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Accounting News Roundup: PCAOB Wants to Get Cozy with Audit Committees; Alleged Accounting Fraud at SamTrans; New and Improved XBRL | 09.20.13

PCAOB Looking to Cozy Up to Audit Committees [CW]
The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board is exploring a variety of ways it can connect with audit committee members to hear more about what audit committees do in overseeing auditors and what they think of PCAOB standards and oversight activities. “Our near-term priority relating to audit committee outreach is under way,” said PCAOB member Jay Hanson in an speech to the National Audit Committee Forum assembled by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. The PCAOB is considering all sorts of methods, Hanson said, including enhancements to the PCAOB website, issuing new publications, attending conferences or webcasts geared to audit committees, hosting town-hall-style meetings, and reaching out to corporate governance organizations to increase PCAOB participation in their events. The board is even reaching out through audit firms, he said. “We are letting audit firms know that we are interested in dialog with their clients, such as by attending firm forums for audit committee members,” he said.

Insiders Allege Fraudulent Accounting at SamTrans [NBC]
Was it a mistake or was it intentional? That’s the question facing the San Mateo County Transit District after the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit uncovered a series of accounting errors that district insiders say were made to deliberately hide how the district is handling public money. SamTrans vehemently denies these allegations, categorizing the “classification errors” as honest mistakes. The district operates the budgets for Caltrain, SamTrans buses, and the San Mateo County Transportation Authority. In recent years the district has announced that Caltrain is in a fiscal crisis, freezing worker wages, hiking fares and warning riders of reduced service.

SEC Thinks Disclosing Worker Pay Will Shame CEO's? [Bloomberg]
Matt Levine: "Now the SEC proposed a rule requiring every company to disclose the ratio between what it pays its CEO and what it pays its median worker. I predict this will not lead to a massive groundswell of shareholder anger. Shareholders are not generally in it for the workers. If your company pays its CEO 1,000 times what it pays its average worker, and your competitor pays its CEO 2,000 times what it pays its average worker, guess you'd better give your CEO a raise. You don't want him underpaid compared to his peers."

Billtrust CFO Hints at Sale or IPO [CFOJ]
Great lede: "If history repeats itself for Billtrust’s new chief financial officer, Ed Jordan, success on the job may mean that he gets himself fired."

New XBRL Version May Answer SEC's Prayers [CFO]
Corporations have expressed their disdain for tagging financial data through eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) and the Securities and Exchange Commission itself has been criticized for not using it enough internally. But a new version of XBRL could make the data-formatting language more popular. Inline XBRL (iXBRL), which offers easier formatting than XBRL and can be viewed on Internet browsers instead of software, is being touted as an answer to much of the discord that has surfaced since CFOs and their staffs were required to use the language following an SEC mandate in 2009. The new Inline version eliminates the need to create separate XBRL and HTML attachments when filing their financial documents — which bogs down current filers — and allows filers to embed the XBRL tags in the financial documents.    

New York state proposes to regulate tax return preparers [JofA]
Stepping into the void left when a federal court threw out the IRS’s registered tax return preparer program (see article here), the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance has proposed amendments to its Personal Income Tax Regulations and Procedural Regulations to regulate tax return preparers (N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs, tit. 20, proposed Part 2600). Currently, Section 32 of the N.Y. Tax Law requires tax return preparers to register with the state. The proposed rules would add to the requirements contained in Section 32 by imposing minimum standards on who can become a tax return preparer, instituting a continuing education requirement, and requiring a competency exam.

Congress Won’t Find Much Revenue from Taxing the NFL [Tax Foundation]
The estimates range from $91 to $109 million. Not exactly a windfall in government revenues.

Hundreds Of Snakes Found In Man's Home [AP]
An animal-control officer had hundreds of snakes, including two 6-foot Burmese pythons, at his home, where he ran an illegal side business selling them, authorities said Thursday. There were 850 snakes worth half a million dollars in a detached garage at the Shirley home of Richard Parrinello, including the Burmese pythons, which are illegal in New York state, officials said. "There is a reason why Burmese pythons are illegal," said Suffolk County SPCA Chief Roy Gross, citing the deaths of two young boys in New Brunswick, Canada, who were killed by an African rock python while they slept last month. Gross said Burmese pythons can grow to 30 feet long and are "an accident waiting to happen."

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