Accounting News Roundup: Accountants Have a Difference of Opinion with MPs; Caterpillar's Bad Goodwill; Illinois Pol Proposes Sneaker Tax | 02.04.13

Accounting group hits back at politicians [FT, Earlier]
Michael Izza, chief executive of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, hit back after tax experts from the four biggest accounting firms were accused of undermining “the public good” in parliament last week. Margaret Hodge, chair of the House of Commons public accounts committee, told the partners from PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and Ernst & Young they were taking funds away from schools, hospitals and other public spending priorities. The accountants denied that their main role was to cut their clients’ tax bill – an assertion repeated by Mr Izza in a broader defence of his profession. He said it was “very disappointing” that politicians were questioning the civic-mindedness of leading accountants. The Big Four firms had “some of the best brand names on the planet”, he said.

Sino-Forest investors face off over deal with auditors [Globe and Mail]
A simmering feud between factions of investors in Sino-Forest Corp., the Mississauga-headquartered Chinese timber firm that collapsed amid allegations it was a multibillion-dollar fraud, will boil over on Monday in a Toronto courtroom. A group of investment funds is planning to try to derail a $117-million settlement reached between lawyers acting for the majority of shareholders in Sino-Forest and the company’s former auditors, Ernst & Young LLP, which has been accused of failing to properly scrutinize Sino-Forest’s books.
 
Caterpillar: Another Sad Example of Bad Goodwill Accounting [Accounting Onion]
Tom Selling: "The moral of the story is that fraud is not an asset.  Whatever you think about goodwill accounting, I hope you don’t think that the appropriate way for a company like Caterpillar to report that it has been the victim of a fraud is simply by a "non-cash" charge to goodwill."

Debner to establish Iowa practice for BKD [BR]
Marv Debner will lead the Iowa practice for BKD LLP, the Springfield, Mo.-based national accounting and advisory firm announced Wednesday.  Debner, until recently the managing partner of LWBJ Financial LLC, has 25 years of public accounting experience that includes an 18-year stint with Deloitte.  "The strong relationships Marv has built in the Des Moines community will be instrumental in helping us grow in the Hawkeye State." said Doug Gaston, managing partner of BKD's North Region, in a press statement.

IRS: Bad spelling led to crack in fraud case [TCD via Tax Update]

Roma L. Sims, 34, and Samantha C. Towns, 30, were arrested on Thursday and charged with aggravated identity theft, conspiracy and wire fraud for using the identities to file tax returns and rake in $1.3 million. But they misspelled several cities when they listed return addresses: Louieville and Pittsburg, according to the criminal complaint. Those geographic goofs caught the attention of investigators. So did misspelling some of the occupations they listed on the phony tax returns.
Youngest American Woman Billionaire Found With In-N-Out [Bloomberg]
Lunchtime at the flagship In-N-Out Burger restaurant in Baldwin Park, California, is a study in efficiency. As the order line swells, smiling workers swoop in to operate empty cash registers. Another staffer cleans tables, asking customers if they’re enjoying their hamburger. Outside, a woman armed with a hand-held ordering machine speeds up the drive-through line. Such service has helped In-N-Out create a rabid fan base -- and make Lynsi Torres, the chain’s 30-year-old owner and president, one of the youngest female billionaires on Earth. New store openings often resemble product releases from Apple Inc. (AAPL), with customers lined up hours in advance. City officials plead with the Irvine, California-based company to open restaurants in their municipalities. “They have done a fantastic job of building and maintaining a kind of cult following,” said Bob Goldin, executive vice president of Chicago-based food industry research firm Technomic Inc. “Someone would love to buy them.” That someone includes billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who told a group of visiting business students in 2005 that he’d like to own the chain, according to an account of the meeting on the UCLA Anderson School of Management website.

 

State legislator wants 25-cent tax on athletic shoes to help fund youth job training [CST via TaxProf]
Illinoisans shopping for a new pair of tennis shoes could be coughing up an extra quarter at the cash register starting this summer if a south suburban lawmaker has his way. The newly introduced bill, sponsored by Rep. Will Davis (D-Hazel Crest), would impose a 25-cent tax on the purchase of athletic shoes — described in the bill as any “shoe designed primarily for sports or other forms of physical activity.” Davis hopes to allocate the tax’s proceeds to a fund supporting Illinois YouthBuild — a non-profit with 16 programs in the state that provide job training for disadvantaged youth. It currently has three Chicago sites and one in Lake County.

Speeder caught 4 times, once at 112 mph, in hours [MST]

Four times in less than three hours, troopers stopped the Chrysler sedan as it rocketed across southern Minnesota at speeds topping 110 miles per hour, its driver carrying a small amount of marijuana but no proof of required car insurance. The stops earned Lorretta Lacy, 49, a handful of tickets and cost her the drug stash as she raced across two states to get to a granddaughter's middle-school dance in Racine, Wis. The serial police stops began shortly before 2:30 p.m. Friday on Interstate 90 about 10 miles east of Jackson. Witnesses reported her speeding and zipping in and out of traffic, according to the State Patrol. Lacy, of Sioux Falls, S.D., was clocked at 112 mph in her 1999 Chrysler LHS as she passed a state trooper, then was stopped and ticketed for speeding, no proof of insurance and possession of marijuana, said Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske. A "very, very small amount" of marijuana was confiscated, Roeske said.

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