Accounting News Roundup: Ethics and Tax Loopholes; The IRS Star Trek Video Is Amazing; ‘The difference between me and a CPA is a simple test.’ | 03.25.13

"Space: the final frontier. These are the voyagers of the Starship Enterprise Y. Its never-ending mission is to seek out new tax forms. To explore strange new regulations. To boldly go where no government employee has gone before."

A Tax Lawyer’s Quandary [NYT via TaxProf]
From the NYT Ethicist: "Q: I am a tax lawyer. Is advising wealthy companies of ways to reduce their tax bills through sophisticated legal structures ethically permissible? The structures take advantage of legal loopholes in the tax legislation. A: The ethics of specific professions create unique realms of responsibility. In the same way that a defense attorney is ethically obligated to give his client the best possible defense — even if he’s convinced of the individual’s guilt — your principal responsibilities lie with the company hiring you. You need to do your job to the best of your abilities, within the existing rules. You should, however, voice your moral apprehension about the use of such loopholes to the company you represent.  

U.S. Seeks Answers in Liechtenstein on Tax Cheats [Bloomberg]
The U.S. has asked Liechtenstein to hand over data on foundations that may have been used to hide untaxed American money from the Internal Revenue Service, a step that may threaten Swiss banks. The U.S. wants to know the number of foundations set up by fiduciaries — lawyers, accountants, financial advisers and asset managers — for American taxpayers, according to a letter sent by the Department of Justice to authorities in the Alpine principality. A “formal request” to fiduciaries will follow, the DOJ said.

Chinese Create Tax-Free Zone for Art [WSJ]
A Chinese state-owned company is aiming to stoke the country's cultural sector with a tried-and-tested industrial model that has worked in the past for China's manufacturing industries: Create a tax-free zone for companies in the arts-and-entertainment world. Located adjacent to Beijing Capital Airport, the planned Beijing Freeport of Culture is the brainchild of Beijing Gehua Cultural Development Group, a conglomerate owned by the Beijing municipal government. The Freeport, expected to partially open next year, promises warehouses for art storage, offices for companies involved in everything from luxury goods to software design, and production facilities for film and television.

Taxpayer money finances IRS "Star Trek" parody [CBS]
"Space: the final frontier. These are the voyagers of the Starship Enterprise Y. Its never-ending mission is to seek out new tax forms. To explore strange new regulations. To boldly go where no government employee has gone before."

IRS Lifts Veil on Star Trek and Gilligan’s Island Videos [AT]
The Gilligan’s Island video provided filing season training for 1,900 employees in the IRS’s Taxpayer Assistance Centers in 400 locations.”This example of video training alone saved the IRS about $1.5 million each year compared to the costs of training the employees in person,” said the IRS. “This approach reflects a newer IRS model of using video to dramatically save on training and travel costs,” the IRS explained. “Using video provides a more cost-efficient way of doing business than face-to-face meetings.”

PwC Appoints Pat Alford as Managing Partner of the Fort Worth office [PwC]
Replacing David Evans.

For Aspiring Forensic Accountants and Fraud Investigators [Fraud Files]
For the enterprising sleuths out there.

PricewaterhouseCoopers resigns as Ambow auditor [AP]
The auditor for Ambow Education has resigned due to concerns over an investigation into claims of financial impropriety made by a former employee, the company said Friday. […] PricewaterhouseCoopers Zhong Tian CPAs Ltd. sent a letter to Ambow stating that it was concerned that the investigation may not be getting the necessary resources and time.

Grand Rapids comptroller applicant who withdrew now may be back in [Michigan]
A Certified Public Accountant who withdrew his application for city comptroller shortly after submitting it last month now is open to being considered for the job. […] The two current applicants – former State House candidate Andrew Garlick and former school accountant Andrew Morse – each said they plan to remain in consideration for the job. Morse, who lost his job as Wyoming Public Schools accountant last summer, sent commissioners an e-mail Tuesday afternoon stating that “the difference between me and a CPA is a simple test.” He wrote that his experience in school accounting and his education “qualifies me to sit for the exam,” per state law, and he’d take the test if that’s what commissioners want.

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