It was bound to happen at some point. I thought we'd be able to take the high road on this Ashley Madison data dump mess, but NOOOOOOO, here we are digging around in people's private lives. It is the internet, after all. Really all we have for you is an anonymous tipster who dropped us […]
A recent poll, commissioned by the IRS, found that the overwhelming majority of taxpayers think that it's never okay to cheat on their taxes. It's an interesting data point, but what does it really tell us? More than anything, it tells us that the IRS is an insecure little bitch. Like Stacey, that girl in ninth grade who […]
Can you guys imagine what would happen if this were to go down in the good old USA?
According to China Daily, answers to China’s national accounting exam (similar to the CPA exam in that it’s an exam professional accountants take to work in accounting, duh) were leaked over the Internet last week and some are concerned that this unfortunate turn of events might erode trust in the exam and – worse – the profession. As if China’s sketchy accounting practices didn’t already achieve as much.
Answers were posted to an Internet forum just before the 2011 Chinese National Uniform CPA Examination was to be taken on September 17 and 18.
Here in America, CPA review providers are given retired CPA exam questions to distribute to their students but are not allowed to share actual exam content. Not like they’d know what’s on the exam anyway – many major review course providers haven’t taken the CPA exam in 10, 15 or even 20 years. Back in those days, they’d hand out copies of old exams to study. Like actual exams. Since the CPA review crew is a close-knit bunch of OGs, it’s highly unlikely that any one of them would risk their close relationship with the AICPA to hand out exam questions to needy students.
In China, a former writer of architect exam questions was sentenced to 18 months in prison for leaking state secrets after he was caught giving his students copies of exam questions during tutorials. Different world, eh?
Anyway, according to the few Chinese media reports we’ve seen, five audit multiple choice questions and answers were posted to the Internet and the Chinese CPA exam folks are understandably in a tizzy over this. To put it in perspective, their audit section consists 47 questions worth a total of 105 points, and candidates must answer at least 60 correct to pass. So really? Five questions?
That’s not all. Apparently some candidates received texts asking if they might be interested in, er, peeking at the upcoming exams’ content.
“I began to receive at least five text messages a day selling exam questions a month before the exam took place. All of them claimed they could provide genuine questions and answers. They also promised a full refund if the questions were not genuine,” 28 year-old Zhu Hua told China Daily. “I wonder how they got my number in the first place, because I only provided my contact information when I registered for the exam.”
Was this an inside job?
The Chinese Institute of Certified Public Accountants (CICPA) has sworn to conduct an investigation into the leaks and to prosecute anyone found to have leaked this information to the full extent of the law. Prepare for hangings, people, this is serious shit.
In Northern Ireland, anyway. Yes, if you’re moseying around Belfast and catch your spouse in an intimate embrace with someone who isn’t you, your heart may be broken but that doesn’t mean you’re going to divorce their cheating ass. Why, you ask? Well, you see, celebrities, being the model global citizens that they are, seem understand that marriage doesn’t really mean that you can’t have sex with other people, even if you haven’t expressed a desire to do so and regular Joes and Janes are starting to think that should be their attitude as well.
The UK Press Association reports, “one of the reasons for the shift may be the growing number of high profile celebrities that have publicly accepted their partner being unfaithful, according to consultancy and accountancy firm Grant Thornton, which carried out the matrimonial survey.” Yes Grant Thornton, fresh off their new ad campaign, is finding time to weigh in on marriage trends, although they readily admit they’re really just taking a stab at this:
Sally Longworth, partner at Grant Thornton’s Forensic and Investigations services practice, said: “The shift in the reasons for divorce is difficult to explain, although one potential influence could be the rise in the number of celebrities that are very publicly accepting their spouse’s infidelities.
Seems that GT is hard up for work in N.I.
Today’s reader question comes from a CPA exam candidate who I imagine would prefer to remain totally anonymous so let’s blow right past the pleasantries and get to the question, shall we?
So I just finished my exam yesterday and I am a little concerned about my communications tab. As I still had about 2.5 hours remaining going into my first simulation, I had a lot of time to write my communication. With the amount of time I had, I was able to research my topic extensively.
In my communication, I had used sentences that were straight from the research tab, without referencing it, but a most of my memo was changed and modified into my own words. However, the fact that I used some sentences and phrases word for word concerns me. I can’t actually recall how much I copied, which concerns me even more. Do you know if this is considered cheating? Has anyone copied directly from the research tab and still passed the exam?
Let me tell you, this is a new one even for me so the best way to answer is by defining what the AICPA BoE is looking for in your written communication.
The three components of a successful written communication are organization, development, and expression. This means they are looking for a structured document with clear ideas, supporting information to supplement your statements and use of standard English when conveying your ideas. Now the AICPA BoE spends quite a bit of time and effort developing questions for the CPA exam but that does not mean they are also developing components for you to use in your communication. This means that if you do have lots of time left to work on your written communication, the very last thing you want to do is copy and paste. It was my understanding that the copy-paste function was limited to research problems within simulations only as “transfer to answer” but maybe I’m wrong (stranger things have happened).
