Date: 9/23/2014
 Doors Open: 6:00pm 
 Location: Biltmore Hotel 
  2151 Laurelwood Road 
  Santa Clara, CA 95054 
 Presentation: "Obama Care" by Amrit Dhaliwal
   Cost:Day of Event at the Door 
  $40 members 
  $50 guests 
Discount rate, register and pay using Paypal here 
  $35 members 
  $45 guests 


 Amrit Dhaliwal  - 
"Obama Care"


Due to unforeseen circumstances, Mike Neurendorff will not be able to present Professional Speaking for our September meeting as originally planned.

In Mike's place, AFWA is excited and very thankful to have Haramrit (Amrit) Dhaliwal speak about the Affordable Care Act this month!

She currently works with local businesses across many industries to provide them the most cost effective medical insurance solutions.
Currently she has a wide variety of clients ranging from IT firms, Non Profits, Medical Professional (Independent Medical groups, Dentists, Orthodontists, Physical Therapists, Optometrists) and Startups. She guides them through the maze of insurance!
The health benefits range from Medical, Dental, Vision to Group Life and Disability plans. Over the years, it has been a true pleasure for her to meet with successful entrepreneurs in the Silicon Valley! She enjoys helping them succeed in the world of health care, while being their partner to help maximize their investment in human capital.


It will be a fantastic opportunity to hear the facts and about what to expect with the Affordable Care Act.

(click on a Sponsor to be directed to their website)



- August Membership Meeting Recap -
Get Moving! Get Happy!
Innovation at Work: Promoting Creativity Among Your Accounting & Finance Team
CPAs Sue IRS over PTIN Fees

Employers Brace For More Workers On 2015 Benefit Plans, Thanks To Obamacare


Nicole Letellier

AFWA - Silicon Valley Chapter President


It is September already and the end of summer is upon us.  Before the summer ends, you will have a chance to meet members of other AFWA chapters around the Bay Area at the San Francisco Chapter Annual Angel Island Picnic on September 20th. This is a great event to get to know other members of AFWA and to spend a day outdoors enjoying what San Francisco Bay has to offer.  I hope I will get to see you at this great event.


This being my third month as your president, I am already learning and refining many skills as a leader.  This month was all about challenges and cooperation.  We had a confirmed speaker who was going to talk about presentation skills.  Unfortunately, he had to cancel and we found ourselves having to come up with a replacement with little time left.  We got together as a group, each person participated and we were able to solve our problem.  We decided to postpone our topic for a later date and one of our own offered to be our speaker for this month.  What a great example of cooperation when everybody pitches in to find solution and for one of our member to offer to prepare a presentation with less than a two week advance notice!  I am very proud of being the leader of AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter. This is a wonderful group and I encourage you to consider being a board member for the next fiscal year.


Whether you are an employee or employer, fall is usually time to think about health care and open enrollment.  In today's climate with all the changes brought by the health care reform or Obamacare, decisions are not easy to take.  Small employers face new decisions to be made.  This month's speaker, one of our chapter board members, Amrit Dhaliwal, Director of Benefits at Expert Quote, will present the highlights and updates of the Obamacare.  There are many misunderstandings about the program and I am looking forward to learning the ins and outs of the program, which will be helpful in my professional life.


I am looking forward to seeing all of you at our next membership meeting on September 23rd at the Biltmore Hotel & Suites in Santa Clara.


I am wishing you a good end of summer.


Nicole Sheets

AFWA - Silicon Valley Chapter Secretary

Benefits of belonging to an association


We have all heard that there are benefits to belonging to an association, but do we really appreciate and utilize all the benefits? Many of our managers, or bosses have told us we should belong. Let's really break down the benefits and discuss them. We can do this by using the AFWA tagline: Connect, Lead, Advance.


One of the most obvious benefits is networking. We can connect with others during dinners and conferences. We can use these connections to build our professional relationships. These relationships can help when we are looking for a new job, have a question about accounting or business, or even just to share ideas. Networking can even help us build friendships, because these people have common interests with us.


