Eraserhead doppelgänger Tim Geithner has said that tax reform is coming but you shouldn’t really expect things to get started before Labor Day. If we’re lucky For starters, this tax stuff is complicated and secondly, this debt ceiling discussion is all the rage right now:
Geithner said the Obama administration hopes to take up the issue of tax simplification before the presidential election in 2012 but he signaled the issue is on hold for now. “I think realistically this fiscal debate we’re having is going to dominate our preoccupation for the next couple of months,” Geithner said in response to a question after remarks to the Harvard Club in New York.
But don’t worry, since the GOP has made it abundantly clear that raising taxes are off the table, the administration will definitely call attention to their uncooperative attitude well before the election:
Geithner said the administration would like “to take a run at doing this ahead of the election. That means we’ve got to start but we also need to get this fiscal stuff on a better trajectory.”
FYI to any members of Congress who still think it’s a good idea:
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Wednesday said potential cuts to the Internal Revenue Service budget would damage the agency’s ability to collect revenues. “Any substantial cuts to the IRS budget will hurt revenue collection and service to taxpayers, resulting in unanswered phone calls and letters,” Geithner said in the text of remarks prepared for a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing.
Never mind the fact that taxpayers are getting a lot of bang for their buck:
“The customer service and enforcement programs at the IRS provide one of the best values in the federal government,” Geithner said.
What else do you need to know?
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told the Senate Finance Committee Feb. 15 that Congress should “revisit” long-standing rules that give businesses a choice of paying taxes as a corporation or through a structure such as a partnership through which they can report business income on individual tax returns. The recommendation, which Geithner repeated in a meeting with reporters this week at Bloomberg News in Washington, would affect income earned by the nation’s largest law firms, investment partnerships and so-called S corporations. It would more than double, to about $3 trillion, the amount of business income potentially affected by tax-law changes. [Bloomberg]
The IRS is not the most popular government agency. This is not news. What is a developing problem is more and more people feel that reacting to the Service through with violence is somehow an acceptable option. Can we expect another lunatic to fly a plane into a building? Hard to say. But Joe Kristan did warn us about this.
And now the Treasury Inspector General has informed Tim Geithner that this will be one of the “challenges” the Service can expect in the new year:
In addition to safeguarding a vast amount of sensitive financial and personal data, the IRS must also protect approximately 100,000 employees and more than 700 facilities throughout the country. Attacks and threats against IRS employees and facilities have risen steadily in recent years.
The February 2010 attack on an IRS facility in Austin, Texas, is a stark reminder of the dangers that IRS employees face every day in trying to perform their jobs. Animosity towards the tax collection process is nothing new, but the Austin incident and other recent events point to a surge of hostility towards the Federal Government. According to the Anti-Defamation League, the militia movement has almost quadrupled in size in the past two years, growing to more than 200 groups across the country. The Southern Poverty Law Center has reported that anti-government and hate groups have grown from 149 groups in 2008 to 512 groups in 2009, a 244 percent increase. The ongoing public debate regarding the recently enacted health care legislation may also lead to increased threats against IRS employees and facilities, underscoring the need for continuing vigilance in the area of physical security.
It’s good to know that our country is filled with so many level-headed folks that creating hate groups has become a relatively popular thing to do.
Actually, if Wes Benedict, Executive Director of the Libertarian Party, had his way, Wes wouldn’t be doing time at all.
“The three-year federal prison sentence for Snipes’s failure to file tax returns is absurd. Snipes is not a threat to anyone, and the judge who sentenced him clearly just wanted to scare others who might think about resisting federal taxes.
“Maybe it’s worth reminding people that Wesley Snipes was acquitted of tax fraud and conspiracy charges in 2008. He was only found guilty on misdemeanor charges of ‘willful failure to file an income tax return.’
Right, so the ‘willful failure’ part is where we kind of have a problem. If you willfully fail to control your urge to get cop-slugging drunk and then actually slug a cop, you have committed a crime. Mr Benedict doesn’t buy it though:
“Why is a failure to file a tax return a criminal non-act? Should people ever be sent to prison for not doing something? If the IRS wants to come after Snipes and take his money, they have power to do that. Who does it help to send the man to prison?
