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Accounting News Roundup: IRS Might Still Have Your Refund; Deloitte Expecting the Worst from the PCAOB; The Big 4 Tipping Point | 12.01.11

IRS Stuck with $153.3M in Undelivered Tax Refunds [AT]
In what has turned into an annual ritual for the service, the IRS said it has a fortune waiting in its coffers that could not be delivered to taxpayers because of mailing address errors. Taxpayers can still claim their refunds, though, and can probably use a little help from their accountants. The average size of an undelivered refund check this year is $1,547, which makes a nice stocking stuffer for the holidays.

Accountant: Bills for library maintenance ‘didn’t pass the smell test’ [SB]
On the day the prosecution rested, a forensic accountant testified that the Sacramento library’s costs for maintenance upgrades didn’t “pass the smell test,” while one of the defendants took the stand to say he didn’t know anything shady was going on. Deputy District Attorney Mike Blazina concluded his monthlong case Wednesday by calling a former state Department of Justice financial crimes auditor, who detailed alleged overpayments in 1,400 library maintenance projects from April 2004 through July 2007. The auditor, Edward Hudson, told a Sacramento Superior Court jury that two maintenance firms controlled by one defendant received payments of $1,343,896 – first from from the city, then from the Sacramento Library Authority. In turn, the firms paid their contractors $562,500.89, Hudson said.

Centro decision on hold for another day [SMH]
Investors in Centro Properties must wait until 11am tomorrow morning to hear if the proposed aggregation plan of its trusts will occur after a court order stopped the process late today. While Justice Barrett passed the scheme of arrangement earlier today, the lawyers for PwC immediately requested a stay of execution in order to read the judgment and determine if PWC wished to appeal. After a two and a half hour session, Justice Barrett in the NSW Supreme Court agreed to a request from the defendant, PwC, to halt any action until 11am tomorrow.

90% of HMRC staff on strike [Accountancy Age]
UNIONS have estimated that up to 90% of HM Revenue & Customs staff are on strike today. The PCS union, which represents lower ranking staff, announced the figure following “early reports” of staff staying away from work. The major public unions are striking over cuts to jobs, pay and pensions. PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka, said: “The impact of these cuts will not only be felt by public sector workers. It will also be felt in those communities where they live and spend their wages, which is why it needs to be stopped.”

At Deloitte, More Pain Before Any Quality Gain [Re:The Auditors]
Francine McKenna: “[A] confidential, internal Deloitte training document, prepared this past summer, […] reveals the firm expects the worst when the inspection reports for their 2009, 2010, and 2011 audits are published by the PCAOB. The 2009 report should be out by the end of this year. The training document also shows how difficult it is for Deloitte leadership to steer the largest global firm away from the “audit failure” iceberg.”

The Big Four Accounting Firms’ Financial Tipping Point — Time for a Fresh Look [Re:Balance]
In the wake of the EU reform goodie bag bonanza, Jim Peterson keeps things in perspective.

Tax Exam Question: 80-Year Old Man Donates Suit to Goodwill With $13k Life Savings Sewn Inside Lining [TaxProf]
An 80-year-old Illinois man mistakenly donated an old suit to Goodwill with his $13,000 life savings sewn inside the lining. (He kept the savings in the suit because he did not trust banks.) He is offering a $1,000 reward for the return of the money, which he needs to help care for his wife, who is battling stage-four cancer.

GOP warns troops on tax votes [The Hill]
House Republican leaders warned their caucus the GOP risks losing its image as the party opposed to tax hikes if it allows the one-year payroll tax break to expire at the end of the year. Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told his rank and file in a closed-door meeting Wednesday that “taxes are a Republican issue and you aren’t a Republican if you want to raise taxes on struggling families to fund bigger government,” according to a source in the room. The leadership bid for support represents the GOP’s clearest endorsement yet of the tax extension, which is a cornerstone of President Obama’s jobs plan.

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