I would eventually go into, but about what it meant to be a teacher,” said Dr. Stephanie Watson, UCA Accounting Department Chair and Professor of Accounting.

“I will never be able to thank Jane enough for what she did for me, and I am honored that Jane will continue to make a difference here in UCA Accounting in the years to come,” added Watson.

A “Dedicated Bear” at UCA, Jane became a lifetime member of the Alumni Association and both the Doyne and President’s Society. She and her husband Bill previously established the “William H. and Jane Grigsby Arthurs Scholarship” for a deserving business education student.

“As educators, we look for pathways to help our students identify their goals and pursue their dreams. It is clear that Jane was incredibly effective in doing that. We thank Jane Arthurs and her husband Bill for this wonderful gift and for investing in our students in a way that will affect every student in this College,” said Dr. Michael Hargis, Dean of the UCA College of Business and Professor of Management.

When he spoke at the dedication, her husband Bill said, “Jane was a special person. She was a great educator. She loved teaching, loved her students, and loved ASTC [now known as UCA].”

The plaque (pictured at right) with Arthurs’ photo is posted in the UCA Accounting lab and reads, “Arthurs’ legacy of teaching and service continues to impact business leaders near and far, but her support is especially known at her beloved Little Rock Hall High School and her alma mater, the Arkansas State Teachers College, now known as the University of Central Arkansas.”

Established in 1969, the UCA College of Business offers 21 undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificates to equip current and future business professionals to meet the changing business environment. The AACSB-accredited program offers a thorough business education as well as opportunities for hands-on experience and industry networking.

Jane’s husband Bill along with family friends

Student Spotlight: Kamryn Glover

NAME: Kamryn Glover

CLASS: Junior

MAJOR: Accounting
MINOR: Data Analytics

UCA Peer Coach
Accounting Tutor
COB Ambassador
Volunteer
Works part-time

What did you choose your major?
I chose it because I’m very interested in math and learning about how accounting is the “Language of Business.”

What do you want to do after graduation?
Receive my Masters in Accountancy and my CPA license

Why did you choose to be a COB Student Ambassador?
I applied to become an ambassador because I’m always looking for ways to give back to my support system that I’m fortunate to have at the College of Business. Many of my professors do everything they can to ensure my success, and I feel as if it’s my duty to give back to them as much as I can.

Alumni Spotlight: Jessica Kao

In April 2023, Dr. Alexander Chen visited alumnus Jessica Kao (MIS 2019) in Taipei during his travels overseas. He sent an update on his visit with Jessica for COB’s Alumni Spotlight column.


Dr. Chen with Jessica Kao

Jessica Kao is an exceptional alumnus of the Management Information Systems (MIS)* department at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA). Since January 2020, she has been working for Qualcomm Semiconductor Inc. in Taipei, where she has demonstrated her commitment to her work and the skills she developed during her studies at UCA.

As part of her role at Qualcomm, Jessica is responsible for identifying key inefficiencies and issues across different projects. She develops user guides and training materials and conducts training sessions for both internal and external clients. She collaborates with multinational teams to develop and test various programs and projects. Additionally, she leverages her system analysis skills to work on supply chain operation and procurement systems for clients across APAC, the Americas, and Europe.

Jessica credits her success in the professional world to the rigorous training she received from UCA’s outstanding faculty members, particularly those in the Computer Information Systems & Analytics*, Marketing, and Management departments. She believes the College of Business at UCA provided her with a balanced, practical, and valuable education, which equipped her with the necessary tools to excel in her field.

Working alongside colleagues who mostly hold master’s degrees from prestigious universities in Taiwan and the United States, Jessica’s exceptional performance and professionalism have earned her the respect and trust of her teammates. She has also received substantial raises for her outstanding achievements. To learn more about Jessica’s achievements, check out her profile on LinkedIn.


* When Jessica graduated in 2019, the department and program were named Management Information Systems; in 2021, the name was changed to Computer Information Systems & Analytics to reflect updates to the program.

Students Honored for Work With Community Tax Assistance Program

Congratulations to Harris Felton and Kiadan Zheng for winning university-level service awards for their work in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program this spring (students pictured at left with UCA College of Business Dean Michael Hargis).

