Accounting News Roundup: Don’t Forget, It’s Not Just Apple!; Moss Adams Ordered to Pay After Contempt Ruling; Leave the IRS Alone | 05.22.13

Google Joins Apple Avoiding Taxes With Stateless Income [Bloomberg]
The shifting of profits by multinational companies is costing the U.S. and Europe at least $100 billion per year in lost tax revenue, according to Kimberly Clausing, an economics professor at Reed University in Portland, Oregon. “Over the decades, Congress and governments around the world have allowed a system to develop which allows multinational companies to earn income tax-free by using contracts to shift the income, on paper, to companies in low-and zero-tax countries,” said Michael Durst, a retired international tax attorney based in Washington. The result “is eroding public confidence in the fairness of tax systems in the United States and around the world.” Similar practices by an assortment of companies — from Google Inc. (GOOG), owner of the world’s most popular Internet search engine, to Forest Laboratories Inc. (FRX), the maker of antidepressant drug Lexapro — are drawing increased scrutiny from regulators in the U.S. and around the world, particularly as European nations face a backlash against austerity measures.

Congress Can Make Apple Pay Any Taxes It Wants To [MoJo]
[I]t's true that, in theory, Congress can address this anytime it wants. They set the rules, and they don't really have much standing to complain when companies exploit those rules to pay as little in taxes as possible. After all, what do you expect them to do?

Watchdog sues IRS to change regulations for tax-exempt groups [The Hill]

"As the ongoing IRS scandal shows, the 501(c)(4) regulation is unmanageable," [Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington] executive director Melanie Sloan said in a statement on Tuesday. "It clearly conflicts with the Tax Code and IRS employees are simply at a loss as to how to apply it. Remarkably, the IRS has known the regulation presents enforcement issues for more than 50 years, but has failed to act. CREW has sued to force the IRS to finally deal with this issue."

CPA firm ordered to pay $180K to Meridian trustee [ST]
Seattle accounting firm Moss Adams was ordered Friday to pay $180,000 over a judge’s earlier contempt ruling for not fully complying with a subpoena for audit documents from Meridian Mortgage investment funds and its founder, Frederick Darren Berg. Judge Karen Overstreet ordered the CPA firm to pay Meridian bankruptcy trustee Mark Calvert to reimburse costs he says were incurred because Moss Adams took more than two years to turn over some documents from its work for Berg, hindering Calvert’s investigation on behalf of creditors. Calvert’s attorney, Michael Avenatti, said his research indicates the sanction is a record amount against a U.S. audit firm in a contempt-of-court case.

A bushel of Pinocchios for IRS’s Lois Lerner [FactChecker/WaPo]
This could at least partially explain why she'll be taking the fifth today.
 
A Better Way to Tax U.S. Businesses [HBR]
Not much new here, but a lot of basics to reform all in one place.
 
Oklahoma tornado victims get tax filing and payment extensions [JofA]
On Tuesday, the IRS announced relief from filing and payment deadlines for victims of Monday’s destructive tornadoes in Oklahoma (IR-2013-53). Because the tornado damage was so widespread, the relief has been granted for individuals and businesses in Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma, and Pottawatomie counties in Oklahoma, and the IRS may add other areas in coming days based on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) damage assessments. The IRS will automatically abate any interest, late-payment, or late-filing penalty for taxpayers in these counties.
 
Stop Hating on the IRS [Slate]
Yeah! No, seriously. Quit it.

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