“The tax code is incredibly vague and open to interpretation [Ed note: UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE CENTURY]. In fact, the ‘law’ is largely written by IRS bureaucrats. If they decide the law says one thing, you’re OK; if they decide it’s something else, then you’re headed for prison.
“The federal tax code also allows for ‘selective enforcement,’ to put it mildly. Why is it that Wesley Snipes gets a prison sentence, but known tax cheat Tim Geithner gets promoted to Secretary of the Treasury? Maybe Tim should be Wesley’s cellmate. Throw tax cheat politician Charlie Rangel in the slammer too for good measure.
Tim Geithner’s poor choice in self-prep tax software and an actor giving the 16th Amendment the middle finger for 10+ years aren’t quite the same thing. Maybe it’s just us.
[h/t Tracy Coenen]
“This administration will side with those who want fundamental change. It is not tenable to leave in place the system we have today. We will not support returning Fannie and Freddie to the role they played before conservatorship, where they fought to take market share from private competitors while enjoying the privilege of government support.”
~ The Treasury Secretary has had it up to his coif.
The top individual tax rate is scheduled to jump to 39.6% on January 1, 2011. To those of us who do private business tax returns for a living, one effect is obvious: this will raise the tax rate on LLC and S corporation income.
But now Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner says that all my small business clients thy rich law partners and CEOs (my emphasis):
Ninety-seven percent of small businesses in this country would not pay a penny more due to letting these upper-income tax rates expire.
Now some have argued that even if only a few percent of small business owners make over $250,000, these few make up a vast amount of supposedly small business income.
This argument apparently counts anyone who receives any type of partnership or business income as if they were a small business.
By this standard, every partner in a major law firm and every principal in a major financial institution would count as a separate small business. A CEO who has board fees or speech fees would also count as a small business owner under this overly broad definition.
Well yes, Timmy, “some” have argued for that “overly broad definition” — your friends who say 97% of small businesses won’t be affected by the scheduled tax increase. A 2009 report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is a source of the talking point that only a tiny fraction of businesses will be affected by the expiration of the tax increase. They define a small business 1040 as:
…any tax unit that receives any income (or loss) from a sole proprietorship, farm proprietorship, partnership, S corporation, or rental income.
So while a CEO who has board fees will count as a separate small business — as will President Obama, for that matter — so will every taxpayer that has a schedule C, schedule E or Schedule F. Your office Mary Kay girl or Shacklee dealer counts as a small business. Everybody who moonlights and reports their income is a small business. Everybody who rents out a duplex or vacation home counts, as does every taxpayer who holds, even briefly, an interest in a publicly-traded oil and gas partnership.
So how much small business economic activity will be hit by the increase in the top rate? A lot more than 3%. The center-left Tax Policy Center estimates that 44.3% of taxable income of these “small businesses” will be hit with next year’s scheduled tax increase (hat tip: Howard Gleckman). That seems low, if anything, based on what I see in practice.
It’s the successful, growing and profitable S corporations and partnerships that push their owners into the top tax brackets. Growing businesses typically distribute only enough income to owners to cover taxes — either by inclination or by agreements with lenders. Their remaining earnings go into growing the business or paying off the bank. If you increase their taxes, it either reduces growth and hiring or their ability to service their debt — neither of which does much for the economy.
When Tim Geithner says that the only people who will get hit by his tax increase are rich lawyers and director fee millionaires, it may tell us something about his social world. It tells us nothing about how the tax increase will hit business owners.
Geithner Pushes Tax Boost for Wealthy [WSJ]
“Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner made the Obama administration’s economic case for letting tax cuts for high earners expire at the end of this year, saying that failure to do so would harm rather than help economic growth.
In a speech Wednesday in Washington, part of the administration’s broader strategy to overcome Republican opposition on the issue, Mr. Geithner said that keeping current tax levels even on a short-term basis “would hurt economic recovery by undermining confidence that we are prepared to make a commitment today to bring down our future deficits.” The government needs the revenue it would get from allowing tax rates for the wealthy to rise, he said.”
PCAOB Logs No Progress on International Inspections [Compliance Week]
“The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board isn’t yet making much headway in catching up on overdue international inspections, but the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill at least clears an obstacle the board has repeatedly blamed for its inability to meet its inspection mandate.”
