Accounting News Roundup: An Amazon Pageant, Kentucky, and Insider Trading | 09.25.17

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Amazon

This New York Times story shares examples of how city leaders from all over the country are groveling for the opportunity to be the home of Amazon’s next headquarters. “Mayoral letters to Amazon are actually becoming a YouTube subgenre.” People are obsessing over hundreds of hours of videos of Jeff Bezos. Tucson tried to send Bezos a 21-foot cactus. It’s the lamest season of The Bachelor ever.

Meanwhile, tax policy experts are less impressed:

“Why are they doing this whole dog and pony show? Amazon wants something for nothing,” said Matthew Gardner, a senior fellow at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a nonpartisan think tank. “They would like a package of tax incentives for something they were going to do anyway.”

Art Rolnick, an economist at the University of Minnesota, called Amazon’s bidding process — and the broader practice of cities competing for stadiums and factories — “blackmail.”

“If you look at it from a national perspective, it’s zero returns. Minnesota might win one, Wisconsin wins the next one. The company wins each time,” Mr. Rolnick said. “It’s corporate welfare.”

Does playing hard to get work on massive corporations? I’d love to read a press release from a major U.S. city notifying Amazon of their world-class infrastructure, public transit, creative thinking, etc. and an absolute refusal to offer any tax incentives.

SALT

Bloomberg BNA reports that Kentucky has had some favorable rulings for taxpayers recently. Might be a good move for anyone inclined towards bourbon and aggressive tax strategies.

Accountants behaving badly

Have we covered insider trading in this section before? I believe we have. Nevertheless, we’ll do this again, for the new people or those of you in the back who aren’t listening: Don’t insider trade. There’s no point. You will not get rich. You will not get away with it. Conversely, you will get a starring role in a SEC litigation release, and if you’re an accountant, end up in the “Accountants behaving badly” section of ANR.

Anyway — Justin Samuel Cary, come on down!

According to the SEC’s complaint, on January 28, 2016, Justin Samuel Cary, an accounting consultant for Adaptive Medias, Inc., received an email from the company’s controller quoting the headline of a yet-to-be-issued press release announcing that the company had received an acquisition offer of $1.50 per share, at a time when its stock was trading for only $0.16 per share. The SEC further alleges that, while composing a response to the controller, Cary logged on to his personal online brokerage account just six minutes after receiving the email and purchased 18,500 shares of Adaptive Medias stock. The complaint alleges that, four days later, Adaptive Medias announced the acquisition offer and, following the announcement, Adaptive Media’s share price increased 428% over the prior day, closing at $0.74 per share. According to the SEC, Cary sold all of his shares and generated $8,140.25 in illicit profits.

I love that he was composing the response to the controller and preparing to insider trade simultaneously. The SEC’s complaint adds more color to that scene:

In his January 28 email, the controller inquired of Cary as follows: [Adaptive Medias’ investor relations group] is asking if we are required to use the diluted share count rather than the basic share count for our press release surrounding the [AdSupply letter of intent] we received … can you advise?

20.Upon receiving this email, Cary began drafting a response to the controller, writing “There isn’t [sic] any rules with that other than to not be misleading. If they add $1.50 per …” At that point, Cary stopped writing in mid-sentence, and logged onto his online brokerage account.

It’s like his brain went to lizard mode right at that moment.

Previously, on Going Concern…

In Open Items, someone wants to know about exit opportunities from Big 4 for a person who works in tax technology.

In other news:

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Image: Janaa/Wikimedia Commons

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