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Accounting News Roundup: IRS Ends Audits of Political Donors; Goldman’s Irreplaceable CFO; SEC Urged Not to Rush to IFRS | 07.08.11

Sights Set on Grand Debt Deal [WSJ]
President Barack Obama and congressional leaders agreed Thursday to strive for a blockbuster deficit-reduction deal and will spend the weekend determining whether political support is possible for a sweeping plan to curb entitlements and make major tax-code changes. The package to reduce the federal deficit by $4 trillion or more over 10 years is much more ambitious than negotiators envisioned just two weeks ago, and represents the most far-reaching of three options Mr. Obama presented to lawmakers Thursday in a closed-door meeting in the White House Cabinet Room.

I.R.S. Drops Audits of Political Donors [NYT]
The Internal Revenue Service on Thursday abandoned its effort to force five big-ticket donors to pay gift taxes on contributions they made to nonprofit advocacy groups that are playing an increasing role in American politics. “Until further notice, examination resources should not be expended on this issue,” Steven T. Miller, deputy commissioner for services and enforcement, wrote in a memo posted on the I.R.S. Web site. “This is a difficult area,” Mr. Miller wrote, “with significant legal, administrative and policy implications with respect to which we have little enforcement history.”

Accounting That Comes in Flavors [NYT]
[I]t appears increasingly likely that for a substantial period of time there will be two sets of accounting rules in the United States, with companies able to choose between American or global rules. And while most countries, including the United States, will say they embrace international accounting standards, there may be numerous flavors of them, with investors perhaps having trouble figuring out just how comparable financial statements really are.

Caterpillar Accused of Demoting Executive Discovering Tax Dodge [Bloomberg]
The company, the world’s largest construction-equipment maker, sold and shipped spare parts globally from an Illinois warehouse while improperly attributing at least $5.6 billion of profits from those sales to a unit in Geneva, according to the suit filed by Daniel J. Schlicksup. He was a global tax strategy manager for Caterpillar from 2005 to 2008. Schlicksup, 49, sued in U.S. District Court in Peoria, Illinois, in 2009, claiming he was moved to a job that limits his career opportunities because he complained to superiors that the “Swiss Structure” ran afoul of U.S. tax rules.

Being Goldman Sachs’s Brains May Make Viniar Irreplaceable CFO [Bloomberg]
David A. Viniar, the finance and risk-management overseer who some investors deem more essential to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) than Lloyd C. Blankfein, may not be replaceable. At least not by one person. The longest-serving chief financial officer of any major Wall Street firm may find his multiple roles distributed among two or even three deputies when he eventually steps down, according to two people with knowledge of the firm’s internal deliberations.

BofA’s Deal Has Other Player—IRS [WSJ]
Any deal has tax implications. That is especially the case for Bank of America’s proposed $8.5 billion settlement related to mortgage securities sold to investors. The Internal Revenue Service will play a particularly important role. BofA has said the settlement won’t be final until the IRS signs off on it.

SEC urged to go slow on global accounting move [Reuters]
The United States should move towards use of international accounting standards but must not rush the process, business representatives and accountants told the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday. If the United States does not shift to a global accounting regime, it will cut itself off from the rest of the world and lose influence over international standard-setting, participants at an SEC roundtable said. “I don’t think anybody disagrees with the ultimate goal” of a single set of high-quality global accounting standards, said Mark LaMonte, managing director at Moody’s Investors Service. In practice that may difficult to achieve, “but it doesn’t mean we should stop working toward this goal,” he said.

PwC Appoints Christina Dutch Managing Partner in Albany [PwC]
Christina Dutch succeeds Richard Grant.

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