Accounting News Roundup: Gender Discrimination Lawsuit Against KPMG Can Proceed; Tax Refund Fraud Addiction; The Mickelson Effect | 02.08.13

Gender discrimination lawsuit against KPMG can move ahead [Reuters]
A proposed gender discrimination class action against accounting firm KPMG brought by five female former employees who claim they were denied pay raises and promotions can move ahead largely intact, a Manhattan federal judge ruled. U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman rejected most of KPMG's motion to dismiss the majority of the women's claims, finding that their "allegations suffice to survive at this stage of the proceedings." In the case the women argue that the accounting firm created a hostile work environment that left female employees lagging behind in pay and promotions, particularly those with children. The lawsuit is seeking $350 million in lost salary and benefits as well as other damages.

Tax Holiday Ends, Consumers Scrimp [WSJ]
Most Americans who draw a paycheck saw their tax bill go up last month when a payroll-tax holiday expired. The question is whether that is prompting consumers to curb spending, just as the economy is struggling to gain traction. Some early signs suggest they are tapping the brakes. Surveys show the majority of Americans who are aware of the tax increase say they plan to cut spending, and consumer confidence has wavered. Companies like Target Corp. and women's clothier Cato Corp. say the tax increase has crimped sales.

Louisiana to contract with Ernst & Young to review Jindal's tax plan [NOLA/T-P]
Louisiana's Department of Revenue will bring on accounting giant Ernst & Young as a consultant as it crafts a plan that would swap the state's income and corporate taxes in favor of a higher sales tax that could be levied on more purchases, department officials said. The firm, which could charge the state up to $180,000 for its services, is intended to provide "guidance, support, analysis and clarity" to the tax initiative, according to a solicitation the department sent to top consulting firms.

Corporate Groups Ask SEC to Shorten Investor Filing Deadline [CFOJ]
In a rulemaking petition sent to the agency earlier this week NYSE Euronext , the Society of Corporate Secretaries and Governance Professionals and the National Investor Relations Institute said the 45-day lag “hampers” their ability to reach investors ahead of annual meetings and advisory shareholder “say on pay” votes on executive compensation. The reporting delay has “stood for over 30 years despite massive technological advances in recordkeeping and reporting systems,” the groups said in the petition.

Mickelsonian Reality Has Top Earners Weighing Relocation [Bloomberg]
California and New Jersey along with the U.S. government and France have turned to tax increases on high-income residents to plug budget holes. While higher rates haven’t caused a mass exodus historically, the current rates are leading golfer Phil Mickelson to say he’s thinking about making drastic changes and have caused French actor Gerard Depardieu to cross the border. Other top earners have already made moves or are calculating with their advisers whether they should.

Tax refund fraud like 'crack cocaine' for criminals, U.S. attorney says [SS]
The filing of fraudulent tax returns by money-hungry identity thieves is spreading through South Florida "like a virus" and six recent cases involving 14 defendants highlight that grim reality, federal prosecutors say. Announced on Tuesday evening, the cases reflect Florida's dubious distinction as the identity theft capital of the United States, according to federal data, and the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area's status as the worst urban center for identity theft in the country.

Ninth Circuit to Decide Amount of Mortgage Interest Deduction for Gay/Lesbian Couples [TaxProf]
Briefing is underway in the Ninth Circuit (Nos. 12-73257 & 12-73261) on the Tax Court's ruling in Voss v. Commissioner, 138 T.C. No. 8 (2012) that the § 163(h)(3) limitations on the deductibility of mortgage interest are applied on a per-residence basis (and thus limited to $1.1 of mortgage debt ($1 million of acquisition indebtedness plus $100,000 of home equity indebtedness)), rather than on a per-taxpayer basis ($2.2 of mortgage debt), as contended by celebrity psychiatrist Charles Sophy and his domestic partner who owned homes in Beverly Hills and Rancho Mirage, California, as joint tenants. 

Amazon, Connecticut reach sales tax deal; Indiana wants to speed up collection [DMWT]
Kay Bell: "This November, Amazon will begin collecting Connecticut's 6.35 percent sales tax on items sold to state residents. As part of the deal, Amazon will invest $50 million over the next two years. Part of that investment is new fulfillment center in Connecticut, which should help Amazon reduce shipping times."

Police: Yates mom kissed son in jail to transfer drugs [RDC]
Kimberly R. Margeson, 54, of Penn Yan was charged with third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, a felony, and second-degree promoting prison contraband, a misdemeanor, Yates County sheriff’s deputies. Deputies also charged her son, William J. Partridge, 30, also of Penn Yan, with second-degree promoting prison contraband. While visiting Partridge at the Yates County Jail on Jan. 29, Margeson is accused of passing Oxycodone pills to her son with a kiss, deputies said. She allegedly hid the drugs in her mouth to bring the pills into the jail and passed the pills to him, from mouth to mouth.

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