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Accounting News Roundup: How to Break Up the Big 4; South Carolina Gov May Be Indicted for Tax Fraud; Taxes and the ACA | 03.30.12

Billions Lost in Tax-Refund Scam [WSJ]
Federal authorities are struggling to crack down on what they describe as a widespread scheme that has already likely defrauded the Internal Revenue Service of billions of dollars using the stolen identities of Puerto Rican citizens. The perpetrators of the scheme, authorities say, swipe the Social Security numbers of Puerto Rican citizens, who don't have to pay federal income tax—and are less likely to be on the IRS radar—and use their information to file fake returns. In some cases, they enlist U.S. mail carriers to intercept the refund checks that are disbursed. The plot, which includes participants from around the U.S. and Latin America, has been around for at least five years. Prosecutors have obtained multiple convictions but none involving those believed to be among the top players in the operation, according to several people briefed on investigations into the fraud.

Ex-Dodger admits selling fake karaoke machines, not paying taxes [LAT]
As part of his plea agreement, William S. Bene admitted that, for four years, he illegally copied and sold karaoke songs on hard drives, with each drive holding about 122,000 songs. He also admitted that he did not report his more than $600,000 in sales to the Internal Revenue Service, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney's office. Investigators from the FBI and the IRS also found that Bene asked in 2008 for relief from back taxes, saying he could not afford to pay.

Benefits of IFRS far outweigh the loss of national standards [FT]
Sir David Tweedie is staying quiet: "Contrary to what some would have you believe, the existing IFRS standard on provisioning does not stop banks from providing for losses until they have already happened. For example, there is nothing to stop a bank from setting aside funds against losses expected on mortgages in Aberdeen when the oil industry suffers a downturn, even before any mortgage payments have been missed."
FASB Readies Framework for Financial Statement Disclosures [AT]
“This project is actually a combination of things,” said FASB research director Ron Lott. “People have talked for years about so-called ‘disclosure overload.’ There are also people who say, ‘Yeah, there are a lot of words there, but the stuff I really need isn’t there,’ so you have people talking in both directions. What we’re trying to do with this project is first we’re trying to develop a way for the board to think about disclosure requirements when they do a standards project. Right now, it tends to be one of the last few things in a project that gets done.
How to Break up the Big Four Accounting Oligopoly [American Banker]

As these minority business groups informed the antitrust divisions of the DOJ and the FTC in their February meetings, the DOJ and the FTC could seek to break up these oligopolies, but a far more effective and expeditious free market option exists. The federal government, which annually awards $500 billion in contracts to corporations, could prohibit contracts to corporations that use a CPA firm that fails to follow generally accepted accounting principles or lacks independence from management. If the Obama Administration initiated this action by issuing a presidential executive order, there would be between 25 to 100 CPA firms competing for this lucrative corporate business within two years.
Deloitte to Acquire HR Technology Consultancy, Aggressor [Deloitte]
The consulting arms race continues.
Report: DOJ to Indict SC Gov. Nikki Haley on Tax Fraud Charges [TaxProf]
This more or less cements her Tea Party hero status.
Americans More Embarrassed To Be Caught Shoplifting Or Littering Than Cheating On Their Taxes [Forbes]
Survey says: "Americans consider cheating on their taxes more socially acceptable than shoplifting, drunk driving or even throwing trash out the window of a moving car."
Taxes, Health Reform, and the Supreme Court [TaxVox]
Howard Gleckman sufficiently wonks out on the taxes in the ACA. 


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