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Accounting News Roundup: PwC Dumps Las Vegas Sands; Three Accounting Firms Get Out of Iran; Marketplace Fairness Act Cheat Sheet | 04.29.13

Sands Casino Says Auditor Quits Account [WSJ]
Casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp. said on Friday that its auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, resigned this week after a 25-year relationship with Sands Chief Executive Sheldon Adelson. The resignation comes as Sands faces ongoing legal issues. The Las Vegas-based casino giant is under investigation by U.S. federal agencies for possible violations of anti-money laundering and antibribery laws. A person familiar with the situation said the legal and regulatory scrutiny of Las Vegas Sands was "the overriding issue" behind PwC's resignation. Personal tension between Mr. Adelson and the accounting firm also played a role, the person said.

PwC eyes bid for Roland Berger [FT]
PwC has emerged as a potential bidder for Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, the management consultancy that flirted with a takeover by Deloitte in 2010. Two people close to the situation said that PwC, the world’s biggest auditor and consultant by fee income, was eyeing the Munich-headquartered group. Its interest comes amid broader talk that big auditors could be primed for a fresh burst of expansion in the consulting market, which has offered them stronger growth than their traditional businesses in recent years. One of the people said PwC had also expressed an interest in buying all or part of Booz & Company, another management consultant.

IRS Offshore Disclosure Programs Net $5.5 Billion [AT]

The report, issued Friday by the Government Accountability Office, found that as of December 2012, the IRS’s four offshore programs have resulted in more than 39,000 disclosures by taxpayers, producing over $5.5 billion in revenue. The offshore disclosure programs attract taxpayers by offering a reduced risk of criminal prosecution and lower penalties than if the unreported income was discovered by one of IRS's other enforcement programs. Tax evasion by individuals with unreported offshore financial accounts was estimated by one IRS commissioner to amount to several tens of billions of dollars, but no precise figure exists. The IRS has operated four offshore programs since 2003 that offered incentives for taxpayers to disclose their offshore accounts and pay delinquent taxes, interest and penalties.

Three accounting firms pull out of Iran [FT, Earlier]
Grant Thornton and two other accounting firms are pulling out of Iran, creating further difficulties for foreign companies still operating in the country. RSM, a UK-based firm, and Crowe Horwath of the US have joined Grant Thornton, one of the second-tier international accountancy firms, in leaving Iran after coming under US political pressure. The firms are the latest in a long list of international businesses which have left Iran in recent years amid strict economic sanctions that have been imposed on Tehran in an effort to influence its nuclear programme.

Make Government Less Taxing [WSJ]
The Government Accountability Office once presented 19 professional tax preparers with tax-return information, and not a single one generated a return that was correct. It has been estimated that Americans spend well more than six billion hours a year simply filing out tax forms—the equivalent of more than three million people working full-time all year.
Let Your Auditor Do Your Taxes, Investors Say [CFO]
Although many corporations use their audit firm to perform tax services, the practice runs counter to regulators' professed preference for maintaining auditor independence. New research, however, shows that investors welcome the practice "because insight learned from providing tax services can enhance audit effectiveness and, in turn, the client’s financial reporting quality."
What's in the Marketplace Fairness Act? [TF]
A cheat sheet from the Tax Foundation.
Booger-Eating, Nose-Picking Health Benefits: Canadian Professor Digs In [HP]

Scott Napper, who teaches at University of Saskatchewan, theorizes that the mucus in our noses — which traps germs before they get into our body — could help train our immune system by exposing it to germs. He wants to conduct a study in which a study group is introduced to some form of molecule, then have half of the study group pick their noses and eat the contents. The study would gauge the body's reaction to the molecule and the mucus around it. "I think the challenge would be getting volunteers to participate in this experiment," he told the Canadian Free Press with a laugh. "Especially if you didn’t know which group you were going to fall into."


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