Regulator fears auditors may abandon scepticism to meet deadlines [Accountancy Age]
“The Auditing Practices Board (APB), which sets standards for the industry, is concerned auditors might be abandoning their professional scepticism to meet contractual audit deadlines, and wants to coach them in how to be sceptical.
Audit contracts are often negotiated on the assumption few problems will be revealed, according to the APB. When a potential issue does arise timetables often have to be extended.”
A-Rod’s Home Run Ball: a Tax Headache for the Record Books? [WSJ]
The ball is reportedly worth around $100k and if the ball is technically Yankees’ property and the team were to give it to A-Rod, then he may owe tax and the Yanks would get a corresponding deduction. The team could also argue that the ball is technically A-Rod’s property and then neither would owe tax.
Of course then the question remains, what if A-Rod sells or donates the ball to a nonprofit? If he sold it, then it would depend on how long he keeps it (less than a year would be at ordinary rates, greater than a year would be at capital gain rates). While donating the ball after one year could net him a near full deduction.
TheStreet.com names Thomas Etergino finance chief [AP]
Tom starts his new gig on September 7th.
IRS Hits Wyclef With $2.1 Million In Tax Liens [The Smoking Gun]
Whether it’s the U.S. or Haiti, this is not how you want to start a Presidential campaign.
Delta Said to Plan New York JFK Hub Renovation for $1.2 Billion [Bloomberg]
Anyone that has been to Terminal 3 at JFK is aware of the problem.
Geithner defends Obama policy on tax cut extension [AP]
“Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Tuesday it would be ‘deeply irresponsible’ for the Obama administration to support a wholesale extension of Bush era tax cuts, including breaks for the wealthy.
Geithner said in a nationally broadcast interview that President Barack Obama strongly believes those reductions should be retained for the ’95 percent’ of taxpayers with individual incomes under $200,000 a year and families below $250,000.”
Bank of America, KPMG Settlement With Countrywide Investors Wins Approval [Bloomberg]
“Bank of America Corp. and KPMG LLP’s $624 million settlement with investors in Countrywide Financial Corp. led by New York pension funds won initial court approval.
U.S. District Judge Mariana Pfaelzer in Los Angeles ruled today on the accord. A fairness hearing will be held on final approval for the settlement, first announced in May.”
Snooki Tanning-Bed Protest Splits Sin From Taxes [Bloomberg]
“[P]eople don’t like government moralizing. If there’s one thing people dislike even more than taxes, it’s being told what to do.”
So does that mean that Alabama is imploring reverse psychology?
Reznick Group Promotes Four New Principals [Business Wire]
Reznick Group promoted Dan Fox and Renee Matthews in Bethesda, MD, Eric Jones in Sacramento and Daniel Worrall in Atlanta are the big winners.
Accounting & Consulting Group acquires Roswell’s Miller & Associates [New Mexico Business Weekly]
“With 95 employees overall, Accounting & Consulting Group is now the third-largest accounting firm in the state. Headquartered in Albuquerque, it has offices in Alamogordo, Carlsbad, Clovis, Hobbs and Roswell, and has a member firm office in Lubbock, Texas. The firm specializes in audit and financial reporting, tax compliance, business consulting and trust and estate planning.”
Becoming the Boss Can Cost Plenty [WSJ]
“When starting a business on a tight budget, a single spending gaffe can spell disaster. For this reason, experts in entrepreneurship recommend taking precautions, such as doing research to identify potential hidden fees, focusing only on necessities and setting aside emergency funds.”
SAP Business ByDesign 2.5: time to invest? [AccMan]
Dennis Howlett gives the lowdown on the “general availability of SAP Business ByDesign 2.5,” which means that it is available for any to purchase. Dennis reports that starter packs for as few as ten users are available for CRM, ERP and PSP.
No new recession, let tax cuts die: Geithner [Reuters]
“The economy is not likely to slip back into recession but letting tax cuts for t ans expire is necessary to show commitment to cutting budget deficits, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on Sunday.
In appearances on several Sunday talk shows, Geithner said only 2 to 3 percent of Americans — those making $250,000 or more a year — will be affected when tax cuts enacted under former President George W. Bush end on schedule this year.”
BP Said to Prepare Dudley as CEO as Board Looks for Recovery [Bloomberg]
“BP Plc plans to name Robert Dudley to succeed Tony Hayward as chief executive officer as the board looks to recover the company’s position in the U.S., two people with knowledge of the matter said.
