Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Accounting News Roundup: Tax Day Is Over and Deloitte’s Non-GAAP Questions | 04.19.16

Tax Day

Is over! Congratulations to all the tax folks out there who managed to survive the season without losing their minds, not putting on 20 pounds and fighting off those clients who showed up yesterday afternoon with a shoebox full of documents and receipts. Although you probably took a few sick days, you made it. Your efforts are recognized and appreciated.

The complexity of taxes is all anyone can talk about this time of year so I suppose we can drag this out a bit longer. Here's a little experiment one reporter ran over at Money:

Of the 24 personal finance writers and editors at MONEY I could reach today, only two did their taxes all by themselves—that is, filled them out the old-fashioned, artisanal way, box by box, without the assistance of computer software, an accountant, or someone else. (Two youthful reporters got help from their parents.)

An 8% DIY record amongst personal finance nerds is pretty damning for our system’s user-friendliness. If these people can’t do their own taxes without paying for outside help through software or a CPA, what hope does someone not working for a personal finance publication have for a quick and easy tax experience?

TurboTax was a popular solution as was H&R Block, "just edging out an accountant's help." The idea of doing taxes by hand wasn't appealing to most people, "because it’s just way easier, and I don’t want to screw it up," said one guy. So while the TurboTax boycott probably isn't gonna happen, Senator Elizabeth Warren's bill that would provide return-free filing is getting more ink and has picked up 8 co-sponsors, but GovTrak still gives it a 0% chance of becoming law. H&R Block, for one, seems to know that intrinsically; its CEO and Barry Melancon's nemesis, Bill Cobb said last December: "We believe by any logical conclusion, as history has clearly shown, people want help with filing their taxes." See you next year, BIG TAX PREP!

Elsewhere in tax deadline news: We told you about people trying to mail tax returns from Coachella, but anyone wanting to eFile would've run into trouble too because apparently the WiFi was slow. And someone from the Indio H&R Block said, "If anyone’s coming from Coachella, it’s to file extensions." Maybe organizers should arrange for a mobile post office like the one outside Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas? I think there's a lesson here and that lesson is taxes and musical festivals are both wonderful but maybe not so wonderful together.

Non-GAAP worries

Deloitte has a little BuzzFeedy guide: “Top 10 Questions to Ask When Using a Non-GAAP Measure” because companies should worry about all the worrying going on:

“There is more usage of non-GAAP measures by public companies, and there are more adjustments being made to the non-GAAP measures,” said Christine Davine, deputy managing partner of Deloitte’s Professional Practice Network, Accounting Services, who co-authored the report. “There is more of a disparity between the non-GAAP amounts and the GAAP amounts. Because of that you’ve seen the SEC focus on that more recently. The bottom line is that non-GAAP measures are permissible, but there are disclosure requirements and other considerations if non-GAAP measures are used.”

Some of the questions are obvious and fun, like, "Is the measure misleading or prohibited?" and "Is the measure balanced (i.e., it adjusts not only for nonrecurring expenses but also for nonrecurring gains)?" which we'll take as a nod to Donald Trump's attempt at non-GAAP chicanery.

Accountants behaving badly

IRS investigators arrested a tax preparer in Orange County California for allegedly "claiming false credits and deductions on behalf of his clients, including fake education credits, charitable donations and un-reimbursed employee expenses." Thomas Butcher's business was called "First Quality Tax Services" which further supports my theory that you should never trust a business whose name suggests any kind of superiority.

Previously, on Going Concern…

Chris Hooper reminded everyone that accounting isn't life or death. And in Open Items someone asks: Does a Spouse's Felony Affect CPA license or Job Search?

In other news:

Get the Accounting News Roundup in your inbox every weekday by signing up here.