New York

Let’s Be Frank, the ‘Hot Dog Tax’ Didn’t Cut the Mustard

What?! You never heard of the 'hot dog tax'? You need to ketchup!  In reality, the hot dog tax was not a tax on hot dogs per se  as Kelly Phillips Erb fires things up: In 1971, New York managed to push through a law which imposed a state and city sales tax to restaurant bills that […]

New York Puts Deloitte in Time-out Over Standard Chartered

Remember last summer when Deloitte got itself wrapped up in a big international money laundering scandal? It was pretty exciting international intrigue-y stuff! The New York Department of Financial Services fined Standard Chartered bank $340 million last August for helping Iran move money around and now Cuomo & Co. have gotten around to holding Deloitte responsible […]

New York Won’t Be Getting Its Mitts on Ernst & Young’s Lehman Brothers Fees

Nice try, Schneiderman. The New York attorney general has no authority to claim $150 million in fees that Ernst & Young earned from Lehman Brothers Holdings in the years leading up to Lehman's collapse in 2008, a judge ruled on Wednesday. The state had sought the fees as part of a lawsuit against Ernst & Young […]

New York, California in a Horse Race for Sending Most People to States with God-Awful Heat, No Income Tax

Hot off the Twitter, New York Times' Catherine Rampell shares some interesting data about movers in 2012: nation’s overall mover rate increased from a record low of 11.6 percent in 2011 to 12.0 percent in 2012, per US Census — Catherine Rampell (@crampell) December 10, 2012 Okay maybe that's not so interesting, but this helps:  most common […]

KPMG’s New York Office Is Getting a Little Festive Today

While things in Chicago are still being sorted out, a source at the HoKNYC has been filling us in about tonight's soirée and the news that Klyveldians would be allowed to bring non-Klynveldians was welcomed enthusiastically:  New York Office town hall and Holiday party today. We finally get to bring dates this year! About that townhall […]

Do CPA Exam Scores Ever Expire?

Need a pep talk before you pick up the phone and call your state board of accountancy? Feeling lost in a sea of MCQ? Just want to talk? I'm here; let's get through it together. If I passed all the CPA exams as of July 2010, but have yet to receive my CPA license (needed […]

KPMG Won’t Let A Silly Electrical Fire Get In The Way of Party Plans

If you were walking around Midtown yesterday, you might have smelled something not-so-ordinary-even-by-NY-standards in the air. There was an electrical fire at the Hilton Hotel on West 53rd Street and 6th Avenue, the planned location for KPMG’s Biennial Alumni Reception. Naturally, GC turned to the NY Post for the full story: Several people were working […]

New York Court Invites All KPMG Audit Associates to Play in Overtime Lawsuit

Law firm Outten & Golden has issued a press release today announcing any House of Klynveld audit associates who are feeling a little short changed because they missed out on overtime pay are now officially invited to join in the fun.  A New York federal court conditionally certified a national collective action lawsuit that alleges […]

Interns, Here’s the Lowdown on Ernst & Young’s FSO Assurance Practice in NYC

Ed. note: Have a question for the career advice brain trust? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com with your problem(s) but only if you’re comfortable being mocked in an older sibling kind of way.

GC,

I know my question is somewhat specific but I just accepted an Internship offer for E&Y FSO Assurance in NYC and was interested in gaining some insight into the 3 divisions within FSO Assurance. First, I would love to hear your opinion on the pros and cons of each of the three sectors (Asset Management, Banking, & Insurance) including which EY is best known for. I was also wondering if there was a clear leader in each of those sectors in NYC and was wondering which of the Big Four was bestnks so much for your help. I know I am still a year away from having to actually select one of those options but gaining people’s opinions never hurt. Thanks so much.


Congratulations on landing a sweet summer gig with Uncle Ernie. You’ll be working for a great firm in a great city making a great salary while fetching great coffee for your superiors. Cheers!

But really, welcome to New York. You’re smart in thinking ahead to the fact that where you start with your internship will lead to a fulltime offer with the same group. This is because internships are essentially training camp for your first year – make it through the summer successfully and you’re in the club. I did a little digging within my professional circle to uncover some of the EY clients that you’d have the potential of working on, as well as my own two Lincolns.

Insurance – Let’s start with this one because I have a feeling that the group consensus will be unanimous: DO NOT JOIN THIS GROUP. Sure, it is a small, “family-like” practice in the financial services industry, but you’re not coming to work for the warm and fuzzies (if you are, avoid public accounting altogether). You’re coming to make yourself a valuable asset to future employers – one, three, or ten years from now. Can you receive accelerated responsibilities and extensive interaction with your clients? Yeah, but that’s because your co-workers are jumping ship and no one within the firm wants to transfer to the Insurance group. Unless you have an absolute passion for the industry (which you don’t, since you emailed us), I would avoid this group. Stay in this group for five years (you know, to make the dream promo to manager) and you’re setting yourself up for a career working for an insurance (or re-insurance) firm.

