October 23, 2018

Accounting News Roundup: The Mortgage Interest Deduction and ‘I helped people [with stolen money]’ | 10.17.17

accounting news pasta mortgage interest

Mortgage interest deduction

This Wall Street Journal story reports that while the mortgage interest deduction appears to be safe in a quest to reform the federal tax code, however, the proposal to double the standard deduction might render it moot:

Under current law, a typical homeowner would need to purchase a home worth at least $305,000 to make taking the break worthwhile, according to Zillow, while under the proposed law that would shoot up to $801,000. The median home value in the U.S. is just over $200,000.

“You’re simply subsidizing really expensive housing markets where people probably aren’t buying first-time homes,” a Zillow economist said. And, to an extent, that was true before this proposal. If this proposal were to become law, the MID would be an even more ludicrous, brazen giveaway to the wealthiest taxpayers. Which, incidentally, I believe, is the working title of the Republican tax reform bill — The Brazen Ludicrous Giveaway to the Wealthiest Taxpayers Act.

Accountants behaving badly

Back in the spring, we shared the story of Elizabeth Edith Shaw, an accountant in who embezzled $1.2 million from her employer over a decade. At that time, she requested to be released from prison temporarily to sell assets. She was sentenced to 10 years in jail yesterday, but there’s still a mystery as to what she did with all the money:

According to a Probation Department report released Monday, Shaw’s deception was discovered after the company owner, Tim Winsor, told Shaw he wanted to provide $20,000 in Christmas bonuses to his employees and was told by Shaw there was only $28,000 in the business’ account.

In an interview with a prosecutor and detective in March, Shaw said she cashed forged company checks in order to pay her mortgage and other bills, the detective’s affidavit states.

However, when asked by a probation officer in an interview earlier this month what she did with the stolen money, Shaw replied: “I traveled … gave it to the homeless … animal shelters … and I helped people.”

This didn’t help her co-workers, of course, who, presumably, are also people.

Previously, on Going Concern…

An update on the EY employee who was shot in Las Vegas. In Open Items, someone is deciding between a data science position with a bank vs. tech consulting with a Big 4 firm. Also, someone wonders how PwC’s takeover of GE’s tax department is going.

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.