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Accounting News Roundup: IKEA Shelters Profits Through Charity Holding Company; Obama to Call for Spending Freeze; Quitting Your Job on Good Terms | 01.26.10

Flat-pack accounting [The Economist via TaxProf Blog]
Oh the Swedes. They’re pretty clever with the flat-packed furniture but the entity structure is a whole other matter. The Economist reports that IKEA’s profits are largely sheltered from taxes by virtue of its holding company, which just happens to be organized as a foundation. The foundation’s stated purpose is to more or less educate you on matching the drapes with the paint you chose for the living room:

If Stichting Ingka Foundation has net worth of at least $36 billion it would be the world’s wealthiest charity. Its value easily exceeds the $26.9 billion shown in the latest published accounts of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is commonly awarded that accolade.
Measured by good works, however, the Gates Foundation wins hands down. It devotes most of its resources to curing the diseases of the world’s poor. By contrast the Kamprad billions are dedicated to “innovation in the field of architectural and interior design”. The articles of association of Stichting Ingka Foundation, a public record in the Netherlands, state that this object cannot be amended. Even a Dutch court can make only minor changes to the stichting’s aims.
The Kamprad foundations compare poorly with the Gates Foundation in other ways, too. The American charity operates transparently, publishing, for instance, details of every grant it makes. But Dutch foundations are very loosely regulated and are subject to little or no third-party oversight. They are not, for instance, legally obliged to publish their accounts.

This allows IKEA to pay as little as 3.5% tax on its profits. Ragnar Danneskjöld would be proud.
Obama to Call for Three-Year Freeze on Some Federal Spending [Bloomberg]
In case you’re unaware, the POTUS is giving a big speech tomorrow evening where he’ll talk about, amongst other things, a three-year spending freeze for domestic programs to get the deficit under control.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Commerce, Interior and Justice Departments are among the executive branch agencies subject to the freeze, officials said, while the Defense Department, Department of Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs and unspecified international affairs programs would be exempt.

With the DoD and DHS exempt from the freeze, one would think that GOP types would be pleased with this idea. Not so.

A spokesman for House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio was critical of Obama’s plan. “Given Washington Democrats’ unprecedented spending binge, this is like announcing you’re going on a diet after winning a pie-eating contest,” the spokesman, Michael Steel, said yesterday.

Wait a minute. Wouldn’t going on a diet right after the pie-eating contest be the perfect time?
How Many Ways Can You Say Goodbye to a Job? [WSJ]
The temptation to go out in a blaze of glory by virtue of a BodySuit man type stunt is only for the boldest of souls. The Journal has plenty of advice on how to bow out gracefully, despite the temptation to use all your vacation, return to work and then give notice.

Some 60% of workers say they intend to leave their jobs when the economy improves, according to a survey by Right Management, a talent and career-management consulting firm in Philadelphia. It might be tempting to give the boss an earful if you land a new job in the coming months. But the way you quit can have a long term impact on your career.

Taking your fancy Swingline isn’t such a good idea either.

Posted in ANR