Banking and Capital Markets – This group is bigger and more prominent than the Insurance group. It’s taken its hit in recent years because…ummm…the banking industry is in turmoil, but some of the pain has been buoyed by their growing Broker Dealer client base (also falls into this group). Potential clients include Bank of America (*gulp*), UBS Wealth Management (the shining star in the UBS sky), Icahn Securities, JG Wentworth, ING Financial Holdings, and Cantor “run for the hills” Fitzgerald. Sources tell me audit staff are constantly trying to take rotations to the asset management group, so take that for what it’s worth. Career advancement outside of public can take you to either a banking or hedge fund depending on your client exposure, but have you read the papers recently? Banking ain’t the hottest date to the prom to these days.

Asset Management – this is EY’s money train in New York when it comes to audit (and even tax) services. EY and PwC dominate this market in New York, and depending on whom you ask EY has a more rounded client base (blue chip and start ups). Premier clients include Eton Park, Reservoir Capital, Anchorage Capital, and Och Ziff Capital (do some Googling to get an idea about these firms). The exposure to different investment strategies and financial products you will see will be second to none. Don’t forget that you can count the relevant investment banks left standing on two hands, whereas there are thousands of hedge funds and private equity firms in the country (most of which are in the greater NYC area, too). Your easiest and most lucrative path out of audit and into the private sector will be with a background in asset management. Absolutely, positively, 100%.

So there you have it. As always, GC’er please chime in below with your comments.

Note: Private Lap Dances Are Not Tax Exempt in New York

This one is for you, ladies of the night.

A 2005 audit by the New York Division of Taxation found gentlemen’s club Nite Moves owed over $125,000 in sales tax on door admissions and private lap dance sales. The club argued that dances are a performance, not a taxable “service.” We’ll leave that one alone.

A New York State appellate court ruled last Thursday that private lap dances are not a dramatic or musical art performance, despite Nite Moves’ claims to the contrary. It is unclear whether any state taxation authorities partook in said private lap dances to make this determination.

In this case, the burden of proof rested on the club, who did not provide enough evidence to satisfy their claim, according to the five judge panel that made the ruling. “In short, petitioner was denied the requested relief due not to the nature of its business but, rather, because of the inadequacy of its proof,” they said.

The club’s lawyer, Andrew McCullough, plans to appeal the decision. “We brought in the foremost expert in the field,” he said. “She is the one in this country who has made a complete and detailed study of the art of exotic dance and if they are not going to believe her I don’t know who you believe.”

That expert had not actually seen Nite Moves’ dancers but other, similar exotic performances. As any connoisseur of naked gyrating women knows, not all naked gyrating is created equal.

Tax laws in New York State require sales taxes to be collected and paid on admission to or the use of any place of amusement except for dramatic or musical arts performances.

Maybe if the strippers wore historical costumes or mime makeup they’d have a case.

Hey, Nite Moves, you really should have called the Tax Domme, she knows all about this stuff.

New York court rules private lap dances not tax exempt [Reuters]

Unfounded Rumor of the Afternoon: PwC Courting Deloitte Employees in Chicago, New York

From the mailbag by way of a Deloittian in Rahmville:

[O]ur PPD (Principal, Partner, Direct) group has received word that PWC is going to send recruiting letters to every [Financial Services Industry] senior in the Chicago and New York offices. Apparently the letter states PWC is willing to offer $15,000 more than what Deloitte is paying.

The PPD group had a meeting with all of the FSI managers in Chicago yesterday regarding this situation. On top of that, all Seniors in FSI received a meeting request today from the PPD group. The meeting is schedule for Monday morning and according to the managers, the topic of dicussion is going to be these letters. Now I can’t speak for anyone in New York but in Chicago the PPD group is not taking this lightly. Word as it that one of our senior ranking partners actually called over to PWC. Again this is all a rumor, I have not seen one of these letter but apparently one of our partners said he/she has.

If you happen across this letter, do share it with us.

Earlier:
Experienced Recruiting Amongst The Big 4 Gets Aggressive

SHOCKER: CFOs in New York Make Good Money

This story is republished from CFOZone, where you’ll find news, analysis and professional networking tools for finance executives.

Thomas Dooley, CFO of Viacom, received a total compensation package of more than $26 million in 2009. John Killian of Verizon Communications made a lot less–a mere $9.6 million. And Ian G.H. Ashken of Jarden Corp. got $9.5 million.

Those fellas are the three highest paid executives included among the 25 most richly compensated CFOs in the Big Apple, according to a list just published by Crain’s New York Business, drawing on data from compensation research firm Equilar.