Dudley, the director of BP’s oil spill response unit, is ready to be announced as the company’s first American chief and to take the helm Oct. 1, one of the people said, asking not to be identified because a final decision hasn’t yet been made. The decision was reached in discussions with board members about how best to take BP forward and rebuild its U.S. position, the person said.”
Madoff Investors Brace for Lawsuits [WSJ]
“Irving Picard said he could wind up suing about half the estimated 2,000 individual investors he has called “net winners” from their dealings with Mr. Madoff. Such investors withdrew more from Mr. Madoff’s firm than the amount of principal they invested.
‘The people who made money, who got more, have made money at the expense of the people who didn’t,’ said Mr. Picard, who has the power under federal bankruptcy provisions to pursue money withdrawn from Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC before it collapsed in December 2008 and redistribute the funds fairly among victims.
Mr. Picard must file any so-called clawback lawsuits by December, the two-year anniversary of Mr. Madoff’s arrest and the filing of regulatory proceedings against him. ‘We’re not going to wait until the last minute,’ Mr. Picard said.”
Change the world or go home [AccMan]
Dennis Howlett implores you that if you want your firm or business to really stand out then it’s going to take more than a catchy slogan or a boilerplate email to get people’s attention. You best recognize an opportunity when you see one.
“I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve said but it is worth repeating. When disruption like SaaS comes along, it represents an opportunity. From a professional standpoint it should mean that firms can further commoditize what they do by using accounting dashboards that show them the status of their clients’ activity. It is a short step to seeing how this might be integrated into fees, billing, customer satisfaction measurement and the like.”
If You’re Going To San Francisco…AAA Will Be There [FEI Financial Reporting Blog]
Edith Orenstein has the lowdown on this year’s American Accounting Association’s (AAA) annual meeting. This year’s event is in AG’s backyard (she loves giving directions, btw) from July 31 to August 4th and will feature Francine McKenna and Professor Albrecht on one of the panels.
Join Me For a Nice Little CPA Exam Chat on August 3rd! [JDA]
Speaking of Adrienne, she’ll be over at CPA Exam Club to take your questions on everyone’s favorite test on August 3rd. Yes, that’s one week from tomorrow.
PwC Demands Dismissal of Glitnir Lawsuit [Iceland Review]
PwC’s lawyers argue that Glitnir and the firm agreed to do any legal wrangling in Iceland if the poo hit the fan. Late last week they requested that the lawsuit in New York be tossed.
Saltzman Hamma firm details merger with RubinBrown [Denver Business Journal]
“Saltzman Hamma Nelson Massaro LLP, a century-old Denver accounting firm, is merging with St. Louis-based RubinBrown LLP to form what’s expected to be among the 50 largest accounting firms in the United States, principals were set to announce on July 23.
The new entity, which will operate as RubinBrown, will employ 375 people in offices in Denver, St. Louis and Kansas City, Mo. The merger will be effective Aug. 1.”
District Court Denies Charitable Deduction for Donation of Home to Fire Department [TaxProf Blog]
Just donate a car next time. It’s a far worse investment than a house.
IRS Proposes PTIN Fees [JofA]
$50 for your very own preparer tax identification number! Of course there’s also a ‘reasonable fee’ on top of that from “a third-party vendor that will administer the application and renewal process,” that gets thrown in for good measure.
My Life as a White-Collar Criminal [White Collar Fraud]
Sam Antar went on Canadian TV last week to talk about how much fun it is to be a crook. Except the whole possibility of prison part.
Rep. Charles Rangel broke ethics rules, House panel finds [WaPo]
“A House ethics subcommittee announced Thursday that it found that Rep. Charles B. Rangel violated congressional ethics rules and that it will pr robably beginning in September. The panel is expected to make the details of his alleged violations public next Thursday.
Rangel (D-N.Y.) has been under the House ethics committee’s microscope since early 2008 after it was reported that he may have used his House position to benefit his financial interests. Two of the most serious inquiries have focused on Rangel’s failure to declare $239,000 to $831,000 in assets on his disclosure forms, and on his effort to raise money for a private center named after him at City College of New York using his congressional letterhead.”
