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Accounting News Roundup: E&Y: Come Clean on Taxes or It’s Curtains; Prepare to Hate Airfare a Little More; Scott London: Watershed for Auditors? | 05.07.13

Senate Passes Wal-Mart Backed Bill for Taxes on Web Sales [Bloomberg]
The U.S. Senate voted to let states collect taxes on out-of-state Internet and catalog sales, sending the proposal to the House, where the issue is dividing Republicans. The measure, passed yesterday on a 69-27 bipartisan vote, would end the era of tax-free Internet shopping. It is backed by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) and other retailers that say it’s unfair that out-of-state sellers don’t have to collect sales taxes on purchases. “It’s a rare opportunity for us to have Republicans and Democrats together on the floor to support a bill that has the endorsement of business and labor and local officials all across the United States,” said Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, the chamber’s second-ranking Democrat and a co-sponsor of the proposal.

Senate passes bill letting states collect taxes for Internet sales; skeptical House awaits [WaPo]

The bill got bipartisan support in the Senate but faces opposition in the House, where some lawmakers regard it as a tax increase. Grover Norquist, the anti-tax advocate, and the conservative Heritage Foundation oppose the bill, and many Republicans have been wary of crossing them. Supporters say the bill is not a tax increase. In many states, shoppers are required to pay unpaid sales tax when they file their state tax returns. However, states complain that few taxpayers comply. “Obviously there’s a lot of consumers out there that have been accustomed to not having to pay any taxes, believing that they don’t have to pay any taxes,” said Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., the bill’s main sponsor in the House. “I totally understand that, and I think a lot of our members understand that. There’s a lot of political difficulty getting through the fog of it looking like a tax increase.”

Ernst & Young: Come clean on corporate tax or face the consequences [The Times]
Big companies have been urged to be more open about their tax affairs if they are to head off legislation that would force them to. John Dixon, Ernst & Young’s head of tax in Britain, said that companies must respond to demands for greater transparency amid growing public concern over tax avoidance and secrecy. “Doing nothing is not an option. Companies need to do something and they need to do it now.”

Another Vote Ahead For Pot In Colorado: This Time, On Taxes [NPR]
No one knows how many of Colorado's 108,000 medical marijuana patients will hold on to their medical license for the cheaper pot it offers. And that's made dispensaries cautious about moving to recreational sales. Norton Arbelaez is a co-owner of RiverRock Wellness in Denver, where customers browse dozens of jars packed with bright green marijuana buds. Medical shops like this one get first crack at becoming recreational, possibly as soon as January. Arbelaez says his business will cater to both types of buyers, kind of like a chain drugstore. "And so, if anything … think about a Walgreens, where part of the Walgreens is over-the-counter and part is a controlled substance," Arbelaez says. "That is more or less what, conceptually … it's going to look like."

KPMG's Insider Trading Scandal: A Watershed for the Auditing Profession? [YouTube]

Tax Proposals Open a Debate on Airline Industry’s Troubles [NYT]
A $300 domestic airline ticket now includes about $60 in taxes — or 20 percent of the total fare — which pays for things like air traffic controllers, airport improvements, customs and immigration inspections and checkpoint screening. President Obama, in his 2014 budget request, has proposed increases in many of those taxes, a move that the airline industry opposes, arguing that passengers are already overtaxed. The recipients of these taxes counter that many of these fees have not increased in years, contributing to outdated systems, flight delays and long lines. This is not the first time similar tax increases have been proposed — and usually rejected. But given the current fiscal climate, and the recent sequestration-imposed furloughs of air traffic controllers, some aviation experts say it is time for a broader overhaul of air travel financing and oversight. The debate largely centers on two questions lawmakers and industry representatives will have to wrestle with in the coming months: who should pay for the essential functions of the aviation system — travelers or all taxpayers? And could tax increases be avoided if the money collected were spent more efficiently?

Leniency for Offshore Cheats [WSJ]
U.S. courts are doling out more lenient punishment to tax evaders hiding money offshore than to other tax cheats. Despite a high-profile government crackdown on secret offshore financial accounts since 2009, the average sentence in those cases has been about half as long as in some other types of tax cases, according to a comparison of Internal Revenue Service statistics and data compiled by former U.S. Justice Department lawyer Jack Townsend. In many cases, judges are also opting for shorter sentences than recommended under federal guidelines.

Cris Carter Q&A: If not for football … maybe accounting? [MST]

CFOs most crave these 2 nonaccounting skills [JofA]
Baking and glassblowing.

A new study says politicians don’t favor the rich. That’s debatable. [WaPo]
Oh, there's a study.

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