Associations also help us learn new topics or just stay current about our common interests through
dinners, conferences, LinkedIn, Facebook and Webinars. It can also inform us of any upcoming changes to our professions. For anybody that is certified, many associations provide us with CPE credits to keep our certifications current. Not everyone needs to be certified or is certified, so this benefit does not apply to everyone. It does provide confidence that associations are under scrutiny regarding what and how information is provided. National conferences can help provide us with a broader group to network with. This can help us with getting information about other states or even other countries. Remember that valuable statement, "It's not what you know, but who you know!" Conferences can also help you acquire CPE credits faster as they can offer more lectures and many run over a couple of days.


Associations can help build your leadership skills. There are opportunities to be on the chapter boards, national boards, or even committees. This is an easy way to learn about working with a team, without a large time commitment. 



Through all the above mentioned benefits, we will advance our professional development. We do this through the improvement of our knowledge, and our improved leadership skills. This will help you advance your career.

So, together, let's Connect, Lead and Advance!!




Registration is now open!

2014 Accounting & Financial Women's Alliance Annual Conference

Sunday September 28- Wednesday October 1, 2014
Astor Crowne Plaza


Don't miss this opportunity to network with other women in accounting and finance from across the country. Join us in New Orleans and learn from leading experts on ways to develop a variety of your skills. The Accounting & Financial Women's Alliance Annual Conference will be loaded with opportunities for networking, leadership development, education - including CPE credit hours - and fun!


You should attend if you are...

  • Responsible for monitoring developments in accounting, taxation and finance
  • Responsible for the quality and profitability of your company or firm
  • Supervising and/or training accounting and finance staff
  • Interested in developing a network of outstanding professionals.
  • Ready to promote your company or product in today's marketplace
  • A beginner or veteran, with or without a degree, in private or public accounting, finance or academia

What will you learn at the Accounting & Financial Women's Alliance Annual Conference?

  • The latest technical developments in accounting, auditing, finance, tax, management, leadership, government and industry, including e-commerce, and budgeting and accounting software applications
  • Motivational strategies that work
  • Methods for effective management of people and the marketplace
  • Effective means of identifying and responding to economic problems
  • Valuable leadership techniques
  • Means for achieving effective communication
  • Professional contacts in a variety of industries

Need help convincing your organization to send you to our conference? Build your case and read our reasons why you should attend.


Stay tuned for session and registration details!





Don't forget to like our Facebook page for our latest updates!


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AFWA Silicon Valley members and guests attended August's membership meeting for a presentation about Excel Tips from special guest speaker Maria Pribyl. 



SEPTEMBER NEWSAccountability

By Berranthia Brown, CMI, AFWA National President
September 10, 2014


With fall and cooler temperatures approaching, I find myself wanting to exercise more and do some power walking, or what I call a "wog", a jog with a walk. I find myself feeling more alive and energetic once I've worked out or exercised. The main reason I exercise is because it makes me feel good, but secondly, I want to be healthy.  I try to spend at least 30 minutes each day moving my body and twice a week doing strength training with a trainer. Have you ever had one of those days? 


Distractions come or the budget was due yesterday, and you don't get to the gym or go walking.   As we age, exercise is necessary for us to remain fit and focused in our daily lives.


What if you pursued movement because it would make you happier, not because you'll lose some weight, not because the doctor told you too? When we get moving, our blood circulation and oxygen flow increases, endorphins are released, themind clears, and we feel happier! And happy women get moving! According to a Gallup poll, participates who engage in exercise for 20 minutes can see a significant boost in their mood compared with those who engaged in no physical activity.  Here are 8 easy ways to get moving now: 1. Do jumping jacks 2. Take Stretch breaks each hour 3. Try out a new sport, tennis or golf 4. Try a new dance class 5. Exercise for 10 min/day/3x per week 6. Go for a walk 7. Play hide and seek with kids 8. Turn on music and just dance in your living room.


