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Accounting News Roundup: Deloitte Sued for $7.6 Billion in Mortgage Fraud Case; ‘Jersey Shore’ Tax Credit Goes Down; Income Tax History Cliff Notes | 09.27.11

Accounting firm Deloitte & Touche sued for $7.6 billion in massive mortgage fraud case [AP]
“They certainly did not do their job,” said attorney Steven Thomas, who represents those suing Deloitte. “This is one of those cases where the red flags are staring you in the face, and you’ve got to do a lot, and they did not.” Deloitte spokesman Jonathan Gandal responded that the company rejects the claims, calling them “utterly without merit.” The lawsuits were filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court on behalf of the bankruptcy trustee for the fraudulent mortgage firm, Taylor Bean & Whitaker, and by Ocala Funding LLC, a company that purchased hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of mortgages from Taylor Bean. The bankruptcy trustee is attempting to recover money for Taylor Bean creditors.

Big Four: cut down to size? [FT]
“Accountancy was my life,” ran the old advert. “Until I discovered Smirnoff.” Plenty of auditors could turn to the bottle after they see the reforms Brussels is considering. The changes, according to a draft circulating the European Commission, have caught the industry off guard. Most stunning is the suggestion that the Big Four – PwC, Deloitte, KPMG, and Ernst & Young – should spin off all their non-audit operations. Michel Barnier, internal market commissioner, also plans to mandate joint audits of large companies and make them rotate auditors far more frequently.

Groupon IPO Watch: Groupon Versus the Accounting Blogs [312]
Maybe the deal isn’t on.

Social Security Is a Ponzi Scheme [Grumpy Old Accountants]
From the Grumpies: “The essential feature of the Ponzi scheme, indeed the defining feature, is the payoff of a promised return to an investor class using funds acquired from a later class of investors. This is exactly how social security works. Retirees are paid benefits not from the actual funds that they put into the system (which were “misappropriated” for other government purposes), but rather from funds supplied by current workers. In turn, these current workers presumably will receive social security benefits when social security taxes are contributed by later workers. This works only as long as the government can con future workers (“new investors”) into funding the social security promise. So, yes, social security is a Ponzi scheme.

Obama gets a feel-good moment on jobs package [WaPo]
“My question is would you please raise my taxes?” the man deadpanned, to immediate laughter and applause. “I would like very much to have the country to continue to invest in things like Pell Grants and infrastructure and job-training programs that made it possible for me to get to where I am. And it kills me to see Congress not supporting the expiration of the tax cuts that have been benefiting so many of us for so long. I think that needs to change, and I hope that you will stay strong in doing that.”

Christie Blocks Tax Credit for ‘Jersey Shore’ [NYT]
Mr. Christie said he was “duty-bound” to see that taxpayers were “not footing a $420,000 bill for a project which does nothing more than perpetuate misconceptions about the state and its citizens.”

A Short History of the Income Tax [WSJ]
Whether the “millionaires and billionaires” are actually paying their fair share of taxes is a matter for the electorate to decide. After all, fairness is hardly an objective standard. Before the modern era, however, the federal tax system was manifestly unfair by any reasonable standard, grossly biased in favor of the well off. Ironically, attempting to fix that unfairness is what has brought us to the present moment, with a federal tax system that is grotesquely complex, often arbitrary, and corrupted by mutual back-scratching between members of Congress and influential lobbyists.

SEC Eyes Ratings From S&P [WSJ]
U.S. securities regulators are zeroing in on the use by Standard & Poor’s of fictitious “dummy” assets when it assigned a triple-A credit rating to a $1.6 billion mortgage-bond deal that imploded during the financial crisis, according to a person familiar with the matter. S&P’s parent company, McGraw-Hill Cos., said Monday that it had received a so-called Wells notice from the Securities and Exchange Commission. A Wells notice is the agency’s warning to financial institutions that they could face civil charges. McGraw-Hill said the SEC is weighing civil enforcement action against the firm for its ratings on a collateralized debt obligation called Delphinus CDO 2007-1 issued in July 2007 as the housing market was taking a turn for the worse.

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