Geithner: Taxes on Wealthiest to Rise [WSJ]
“The Obama administration will allow tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to expire on schedule, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Thursday, setting up a clash with Republicans and a small but vocal group of Democrats who want to delay the looming tax increases.
Mr. Geithner said the White House would allow taxes on top earners to increase in 2011 as part of an effort to bring down the U.S. budget deficit. He said the White House plans to extend expiring tax cuts for middle- and lower-income Americans, and expects to undertake a broader revision of the tax code next year.
‘We believe it is appropriate to let those tax cuts that go to the most fortunate expire,’ Mr. Geithner said at a breakfast with reporters.”
FASB Requires More Disclosures Around Credit Risk [Compliance Week]
“Accounting Standards Update No. 2010-20, Receivables (Topic 310) calls for more credit risk disclosures to give investors a better view of the credit risk in a company’s portfolio of receivables as well as the adequacy of its allowance for credit losses. Under the update, companies will be required to say more about aging receivables and credit quality indicators in particular.
The new disclosure requirements affect financing receivables and trade accounts receivable, including loans, trade accounts receivable that are greater than a year old, notes receivable, credit cards and receivables for certain leases. The new disclosure requirement does not affect short-term trade accounts receivable, receivables that are measured at fair value or the lower of cost or fair value, and debt securities.”
Convicted accountant Lewis Freeman’s friends urge leniency [Miami Herald]
“Miami’s go-to forensic accountant” Lewis Freeman is to be sentenced today for stealing nearly $3 million from victims of fraud who he was appointed to protect. He faces a dozen to fifteen years in prison but his friends and supporters have turned on the pity party, sending nearly 300 letters to Judge Paul Huck, asking for leniency.
“[E]very one of those letter writers also asks the judge to show mercy, emphasizing that the affable New York native should not have to languish in prison because he has done so much for institutions like his alma mater, the University of Miami, Miami Children’s Hospital and the Miami Children’s Museum, among others.”
No need for non-audit ban, regulator claims [Accountancy Age]
“Accountants will not have to give up their non-audit work for audit clients, under proposed guidelines released today, which have not recommended an outright ban, suggested by politicians in the wake of the financial crisis.
The Auditing Practices Board, of the Financial Reporting Council, which publishes guidance for auditors, does not believe an outright ban on non-audit services should be enacted and has instead proposed to tinker with present disclosure requirements.”
Could This Be a Real Deterrent? [Floyd Norris/NYT]
Despite the usual fare in the SEC’s settlement yesterday, Floyd Norris writes that the $4 million fine for Michael Dell and other executives is “refreshing.”
Seriously people. We thought that the fog of confusion around this issue had been lifted. We’ll go over it again for those of you just joining us.
If you are not a well-connected bureaucrat with a fabulous coif, you are not afforded the same privileges as though who are/do.
And tax court debunks the latest attempt to draw some likeness between a regular schmo and T Geith:
We shall address briefly petitioner’s contention that the IRS granted “favorable treatment” in a case involving U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, which petitioner described as “incredibly similar” to the instant case. According to petitioner, “there should not be different, or favorable rules for the well-connected”. The record in this case does not establish any facts relating to the case to which petitioner refers involving U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner. In any event, those facts would be irrelevant to our resolution of the issue presented here. Regardless of the facts and circumstances relating to the case to which petitioner refers involving U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, petitioner is required to establish on the basis of the facts and circumstances that are established by the record in his own case that there was reasonable cause for, and that he acted in good faith with respect to, the underpayment for each of his taxable years 2005 and 2006 that is attributable to his failure to report self-employment tax.
Lehman unsecured creditors seek probe Ernst & Young [Reuters]
The unsecured creditors of Lehman are justifiably nervous about getting anything bank in the wake of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. The next best plan of attack, as you might of expect is poke around E&Y to see what they’ve got laying around. Of course Ernst & Young won’t just turn over “certain documents” and make “its employees and partners submit to an oral examination” so the creditors are asking the bankruptcy court to order them to do so.
Tax Court Rejects “Geithner Defense,” Says Reliance on TurboTax Does Not Excuse Taxpayer From Penalty for Errors on Tax Return [TaxProf]
Please note for any of you that will try to pull that excuse:
“Although the Court concludes the errors in petitioners’ tax preparation were made in good faith, petitioners have not established that they behaved in a manner consistent with that of a prudent person. Before the trial petitioners stipulated that they did not consult a tax professional or visit the IRS’ Web site for instructions on filing the Schedule C.