Don't forget to eat healthy as well!  Amazingly, this is my biggest challenge, eating. I happen to love eating calories instead of counting them.  A few years ago, I started keeping a food journal at the advice of my personal trainer.  His suggestion was that if I put it in my mouth, I needed to write it down.  I found myself struggling with trying to eat the "right" foods and making sure I didn't go over my calorie count.  But to my surprise, I wasn't eating "ENOUGH" food for energy. Certain types of food can make you happier and boost your mood. Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A & C, and can ward off mid-day fatigue. Almonds make a terrific snack to keep in a bag and are full of protein.  Honey is an energy booster and great in herbal tea for an afternoon kick. Avocados contain a lot of vitamin B3, which is a serotonin-booster. And spinach is a terrific source of iron which helps the body produce more energy. I usually have a salad for lunch now, with spinach, avocado, almonds, and salmon.


We are all so busy with work, family, and other activities. All we really need is to watch what we eat and exercise more to stay healthy and be happy!  I hope you'll join me for a "WOG" during the upcoming annual conference in New Orleans!





Innovation at Work: 
Promoting Creativity Among Your Accounting & Finance Team
from Accountemps / Robert Half
September 2014

Albert Einstein once said, "No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that
created it." These words are relevant not only to physics, but also in accounting jobs. In a
business climate where competition is stiff and nothing stays the same for long, especially
technology, innovation at work is crucial to the long-term success of an organization.
But how can you inspire greater creativity among your accounting and finance team? Here are a
few ideas:

1. Encourage teamwork. It takes only one person to come up with a good idea, but imagine
how much more creative your department could be if everyone put their heads together and fed
off each other's positive energy. It often takes the perspective of several employees to come up
with a great plan, shape it, finesse it and make it a reality. Make sure they see creativity as a team
effort and all are encouraged to participate.

2. Solicit ideas the smart way. Take innovation at work to the next level by holding "ideation
contests" and providing incentives for participation. Some people prefer polishing their plans on
paper instead of pitching them spontaneously during a group meeting. Also think outside the
suggestion box. Remember how the math professor in Good Will Hunting put up a difficult
problem on a classroom blackboard? Bryan Mattimore, confounder of the innovation agency The
Growth Engine, suggests something similar, but instead with business challenges on a
whiteboard in a public place. Anyone passing by is welcome to contribute ideas and expound on
them. This way there's interaction and collaboration - elements missing in the suggestion-box

3. Get fresh. It happens in every workplace: the same people under the same environments
proposing iterations of the same ideas over and over again. To reboot innovation at work, add
different variables. Some suggestions: 

  • Ask an innovator from another department or branch office to sit in on a brainstorming session.
  • If feasible, cross-train accounting and finance staff so they have a better understanding of other job responsibilities and to get a fresh viewpoint on departmental issues. 
  • Bring in a consultant to help brainstorm or even lead a few meetings.

4. Take the scenic route. Leave the workplace behind every once in a while. New surroundings
can spur new ideas and unclog mental blockages. Try holding your next team get-together at a
park, museum, cool cafe or retreat center. How about a walking meeting? Research has shown a
connection between activity and creativity. While you're leaving the routine behind, also ditch
the business dress code for a day. 


5. Communicate. A recent Accountemps survey cites lack of communication as the main factor 

dragging down team morale, which can dampen enthusiasm and innovation at work. Avoid this
negative cycle by keeping staff regularly informed on company plans that you are free to reveal.
Also let them know how their implemented ideas are driving the company's success. Positive
feedback and recognition feed the creative mind.

Savvy businesses and managers are always on the lookout for ways to do things better, but they
can't do it alone. To inspire innovation at work, make your corporate environment a place where
creativity is welcome, new ideas are recognized and risk takers are rewarded.

