Accounting News Roundup: Ex-Commish Shulman Testifying This Week; Jail Time for Anyone? Nah; More Resignations? Oh, Yeah. | 05.20.13

I.R.S. Inquiry Status Told to White House in April [NYT]
The chief White House lawyer, Kathryn Ruemmler, learned last month that a Treasury inspector general had concluded an audit of the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups, weeks before the matter became public, according to a senior White House official. The White House counsel’s briefing came about the same time that Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew met with the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, J. Russell George, to learn his draft audit of the controversial I.R.S. effort was complete, the official said.

Former IRS Commissioner Shulman Will Testify May 22 [Bloomberg]
Douglas Shulman, the former commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, will testify before Congress May 22, said Ali Ahmad, spokesman for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Shulman, whose term ended in November 2012, hasn’t spoken publicly since it was disclosed on May 10 that the IRS had applied tougher scrutiny to Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status. The former IRS commissioner told a House Ways and Means subcommittee in March 2012 that the agency didn’t engage in targeting based on ideology. The IRS has said Shulman didn’t know all the facts at the time. 

‘Who’s going to jail’ over IRS scandal? Probably nobody. [WaPo]
“I am not aware of any statute that prohibits IRS targeting of applicants,” said Republican lawyer Jan Baran, who served as general counsel to George H.W. Bush and the RNC. Other politically inclined lawyers agree.

Former IRS Division Chief Predicts Wave of Departures [WSJ]
I think there’s going to be a significant number of departures from the agency,” said Marcus Owens, a Washington attorney who served as director of the exempt-organizations’ office from 1990 to 2000. The same post is now occupied by Lois Lerner, who has come under fire for her agency’s treatment of conservative groups. “That’s going to have an impact on tax collections and tax administration,” said Mr. Owens, who said he thinks the controversy has been overblown. Mr. Owens, who worked for the IRS for 25 years, said a number of IRS officials have talked to him about their plans to leave. He said the investigations underway have crushed morale, while some IRS officials are starting to get threatening anonymous calls at home.

Rand Paul claims revealing memo exists in IRS scandal [CNN]
While the Internal Revenue Service maintains it was not focusing on conservative groups out of political bias, Sen. Rand Paul claimed Sunday there was a "written policy" floating around the agency that said IRS officials were "targeting people who were opposed to the president." "And when that comes forward, we need to know who wrote the policy and who approved the policy," the Republican senator from Kentucky said on CNN's "State of the Union." Pressed for more precise details about the memo he was referring to, Paul said he hasn't seen such a policy statement but has heard about it.

Apple faces grilling over US tax rate [FT]
One sign of the effectiveness of Apple’s international tax planning is that the share of profits it reports in the US is lower than the share of its sales, according to Martin Sullivan, chief economist at Tax Analysts, a non-profit tax research group. Since much of its product design, marketing and other critical activities take place in the US, the share of profits booked there might be expected to be far higher, according to Mr Sullivan.

Study: Men's Biceps Predict Their Political Ideologies [Atlantic]
Rich men, who would benefit least from redistribution, were more likely to be opposed to it — but only when they also had large biceps. There was a negative correlation between the two, so that rich men with less muscle strength were more open to redistribution. In men of lower socioeconomic status, the correlation was reversed: stronger men were more in favor of redistribution, while men with smaller muscles were less likely to support it.

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