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Accounting News Roundup: Big 4 Unions in China (Sort of); Dow’s Tax Shelter Ow; Sequest at the IRS | 03.01.13

SEC gets breather on global accounting body [Reuters]
The United States has won a three-year stay on its membership of an accounting oversight panel, keeping alive hopes for a single set of global book-keeping rules that will help investors assess companies. Leaders from world's top 20 economies (G20) have repeatedly called on the United States and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) to align their rules so that investors can compare companies easily. The United States has yet to say if it will adopt IASB standards, prompting the G20 this month to tell both sides to come up with an alignment plan by December.

China plans unionisation push into Big Four accounting firms [Reuters

"It tends to be more about establishing social order and providing connection between employees and the (ruling Communist) party and not about bargaining for labor rights," said Paul Gillis, a professor at Peking University's Guanghua School of Management. "It's not that alarming for the Big Four."
Groupon CEO Andrew Mason's severance: $378.36 [CNN]
Mason, Groupon's 32-year-old co-founder, announced his departure on Thursday in typically blunt fashion: "I was fired today," he wrote in a staff memo that he released publicly. Groupon's (GRPN) IPO filing details his employment agreement, which calls for Groupon to keep paying his salary for six months after he leaves the company. (His health care and other benefits also continue for 180 days.) 
GASB Review Finds Old Standards Worked Well [AT]
The Governmental Accounting Standards Board said Thursday that a post-implementation review of two of its accounting standards for state and local governments had achieved their intended purpose. The two standards examined were GASB Statements No. 3, Deposits with Financial Institutions, Investments (including Repurchase Agreements), and Reverse Repurchase Agreements, which dates back to 1986, and No. 40, Deposit and Investment Risk Disclosures, which dates back a decade to March 2003. The post-implementation review team concluded that the two standards, which had been established to improve the way state and local governments report their deposit and investment risks, and repurchase and reverse repurchase agreements, have achieved their purpose and provide decision-useful information to creditors and other financial statement users.
Ernst & Young LLP announces exclusive sponsorship of CNBC Global CFO Council [E&Y]

Dow Chemical Loses $1 Billion Tax Shelter Case [TaxProf]
This smarts:"The resolution of this case turns, in large part, on this Court's application of judicial doctrines that have been developed by the courts for more than three-quarters of a century. For the reasons which follow, the Court finds that the Chemtech transactions should be disregarded for tax purposes because: a) the transactions fail both tests under the economic substance doctrine; b) the partnership was a sham and had no legitimate business purpose; and c) even if this Court were to respect the partnership as a separate entity for tax purposes, it would not treat the banks as true equity partners. Finally, the Court finds that a 20% penalty applies for substantial understatement and negligence."

Acting commissioner outlines IRS plans for sequestration [JofA]
With mandatory government spending cuts looming, Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller sent a memo to all IRS employees on Thursday, outlining the agency’s plans in the event sequestration occurs as planned on Friday. He outlined spending cuts the IRS plans to make, including employee furloughs, but emphasized that the furloughs would not affect tax season. The IRS’s largest expense is employee pay, and the agency plans to furlough employees, starting in the summer, if the mandatory across-the-board spending cuts take effect. Miller anticipates five to seven furlough days per employee through the end of the government’s fiscal year. The furloughs would apply to all IRS employees and would amount to no more than one furlough day per pay period.

The Charitable Contribution Deduction: Reform and Simplification [TPC]
Who wants to get into the weeds of split interest and partial interest gift rules?

The Sequester is Not Too Big, It is Too Stupid [TaxVox]
HG: "The latest chapter in Washington’s never-ending fiscal drama is about to play out in tomorrow’s sequester–a word most Americans should never have had to learn. For all the partisan noise about these automatic spending cuts, it is important to keep in mind that they are both relatively small and very stupid."
Edinburgh Zoo Pandas Listen To Marvin Gaye's Mood Music Before Hanky Panky [HP]
I'll bet you can't guess which song.
Posted in ANR