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Accounting News Roundup: Deloitte Digital Strikes Again and Return Free Filing | 03.01.16

Deloitte Digital Acquires Heat [Adweek/Agency Spy]
We've noted in the past that accounting firms decided that they also want to be advertising, err, digital agencies. They managed to do this in the only way they know how: purchasing smaller, boutique agencies and luring away talent by paying them truckloads of money. It's a foolproof plan.

Deloitte's latest acquisition is Heat, a San Francisco agency, and they've broken the buzzword mold with this one:

“Deloitte Digital has created a new market category called creative digital consulting,” explained Deloitte Digtal [sic] CEO and principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, Andy Main. “Adding Heat’s extraordinary and award-winning creative capabilities is the perfect complement to our market-leading and long-established digital business. We are the single place for our clients to go to connect business strategy with creative strategy and content, customer experience, core business operations, transformational technology, and campaign execution. We combine creative chops with the powerful Deloitte platform to help our clients find their own disruptive advantage.”

"Deloitte understands the importance of our brand and culture and will help us protect it as we grow together," says Heat founder Steve Stone. Oh yes, there is a brand and culture that will be protected. It will be Deloitte's. Regardless of the conversations had, that's what I imagine you agree to when selling your an agency to a multi-gazillion dollar professional services firm.

Fuzzy-Math Accounting Chided by Buffett Gets Fresh SEC Scrutiny [Bloomberg]
ICYMI, people are worried about non-GAAP reporting.

While creative accounting has been around forever, non-traditional measures — “metrics,” in industry parlance — have been on the rise lately. Companies routinely highlight the non-GAAP results in press releases that announce earnings, and Wall Street analysts often fixate on the adjusted figures. The number of companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index reporting non-GAAP results rose to 334 in 2014 from 232 in 2009, according to research from The Analyst’s Accounting Observer.

That’s why the SEC is worried some companies might be pushing the envelope, with Chair Mary Jo White warning in December that non-GAAP figures can be misleading.

Last year, the SEC actually "admonished" ConocoPhillips for their metric that "added $755 million to [the company's] home-cooked measure of profit" by removing the volatility in oil prices. As far as non-GAAP reporting goes, that "looked too opportunistic" so the SEC had to step in to stop all the fun. I'm no expert, but not reporting stock compensation seems just as opportunistic as ignoring the price volatility of a key commodity in your business. Measuring opportunism is not an exact science, but the SEC seems to have a working formula, so beware.

Filing your income taxes is a pain, and that is not an accident [Quartz]
Although many of you make a living helping businesses and individuals with their taxes, a large portion of the population does not need your help because a) their taxes are simple and b) you're too expensive. Those people (this may include you!) have to use H&R Block or Intuit's TurboTax or whatever to complete their tax returns instead. That's worked out very well for H&R Block and Intuit; it hasn't worked out so well for taxpayers who spend an average of 8 hours and $120 working on returns. Other countries, approach things a little differently:

There’s a strangely fascinating video on YouTube of an unseen man in Estonia walking the viewer through his personal income tax filing. What’s incredible about it is the length: two minutes and 50 seconds.

He logs into his bank account and verifies the income data his employer sent to the government in advance. He reviews his contact information, clicks a box to have his €158 refund paid directly to his bank account, and voilà. Taxes done, in less time than it takes the average US taxpayer to set up a TurboTax account.

Back in 2014, NPR and ProPublica reported on Intuit's lobbying activities to stop return-free filing. The article is well worth your time. Quartz reports that the company has spent $13 million lobbying against return free filing since 2011.

Previously, on Going Concern…
I wrote about making mistakes during busy season.

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