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Accounting News Roundup: Bank of America Waves the Accounting Wand; 1986 All Over Again?; IRS Commish: Budget Cuts Hurt Everyone | 10.18.11

Bank of America swings to $6.2bn profit [FT]
Bank of America reported a third-quarter net profit of $6.2bn but the results were flattered hugely by accounting gains and its sales of shares in China Construction Bank. Stripping out a litany of exceptional items, from a $3.6bn gain due to the CCB stake sale to a $4.5bn boost from an accounting rule that allows banks to book a profit on the falling value of their own debt, BofA’s businesses produced a loss.

Paul Seeks $1 Trillion Spending Cuts [WSJ]
Mr. Paul, a longtime Texas congressman, said he would close the departments of Education, Energy, Commerce, Interior and Housing and Urban Development, as part of a broader plan to cut federal spending. The federal work force would be cut by 10%. Mr. Paul also called for stopping foreign aid and “ending foreign wars.” His “Plan to Restore America” would end the estate tax and taxes on personal savings, “allowing families to build a nest egg.” He would extend tax cuts on personal income, capital gains and dividends that were enacted under former President George W. Bush.

Corporate leaders say they understand protests [FT]
“I understand some of the angst and the anger. This downturn has been too long, unemployment is too high, and people are hurting. We get that,” said John Stumpf, Wells Fargo chief executive, on a conference call announcing that the nation’s largest bank by market capitalisation had recorded a record $4.1bn quarterly profit.

The Tax Reform Act of 1986: Should We Do It Again? [Economix/NYT]
Republican tax reformers of the 1980s, such as Representative Jack Kemp of New York and Senator Bob Kasten of Wisconsin, were willing to put specific tax preferences on the table for elimination and take the heat for doing so. Reagan built on their efforts and put forward a very detailed plan for tax reform in May 1985, based on several years of work by the Treasury Department, that identified a long list of tax provisions needing pruning from the tax code, along with supporting analysis and documentation. Today, Republicans like Mr. Cain put most of their efforts into devising catchy slogans and almost none into providing details of their tax proposals.

The Young Are Happy at Work [WSJ]
ounger workers tend to be happier with their employers than their older counterparts—but they are also more likely to be looking for an exit. Those attitudes—culled from a recent survey by consulting firm Mercer of nearly 30,000 workers from a variety of industries world-wide—might seem contradictory, but they do make sense, says Bruce Tulgan, founder of Rainmaker Thinking Inc., a workplace consulting company. Twenty-somethings may see a job in a “short-term, transactional way,” he says. “They don’t necessarily think ‘Where do I fit in with this employer?’ ”

Bad Math Hurts Cain’s Good Tax Intentions [Bloomberg]
Not to worry: There’s also no reason to think the federal government would ever enact Cain’s plan. Even if, per impossibile, Cain were elected president, Congress isn’t going to tell senior citizens that, after having paid taxes on income all their lives, they will now incur extra sales taxes when they spend the money. It’s not going to raise taxes on millions of poor and middle-class people.

U.S. bank accounting rule has big earnings impact [Reuters]
“This is the most vilified accounting rule I’ve ever seen. It’s amazing how universally despised it is,” said Robert Willens, author of the Willens Report, which analyzes corporate accounting and tax matters.

IRS chief: Budget cuts would hurt U.S., taxpayers [WaPo]
Shulman said that because the IRS workforce accounts for 92 percent of enforcement spending, slashing the IRS budget by the amounts being considered would force substantial cutbacks in front-line IRS staff. The federal government would lose about $4 billion in annual revenue, he said, “or seven times the reduction in IRS budget.”

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