That being said, your best hope is that they don’t notice you did that. I don’t think it counts as cheating, exactly, as cheating is defined as having someone pretend to be you to take the exam or somehow smuggling in exam answers as if you’d be able to predict what questions you would get. That last one is probably rare if not impossible as not even the review courses get the EXACT questions that will appear on the exam except for retired questions released each year by the AICPA.
If you took exact phrasing from the authoritative literature, you did not complete the objective of developing nor organizing your statements; you simply took what had already been organized for you and stuck it in there. Suffice to say this is a HUGE NO NO and probably means you will not get points for this area. As I said, maybe they won’t notice and you’ll pass, it’s hard to say.
If you find yourself with lots of time left over for written communication, use it to review your other simulation answers, not to develop the Howl of CPA exam WCs. All you need is a beginning, middle and end. Your answer could be totally wrong but you will still get the points as long as you are clear and concise. You do not get bonus points for flair so don’t bother, you’d be better off going over your simulation to make sure you did everything correctly.
So the short answer is: I don’t think it’s cheating but I don’t think you are going to get the points if they pick up on what you did. Since most WCs are machine graded, the machine may be thrown off by just how perfect your answer is, raising a red flag that gets yours pulled for human review. Again, I could be wrong on this as frankly I’ve never heard of anyone doing this.
Be sure to let us know how it went once you get your score and good luck!
P.S. – don’t do that again. Seriously.
Happy Tax Day! It was a breeze right? Hopefully you tax pros have wrapped everything up and the extensions are out the door so you can enjoy a relatively easy day. And if you’re in DC, don’t forget to get yourself a Blizzard.
Why we cheat on our taxes [MSNBC]
Sorry rich folks but it’s mostly your fault that people cheat on their taxes. Yes, that’s right. Once again, the wealthy need to explain themselves with their richy rich ways. Never mind that the complexity of the Internal Revenue Code that encourages the 1040 malfeasance, it’s the perception that the wealthy are all cheating on their taxes (that’s how they got rich after all) so the little guy needs to do whatever it takes to get his.
While the country’s federal tax code is considered progressive, some people feel that it grants the wealthy many loopholes — something that further perpetuates the resentment among those who believe the tax burden can sometimes fall unjustly on those who are least able to afford it.
“Many wealthy people earn income, such as capital gains, that is taxed at lower levels than regular income,” Callahan said. “So, in some cases, a wealthy guy sitting by his pool, living off his stock portfolio is paying a lower tax rate than the guy cleaning his pool. Tax evasion scams by the wealthy are so often revealed, and so there’s the perception that the rich cheat heavily on their taxes. There’s truth to that perception, which is what keeps it alive.”
While the attempt at the psychology behind cheating is a worthy exercise, the facts remain that the wealthy are paying more than their fair share of taxes. Or just ask them, they’ll tell you.
Something to Like about Sarbox [CFO Blog]
Forget Section 404. A less debatable benefit from SOx is Section 403 which “shortened the time between when officers and directors make a change in their stock holdings and when they report it through a Form 4 filing, from within 10 days at the end of the calendar month to just 2 business days.”
Harvard Professor Francois Brochet reviewed more than 50,000 filings from 1997 to 2006 and argues that, not only does Section 403 allow investors to react to insider trades more quickly (which prevents bigger drops in stock prices on suspected bad news, he argues), it allows smaller companies to trumpet their company’s prowess even if they’re not widely covered by analysts. Oh, and the cost is virtually nil compared to 404 compliance.
A recent survey of CFOs indicates that most companies are in no rush to hire and with layoffs coming and/or your post-busy season burn out raging, you’re probably weighing your options. FINS reports that “Roughly three-quarters of the country’s 44,000 tax businesses are one-person shops, according to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). And almost half of tax accountants work in companies with fewer than 10 employees,” so there’s plenty of people already on their own. Plus, there’s no sign of the tax code getting any simpler, so more and more taxpayers will be needing a professional to help them.
“The White House should take note from the Massachusetts Senate election that making life harder for small and medium-size businesses is not the right answer.”
~ Dean Zerbe, National Managing Director of alliantgroup on the Obama Administration’s urging of Congress to crack down on corporate tax cheats.
Earlier this week we learned that the hammer will be coming down on small tax prep shops.
Despite the news of the fresh measures, that didn’t prevent the DOJ from getting some of the riffraff off the streets this week.
On the heels of the IRS’s plan to begin regulating tax preparers, the Justice Department announced that it has filed six lawsuits this week to stop preparers charged with generating fraudulent income tax returns.
The cases included five civil injunction lawsuits in Detroit, Cincinnati and Chicago filed against several individuals and their tax preparation services. However, the trend didn’t start this week. In December, the government filed a civil injunction suit against 12 individuals and entities in Providence, R.I.
Long/short: thousands of tax returns were falsified by throwing all kinds of deductions on the returns that couldn’t be substantiated including cash donated to The Human Fund and bogus business expenses.
As Joe noted on Wednesday, it’s difficult to reason that even after the new requirements are in place, some of the more dodgy tax preparers won’t slip through the cracks. Consumers dumbfounded by our mind-job of a tax code will continue to going to shiesty 1040 jockeys that will promise low fees and bigger refunds. Ultimately they’ll pay more in the long run.
Justice Department Cracks Down on Tax Preparers [Web CPA]