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Accounting News Roundup: Risks in Big Data; Deloitte Acquires Digital Agency; Count on More Accounting Firm M&A Deals | 10.21.13

The Risks of Big Data for Companies [WSJ]
[I]n our rush to embrace the possibilities of big data, we may be overlooking the challenges that big data poses—including the way companies interpret the information, manage the politics of data and find the necessary talent to make sense of the flood of new information. Big data, in other words, introduces high stakes to the data-analytics game. There's a greater potential for privacy invasion, greater financial exposure in fast-moving markets, greater potential for mistaking noise for true insight, and a greater risk of spending lots of money and time chasing poorly defined problems or opportunities.

Despite Legal Marijuana Rules In 20 States Feds Won't Play Ball [Forbes]
[T]he tax problems of the industry are one of the major impediments facing the industry. And the main culprit is Congress, not the IRS. Section 280E of the tax code denies even legal dispensaries tax deductions. In the past the IRS has said it has no choice but to enforce the tax code passed by Congress. “The federal tax situation is the biggest threat to businesses and could push the entire industry underground,” the leading trade publication for the marijuana industry reported. One answer has been for dispensaries to deduct expenses from other businesses distinct from dispensing marijuana. If a dispensary sells marijuana and is in the separate business of care-giving, the care-giving expenses are deductible. If only 10% of the premises are used to dispense marijuana, most of the rent is deductible. Good record-keeping is essential. See Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Persist Despite Tax Obstacles. And even if one is aggressive in allocating expenses between business, there is only so far one can go. Another idea is for marijuana sellers to operate as nonprofit social welfare organizations. That way Section 280E shouldn’t apply.

How Twitter Hopes To Reduce Its Tax Bill (In 140 Characters Or Less) [Forbes]
KPE: "
Twitter can sum up its new tax reduction strategy in 140 characters or less: Double Irish and Dutch Sandwich. (Yes, that leaves 110 characters to spare)."

Deloitte Digital Acquires Digital Agency Banyan Branch [AdAge]
Deloitte is the latest consulting giant to interrupt the agency landscape with its acquisition of Seattle-based digital shop Banyan Branch. The company's Deloitte Digital group will completely absorb the Banyan brand, as well as its 50 employees. The move is in line with parent Deloitte's strategy to add "a full suite of digital marketing services" to its existing business and technology services and capabilities, according to a statement.

A Grov-o-lantern [Twitter]

Illinois high court rejects 'Amazon' sales tax [AP]
The Illinois Supreme Court threw out a state law Friday that taxes certain Internet sales, saying the so-called "Amazon tax" violated federal rules against "discriminatory taxes" on digital transactions. The 6-1 ruling represented the first time a court had invalidated an Internet sales tax law among 18 states that have them. It brought an immediate cry from traditional, store-based retailers for Congress to step into regulating taxes on web sales.

Emanuel wants 75 cents a pack cigarette tax increase [CT]
Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to propose increasing the city cigarette tax by 75 cents to help plug a budget gap and provide more free vision care for low-income Chicago Public Schools students, a City Hall source said Saturday. The increase would leave Chicago with the nation’s highest total cigarette taxes. The administration expects to collect an additional $10 million, with $8 million going toward the budget shortfall and $2 million to expand a program that provides free eye exams and glasses to students who fail vision screenings, the source said.

Accounting M&A deals are adding up [Crain's]
While presenting at a conference of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants in January, Mr. Koltin asked the room of CEOs, who represented roughly 75 of the largest accounting firms in the country, three questions. How many of you count mergers and acquisitions as part of your strategic growth plan? Almost every hand went up. […] “What that's telling me is mergers and acquisitions of the larger CPA firms (are) going to continue at the record pace they're at,” said Mr. Koltin, CEO of Koltin Consulting Group Inc., a Chicago-based consultant to many of the nation's Top 500 accounting firms.  Already, Mr. Koltin said, M&A activity has become “absolutely unprecedented.”  “And I think we're at just the tip of the iceberg,” he said. 

Walmart gives good Samaritan job back after firing him for helping woman being assaulted in the parking lot [DM]
'We looked into the situation, reviewed the facts, talked to witnesses,' Walmart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said Friday. 'While Mr Oswald broke a policy of ours – a policy put in place to protect our associates and our customers … we realize Mr Oswald's intentions were good.' The company said it has called Mr Oswald and told him he can come back to work for Walmart.

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