This article is provided courtesy of Robert Half Management Resources, the premier provider of
senior-level accounting, finance and business systems professionals to supplement companies'
project and interim staffing needs. The company has more than 150 locations worldwide and
offers online job search services at Follow our blog at 

from Accounting Today
by Michael Cohn
September 9, 2014

A pair of CPAs have filed a class-action complaint against the Internal Revenue Service challenging IRS regulations requiring tax practitioners to annually register and pay a fee to the agency to obtain and maintain a Preparer Tax Identification Number.


The class action involves more than 700,000 individual practitioners who are forced to pay for a PTIN every year. The lawsuit, which was filed Monday, seeks an injunction barring collection of the fee and recovery of the more than $150 million in fees the IRS has collected since 2010. 


The challenged regulations were issued several years ago as part of a broad IRS initiative to radically expand its oversight of attorneys, accountants, and other tax return preparers who prepare tax returns for compensation, the CPAs' attorneys noted. Last year, the a federal court in Washington, D.C., ruled that large portions of the regulations issued by the IRS were invalid because the IRS lacked statutory authority to issue the regulations in the case of Loving v. United States, and that decision was upheld by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this year.

The rulings invalidated the IRS's program for requiring mandatory testing and continuing education of tax preparers. However, the courts allowed the IRS to continue to require registration of tax preparers through the PTIN, but did not rule on the question of fees. The IRS has announced plans to offer a voluntary testing program instead known as the Annual Filing Season Program, but the American Institute of CPAs has filed suit to stop the program (see AICPA Sues IRS over Voluntary Program for Tax Preparers).


Congress allowed the IRS to require tax practitioners who prepare tax returns for compensation to place a PTIN on the returns to help IRS identify the preparer. The plaintiff CPAs argue that the IRS lacks the statutory authority, however, to charge fees to obtain or renew a PTIN and the IRS cannot use fees it has collected for unrelated activities. The IRS uses only a small portion of the fees collected to pay the vendor who manages the on-line PTIN registration process and uses the bulk of the fees for other IRS activities. Plaintiffs seek restitution of the fees collected by IRS in the past and injunctive relief barring the IRS from collecting similar fees in the future.


"If an agency can charge U.S. citizens to fulfill a requirement, then an agency can tax," said plaintiffs' co-counsel, Allen Buckley of Atlanta. "Unlawfully, the IRS has been taxing Americans."


The other co-counsel Stuart Bassin of Washington, D.C., said, "The courts have rejected the IRS's effort to regulate return preparers and it is time for the IRS to return the PTIN registration fees it has collected to support that effort."


The docket number of the case is 1:cv-14-1523. A copy of the complaint has been posted online by Kelly Phillips Erb of Forbes.

from Forbes
by Bruce Japsen, Contributor
September 11, 2014


Employers are expecting an influx of workers who haven't previously taken advantage of company-paid health coverage to do so as more mandates and rules are implemented under the Affordable Care Act, according to a new analysis of large companies.


Employee benefits consulting firm Mercer says 22 percent of employer health plan sponsors are "likely to see enrollment grow" when they are required to open plans to employees who work 30 or more hours per week. Meanwhile, eligible employees who have opted to go without coverage may now do so to avoid tax penalties, which could also trigger an additional increase in workers on company health plans.


Though employer health costs remain near low percentage increases not seen since the 1990s, reforms from the health law will still contribute to a 3.9 percent increase on average in 2015 for health benefits costs for employees in 2015. This compares to health cost increases for employers of just 2.1 percent in 2013 when the percentage rate hike was a 15-year low, according to Mercer, a subsidiary of March & McLennan Companies (MMC).

"The math is simple - the more employees you cover, the more you spend," said Mercer's director of research for health and benefits, Beth Umland, in a statement accompanying the report.

A wild card for employers during this fall's corporate open enrollment period - the time of year when workers get to change or renew their benefits for next year - will be whether more employees opt to take advantage of health benefits at their place of work to avoid tax penalties for not having medical insurance.


Under the health law, individuals who did not obtain coverage for this year faced a minimum penalty of $95. But that penalty more than triples to a minimum of $325 for those who do not obtain health coverage in 2015.

