ANR: Should the IRS prepare Your Tax Return?; Shulman: Customer Service Could've Been Worse; COSO Repackages Judgment | 04.18.12

Let the IRS Do Your Taxes. Really [Bloomberg]
[T]he U.S. tax code is in dire need of the kind of wholesale reform envisioned by the Simpson-Bowles commission. For multiple reasons, most of them political, such an overhaul will have to wait. Meanwhile, the IRS should move to ease the tax preparation and filing burden borne by millions of mostly middle- and low-income Americans whose taxes are a relatively straightforward affair. 

Revealing Prostate Cancer, Buffett Plays Down Effect [NYT]
Warren E. Buffett disclosed on Tuesday that he had prostate cancer, a development that would probably heighten the questions over his successor as the chief executive of his conglomerate, Berkshire Hathaway. Yet Mr. Buffett, who will turn 82 this summer, also made clear that he would continue to run the company, writing to shareholders that the disease was in Stage 1 and that he had been told by doctors that it was “not remotely life-threatening or even debilitating in any meaningful way.”

Two in Three Taxpayers Reach Live Person on IRS Hotline [Bloomberg via TaxProf]
Sixty-six percent of taxpayers trying to call the U.S. Internal Revenue Service for help reached someone this tax-filing season, down from 70 percent who received help last year, according to a report released today. Callers waited an average of 16.3 minutes this season, said the report, released by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. The data cover the period through March 3. The telephone answering rate exceeds the IRS’s 61 percent goal for the year, which was set in response to budget cuts, the inspector general reported. “I’m pretty proud that while service is down, it hasn’t degraded, you know, to a point where it could have gone, given the cuts,” IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman told a congressional subcommittee March 27.
 
Economist Accused of Evading Taxes For More Than 20 Years [WSJ]
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan alleged Monday that David Gilmartin went to great lengths between 1989 and 2010 to avoid paying more than $500,000 in income taxes while he was performing consulting services for pharmaceutical companies, credit-card providers and others. Gilmartin, who lived in New York until 2006 and now lives in California, allegedly submitted forms to some employers falsely claiming he was exempt from taxes; provided someone else’s Social Security number to his employer and represented it was his; and refused to provide an employer with his Social Security number because of a purported “religious objection,” prosecutors said.
 
What Does COSO Stand For? [GOA]
On March 1 COSO issued a “thought paper” entitled, “Enhancing Board Oversight: Avoiding Judgment Traps and Biases.”  The presumed contribution of this publication is a five-step decision-making algorithm that boards of directors can use to enhance professional judgment. Our problem with this work is that COSO is wasting its time, as well as yours and mine, by repackaging well-known decision-making paradigms when it should be providing real thought leadership that can prevent future banking crises, audit failures, and the like. Despite attempts by KPMG (Sam Ranzilla and George Herman) and its academic partners (BYU professors Steven Glover and Douglas Prawitt) to pass this paper off as something insightful and new, it is neither!
 
Cantor: Obama wants to 'micro-manage' small businesses [The Hill]
On Tuesday, the White House threatened to veto a small business tax cut bill being pushed by Cantor, calling it a $46 billion “giveaway” to the “most fortunate.” In a lengthy policy statement, the White House blasted the 20 percent cut for companies with less than 500 employees as a salve to high-priced lawyers, consultants and “other wealthy individuals and corporations with the biggest profits.”
 
Michigan Lotto Winner Who Kept Her Food Stamps Finally Prosecuted For Welfare Fraud [JDA]
“I thought that they would cut me off, but since they didn’t, I thought maybe it was okay because I’m not working," Amanda Clayton told WDIV when she was busted on a hidden camera investigation using her food stamp card to load up on Mountain Dew and snacks. She was serious when she said that, defending her pain by explaining how her $1 million ended up being really more like half that. "I feel that it's OK because I mean, I have no income and I have bills to pay," she said. "I have two houses."

 

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