Fannie Mae to Send $59.4 Billion to U.S. Treasury [WSJ]
Fannie Mae said Thursday it would make a $59.4 billion payment to the U.S. Treasury next month after reporting a $58.7 billion first-quarter profit thanks to a big tax benefit the bailed-out mortgage-finance company booked after determining it would generate profits in the coming years. Fannie recognized $50.6 billion in tax benefits during the first quarter, in addition to pre-tax income of $8.1 billion during the period. That compared to a $2.7 billion gain during the year-earlier period. The tax boost stemmed from reversing write-downs of its deferred-tax assets, which are unused tax credits and deductions that can offset future tax bills but which are worthless if a company isn't expected to turn a profit and have taxable income. The mortgage-finance company began writing down the tax benefits in 2008 as rising mortgage defaults threatened to wipe out thin capital reserves. Some assets had also counted towards the company's capital, further squeezing the company as the financial crisis deepened. Fannie reclaimed the deferred-tax assets during the first quarter because the company concluded it is likely to be profitable for the foreseeable future. The turnaround has been led primarily by the housing market's broad rebound over the past year and a continued decline in the share of homeowners that aren't making their mortgage payments.
KPMG Faces Two Investigations From U.K. Accounting Regulator [Bloomberg]
The U.K.’s accounting watchdog placed KPMG LLP under two separate investigations, examining its audits of a car seller and the conduct of one of its partners. The Financial Reporting Council will investigate whether KPMG “was independent” when it audited the annual accounts of Nottingham, England-based Pendragon Plc (PDG) for 2010 and 2011. The regulator is also probing the conduct of a KPMG partner in relation to a “non-timely disposal of a share-holding in a client entity,” the FRC said in separate statements on its website today. The probes mean the accounting firm could face three FRC inquiries as the regulator decides whether to investigate the audits of HBOS Plc. (LLOY) The FRC is waiting on reports from the U.K. Parliament and financial regulator to consider whether it has a case, spokeswoman Sophie Broom said last month. KPMG was the auditor for HBOS before it was taken over by London-based Lloyds Banking Group Plc in a government-backed deal in 2008. KPMG said it would cooperate with the investigations.
IRS chief: Taxpayers will now start feeling sequester
Steven Miller, the acting commissioner, told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee that taxpayers calling the IRS for advice would soon be affected by the automatic spending cuts, and that the agency’s ability to collect revenues and battle fraud would also be impacted. Sequestration, Miller added, will only exacerbate recent cuts in the IRS budget. IRS and Treasury officials say that rolling back the tax-collecting agency’s budget is short-sighted, because a dollar spent at the IRS produces several times that amount in new revenues. “Without a change in the current budget environment, the American people will see erosion in our ability to serve them, and the federal government will see fewer receipts from our enforcement efforts,” Miller said at the Wednesday hearing.
Chris Bergin: "[T]here are Republicans in the House – and Speaker John Boehner may be one of them – who will vote against the bill simply because it has the word tax in it or even vaguely looks like a new tax. After all, they took an oath never, ever to increase taxes. Now, I’m down with principled stances. But I am sick of this childish and irresponsible fealty to a stupid and actually dangerous idea. Because I think what the oath really says is, “I vow not to do the job the voters sent me to do because on this issue of taxes I’ve decided not to think." Well, member of Congress, I think if you've taken this oath you’re pretty much useless."
The person who tracks this stuff must have taken December off.
Musicians demand sports star tax breaks
You see what happens?
News Corp. Posts $42 Million Charge on Phone-Hacking Scandal [R&CJ]
Altogether, $390 million so far.
Six Components of a Great Corporate Culture [HBR]
A solid offering of coffee options is a good start.
Turn Bad Stress Into Good [WSJ]
That is, if you're experiencing any stress.
Giant Swamp Rats Are Literally Eating Louisiana [Yahoo!]
On the southern edge of Louisiana, there is almost as much water as land. You can't drive to anyone's house, you have to travel by boat, and sometimes there are hours of water between neighbors. It takes a special breed to make a home here, in the swamp, amongst the mosquitos and almost annual hurricanes. But those who do call it home, love it. They see a magical space of strange stillness and subtle rippling greens and grays where time worries no one and the freedom of the water is at your doorstep. But this Huck Finn way of life is being attacked on multiple fronts. Climate change's stronger storms are beating away at the fragile coastline, and the oil and gas industries are scarring the skyline while luring younger generations away from the local farming and fishing way of life. As if that weren't enough, 20-pound, semi-aquatic rodents, called nutria, which are native to Argentina, are taking over the marshes, devouring the native plants that hold the soil in place, and causing massive coastal erosion. Chris Metzier, an independent documentary filmmaker, has spent months in these swamps on the front lines of this battle, filming his upcoming documentary Rodents of Unusual Size.