Though employers didn't see an influx of workers signing up for their coverage due to the penalties last year, this year "could be a different story," said Mercer senior partner and national health reform leader Tracy Watts.


"Not just because the penalty is higher, but because many many employees will now have the option to enroll who didn't before," Watts added.




President - Nicole Letellier

President - Elect - Eileen Perry

Secretary - Nicole Sheets 

Treasurer - Wendy Matthews

Program - Diane Ollila

Membership - Amrit Dhaliwal

Scholarship - Susan Wright

Newsletter/Web - Edronda Guiriba 

Hospitality - Jeanne Kourmako

CPE Compliance - Marvel Khan

Immediate Past President - Julia Becklund 



Click here for more info about the Roles and Responsibilities of the Board of Directors.



Chair: Diane Ollila


There is an excellent line-up of programs for the Silicon Valley Chapter this year, and most of them qualify for CPE!  Check out the line-up as we have engaged some dynamic and outstanding speakers.

Speaker: Amrit Dhaliwal
Presentation: ObamaCare

Speaker: Jane Louie
Presentation: Financial Planning

Chair: Amrit Dhaliwal


  • All Levels of Accounting & Finance
  • Bookkeepers
  • Corporate Accounting Finance
  • Public Accounting
  • Management & Educators
  • Recruiters

If you would like to join the Silicon Valley Chapter of AFWA, follow the link to our National website:


Please feel free to complete the application or forward a copy to someone you think would benefit from joining our Chapter.




  • Prestigious status of professional affiliation
  • National contacts for networking and professional information
  • Forum for CPE
  • Scholarships
  • Leadership opportunities in supportive arena
  • Subscription to Accountability e-newsletter 
  • National and regional conferences at a discounted rate
  • Access to Career Center
  • Access to AFWA's LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter groups and National online membership directory
  • Discounted membership to the Institute for Management Accountants (IMA)
  • Discounted products and services through affiliation agreements
    • CPA review courses, CCH tax & accounting books, Long Term Care Insurance and Bank of America credit card.

Hospitality Chair: Jeanne Kourmako
CPE Chair: Marvel Khan

Reservation and cancellation policy: 
Reservations or cancellations are requested by noon on the Friday preceding each meeting.  Email Jeanne to reserve or cancel. The goal is an accurate count for the hotel.  Unreserved members (not guests) incur a surcharge of $5.00.

Reserved members or guests who are no-shows will be billed if not cancelled by noon the preceding Friday. We do want you to come to the meetings and reservations are helpful but if you have to cancel let us know beforehand to avoid incurring the cost of the meal. WE ACCEPT CREDIT CARD PAYMENT AT THE DOOR.


Volunteers are always welcome at our monthly membership meetings. Lend a helping hand to make our monthly events and meetings even more interesting while building a great network and forming new relationships.


CPE credit is available for participating in any of our qualified programs.  See Marvel for more details in person at the meeting.

Chair: Edronda Guiriba

We have changed our newsletter! Like the new look? Be sure to send us some feedback.

The newsletter is prepared and distributed on a monthly basis.  Visit our web site at  If this Chapter does not have your e-mail address, please contact Edronda at


We encourage our membership to submit articles of interest for our monthly newsletter.  Please make your submission under the following criteria...

  • Prepared as a Microsoft Word document
  • Photos in JPEG format
  • captions are okay, no imbedded text, please
  • 600 words or less

There are four sponsor levels of contribution established for the scholarship fund.
Sponsorship up to $150.00  
Sponsorship up to $300.00 
Sponsorship up to $500.00 
Sponsorship $750.00 or more

Share the information! 
See Susan Wright for more details. 

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 Founded in 1938, AFWA/ASWA provides women in accounting and finance the leadership, education and networking opportunities needed to achieve their career goals. Celebrating 75 years as the only organization that solely represents the interest of women in the entire accounting and finance community. The organization's mission is to enable women in all accounting and related fields to achieve their full personal,
professional and economic potential and to contribute to the future development of their profession.