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Accounting News Roundup: The New COSO Tour, 2013; Grover Norquist’s Bracket; Taxing Superman | 03.21.13

H-P Raises Dividend by 10% [WSJ]
Hewlett-Packard Co.'s board authorized a 10% dividend increase as the technology company looks to deliver a greater return to investors. The company raised its quarterly dividend to 14.52 cents from 13.2 cents, starting with the next dividend declaration, expected to occur in May. Hewlett-Packard will spend about $106 million more a year for the higher payout. The company has about 2 billion shares outstanding. Moody's Investors Service on Monday said the amount of cash held by non-financial U.S. companies climbed 10% in 2012 from the prior year and the technology sector had the largest cash hoard. The computer maker's shareholders on Wednesday re-elected all of the company's directors at its annual meeting here, despite efforts by two shareholder advisory services to oust some of them. But each of the directors that came under fire received far lower vote totals than other board members, according to preliminary totals H-P disclosed.

Vestas Opposes Investor Call for Probe Into Accounting Change [Bloomberg]
Vestas Wind Systems A/S (VWS), the unprofitable Danish wind turbine maker, is fighting an attempt by investors to probe a change in its accounting policy that they say damaged the company’s share price. Vestas urged shareholders to vote against the proposal by Deminor International SCRL/CVBA, which represents about 100 investors, when they meet today at the manufacturer’s annual general meeting in Aarhus. Deminor wants an independent probe into the accounting-rule change in 2010 and whether it led it to revise earnings forecasts lower. “We feel the company has misled investors about its revenues, its order book and its expectation for future revenue,” Erik Bomans, managing partner at Deminor in Brussels, said in a phone interview. “Our clients have purchased shares at inflated prices during a period which investors were not informed about the true financial situation of this company.”

Ontario court approves $117M settlement between Ernst & Young, Sino-Forest [TS]

The Ontario Superior Court has approved a $117-million class-action settlement involving Sino-Forest Corp. and its former auditor, Ernst & Young. The agreed deal will see the accounting firm pay toward a fund to compensate shareholders of the troubled Chinese-Canadian company, which has been accused of fraudulently overstating its assets. It’s believed to be one of the largest settlements involving an auditor in Canadian history.
Eagerly anticipated COSO framework set for May release [JofA]
May 14. Write it down.

Congressman Demands IRS Release Star Trek Video [AT]
House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee chairman Charles Boustany, Jr., R-La., sent a letter Wednesday to IRS Acting Commissioner Steven T. Miller demanding a copy of the video parodies produced in the IRS’s television studio in New Carrollton, Md., claiming the studio may have cost taxpayers more than $4 million last year, according to a review of contracts.

ATR President Grover Norquist Releases NCAA Tournament Bracket [ATR]
FYI: "Hey taxpayers, I chose my winners based on the lowest top marginal income tax rate in each team's home state. In the case of a tie, I went with the Right to Work State. Good luck with your brackets. — Grover" 

PwC wins Cairn Energy audit tender [Accountancy Age]
More fierce competition, as P. Dubs steals Cairn from E&Y.

Ode to the VAT Bastard [Tax Analysts]
Impose a VAT at a rate of 10 to 15 percent. That would finance an exemption from income taxes for families making $100,000 in income or less. No more filing. No more paper-hunting. No more nightmares about the IRS at your door because you missed a piece of paper. Just peace of mind. For families making more than a $100,000, Graetz proposes a much simpler income tax than the one we have now with one rate, 25 percent. More peace of mind.

The Tax Consequences of Superman's Diamonds [TaxProf]
The important question: "[I]f Superman crushes carbon and makes diamonds, is that taxable income?"
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