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Accounting News Roundup: Where’s Your Integrity?; Repatriation Push; The Case of a Mistaken Tax Refund | 06.20.11

Lawyers and Accountants Once Put Integrity First [NYT]
It will take decades to fully untangle the causes of the 2008 financial crisis, but as our economy fitfully heals, it would be prudent to ask whether lawyers and accountants offer the same protection against corporate misconduct that they once did.

Dems are lukewarm on Obama’s push for a payroll tax holiday [The Hill]
“The extended tax credits will help stimulate the economy, and giving tax credits to businesses will in fact help with the unemployment,” Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, the House’s No. 3 Democrat, said on MSNBC on Wednesday. But other Democrats and liberals say the current payroll tax break for employees, which passed Congress in December, has not given the economy much of a spark. They also expressed concerned about what augmenting the holiday would do to both the revenue stream and Social Security, which is funded by the payroll tax.

Companies Push for Tax Break on Foreign Cash [NYT]
“For every billion dollars that we invest, that creates 15,000 to 20,000 jobs either directly or indirectly,” Jim Rogers, the chief of Duke Energy, said at the conference. Duke has $1.3 billion in profits overseas. But that’s not how it worked last time. Congress and the Bush administration offered companies a similar tax incentive, in 2005, in hopes of spurring domestic hiring and investment, and 800 took advantage. Though the tax break lured them into bringing $312 billion back to the United States, 92 percent of that money was returned to shareholders in the form of dividends and stock buybacks, according to a study by the nonpartisan National Bureau of Economic Research. This money comes from overseas operations and in some cases accounting maneuvers that shift domestic profits to low-tax countries. The study concluded that the program “did not increase domestic investment, employment or research and development.”

Happy Father’s Day to 1.8 million single dads & their head of household tax status [DMWT]
Ties not mandatory.

D.A.: Man stole $110,000 tax refund deposited in error [OCR]
A Laguna Beach man who received someone else’s $110,000 federal tax refund in error spent the money on foreclosure debt and student and car loans, prosecutors said.

Chinese Firms Need to Open Up Books [WSJ]
The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating accounting and disclosure issues at a number of U.S.-listed Chinese companies that acquired backdoor listings through so-called reverse mergers, and even top-name Chinese companies are inviting new scrutiny. Renren Inc., a social-networking site that launched its shares to much fanfare in early May, now trades at about half its IPO price. Renren itself stirred controversy when it lowered the growth rate of its user base without explanation in its IPO prospectus and the head of its audit committee resigned just before the listing. Shares of Toronto-listed Sino-Forest Corp. have plunged 80% since late May after a short seller alleged problems in the forestry company’s accounting, which the company denies. Hong Kong-listed Chinese companies, too, are drawing new scrutiny over their accounting. Not all Chinese companies are shady. But investors are right to ask: How do you know which aren’t?

An Actor, Inventor, Accountant, and Now, a 9/11 Victim [NYT]
Mr. Borg died last Dec. 15 of complications of pulmonary sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease of the lungs. The New York City medical examiner ruled that he had died from inhaling toxic substances in the dust cloud thrown up by the collapsing twin towers, and on Friday, Mr. Borg, who was 63, became the 2,753rd official victim of the Sept. 11 attack on the trade center.

Posted in ANR