We do not accept petitioners’ misuse of TurboTax, even if unintentional or accidental, as a defense to the penalties on the basis of the facts presented.”
Contenders shape up to replace John Connolly – Deloitte’s big hitter [Times Online]
The head spot for Deloitte in the UK will be up for grabs next year as John Connolly will step down after ten years at the helm. The Times Online reports that even though two candidates have been identified by sources, no campaigning will be allowed, “Mr Connolly conceded that the issue of succession was “in the air” but said that the firm wanted to avoid open competition between potential successors. “We don’t allow people to go around the country calling meetings and giving presentations about why they will be a great leader,” he said.”
With a little more than just 24 hours to go until the end of the traditional filing season for 2010, some taxpayers might be freaking out. To help prevent this we got the chance to speak with Bob Meighan, TurboTax VP and CPA yesterday morning about what to do with just a few short hours away from the deadline, what taxpayers have been struggling with this filing season and if he had any special advice for a certain customer:
Okay my friends, this is a serious problem in our country that needs addressed. The vast shortage of competent, professional, tax advisors and accountants for escort service businesses, brothels, and your run-of-the-mill houses of ill repute can go on no longer. If not for the business opportunity, then for the good of your fellow Americans and maybe your state’s dire fiscal situation.
Today we learned that the one of the proprietors of Companions, “a call-out escort service” in Salt Lake City that was convicted of one count of tax evasion. Jodi Hoskins and her husband Roy were both convicted of dodging taxes (he in May 2009) for the year 2002. They managed to underreport their gross receipts by $1,204,354 which resulted in evaded taxes of $485k-ish. As you can tell, this is a bit of a problem. And with all challenges/problems/giant pains in the ass, therein lies an opportunity.
Our position is that these businesses simply cannot go on without more accountants and tax professionals stepping up to help these pillars of the business community run their whorehouses better. This means you, GC readers. Your knowledge of the double-entry accounting, inventory, derivatives, and payroll will be invaluable for these entrepreneurs and their employees.
Plus! If more of these businesses are in compliance with state and federal taxes, that’s one more step to states becoming fiscally solvent AND Tim Geithner can give the cash printing machine break. Everyone wins!
After yesterday’s words of wisdom from Joe Biden on your taxes, we stumbled across the “tax savings tool” that’s so easy
a caveman Joe Biden can do it.
We actually do believe the VPOTUS when he says it’s easy because he made the announcement yesterday with two men who aren’t exactly known to be tax mavens: IRS Commish Doug “I find the tax code complex” Shulman and Tim “I think I’ll try using TaxCut this year” Geithner.
Try your hand this thing and make up your own mind, after the jump.
Our feeling that it’s like tax planning a step or two above what Fisher-Price might put out. Which, for the majority of the American People, might still be tricky.
Tim Geithner has inadvertently given his endorsement to standardized financial regulation around the globe, so is he also giving the adoption of IFRS in the US his approval?
Possibly, since he told ABC that “he wasn’t worried that tighter financial regulation would put U.S. banks at an international disadvantage. ‘I’m very confident we can make sure that we are working very closely to raise global standards around the world so we have a level playing field,’ Geithner said.” His motivations are only slightly suspect. Why?
Under IFRS, assets are overstated as derivatives are measured in gross exposure, as opposed to GAAP which concerns itself with net value. More magic financial reporting; of course Geithner would want to see banks magically healed by a change in accounting. If we’re going to do it, let’s also restate years 1999 – 2009 so we can compare at least.
Incredible what a slight adjustment can do (See also: page 19 of the Deutsche Bank report “Financial Transparency” – bwhahaha).
Speaking to the G7 finance ministers in Iqaluit, Canada this weekend, Geithner reiterated his commitment to globalization, accounting magic, and the heavy hand of regulation.
“We all share a deep commitment to try to move forward and reach agreement on a strong, comprehensive set of financial reforms on the timetable we all committed to last September,” he said at a closing press conference following a meeting of Group of Seven finance chiefs.
“That means agreement on … a new set of capital requirements for large global institutions by the end of this year,” he added, playing down the possibility that the Obama administration might be headed in a different direction from other governments.