Professor Ashley Phillips oversees and coordinates UCA’s annual involvement with VITA through the United Way of Central Arkansas. This tax season, students completed 329 tax returns, helped taxpayers claim $357,549 in refunds, and saved taxpayers approximately $60,000 in tax preparation fees.

The IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs offer free basic tax return preparation to qualified individuals.

Top Tax Questions Answered

Ready or not, here it comes. Tax season is underway with about one month left to file individual income tax returns.

The deadline for filing a 2022 federal individual income tax return and an Arkansas individual tax return is April 18, 2023, rather than the usual April 15th deadline, due to the District of Columbia’s Emancipation Day holiday. If you find yourself unprepared, here are some answers to the top tax questions to get you started.

What documents do I need to prepare my return?

The following are common documents taxpayers may need to prepare their 2022 tax return.

Employment:

  • You will need your W-2s from every place you were employed during 2022.
  • If you received any unemployment compensation during the year, you will need Form 1099-G from the state paying the unemployment.

Retirement Income:

  • If you were retired or if you took a distribution from a retirement plan, you will need Form 1099-R from each plan that your received a distribution in order to file your return.
  • Furthermore, if you received Social Security, you will also need a SSA-1099.

Investment Income:

  • If you had interest income (Form 1099-INT), dividend income, (Form 1099-DIV) and/or stock sales (Form 1099-B), you will need these related forms.
  • Companies will only send a 1099-INT if you had more than $10 in interest income for the year.

Self-employment Records:

  • If you were self-employed, then you will need to have documentation of both your income and expenses.
  • In certain circumstances, you may receive a Form 1099-NEC and/or 1099-K for earnings as an independent. In addition to your income, you will need records of any business expenses.
  • This includes the business miles you have driven.

 Pass-through Income:

  • If you had an interest in a partnership, LLC, S Corporation, trust, or estate, then you will need the Schedule K-1 from the entity.

Rental Income and Royalties:

  • If you owned rental property, then you will need a record of the rents you received as well as the expenses you incurred on the rental properties.
  • Furthermore, if you received royalty income, then you will need Form 1099-MISC from the company paying the royalties.

Other Income:

  • If you had any other source of income, you need documentation of it.
  • This includes gambling income and cancelation of indebtedness.

Child Care:

  • If you incurred childcare expenses on behalf of a dependent, you will need the total amount of these expenses as well as the tax identification number of the child care provider.

Education:

  • If you were a student in higher education, you will need a Form 1098-T showing the amount of your higher education expenses.
  • Additionally, if you paid student loan interest, you will need Form 1098-E.

Health Insurance:

  • If any point during 2022 you had health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you will need a Form 1095-A before you can filed your tax return.

 Should I take the standard deduction or itemize?

According to the IRS, approximately 87% of taxpayers elect to take the standard deduction. For a single taxpayer in 2022, the standard deduction is $12,950 and for a couple that elects married filing joint status then their standard deduction is $25,900.  These amounts increase slightly for taxpayers over age 65 or those that are blind. If the total of your state and local income or sales taxes, personal property taxes, real property taxes, mortgage interest payments, charitable contributions, and a portion of your unreimbursed medical expenses exceeds the standard deduction, then you may want to itemize.

One important thing to keep in mind is that even if you choose to take the standard deduction on your federal return, you may want to itemize on your Arkansas tax return. This is because the Arkansas standard deduction is significantly lower than the federal standard deduction.

 What if I am unable to file by the April 18th deadline?

If you need additional time to file, you may request an extension.

  • To request an automatic 6-month extension of time to file for your federal individual income tax return, Form 4868 should be filed before the filing deadline.
  • The deadline for filing returns with an extension is October 16, 2023.
  • An extension of time for filing a federal tax return is valid for extending your Arkansas individual tax return also.
  • In the event that a taxpayer only need to extend an Arkansas individual tax return, form AR1055 may be filed.

It is important to keep in mind that while you may extend the time for filing a federal income tax return, the extension does not extend the time to pay any tax due. The tax due must be paid on or before April 18, 2023, in order to avoid interest and penalties.

Where can I get help with my Tax Return?

