June 22, 2018

Accounting News Roundup: Lobbying Against Return-Free Filing and Millennials’ Productivity | 03.21.17

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Lobbying against return-free filing

The lobbying activities of Intuit and H&R Block are well-known. Together they are the key players on team BIG TAX PREP. The two companies want to prevent any bill that would simplify the tax return filing process from seeing the light of day. One idea that has floated around for years is to send taxpayers with simple returns pre-filled forms that would only require the taxpayer’s signature. It’s never gained much traction thanks to Intuit and H&R Block’s efforts. But now, ProPublica reports that the companies are taking more preemptive measures:

Intuit spent more than $2 million lobbying last year, much of it spent on legislation that would permanently bar the government from offering taxpayers prefilled returns. H&R Block spent $3 million, also directing some of their efforts towards the bill. Among the 60 co-sponsors of the bipartisan bill: then congressman and now Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

The bill, called the Free File Act of 2016, looks on the surface to be consumer-friendly. It makes permanent a public-private partnership in which 13 private tax preparation companies — called the “Free File Alliance” —have offered free online tax filings to lower- and middle-income families. The Free File Alliance include both Intuit and H&R Block.

But the legislation would also permanently bar the IRS from offering its own free alternative.

Essentially, Intuit and H&R Block want to be subsidized to create this free-filing option and never want the IRS to encroach upon it. It would be a sweet deal for them, even as sweetheart deals go.

Fortunately, the Free File Act of 2016 never made it out of committee, but neither did a bill that would allow the IRS to offer pre-filled forms to taxpayers. Taxpayers with simple returns seem doomed to the task of preparing their own.

Bribes

This is weird. The New York Post reports that a New York City Metro Transit Authority procurement officer allegedly tried to bribe KPMG.

Angel Barbosa, 47, is accused of seeking “favors’’ from accounting giant KPMG in exchange for making sure the firm scored big-bucks contracts with the transit agency, according to MTA sources.

“Angel was asking for favors and doing them favors,” an MTA official said.

“They were leading him on and making him think they were going to give him things in exchange for getting the contracts.”

Usually, if you’re a client expecting a little special treatment, a partner might take you to a lunch or two or maybe a ballgame or a concert. Isn’t that good enough? Did this guy think that KPMG would just send a bagman around with a briefcase filled with cash? If you want to solicit bribes from a mega accounting firm, you have to be bit more clever than that.

Millennials

David Isaacs writes in Accounting Today that millennials are the most productive generation. And sure, why not.

A common misconception about the Millennial generation, in my humble opinion, is that we quit our jobs every six months to three years. This decreases productivity because of the increased time needed to train new people. However, the frequently overlooked benefit is that when a person has experienced several different organizations, their experience includes the unique knowledge of what does and does not work, including how it might be implemented to the company’s benefit.

Isaacs writes that “Millennials quit their bosses” and there might be some truth to that, although I still think career wanderlust is a thing. Also, the idea that more diverse experiences (i.e. changing jobs) lead to professionals that look to create efficiencies and better ways of doing things might be true, but I don’t think that’s a millennial trait.

As I mentioned the other day, “millennial” traits are most likely “people” traits. The idea that some people aren’t satisfied by the status quo isn’t a millennial feature. It’s just how some people are. What is different is that millennials do seem more willing to leave jobs than previous generations, and part of that, I think, is due to their use of the Internet, which does make people more productive. So, maybe I’m wrong, but millennials’ productivity strikes me as a matter of circumstances rather than a natural urge.

Previously, on Going Concern…

Marsha Leest noted some observations to make when you’re on a interview.

I wrote about the PCAOB sanctioning a former PwC Brazil partner.

In Open Items, someone is asking about signing a non-compete.

In other news:

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Accounting News Roundup | 01.21.10

How to find the “best and brightest” [CPA Success]
This may be a better topic for the friendly HR professional but figuring out who these future accounting rock stars are before they show up on their first day is “more art than science”, as Tom Hood notes.
Popular to some old-school thought, GPA does not always indicate who’s going to dominate in the real world and “soft skills” — besides being a terrible term — are in more demand than ever.
Help The The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago Help Haiti [Re: The Auditors]
The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago is having a drive today and since Francine’s friend is the CFO, we’ll be glad pass around the news:

One of my oldest and dearest friends, Guillermo Becerra, is the CFO of the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago. I asked him how I could help him, and the Red Cross, during what must be an incredibly busy time post-Haiti earthquake.


“The Chicagoland community will come together on Thursday, January 21 to give to the American Red Cross as we help the people of Haiti recover from the catastrophic earthquake that devastated their country last week.
The Chicago Helps Haiti media relief drive begins at 5 a.m. and lasts until 11 p.m. Nearly every TV and radio station in our area will be promoting this fundraising effort throughout the day. You can help too, by giving via phone or online, and sharing your thoughts here, on Facebook or Twitter, and by asking others to give.
To give from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. CALL 1 (877) 565-5000 or visit www.chicagoredcross.org/haiti

Plus, we’re guessing that if you give, your 2009 tax return isn’t much of a concern.
If Your Password Is 123456, Just Make It HackMe [NYT]
The Times is concerned that you have a shitty password which puts you at a huge risk of being hacked by someone sitting in their parents’ basement.

Imperva found that nearly 1 percent of the 32 million people it studied had used “123456” as a password. The second-most-popular password was “12345.” Others in the top 20 included “qwerty,” “abc123” and “princess.”

You know who you are, ye with stupid passwords. Also, don’t even think of changing it to “654321” because that drops in at #19.

Accounting News Roundup: Haiti Relief Passes Senate; Accounting Job Surge? CPAs Basically Control People’s Lives | 01.22.10

Senate votes for faster tax breaks for Haiti gifts [WaPo]
As expected, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation yesterday that allows taxpayers to deduct donations made for Haiti relief efforts. You have until the end of February to donate so that it may be included on your 2009 return.

Maybe it’s bad legislation but we’ve been over that.

CPA Jobs Set for Surge. But When? [CPA Trendlines]
That’s the question, isn’t it? Rick Telberg, who has done a great job of tracking the Bureau of Labor Statistics on accountants, points out that while the latest BLS forecasts a 22% increase (279,400 jobs) by 2018, there’s no indication that it’s happening now:

[M]any tax, accounting and finance professionals are still slogging through the Great Recession. The Association for Financial Professionals, for instance, reported that about one in four respondents say their organizations will contract in 2010. At the same time, a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of private companies found 43 percent of CEOs and CFOs still budgeting no expansion over the next 12 months to 18 months. The data just seem to reinforce economic uncertainties and a weak outlook.


The BLS is looking past the past the recession for the jump in opportunities but just when the hell will that be? Just because the economy isn’t contracting currently, doesn’t mean it won’t in the future and this “recovery” has been tepid at best.

Theismann to CPAs: You Are the Conscience of America [Web CPA]
Joe Theismann gets it. He knows that without all of you out there in CPA land, your clients don’t stand a chance. They’d be finished. Finished!

“You’re the conscience of America,” Theismann told conference-goers. “You are the survivors in tough times. With accountants, I’m not looking for someone to file taxes and do my financials. I can do that myself online. In your position you can basically control people’s lives.”

So get out there and control somebody’s life. Joe Theismann is expecting it.