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Accounting News Roundup: The Tax Reform Can Is Getting Kicked; Mount of Troubles at Olympus; Doubled-up Expenses Led to Layoffs | 11.14.11

Deficit Deal Might Delay Tax Overhaul [WSJ]
“There could be a two-step process that would hopefully give us pro-growth tax reform,” Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R., Texas) said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Mr. Hensarling is a co-chairman of the deficit-cutting supercommittee that faces a Nov. 23 deadline for reaching agreement on a plan to cut at least $1.2 trillion from projected future deficits. The approach could ease the path to an agreement, by allowing Congress to reach the outlines of an agreement on tax revenues and spending cuts this year, while postponing the difficult details of a tax overhaul until next year, and handing the issue back to the congressional tax-writing committees. On Sunday, at a press conference in Honolulu where he was hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, President Barack Obama called on Republican lawmakers to soften their resistance to revenue increases as they work on a deal bring the deficit under control, saying he hoped lawmakers will “bite the bullet and do what needs to be done.”

The Folly of the Flat Tax [WSJ]
Figuring out your taxable income can be quite an effort. But once that is done, most taxpayers just look up their tax bill on an IRS-provided table. Those with incomes above $100,000 must perform a simple calculation that involves multiplying two numbers together and adding a third. A flat tax with an exemption would require precisely the same sort of calculation. The net reduction in complexity? Zero.

Olympus Sale Helped Hide Balance Sheet Hole [Bloomberg]
Olympus Corp. (7733)’s 2009 sale of its profitable diagnostics unit may have undermined efforts to expand into health care as the company sought cash to shore up a balance sheet that was hiding decades of losses. Olympus’s then-President Tsuyoshi Kikukawa said the Japanese camera maker was unable to compete in the industry, even as he bought face cream, plastic cookware and recycling companies. A day after Beckman Coulter Inc. (BEC) purchased the Olympus unit, Chief Executive Officer Scott Garrett told analysts the division’s “long and enviable track record of above-market growth” would give an immediate boost to earnings. Barclays Capital upgraded Beckman on the deal.

Rogue Traders, Rogue Firms: The CME, PwC, MF Global and the Legacy of Refco [Re:The Auditors]
FM: “The auditor has complete access, at any time, including to financial systems and reports. They are responsible for issuing an independent opinion on internal controls over financial reporting and for issuing additional reports to the regulators – which they are dependent on- regarding controls over segregated assets per the Commodity Exchange Act. So… When you think about frequency, access, independence, and the fact they get paid well for their services by the shareholders the auditor is in line as the first-responder.”

Romney Tax-Cutting Path to Budget Balance Clouded by Few Savings [Bloomberg]
“Romney may be our only hope, so let’s hope he takes a remedial math course before January 2013,” says former Reagan administration budget director David Stockman. “You can’t get to 20 percent of GDP on spending without taking a fire ax to the Pentagon budget and sharply reducing Social Security payments to the more affluent current retirees.”

Error led to Workforce Central Florida layoffs, controller contends [OS]
Oops: “Three years ago, a former financial controller at Workforce Central Florida says he made a startling discovery. For several months, he said, the agency mistakenly posted expenses twice, making it appear as if Workforce had less money than it really did. By mid-2008, those phantom costs were pushing agency executives to lay off more than 20 workers, he said. The controller said he reported his findings to Workforce’s chief financial officer and chief operating officer, hoping to avert cutbacks. But he said the chief operating officer told him Workforce board members had already been notified about the layoffs, and she was not willing to tell them there had been a mistake.”

KPMG files to shift MF Canadian accounts to RBC [Reuters]
MF Global fired all 1,066 of its brokerage employees on Friday, triggering anger and resentment about the firm’s collapse after bad bets on European debt under former CEO Jon Corzine’s leadership. KPMG said on Saturday it filed the motion with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, seeking authority to transfer certain MF Global Canada Co customer accounts to RBC Dominion Securities Inc.

Posted in ANR