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Accounting News Roundup: Many Mergers; Golf Courses Are Conservation Areas?; Vigorous Defenses | 01.05.16

CliftonLarsonAllen Merges with 4 Firms in New Year [AT]
I get a lot of M&A news in my inbox that is easy enough to ignore, however, imagine my surprise when four CLA press releases drop in rapid succession. Okay, I wasn't that surprised, but how about one press release announcing the four mergers? Perhaps prudent PR practice requires separate releases in order to best highlight the canned quotes from the leaders of firms who are being gobbled up by their new, larger firm? In any case, these four firms — Four Point Partners, Guthoff Mehall Allen & Company, Komisar Brady & Co. LLP, and Galanti & Company P.C. — are just the last quad to join CLA. Last month, another four — Accounting Management Solutions, Stanislawski & Harrison CPAs, Titus and Gottlieb, Flekier & Co. — were acquired because, uh, I guess people want to retire? In other merger news, Wipfli (now three Chicago locations!) and WithumSmith+Brown both announced acquisitions in the new year, but only one firm each so I guess they don't quite have the nose for motivated sellers that CLA does.     

IRS Tees Off on Golf Courses’ Green Tax Claims [WSJ]
It's somewhat amazing that owners of golf courses would claim land conservation tax breaks, but they are and quite aggressively. This means the IRS gets to hire researchers like Duke's Curtis Richardson to investigate the claims:

The IRS has been battling wealthy landowners, including golf clubs, over an environmental incentive that lets taxpayers deduct sums well into the millions. In the North Carolina case, the government hired Mr. Richardson to challenge a claim by two St. James Plantation courses to score nearly $8 million in conservation-related tax breaks.

“They were claiming every inch: the greens, the fairways, the tees, the boxes, the trails, even if they were paved,” said Mr. Richardson. “This just flies in the face of what a conservation area is.”

Presumably the golf cart shed and the 19th hole are also part of this conservation effort. 

Other interesting "conservation-easement" cases include "preserving the historic terra cotta facade of the Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans," and a Virginia landowner who lost a claim "that building 30 houses instead of 62 didn’t count as open-space preservation." Richard Rubin reports that the average tax break was $872k taken by 1,144 people in 2012 which is enough to "pique an auditor’s interest." Conserve (and deduct) wisely!   

Deloitte Confirms Lawsuit Over Losses by African Bank Investors [Bloomberg]
In the past, we've noted accounting firms' PR strategy of stating that they will "vigorously defend" against litigation. Now that Africa is becoming the next BRIC or BRAC or whatever, the litigation will follow. Here's Deloitte Africa Chief Executive Officer Lwazi Bam following the playbook:

“A company’s management has the responsibility for the preparation of financial statements in compliance with relevant accounting standards,” Bam said. We “will vigorously defend any litigation brought against us.”

Duly noted.

In other news:

Image: Raysonho/Wikimedia Commons