Forensic accounting plays a pivotal role in the legal arena, particularly when financial disputes arise. Litigation support provided by forensic accountants goes far beyond basic number-crunching; it involves a deep dive into financial records to uncover evidence that can make or break a case. Here’s why their role is indispensable:

Expert Testimony: Forensic accountants often serve as expert witnesses, presenting their findings in a manner that is understandable to judges and juries. Their testimony can provide the necessary clarity on complex financial matters and influence the outcome of legal proceedings.
Economic Damage Assessment: In cases of business disputes, insurance claims, trust and estate conflicts, or personal injury, forensic accountants assess the economic impact of the events in question. They meticulously calculate monetary losses, including lost profits, which are crucial for quantifying the amount of an award needed to make an injured party whole.

Fraud and Embezzlement Investigation: When fraud is suspected, forensic accountants are called upon to conduct thorough investigations. They analyze transactions, supporting records, trace assets, conduct interviews, and use their expertise to detect any signs of manipulation and missing funds.

Dispute Resolution: Forensic accountants assist in resolving disputes before matters reach the courtroom. Their objective analysis can help disputing parties understand the financial aspects of their disagreement, often leading to settlements without the need for a trial.

The demand for forensic accountants in litigation support is reflective of their unique ability to navigate the intersection of finance, law, and investigation. As legal complexities increase, so does the reliance on these specialized professionals to provide clarity and resolve financial disputes with their analytical prowess and attention to detail. Call us today for a consultation.


Effective January 1, 2024, the CTA introduced a new filing requirement for various business entities, particularly smaller privately held companies. However, the legal landscape took an unexpected turn on March 1, 2024. In the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, a federal judge declared the CTA unconstitutional as a matter of law.

While the recent court ruling has limited implications, it underscores the importance of staying informed about the CTA. Here’s what you need to know about this significant development:

Case Background: The case, titled National Small Business United v. Yellen, challenged the constitutionality of the CTA. The court concluded that the CTA exceeded the Constitution’s limits on congressional authority. Specifically, the court characterized the CTA as regulating incorporation—an area considered a “purely internal affair.”

The court found that incorporation is neither clearly economic nor commercial in nature and is too incidental to tax administration.

Narrow Impact: As a result of this court decision, the CTA currently remains in full effect except for members of the National Small Business Association (NSBA) and possibly reporting companies within the Northern District of Alabama.

For entities outside this specific scope, compliance with the CTA remains mandatory.


New reporting requirements under the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA) came into effect on January 1, 2024. The CTA requires certain business entities to file information on their beneficial owners with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the U.S. Department of Treasury. The definition of a beneficial owner is an individual who either exercises substantial control over the reporting company or directly or indirectly owns or controls at least 25 percent of the ownership interest in the reporting company.

According to the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA), single-member LLCs are not exempt from filing beneficial ownership information reports with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the U.S. Department of Treasury. If you have formed a single-member LLC by filing articles of organization or other formation documents with the Secretary of State in your state, then you fall within the BOI reporting requirements of the Corporate Transparency Act and are a reporting company.

Certain types of entities are exempt from the new reporting under the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA), including but not limited to banks, credit unions, public accounting firms registered with the PCAOB, and large entities that exceed $5 million in gross receipts and have 21 or more full-time employees.

We recommend that you contact legal counsel for additional information on how these requirements may affect your business. They can provide guidance on whether your business is required to file a report, what information must be reported, and when a report is due. Let us know if you need a referral.

Please note that FinCEN has been notified of recent fraudulent attempts to solicit information from individuals and entities who may be subject to reporting requirements under the Corporate Transparency Act. The fraudulent correspondence may be titled “Important Compliance Notice” and asks the recipient to click on a URL or to scan a QR code. Those e-mails or letters are fraudulent. FinCEN does not send unsolicited requests. Please do not respond to these fraudulent messages or click on any links or scan any QR codes within them.

Congratulations To Our New Partners!

Deborah Dickson, Managing Partner of Smith Dickson, is pleased to welcome Richard Warner, CPA and Ryan Nguyen, CPA to our partnership!

Richard Warner provides innovative tax planning strategies, specialized advisory services, bank negotiations, and merger and acquisition structuring. He oversees tax strategy and compliance work for individuals, partnerships, and corporations.

Ryan Nguyen is a leader in the forensic CPA arena with extensive experience in financial analysis, fraud investigations, Rule 26 and other report preparation, litigation consulting, and expert witness testifying. He also leads his team in performing assurance services.

Richard and Ryan have each been with Smith Dickson for over 10 years. Congratulations from all of your colleagues!”

National Association of Women Business Owners

Orange County selects Debbie Dickson to receive “Lifetime Achievement Award”

NAWBO-OC presented Debbie Dickson with the organization’s Remarkable Women Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was presented at NAWBO’s “20th Annual Remarkable Women Awards Event & Dinner” on May 19, 2016.

Per NAWBO-OC: “Accomplished and respected CEO, mentor, and generous volunteer to numerous professional and community organizations for decades, Debbie Dickson is well deserving of NAWBO-OC’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Debbie is founder and president of Smith Dickson, an Irvine-based CPA firm specializing in litigation support services, accounting, taxation, and business consulting. She has earned a reputation as a formidable forensic accounting expert witness and is considered a dynamic leader in her field.

