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Accounting News Roundup: Idiots Out Walking Around; Hiding Olympus’ Losses; Expired Tax Credits | 01.03.12

Iowa's quirky caucuses open 2012 White House race [Reuters]
Iowa's caucuses, which bring voters together for hours to cast ballots in a public place on a winter night, are the first step in a state-by-state nominating race that ultimately will decide the Republican challenger to President Barack Obama in the election on November 6, 2012. Iowans, accustomed to the personal courtship of numerous presidential candidates, take the political ritual seriously and defend it with pride. "If you are active, your expectation is that you will meet one or more of the candidates face to face and get a chance to evaluate them personally," said Iowa Republican lobbyist Joe Hrdlicka. "People embrace the process."

Montebello audit shows accounting flaws; state audit of Hercules to follow [SVMN]
The state controller has published the second in a series of three audits of California cities with questionable financial dealings that started with Bell. Next on the list is Hercules. The final report on Montebello, published Dec. 28, finds "significant weaknesses" in that city's administrative and internal accounting control system, resulting in a "potential for waste, fraud and abuse of public resources." The nearby city of Bell gained nationwide notoriety after a series of Los Angeles Times reports in 2010 describing a city manager with a $788,000-a-year salary, among other startling revelations. Eight former Bell elected and administrative officials are facing trial on corruption-related charges.

PwC gets record number of applicants for graduate scheme [Telegraph]
The firm's graduate scheme – which has 1,200 places – has been inundated with expressions of interest, with more than 200 applications a day being received. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Ian Powell, chairman and senior partner of PwC UK, said: "It's incredible. One of the big issues we face is that we could end up with 30,000 applications for just 1,200 places." […] Mr Powell noted however that one of the "real challenges" of applications on this scale was the fear of quality candidates slipping through the cracks. "We'll interview getting on for about 7,000 really which is a massive effort. That means you're eliminating a lot of people on paper. "So what I'm fearful of is we lose some diversity. And what I mean by this is of background, of experience, coming into the firm," he continued. "I want to keep the diversity of admission; otherwise we'll be irrelevant in 15 years time because we'll have recruited from a stereotypical background."

PwC boss Ian Powell stays cool as the issues to reconcile mount up [Telegrpaph]
The chairman and senior partner of accountancy giant PwC is facing a Competition Commission inquiry into the UK audit market, a European attempt to split audit and non-audit services, an investigation into PwC's auditing of Barclays Capital over the last 10 years and a fine for alleged failures relating to its reports on JP Morgan's London investment bank. Layer on top continued regulatory and political concerns about whether the auditing profession should have flagged the problems within the banking system which triggered the financial crisis, and 2012 looks like being a tricky year. Despite all this, the Midlands-born accountant-turned-restructuring specialist remains relaxed, if somewhat exercised, about the flak the industry is taking. "We're not complacent about this at all. We think as a result of the financial crisis there are a lot of areas that we should all learn from, not just us as auditors, but financial institutions, regulators, governments and everybody," he says. "We think there is a lot that we should be talking about, but that the focus should be on improving audit quality, not on looking at the competition issues."

How Do You Hide A Multibillion Dollar Loss? Accounting For The Olympus Fraud [Re:The Auditors]
With journal entries!
After Three Decades, Tax Credit for Ethanol Expires [NYT]
A federal tax credit for ethanol expired on Saturday, ending an era in which the federal government provided more than $20 billion in subsidies for use of the product. The tax break, created more than 30 years ago, had long seemed untouchable. But in the last year, during which Congress was preoccupied with deficits and debt, it became a symbol of corporate welfare. Fiscal conservatives joined liberal environmentalists to kill it, with help from a diverse coalition of outside groups. In the United States, most ethanol is produced from corn. The demise of the subsidy is all the more remarkable because it comes at the peak of the political season in Iowa, where corn is king.
53 Tax Breaks Expired Jan. 1 [TaxProf]
In case you're looking for more dead tax credit goodness.
Pittsburgh Tax Authorities Assess Parking Space at $289,800 [Tax Foundation]
You really have to see the view to appreciate it.
Posted in ANR