For individuals who generally make less than $60,000, the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax return preparation and e-filing for basic tax returns. All VITA tax preparation volunteers are required to take and pass tax law training exam established by the IRS. In Central Arkansas, there are several VITA sites, including 2 sites in Conway. One is sponsored by United Way of Central Arkansas and the other is sponsored by Arkansas Asset Builders. Taxpayers can find contact information for the VITA sites using the following link:  https://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/

In addition to the VITA program, the IRS Free File Program provides free online tax preparation and filing at an IRS partner site for taxpayer whose adjusted gross income is $73,000 or less. The link for the free filing software is:  https://apps.irs.gov/app/freeFile

Why is my refund less than last year?

For the 2021 tax year, certain tax credits were increased or had expanded eligibility due to the global pandemic. Many of those credit have returned to pre-pandemic levels for the 2022 tax year.  Taxpayers taking advantage of these credits may see a decrease in their tax refunds for the 2022 tax year as compared to last year due to these changes. These includes changes in the child tax credit, child and dependent care credit, the earned income tax credit, and charitable contributions.

 Child Tax Credit: For the tax year 2022, the child tax credit has a maximum amount of $2,000 per dependent under age 17. This is down from a maximum credit of $3,600 per dependent in 2021, depending on the dependents age.  Additionally, while the entire of the credit was refundable in 2021, only up to $1,500 of the child tax credit is refundable per dependent in 2022.

 Child and Dependent Care Credit: The child and dependent care credit has a maximum credit of $2,100 for 2022.  The maximum credit in 2021 was $8,000. While the child and dependent care credit was refundable for eligible taxpayer in 2021, it is no longer refundable.

 Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): The amount of the EITC for a qualifying taxpayer with no dependents is $560 in 2022 compared with the $1,502 in 2021 for the same individuals.

 Charitable Contributions: During 2021, taxpayers could deduct up to $300 ($600 for married couples) of cash contributions to charitable organizations even though they claimed the standard deduction. For 2022, taxpayers may only deduct charitable contribution if they elect to itemize their deductions.

Where is my refund?

According to the IRS, over 90% of refunds are issued in less than 21 days for those taxpayers that e-file their return and have the refund direct deposited into their account.   In many cases, the refunds are appearing in approximately 10 business days.  Taxpayers filing a paper tax return can expect longer wait times on refunds as processing the paper return may take more than 4 weeks. Taxpayer’s may check the status of their refund using the IRS2Go app on a mobile phone or visiting the following site: https://www.irs.gov/refunds.


About the author: Ashley Phillips, JD, LL.M

Ashley Phillips joined the University of Central Arkansas in August of 2016 as a full-time Assistant Professor in the College of Business Accounting Department. Prior to that, Phillips served as an attorney in Tennessee and Arkansas, including as a Senior Attorney for the Internal Revenue Service. At UCA she teaches classes like Accounting 2310 for beginners all the way through Advanced Income Tax courses for graduate students.

Phillips earned her Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of Arkansas, her Master of Laws (LL.M) in Taxation from the University of Florida, and her Juris Doctorate (JD) from the University of Arkansas. Phillips is well known for serving her community though the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. In 2022, she was awarded the Peter J. Mehl Service-Learning Faculty of the Year Award for 2021-2022 and the College of Business Excellence in Service award in 2021.

Senior Accounting Major Amaya Whitmore Secures Full-Time Job After Internship

AMAYA WHITMORE

In fall 2022, Senior accounting major Amaya Whitmore accepted an internship to explore what a career in accounting might be like. Little did she know, her fall internship would extend into spring 2023 and then turn into a full-time job offer after she graduates in May. Learn more about Amaya’s experience and her plans for the future:

Why did you choose this internship?
I saw this position for a paid internship at Dillard’s on Handshake. I wasn’t really looking for an internship when I came across this position, but I was in a rut of trying to decide which route I wanted to take after graduation. So I decided that it would be a great opportunity for me to get some experience and decide if I like working in tax. I had done a lot of research on accounting careers, and public vs. private, and realized that most people go the public accounting route after graduation, so I wanted to see what private accounting was like and to get that experience.

What did you learn at this internship?
My internship at Dillard’s has taught me so much. My favorite part has been being able to put the skills that I have learned into the classroom into practice and see real life examples. Working in the tax field, there is always so much to learn with the laws constantly changing. Also, I have been able to learn so many tips and tricks in Excel. We take courses that focus on Excel in the College of Business, but getting to use the program every day has allowed me to learn many shortcuts and ways to make using Excel more efficient.

