• Accounting News Roundup: The Mortgage Interest Deduction and ‘I helped people [with stolen money]’ | 10.17.17

    By | October 17, 2017

    Mortgage interest deduction

    This Wall Street Journal story reports that while the mortgage interest deduction appears to be safe in a quest to reform the federal tax code, however, the proposal to double the standard deduction might render it moot:

    Under current law, a typical homeowner would need to purchase a home worth at least $305,000 to make taking the break worthwhile, according to Zillow, while under the proposed law that would shoot up to $801,000. The median home value in the U.S. is just over $200,000.

    “You’re simply subsidizing really expensive housing markets where people probably aren’t buying first-time homes,” a Zillow economist said. And, to an extent, that was true before this proposal. If this proposal were to become law, the MID would be an even more ludicrous, brazen giveaway to the wealthiest taxpayers. Which, incidentally, I believe, is the working title of the Republican tax reform bill — The Brazen Ludicrous Giveaway to the Wealthiest Taxpayers Act.

    Accountants behaving badly

    Back in the spring, we shared the story of Elizabeth Edith Shaw, an accountant in who embezzled $1.2 million from her employer over a decade. At that time, she requested to be released from prison temporarily to sell assets. She was sentenced to 10 years in jail yesterday, but there’s still a mystery as to what she did with all the money:

    According to a Probation Department report released Monday, Shaw’s deception was discovered after the company owner, Tim Winsor, told Shaw he wanted to provide $20,000 in Christmas bonuses to his employees and was told by Shaw there was only $28,000 in the business’ account.

    In an interview with a prosecutor and detective in March, Shaw said she cashed forged company checks in order to pay her mortgage and other bills, the detective’s affidavit states.

    However, when asked by a probation officer in an interview earlier this month what she did with the stolen money, Shaw replied: “I traveled … gave it to the homeless … animal shelters … and I helped people.”

    This didn’t help her co-workers, of course, who, presumably, are also people.

    Previously, on Going Concern…

    An update on the EY employee who was shot in Las Vegas. In Open Items, someone is deciding between a data science position with a bank vs. tech consulting with a Big 4 firm. Also, someone wonders how PwC’s takeover of GE’s tax department is going.

    In other news:

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