• Accounting News Roundup: Lobbying Against Return-Free Filing and Millennials’ Productivity | 03.21.17

    By | March 21, 2017

    Lobbying against return-free filing

    The lobbying activities of Intuit and H&R Block are well-known. Together they are the key players on team BIG TAX PREP. The two companies want to prevent any bill that would simplify the tax return filing process from seeing the light of day. One idea that has floated around for years is to send taxpayers with simple returns pre-filled forms that would only require the taxpayer’s signature. It’s never gained much traction thanks to Intuit and H&R Block’s efforts. But now, ProPublica reports that the companies are taking more preemptive measures:

    Intuit spent more than $2 million lobbying last year, much of it spent on legislation that would permanently bar the government from offering taxpayers prefilled returns. H&R Block spent $3 million, also directing some of their efforts towards the bill. Among the 60 co-sponsors of the bipartisan bill: then congressman and now Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

    The bill, called the Free File Act of 2016, looks on the surface to be consumer-friendly. It makes permanent a public-private partnership in which 13 private tax preparation companies — called the “Free File Alliance” —have offered free online tax filings to lower- and middle-income families. The Free File Alliance include both Intuit and H&R Block.

    But the legislation would also permanently bar the IRS from offering its own free alternative.

    Essentially, Intuit and H&R Block want to be subsidized to create this free-filing option and never want the IRS to encroach upon it. It would be a sweet deal for them, even as sweetheart deals go.

    Fortunately, the Free File Act of 2016 never made it out of committee, but neither did a bill that would allow the IRS to offer pre-filled forms to taxpayers. Taxpayers with simple returns seem doomed to the task of preparing their own.

    Bribes

    This is weird. The New York Post reports that a New York City Metro Transit Authority procurement officer allegedly tried to bribe KPMG.

    Angel Barbosa, 47, is accused of seeking “favors’’ from accounting giant KPMG in exchange for making sure the firm scored big-bucks contracts with the transit agency, according to MTA sources.

    “Angel was asking for favors and doing them favors,” an MTA official said.

    “They were leading him on and making him think they were going to give him things in exchange for getting the contracts.”

    Usually, if you’re a client expecting a little special treatment, a partner might take you to a lunch or two or maybe a ballgame or a concert. Isn’t that good enough? Did this guy think that KPMG would just send a bagman around with a briefcase filled with cash? If you want to solicit bribes from a mega accounting firm, you have to be bit more clever than that.

    Millennials

    David Isaacs writes in Accounting Today that millennials are the most productive generation. And sure, why not.

    A common misconception about the Millennial generation, in my humble opinion, is that we quit our jobs every six months to three years. This decreases productivity because of the increased time needed to train new people. However, the frequently overlooked benefit is that when a person has experienced several different organizations, their experience includes the unique knowledge of what does and does not work, including how it might be implemented to the company’s benefit.

    Isaacs writes that “Millennials quit their bosses” and there might be some truth to that, although I still think career wanderlust is a thing. Also, the idea that more diverse experiences (i.e. changing jobs) lead to professionals that look to create efficiencies and better ways of doing things might be true, but I don’t think that’s a millennial trait.

    As I mentioned the other day, “millennial” traits are most likely “people” traits. The idea that some people aren’t satisfied by the status quo isn’t a millennial feature. It’s just how some people are. What is different is that millennials do seem more willing to leave jobs than previous generations, and part of that, I think, is due to their use of the Internet, which does make people more productive. So, maybe I’m wrong, but millennials’ productivity strikes me as a matter of circumstances rather than a natural urge.

    Previously, on Going Concern…

    Marsha Leest noted some observations to make when you’re on a interview.

    I wrote about the PCAOB sanctioning a former PwC Brazil partner.

    In Open Items, someone is asking about signing a non-compete.

    In other news:

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