“When she began her career as a CPA, Debbie was one of the few women in the profession. In the 1980s, after many years with Big 8 firms, she started Smith Dickson, an Accountancy Corporation. Taking care of her 12 employees is of the utmost importance to her, not only for the success of Smith Dickson but for the well-being of each employee’s personal concerns. For example, she shares her business sense and leadership skills as a mentor to those just starting their careers. Through her efforts, dozens of accountants have earned CPA certifications. Debbie regularly volunteers for boards and as president of groups such as the Forensic Expert Witness Association, Orange County Management Association, J. Reuben Clark Law Society, and Orange County Performing Arts Corporate Council. She also speaks before business organizations and women’s groups, and for three years ran a program that counseled teenage girls to develop their abilities. She’s a talented concert organist and pianist, donating her performances as a service to the arts.

“Perhaps if you asked her about her greatest accomplishment, Debbie would say that being a wife and Mom to her six children is at the top of the list.”

If you weren’t able to attend, see the video of Debbie’s acceptance speech below. Congresswoman Mimi Walters presented Debbie with her award. Or click here for a written transcript. For a news release, click here.

Debbie received the “Lifetime Achievement Award” …

Approximately 400 business leaders attended the gala …

Debbie’s speech capped the night …

Most of the Smith Dickson team was on-hand to enjoy the festivities …

Debbie with her husband, Guy, and children Kristin, Courtney, Michael, Ashlee, Heather and Brooke …

Debbie Dickson profiled in OCBJ’s “OC Style File”

Debbie Dickson was profiled in the “OC Style File,” in the Orange County Business Journal (October 2, 2017). The column showcases fashion and clothing styles of leading OC executives.

Says Debbie “It was quite a nice compliment to be chosen for this column. I do feel that style is very important for my role in the courtroom and business community. It was fun doing this profile, although I must say it wasn’t easy posing for the photo – but now I have a greater appreciation for models!”

Special Segerstrom Concert Hall Performance

The Dickson family’s achievements in performing arts have reached new heights! Debbie Dickson and daughter Brooke Dickson were invited in 2017 and again in 2019 by the Segerstrom Center for the Performing Arts to give full concerts to classical music enthusiasts. Debbie played the massive Gillespie organ (4,322 pipes, 30 tons), and Brooke performed as the soprano soloist.

If you would like to see one of the performances, see the link below:

or “Ave Maria” (Brooke’s solo)

Smith Dickson sponsors – and wins – Bocce Invitational charity event!

Smith Dickson was proud to sponsor the recent 6th Annual Bocce Invitational to benefit the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. The event, held at IL Fornaio restaurant in Irvine, was attended by approximately 175 Orange County business leaders and raised thousands of dollars for the organization.

Most of our Smith Dickson team was able to attend and support the event, with many even playing a few games of Bocce! To our surprise, we won! It was great fun, and we enjoyed supporting such a worthwhile cause.

Debbie Dickson nominated for OCBJ “2020 Women in Business” awards

Smith Dickson president Debbie Dickson has been nominated for the OCBJ “2017 Women in Business” awards. These awards recognize exceptional business and professional OC women. The special OCBJ issue of April 17th features profiles and photos of this year’s nominees.

Smith Dickson sponsors the Annual “General Counsel Awards”

As part of our commitment to the Southern California legal community, Smith Dickson is pleased to have been a Silver Sponsor of the “10th Annual General Counsel Awards,” presented by the Orange County Business Journal.

These awards recognize the significant role in-house counsels play in the success of Orange County businesses.

The Bocce trophy awaits inscription of our 2018 champions!

Debbie Dickson earns Master Analyst in Financial Forensics (MAFF) designation

May 9, 2012 — Deborah Dickson, CPA, CFF, MAFF, President of Smith Dickson, has successfully completed the rigourous certification process to earn the designation of Master Analyst in Financial Forensics (MAFF) with the prestigious National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts (NACVA®).

The MAFF credential is granted exclusively to CPAs who demonstrate considerable expertise in forensic accounting through their knowledge, skills, and experience. The MAFF encompasses fundamental and specialized forensic accounting skills that CPA practitioners apply in a variety of service areas, including bankruptcy and insolvency; computer forensic analysis; family law; valuations; fraud prevention, detection, and response; financial statement misrepresentation; and economic damages calculations.

Ms. Dickson is an experienced CPA and expert witness, with over 25 years in the accounting profession including 15 years in the litigation services area. She began her career as an auditor for Deloitte Touche (formerly Touche Ross) and subsequently accepted an opportunity to run the Entrepreneurial Services Division at PricewaterhouseCoopers (formerly Coopers & Lybrand). She has been President of Smith Dickson, an Accountancy Corporation, since 1982.

Press Release: Deborah Dickson, CPA, President of Smith Dickson earns prestigious MAFF designation

Debbie Dickson interviewed on radio show about “Tax Code Changes”

Debbie Dickson was interviewed June 6, 2013 on the “Critical Mass for Business” radio show. She discussed the impact of the tax code changes on small businesses. Deborah also shares with our audience some mitigating positive effects of changes in depreciation and other areas in the new tax code. The radio show’s audience demographic is 90%+ CEOs, business executives and owners.