Indeed if you’ve been wondering how CFOs in big New York-based companies have fared during these tough times, the answer seems to be: pretty darn well. The lowest paid on the list, Laurence Tosi of the Blackstone Group, made a mere $4.6 million. Second to last Adena Friedman of Nasdeq OMX Group: $4.8 million.


The biggest jaw dropper, however, is Dooley, who received $10 million in non-equity compensation and $10 million in stock awards. That, in fact, is somewhat of an anomaly among the group members. Generally the CFOs received a hefty sum in either non-equity compensation or stock and option awards, not in both. (An exception is Colm Kelleher of Morgan Stanley, who made $9.4 million but got zip in both non-equity compensation and stock/option awards. He did, however, get a $64 million bonus).

Also noteworthy: About nine of the executives received these breathtaking compensation packages even though the company had a net loss from 2008 to 2009. Gregory Hughes of SL Green Realty Corp., for example, made $6.1 million, while the company had a loss of 84.9 percent. Pierre Legault got $4.9 million even as the corporation had an 82.8 percent loss.

Of course, this pay isn’t typical of the compensation at most companies. “These CFOs are going to get paid more than your typical CFO, simply because they’re in a large metropolitan area and a large company,” says Aaron Boyd, head of research at Equilar. According to Boyd, a recent report on CFO compensation among the S&P 500 found median pay to be around $2.5 million.

Hey I’ll take it.

Will Governments Finally Recognize Their Fiscal Responsibility?

This story is republished from CFOZone, where you’ll find news, analysis and professional networking tools for finance executives.

If you live or work in New York City you know how the subway can be both a blessing (when it runs on time) and a curse (when it doesn’t) or for reasons that on Wednesday became clear: fare hikes.

If you don’t live in New York you can appreciate why the agency responsible for public transit, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, is having such a difficult time making ends meet. At the top of the list is compensation and benefits costs, which account for two-thirds of the MTA’s $12 billion operating budget for 2011.

The MTA says its health care costs are going up about 9 percent annually-which is actually in line with national increases. The challenge for a public agency of course is that it is locked into contracts with its heavily unionized workforce. Making changes is not easy.


The plan the MTA put forward Wednesday was to enter in what it called “net zero” contracts with its unions-contracts in which any raise would be “paid” for by givebacks in productivity, changes in work rules or increased contributions to health care benefits. The unions took exception to this proposal but no one doubts that the compensation structure of government employees needs to come in-line with their private sector counterparts. Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic nominee for governor, has made reforming this imbalance part of his platform.

Debt service aside (and the MTA’s debt service totals $1.8 billion this year, growing to $2.5 billion by 2014), the MTA, like so many government entities throughout the country, has long term health care challenges ahead. Its health care retirement obligation totals $1.4 billion growing to $1.7 billion by 2014. While the MTA continues to pay enough into its retiree health care fund to pay for its current retirees’ health care, the authority, citing this year’s cash-flow problems, will not pay $57 million this year into a fund for future obligations.

The Great Recession has helped bring the issue of government post-retirement obligations to light. As government revenues shrink and obligations grow, taxpayers sense an inherent injustice between their own grim retirement prospects and the assurances given to public sector workers. Subway service cuts and fare hikes are only meaningful if they address the long-term problems rather than enable government to deal with short term crisis.

Cuomo is banking on this public displeasure, as is the MTA. Next year the MTA’s contract with its largest union is up for renewal. The transit authority will be able to test whether it has public support for changing the way the state entity does business with unions. Bringing government into the 21st century by reducing health care and other post-retirement obligations will be good for taxpayers and for businesses, including those with heavily unionized workforces.

Layoff and Exodus Watch ’10: Grant Thornton Chicago and New York Seeing Movement

Two weeks ago, we heard that Grant Thornton’s Cleveland office started their layoffs a little earlier than what on might expect that was followed by an emergency meeting that the content of which is still a mystery.

Now we’ve received word on Chicago and New York who are rumored to be having layoffs and some quitters respectively.


From a Chipman Blog Reader:

I work in audit at Grant Thornton and have heard through the grapevine that offices are trying to keep staff. With the job market improving, it seems like other offices are looking to see if staff/seniors voluntary leave before making any final decisions pre-promotion day. Chicago has let go a partner and 2 senior managers in the audit practice and rumors are swirling of a few staff reductions, which seems crazy given that the current A1 class and the incoming class are so small. For other offices, national is working to roll out a benefit plan practice similar to what Chicago has to help keep staff busy during the summer months but it looks like this is not moving quickly enough….[T]he GT wire is that NY saw 10+ individuals put in their notice recently.

We left messages with both the Chicago and New York offices, neither of which have been returned.

An accountant close to the situation indicated that the partner and senior manager layoffs are part of those mentioned by Stephen Chipman back in January.

