Ernst & Young to Pay $117.6 Million to Settle Sino-Forest [Bloomberg]
The largest settlement with an auditor in Canadian history.
Treasury Needs a Tax Expert, Not a Wall St. Banker [Fiscal Times]
Bruce Bartlett: "[T]ax policy has historically been one of the Treasury secretary’s primary areas of focus. But that has changed over the last 20 years, as various secretaries have taken more interest in banking, finance and international economic issues. During both the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, Treasury ceased to be the lead agency on tax policy. The White House tended to signal general ideas about tax policy to Congress and then let it work its will. An important consequences of this laissez-faire policy has been that the tax code has become unbelievably screwed-up as new tax provisions became layered on old ones, the interactions between old and new provisions were ignored, the administrative aspects of tax policy took a back seat to scoring cheap political points, and Treasury’s recommendations for legislative fixes to various tax problems were routinely ignored by Congress year after year. […] I hope President Obama looks beyond the usual Wall Street banker-types when choosing a replacement for Mr. Geithner. I think he needs a tax guy; someone steeped in the intricacies of the tax code with long experience in tax policy."
BDO/PKF merger vote to be completed this week [Accountancy Age]
Partners are expected to vote on the merger at both firms by Friday this week, with the votes to be counted by early next week. BDO and PKF are planning to make a public announcement before Christmas as to whether the merger will go ahead, although experts predict it is unlikely there will be any roadblocks. A merged entity would create a firm with more than £400m in revenues, with 3,500 staff.
The full moon doesn't make you crazy, study confirms [NBC]
[A] new Canadian study dismisses this popular belief and suggests that more people with psychological problems do not show up at hospital emergency rooms during a full moon. Researchers found little evidence that the moon's lunar cycles were linked to an increased incidence of mental health concerns. In other words, the moon's behavior seems to have no effect on human behavior on planet Earth. Sure, the word "lunatic" derives from the Latin word "luna" for "moon," but science has found little connection between the moon and madness.
Michigan Town Woos Hollywood, but Ends Up With a Bit Part [NYT]
Hollywood may make movies about the evils of capitalism, but it rarely works without incentives, which are paid for by taxpayers. Nationwide, about $1.5 billion in tax breaks is awarded to the film industry each year, according to a state-by-state survey by The New York Times. Within two months, 24 movies had signed up to film in Michigan — up from two the entire year before. The productions estimated that they would spend $195 million filming there, and in return they would be refunded about $70 million in cash.
SEC to study what information should be required in broader financial reporting [JofA]
The SEC plans to study the issue of what information should be required in the financial reporting package outside the financial statements—an examination aimed at providing investors the right information in the right places while preventing overlap in demands on preparers. “We intend to initially focus on whether the issue should be further explored, including, for example, whether there are any perceived gaps in the disclosures today, and what are the critical decision points regarding this issue of the dividing line between what should appear in the financial statements versus the broader reporting package,” Paul Beswick, the SEC’s acting chief accountant, said Monday at the AICPA Conference on Current SEC and PCAOB Developments in Washington.
Nearly 37% of Maryland residents claim the MID. Connecticut, Virginia, Colorado, Minnesota round out the top five.
MS: "Yes, it will be politically impossible to massively cut tax expenditures for the wealthy. But it is mathematically possible and if done right could be better economics. If the Republicans are insisting on not raising rates AND agreeing to have tax increases fall exclusively on the wealthy, why don't Democrats simply let the Republicans float their plan for base-broadening without rate hikes?"