Timmy is also somehow convinced that the United States will never lose its AAA rating but he forgets that the MBSs that the Fed is buying were also AAA once upon a time too. He also seems to have forgotten about our massive deficit.
At least he remembered to push the globalization agenda he’s been blabbering about all this time.
Any tax preparers out there that got their stripes by virtue of an 8 hour course in the basement of a church will have to start hitting the books. Today, the IRS announced that it is putting a stop to all the amateur 1040 jockeys out there by issuing new requirements for all paid tax preparers.
The new requirements came after complaints from taxpayer rights’ groups who wanted stronger oversight over the industry. Apparently there are too many “tax professionals” that can’t tell the difference between a W-2 and a sack of doorknobs.
[S]tarting in 2011, all paid tax preparers will have to register with the IRS and include a unique identification number on any returns they prepare. Preparers will be given three years to pass a competency exam in either individual or small business taxation.
Attorneys, certified public accountants and enrolled agents will not be required to pass the competency tests. They will remain subject to the requirements of their respective licensing bodies.
But the exams and new annual, continuing education requirements will impact likely hundreds of thousands of preparers, from employees of chain preparation firms like H&R Block Inc. and Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc. to mom-and-pop storefronts that offer tax preparation as one of several services.
Three years to pass an exam? Even the dimmest of CPA Exam candidates manage to finish in 18 months. Also, we’re curious as to what diabolical plot the H&R Blocks and Jackson Hewitts of the world will devise in order to speed their professionals into compliance.
Regardless of the shortfalls, Doug “Don’t expect me to apologize” Shulman said that the new requirements were ‘long overdue’. He also said that the Service will be forming a task force to look into determining the accuracy of tax prep software for possible future standards over that industry.
One thing is for sure, somewhere Doug’s boss is asking his friends if they know any good CPAs.
• Christmas Gifts for that Special Tax Person – A possible gift for that Tim Geithner groupie in your life. [TaxProf Blog]
• GM Recruits Microsoft’s Liddell as New Finance Chief – Apparently GM’s finance department had some Deliverance thing going on. [Bloomberg]
• Top 50 Blogs for Accountants – There are some familiar names on this list, including GC. Thanks! [The Biz-Learner]
• Rajaratnam, Chiesi Plead Not Guilty – Doing what’s best for investors is not a crime. [WSJ]
• Crazy Eddie inductee talks about walls of false integrity – Sam Antar = Hall of Famer [Con Artist Hall of Infamy]
• Geithner Said to Be Seeking TARP Extension Until Next October – Timmay is expected to scribe a letter to Congress letting them know about the little extension. [Bloomberg]
• Standard Chartered Sees No ‘Material’ Impairments in Dubai – Let’s remember this for future reference. [WSJ]
• Lessons Lost – Gary Weiss links to GC in his remembrance of Enron. Does anyone else remember Enron? [Portfolio]
• Obama’s Stimulus II – BO wants to help small business by letting them “eliminate capital gains taxes on the sale of small firms, allow them to continue to expense capital investment, and give them tax breaks for hiring new workers.” Sounds nice but Howard Gleckman says, “It’s a bit like throwing a drowning man a 64-inch flat panel TV. He might love to have one, but not right now.” [Tax Policy Center]
• U.S. SEC Sues to Freeze Assets Of ‘Ponzi Scheme’ – Rockford Funding Group LLC, come on down! [DealBook]
• Geithner urges end to ‘dumb regulation’ – “Tim Geithner, Treasury secretary, said there was “a lot of dumb regulation in our country” and urged lawmakers to act quickly in spite of resistance from the financial industry and other regulators to the administration’s plan.” [FT.com]
• California Senate Approves Budget Plan – “The California Senate early Friday approved a plan to close a $26 billion budget shortfall through steep spending cuts and a medley of one-time solutions and accounting moves.” Creative accounting, Cali? FTW! [WSJ]
• Buffett: I’m keeping my Goldman Sachs warrants – But thanks for asking. [Reuters]
• Madoff Trustee Battles Israeli Charity Over $4.7 Mln – “A charity for homeless and runaway Israeli children that lost money in Bernard Madoff’s fraud told a U.S. judge that the trustee liquidating the con man’s business wrongfully rejected its $4.72 million claim in the case.” [Bloomberg]