At that time, SC said that many of those partners and senior managers were already being notified, so since these most recent cuts knew that this day was coming, it was awfully generous of them to stay on for this busy season (we’re guessing there was money involved).

As far as the the staff situation in Chicago is concerned, cuts at the staff level do seem crazy if the classes are small. Meanwhile, although some attrition in New York was probably expected, at this point, it’s not clear whether 10+ leaving in mid-April is a lot or a little. Keep us updated.

David Paterson Not Unpopular Enough, Considers Refund Delay

Okay, so New York is in a dire fiscal situation and David Paterson is pulling out all the stops. Last week, he started kicking the idea around of temporarily freezing New York State tax refunds for individuals and businesses until a state budget is in place.

Naturally, the Governor is putting this on the New York State legislature saying that if they do not ‘act, and close this deficit with real and recurring deficit reductions, not made-up, phony revenue enhancers that don’t really exist’ then the state could go bankrupt. Don’t blame him, New Yorkers! He’s trying to fix this damn mess.


According to a report from WRVO, the state would freeze $500 million in taxpayer refunds and $200 million in business refunds to April 1st. Are people really getting their tax returns filed that quickly? Is there some kind of recessionary trend that shows that tax returns are filed more quickly during bad economies? Nothing is official yet so don’t worry but sounds like they’re running out of ideas up there.

Regardless of the suggestion, Paterson’s critics are not down for this, as Assembly Minority leader Brian Kolb called the withholding tax refunds “an absurd and crazy idea.”

Since “absurd and crazy” seems to be par for the course in Albany, we can’t really say that this is the worst idea David Paterson has ever had. He’s talking to Eliot Spitzer again, isn’t he?

Gov. Paterson Comments on Withholding Tax Refunds [WRVO via Web CPA]

Is David Paterson Trying to Pander to CPAs?

DavidPaterson.jpgGood news haters of all thing red tape! There is a pesky little fee in New York that goes into effect on December 31 that will require all tax preparers to pay $100 and register with the state tax department.
In case you haven’t heard, Paterson and the rest of the crew up in Albany have a bit of budget shortfall on their hands and need every dime they can get. Well! Your trusty New York State Society of CPAs has lobbied their asses off and gotten you out of this particular case of government meddling:

A bill signed into law by New York State Governor David Paterson provides an exemption from the state’s new tax preparer registration requirements for CPAs, including those who hail from outside the state.

The New York State Society of CPAs had advocated for an exemption for all CPAs from the registration requirements and had earlier succeeded in getting CPAs who were licensed in the state from being subject to the requirements.

Those state society fees do get you something! Call them up and thank them. And thank the Guv, while you’re at it.
New York Exempts CPAs from Preparer Registration [Web CPA]

Crain’s: New York CPA Firms’ Employment Down 7%

Thumbnail image for thumbs down col.gifHopefully it’s not too early for bad numbers. Crain’s New York put some together to give you an idea about how bad the employment picture has gotten for accountants in the past year.
The total number of accounting professionals for the top 25 firms in New York was more than 23,176 as of June 30, 2009.
That number is down from 24,909, or 7% from the previous year. The Big 4 horsemen account for two-thirds of this total and, not surprisingly, they all reported drops:
Continued, after the jump

No. 1-ranked KPMG cut 13% of its professional staff, or 681 employees. No. 4, Deloitte, was not far behind in job shrinkage, with a decline of 378 staffers in the New York area, or 11.7%. Pricewaterhouse reported 350 fewer professional, or a 9.2% decline. Of the four, Ernst & Young posted the smallest loss: a drop of only 1.6%, or 67 professionals.

Crain’s list of details on the top five firms (Big 4 + RSM McGladrey) shows additional data, including KPMG having over 10% more total professionals in New York than the next highest, PwC.
Smaller firms including CBIZ Mahoney Cohen & MHM Mahoney Cohen CPAs (probably the most ridiculously long name for firm we’ve ever seen) and Weiser also experienced significant drops:

CBIZ Mahoney Cohen & MHM Mahoney Cohen CPAs, which saw a loss of 53 professionals, or 22.7%, despite last December’s acquisition of Mahoney Cohen by CBIZ & Mayer Hoffman McCann…Weiser…reported a decline of 10.7%, or 42 professionals.

Sorry for all the gloom. Here are some small bright spots:
• Eisner, hired 120 professionals, an increase of 25%
• Marks, Paneth & Shron, 47 and 13.4%
• Seymour Shapss Martin & Co, 20 and 11.7%
You don’t have to be John Nash to see that the drop by the Big 4 overtake any increases by the smaller shops. And seven percent seems like a pretty significant drop but what the hell do we know?
Discuss your firm’s (or former firm’s) numbers in the comments and feel free to speculate on the job outlook for the coming year. It’s not like it could get worse. Could it?
A hard number for accountants: 7% fewer jobs [Crain’s New York]