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ANR: Debt Crisis, Fiscal Cliff, Whatever; At Least You Can Save More for Retirement!; Convicted Tax Fraudster Sues Paper for Using His ‘Copyrighted’ Name | 12.27.12

Debt Ceiling Nears as Budget Talks Stymied [WSJ]
The Treasury Department said Wednesday the government would hit its legal borrowing limit by Monday, setting in motion emergency measures to keep the government operating for several more weeks and serving as a reminder that the nation's budget wrangling could continue well into 2013. The Treasury's financial maneuvering is designed to put off until February or March the prospect of a full-blown debt crisis. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's two-paragraph letter to Congress didn't specify when the emergency measures might be exhausted, blaming the "significant uncertainty that now exists with regard to unresolved tax and spending policies for 2013."

IRS raising limits on retirement contributions for 2013 [WaPo]
To keep up with inflation, the Internal Revenue Service announced this year that the annual limit on contributions to 401(k) plans is rising to $17,500 from $17,000. Annual contributions to IRAs, both traditional and Roth, are rising to $5,500 from $5,000, the first time since 2008 that the limit has gone up.

Poll: Majority expect recession in 2013 [The Hill]
A full 70 percent of voters told the conservative-leaning pollster Rasmussen they expect a recession next year if Congress fails to stop the tax increases and spending cuts that are set to begin in January. But even if lawmakers take action before the end of the year, 54 percent believe a recession is coming in 2013, with 26 percent rating that outcome “very likely. The Congressional Budget Office and other economic analysts have predicted that a plunge over the fiscal cliff would pull hundreds of billions from the economy and create a recession in the first half of 2013.  

PCAOB Delivers Bad Inspection News to 3 More Firms [CW]
Inspectors dug into 56 audit reports at E&Y and found problems with 20 of them for a failure rate of 36 percent. That's a big increase over the 21 percent rate of problem audits in the firm's 2010 inspection report. Grant Thornton, likewise, saw a jump in the rate of problem audits from 37 percent in 2010 to 43 percent in 2011. Deloitte, however, showed some improvement from a problem rate of 45 percent in 2010 to 42 percent in 2011. None of the three firms challenged the PCAOB findings in their letters to the PCAOB that are attached to their inspection reports. Each firm simply acknowledged the PCAOB's findings, indicated they complied with auditing and documentation standards in making adjustments called for by inspectors, and said they are working internally to improve audit quality.

PwC and Thomson Reuters: Too Close For Comfort [Re:The Auditors]
More on the shaky independence situation.

Police believe robbery was motive in slaying of accountant near his Capitol Hill home [AP]
TERRIBLE: "D.C. police say they believe robbery was the motive in the slaying of a 28-year-old accountant who had recently moved to the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Jason Emma was shot to death early Monday in his car. He had parked two blocks from his rowhouse on C Street, Northeast, after a night out with friends."

The S.E.C. at a Turning Point [Economix]
The job of head of enforcement at the Securities and Exchange Commission is now open. The Obama administration should press for the appointment of Neil Barofsky, former special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, to this position. Unfortunately, the administration has given no indication it will do so, leaving the impression that it is likely to be business as usual for the next four years, with regulators who are less than tough on the industry.

Man jailed in federal tax fraud, bills paper for using his ‘copyrighted’ name [Vindy via Tax Update]
A North Heights Avenue man, who awaits sentencing on federal tax- and mortgage-fraud charges, has billed The Vindicator $6 million for using his name, which he says is copyrighted, in a news story. Steven R. Hinz, 41, billed the newspaper $3 million for each of two uses of his name in an Oct. 13 story that reported his guilty plea a day earlier in federal court in Cleveland. Hinz, who said he placed a copyright on his name Sept. 28, requested payment within 10 days of the Nov. 12 invoice.

TaxVox’s 2012 Lump of Coal Awards [TaxVox]
President Obama makes the list twice.
Ukraine reminds Santas about tax [Reuters]

Cash-strapped Ukraine on Wednesday reminded entertainers making money by posing as Did Moroz – the local version of Santa Claus – and his helpers to pay income tax. The former Soviet republic's government faces $9 billion in foreign debt repayments next year and its budget deficit almost tripled in January-October this year to more than $4 billion. By studying internet advertisements, the state tax service found out that a Did Moroz with a traditional female Snihuronka (Snow Maid) helper would earn 250 to 3,500 hryvnias ($30 to $440) per hour in capital Kiev this season. "Such citizens will need to file forms and pay taxes," the tax service said in a statement.


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