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Accounting News Roundup: Looking at Romney as Marriott Audit Chair; The IRS’s Phantom Chinese Billionaire; Are You Really That Busy? | 02.23.12

Romney as Audit Chair Saw Marriott Son of BOSS Shelter Defy IRS [BBW]
Mitt Romney has long had close ties to hotel operator Marriott International Inc. The candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, whose full name is Willard Mitt Romney, was named after the chain’s founder, J. Willard Marriott, a friend of his father. He joined the company’s board in 1993, and has served on it for 11 of the past 19 years, including six as chairman of the audit committee. During Romney’s tenure as a Marriott director, the company repeatedly utilized complex tax-avoidance maneuvers, prompting at least two tangles with the Internal Revenue Service, records show. In 1994, while he headed the audit committee, Marriott used a tax shelter known to attorneys by its nickname: “Son of BOSS.” A federal appeals court invalidated the maneuver in a 2009 ruling, siding with the U.S. Department of Justice, which called Marriott’s transaction and attempted tax benefits “fictitious,” “artificial,” “spectral,” an “illusion” and a “scheme.”

Obama Proposal Gets Pushback [WSJ]
The White House's proposal to overhaul the U.S. corporate-tax code by lowering rates and limiting deductions faced immediate resistance from business groups and many Republicans, with critics alleging it favored some industries while penalizing others and failed to go far enough in cutting taxes. If the proposal gains steam, the united criticism could dissolve as companies and industries square off and fight to preserve their particular tax breaks.

Romney Details Tax Overhaul [The Caucus/NYT]

Mitt Romney, seeking to kick-start his presidential campaign among recalcitrant conservatives, on Wednesday proposed cutting the top income tax for individuals to 28 percent while holding out the prospect of limiting tax deductions. Mr. Romney’s earlier economic plan called only for preserving the current top tax rate of 35 percent, while holding out the promise of lower rates later in an overhaul of the tax code.
The IRS Invents A Chinese Billionaire [Janet Novack/Forbes]
What’s the market value of a Robert Rauschenberg that can’t be sold without risking a year in the federal pen? According to the art mavens at the Internal Revenue Service, it’s $65 million, because a theoretical Chinese billionaire might pay that much on the black market. Really.
Investigators Probe a Rush at MF Global to Move Cash [WSJ]
On the morning of Oct. 28, according to people familiar with the matter, Ms. O'Brien received a call from Mr. Corzine, who asked her to resolve a problem: The firm's bank account at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. in London had run out of money, creating an overdraft. After the call, Ms. O'Brien sent an email to about a dozen colleagues. "I need $175 mm sent immediately," said the message, a copy of which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Money to cover the overdraft was transferred to the London bank account later that day from MF Global's customer account, according to regulators and former MF Global officials. As the chaos mounted at MF Global, Ms. O'Brien stopped leaving the office at night, napping on a bench in between long spells of trying to juggle transfer demands.
Are Auditors Reporting Fraud And Illegal Acts? The SEC Knows But Isn’t Telling [Re:The Auditors]
Police believe accountant shot himself [SMN]
Savannah-Chatham police believe 50-year-old accountant Christopher Mayville died at his own hand.Investigators took a cautious tone Wednesday, saying it “appears” Mayville shot himself on the empty lot at the corner of 61st and Abercorn streets where his body was found early Tuesday morning. They stopped short of definitively ruling the death a suicide, pending the results of an autopsy by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Are You As Busy As You Think? [WSJ]
Probably not, reports someone busier than you.
Heated seats burn bums of 2 women [MSNBC]
[U]sed too much, heated car seats can bring on erythema ab igne (aka toasted skin syndrome), a skin condition that can leave one's backside with lesions, pain, itchiness and more. Two cases of the netlike dermatosis brought on by normally-functioning heated car seats were presented in the latest issue of Archives of Dermatology, one involving a 40-year-old woman who reported using her heated car seat an hour a day during Ohio's four-month winter season and another, involving a 67-year-old woman who drove approximately 120 hours during the winter months with the heated seats activated.


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