Accounting News Roundup: Millennials Worry About Taxes and White-Collar Shaming | 03.25.16

Millennials and taxes
As we've discussed, tax season frightens the hell out of Millennials. As accountants, you probably can't relate much except for those non-accountant friends of yours who want your help with their tax returns. It kinda makes me think that one or a few of you should be building a "tax preparation for Millennials" unicorn startup. I have no idea what that would entail, but whatever you do, just don't call it "Uber Taxes for Millennials."   

Anyway, the truth is, lots of Millennials appear to be struggling with getting their taxes done right. This is happening because they are "financial inexperienced" and "increasingly part of the gig economy" and, as one guy put it, "it almost feels, like, intentionally complicated." You have H&R Block and Intuit to thank for that, my friend. In any case, there are worse things:

“I still don’t rank them anywhere near as scary as Sallie Mae,” Anthony said of the IRS. “They were very slow to catch on to it. …With Sallie Mae, they immediately start calling you on the phone—and start calling your parents. Sallie Mae is everything the IRS does, but on 'roids.”

White-collar shaming
Last year, we briefly noted that Utah passed a law to set up a financial crimes registry. This Wall Street Journal article explains how things are going:

An early version of the White Collar Crime Offender Registry, which has been online since February, includes more than 100 people convicted of tax, credit-card or insurance fraud; thefts from employers or friends; and bilking investors.

They include 41-year-old Kenneth Ray Wagner. “Eye Color: Blue. Hair Color: Blonde … Targets: Insurance company.”

The registry displays Mr. Wagner’s mugshot and explains that he was convicted in 2008 of fraud for dismantling his motorcycle, hiding the parts in a storage locker and claiming to his insurance company that it had been stolen.

I'm not exactly sure Mr. Wagner is the sort of person this registry was intended for since Utah lawmakers say the list will "help protect investors by offering easy access to information about con artists." Oddly enough, when the Journal filed a public-records request to obtain specific information on sanctions paid by individuals, Utah refused, "saying that providing such information would be 'a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.' " So I guess they draw the line somewhere.

Non-GAAP worries
Gosh, it's been a few days since we've had some fretting over the pervasive use of non-GAAP reporting measures. Is everyone feeling okay?

We’ve been studying non-GAAP earnings empirically each year since 2013, and each year has always been more amazing than the last. We’re currently working on the 2015 study of the practice in the S&P 500, and it’s far more shocking than last year’s 2014 study, which showed that the S&P 500 companies engaging in the practice had total non-GAAP earnings higher than GAAP net income by over 22%. The 2015 difference, so far, makes that look minor.

Whew! That's Jack Ciesielski writing in Fortune. He says that the suggestion by Mary Jo White that regulation may be necessary to rein in some of the more imaginative non-GAAP metrics "may demonstrate an unusual level of concern."

Previously, on Going Concern…
Megan Lewczyk wrote about user consideration controls. And in Open Items, someone wants to hear "Your first job as an accountant" stories.

In other news:

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