How do you think this internship will be beneficial in your career?
I have already learned so much, and I am still learning on a daily basis. The things that I have learned from this internship have already helped me in the classroom setting, so I know it will help me in trying to get my CPA license and anything after that.

How do you plan to use your degree?
I will be graduating from UCA with my B.B.A. in Accounting in May. I plan to return to UCA in the fall to start the Master of Accountancy program. Also, I plan to start studying to take the CPA exam. There are so many things that someone can do with a degree in Accounting, so I know that my possibilities are endless!

What advice do you have for students who may (or may not) be considering an internship?
The biggest advice that I have is to take advantage of any internship opportunity that you can get! Internships are very beneficial and allow you to get some insight into what you could possibly be doing in the future. It is a great time to figure out what you like and don’t like, and help you decide what you want to do in the future. Plus, you never know the opportunities you can get from your internship… you could end up with a full-time job secured for after graduation!

Delwin Portillo Shares Recent Study Abroad Experience

Related: Education Abroad Opportunities – Upcoming Deadlines

My semester abroad visiting The Hague, Netherlands was easily the most enriching semester of my undergrad. I learned so much about being a leader, diversity, self confidence, personal growth, and of course I learned a lot about business and marketing!

I was able to take a Purposeful Marketing course which had many different components to it. There was a leadership component, in which I learned different leadership skills and how to flesh out and improve these skills. There was a Project Management component where I learned how to use SCRUM Methodology in order to complete a project. And then the Marketing Component in which I worked with a real life charity in brainstorming a new marketing strategy for their upcoming projects.

Over the course of the semester I was able to travel to multiple countries and experience a variety of cultures. I was able to meet many people that I am now able to call mentors and friends. It is an experience that I will never take for granted, and I feel has given me a renewed appreciation for education and traveling. Thank you UCA for this fantastic opportunity.

  • Delwin Portillo | Senior | marketing major

COB Accounting’s Annual Fear the Strike Event Raises $1K for Ronald McDonald House

On Monday, November 7, UCA Accounting held its annual networking and fundraiser event attended by 18 UCA accounting students, 4 faculty/staff, and 16 professionals.

Teams included firm representatives and students competed in a bowling tournament, and the highest average score won a donation to the charity of their choice. The Landmark team won, so the Ronald McDonald House will receive a check for $1,000.

Other great teams of the evening included Centennial Bank, Ernst & Young, Forvis, Frost, Garland & Greenwood, HCJ, and Hogan Taylor.

The annual event is a way for accounting students to engage with professionals of the industry in a fun and relaxed setting.

Accounting Students Make an Impact through the VITA Program

Every year, hundreds of thousands of dollars are unclaimed when citizens do not file tax returns. Many do not file because they believe they can’t afford to file their taxes, but the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program can help qualified tax payers file their returns for free. The program, allowed by the IRS, offers free tax help to people who make $57,000 or less, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and limited English-speaking taxpayers who need help in preparing their own tax returns.

Macy Dillard

For students, VITA is a great opportunity to gain experience and give back to the local Conway community. Led by UCA Accounting Professor Ashley Phillips, the program is open to COB students who would like to volunteer or earn college credit in accounting. VITA volunteers receive training and can either prepare returns or do intake. Experienced CPAs then review each return.

“Taxes are stressful for many people, and by helping through the VITA program, I was able to alleviate a big part of that burden. During review meetings, I could see the gratitude and relief wash over my clients’ faces,” said accounting student Macy Dillard.

Last year, students volunteered approximately 420 hours to return more than $324,000 of taxpayer money to the community through the preparation of over 250 tax returns for low-income taxpayers in the region.

“I am so thankful for the big difference I got to make as just a student for both individuals, their families, and the local community as a whole. It is an amazing feeling to see firsthand how much you are helping someone. On top of that, I got great experience, developed my social skills, and gained volunteer hours,” Dillard added.

To receive college credit, students must register for the course that occurs in spring, complete at least 25 tax returns, complete a total of 80 hours (3 hours per week) at United Way. To find out more, contact Professor Ashley Phillips about how to register for the course in spring 2023.

If you need help preparing your tax return in early 2023, learn more about getting help from VITA in Central Arkansas.