June 24, 2018

Accounting News Roundup: Over-promising Tax Reform and Sovereign Citizens | 04.21.17


How’s tax reform coming along?

If there’s one success that the Trump administration can claim so far it’s this: They can over-promise and under-deliver the hell out of anything. No other modern presidency has promised so much in a short amount of time and managed to accomplish…uh, nothing? Like, not a single thing. And there’s no sign that the over-promising is slowing down. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said yesterday that a tax reform plan would be produced “soon”:

During a conference Thursday sponsored by the Institute of International Finance, both Mnuchin and Gary Cohn, President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser, raised expectations for significant tax legislation before the end of 2017.

“Just to be clear: We hope this won’t take til the end of the year,” Mnuchin said. Of the administration’s plan, he said: “We’re pretty close to being able to bring forward what is going to be major tax reform.”

And everybody’s like, “Sure.”

“Clearly they’re saying what they’d like to believe is true,” said Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a progressive policy group in Washington. “We now know that we must heavily discount their assertions,” said Bernstein, who served as former Vice President Joe Biden’s chief economic adviser.

“The lack of agreement on the desired direction for tax reform casts doubt on whether it can be done this year,” said Alan Viard, a senior scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “But I suppose end of year is still possible, if they can coalesce around something reasonably soon.”

If you know anything about how tax reform works, you know that no one really coalesces around anything ever. People piss and moan for months and months before they reluctantly go along. Congress hasn’t even hit their stride yet.

Sovereign citizens

If you enjoy a good tax protestor story, here’s an Oregonian report on Winston Shrout, a prominent “sovereign citizen” who hasn’t paid taxes for 20 years. Shrout is on trial for “13 counts of creating and issuing bogus financial documents and six counts of willful failure to file tax returns from 2009 through 2014.”

Sovereign citizens espouse crackpot beliefs about the legality of, well, pretty anything they like. Some are extreme, however, and are considered to be a risk of terrorism in the U.S. than any form of Islamic terrorism.

Shrout doesn’t seem to be the violent sort, but he is accused of floating around a bunch of hilariously bogus documents.

Government lawyers argued Shrout aimed to cheat the Treasury and banks, and preached his illegal schemes to hundreds of others in paid seminars. He purposely sent a package of 1,000 homemade International Bills of Exchange, each purporting to be a legal tender for a trillion dollars, to a small community bank in Chicago “hoping to slip one by an unsuspecting banker,” U.S. Tax Division trial lawyer Scott Wexler told jurors.

Shrout also claims that for the years he’s accused of not paying taxes, he “could never find a legal definition of the word income.”

Depending on the outcome of the trial, Shrout may be up for a senior advisory position in the Trump White House. It’s not looking good, though.

Brought to you by Accountingfly

Brad Hughes of Beech Valley Solutions wrote about ways to robot-proof your accounting job. The featured job of the week is an accountant position with Kisters North America.

Previously, on Going Concern…

In Open Items, someone is asking about the PRM exam.

In other news:

Get the Accounting News Roundup in your inbox every weekday by signing up here.

Related articles

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.