Accounting News Roundup: PCAOB Chair; Offbeat Tax Prep; Trump’s Tax Returns | 02.22.16

SEC, PCAOB, Politics
Late on Friday, I mentioned the news that SEC chair Mary Jo White announced that no decision would be made on the next leader of the PCAOB until the Commission was back to full strength with five commissioners. The drawback being, it might take a while for that to happen because the US Senate, not know for prolificity, have to approve President Obama's nominees. This Wall Street Journal article has a bit more on that:

It’s unclear when the SEC will be back to its full strength. President Barack Obama nominated two individuals to fill the agency’s vacancies in November—former Republican Senate aide Hester Pierce and law professor Lisa Fairfax, a Democrat—but the Senate Banking Committee has yet to take up the nominations. Sen. Richard Shelby (R., Ala.), the panel’s chairman, has said he is focused on his March 1 primary election and hasn’t yet scheduled a nominations hearing.

Right! A sitting senator has the pressing issue of getting re-elected. Interestingly, its been reported that the general counsel of the Banking Committee that Shelby chairs, William Duhnke, is one of the candidates to replace PCAOB chairman James Doty.

Tax prep at the bar, elsewhere
We've mentioned the CPA who's set up shop at a Brooklyn bar as being "the best [gimmick]" for tax preparation. He gets another well-deserved mention in this Wall Street Journal article along with some others who are also trying different tactics:

Josh Zimmelman, founder of Westwood Tax & Consulting, said he markets to millennials because he enjoys educating them. But there’s a bonus: “A client that starts with me at 25 will be with me forever.”

He posts self-deprecating ads on Craigslist promising, “Think about how much better you will feel knowing your taxes are in the hands of community-trusted tax nerds who live for this stuff.”

He posts funny videos on YouTube (tax humor, you understand), eliminates paper, communicates via text and Facebook and accepts PayPal for his consultations, which start at $250. He dresses casually and tries to use current slang.

"Tries to use current slang" being the operative phrase. The article also features Rus Garofalo of Brass Taxes who we first met back in 2011 for the offbeat videos advertising his firm. Luckily for Brooklyn "artists, freelancers and other nice people," he is still coming up with delightfully weird ideas:

Mr. Garofalo’s office, in contrast, couldn’t be more attuned to the sensibilities of his more eclectic clientele. A big concrete box in an old industrial building, it features an office dog (“She has three legs, which is really hot in Brooklyn right now”), vintage theater seats in the waiting area and a huge mural of an eagle piloting a steampunk jet. The homemade desks are fashioned, of course, from reclaimed bowling-alley boards. The effect is charming and deliberately eccentric.

And so is a consultation. When setting an appointment, clients are asked what music they’d like playing (a recent request: “angels singing”), and what gender pronoun they prefer to go by.

Clients receive a $25 discount if they agree to call a local politician to discuss their issue of choice—an offer Mr. Garofalo said sprang from the fact that many consultations spur conversations about how tax dollars are spent. He wants clients to realize they have a say in the process.

Sounds more fun than H&R Block.

Donald Trump’s Tax Obligation [WSJ]
Ugh:

One of Donald Trump’s claims to presidential competence is his business and financial success, and so he should want voters to see the proof beyond the gilded staircases. He could enhance his credibility on the point by releasing his tax returns.

Mr. Trump has dodged questions of when or even if he will produce his tax records. Last October Mr. Trump told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News that he’d release his taxes “at some point,” adding that “maybe” he’d do so when “we find out the true story on Hillary’s emails.”

No matter how this goes, I don't see how it could be any stranger than the drama around Mitt Romney's tax returns. One can hope, though!

Previously, on Going Concern…
People who probably don't deserve bonuses get bonuses. On Open Items, someone wants to know about moving from the Big 4 to the SEC.

In other news:

 

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