Surely you've seen the ice bucket challenge, perhaps you've even participated yourself. In case you don't know, basically you get a bucket of ice water dumped on you, nominate two friends to do the same, and if they don't, they have to donate $100 to an ALS charity. Now, some have argued it's a bit […]
Oh, IMPACT Day. A 15 year tradition that puts Green Dotters in matching t-shirts and unleashes them upon their communities to "give back." From serving meals to the hungry to providing murals to art-starved walls in need, IMPACT Day is Deloitte's way of showing the community just how much they care for one day out […]
Unlike Forrest Gump deciding to run across the country for no good reason at all, 62-year-old Frank Ryan is on a mission. From Bill Sheridan over at the Maryland Association of CPAs: The CPA, consultant and Business Learning Institute thought leader is spending his spring and early summer on a remarkable journey that finds him […]
Moss Adams' amazing week started with creative hair art and wrapped up thusly: Above, we have partners in the Bellingham office dressed — obviously — as the Duck Dynasty cast. The office made a donation to the United Way for each costume worn by staff, and Moss Adams reports 80% of the office participated. We'd […]
In today's there's no way we could completely mock this and feel good about ourselves news, Phil Mickelson and his hat did something awfully nice at last night's Monday Night Football game between the Chargers and Broncos, even if things didn't quite go as smashingly as the post-game press releases made it seem. You see, […]
Unfortunate because that means they’re really sick. What’s not unfortunate is the firm has joined Corporate Angel Network (“CAN”) and has opted to make their plane available to give free rides to cancer and bone marrow transplant patients that have to travel for treatments.
Each week, CAN enters BKD’s flight schedule into its database and arranges travel for patients when routes match up and seats are available.
“The Corporate Angel Network offers us a great chance to use our company airplane to positively affect the lives of others,” BKD CEO Neal Spencer said. “We’re proud to be able to participate in this program as part of our continuing effort to serve the communities that are home to our offices and employees.”
This marks the time of year that your firms ask you to give back to your community in various ways. The most common way that we’re aware of is to contribute to your firm’s respective United Way Campaign. This push usually involves numerous emails and maybe even a little dog and pony show where one partner essentially guilt-trips you into giving to the charity of the firm’s choosing rather than your own.
The Big 4 firms are quite competitive in their fund-raising efforts and a tipster had some thoughts on the tally in the Atlanta office of Ernst & Young (photo after the jump).
[A]pparently EY Atlanta doesn’t believe that KPMG exists (or is considered their competition)
Not to mention that these progress indicators are oddly phallic-looking…
It’s also worth calling attention to E&Y’s abysmal phallic filling performance compared to Deloitte and PwC. Our tipster’s points are duly noted and we’ve concluded that it’s either an obvious show of disrespect by E&Y Peachtown aimed right at KPMG OR the House of Klynveld happens to be blowing everyone out of the water and the Atlanta brass is saving everyone the embarrassment.
Knowing what we know about KPMG employees’ enthusiasm for the United Way Campaign, the latter scenario seems unlikely. Other theories and reactions are welcome at this time.
Joking, joking, joking. Actually it’s the American Accounting Association Robert M. Trueblood Seminars for Professors and it sounds as though it’s a pretty important little get-together.
Launched in 1966 and sponsored by the AAA, the Trueblood Seminars is a two and one-half day session where attendees share and examine complex accounting and auditing case studies. The program’s objective is to offer professors some perspective on present day accounting issues from the viewpoint of the auditors and preparers of financial statements. Each seminar features multiple case discussions led by Deloitte & Touche LLP partners, an open forum discussion on professional issues and developments in practice, as well as an update on the standard-setting activities of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). More than 2,000 professors have attended the Seminars since the program’s inception.
As long as Barry Salzberg isn’t having a free-wheeling discussion about diversity, then we’re all for it.
‘Big four’ auditors bring in independent directors in response to regulators [Guardian]
The Financial Reporting Counc CAEW, issued a new audit governance code back in January that recommended audit firms appoint non-executive directors to their UK firm however, Ernst & Young will go so far to appoint them to their global advisory boards.
“Although the code technically applies only to our UK business, as a globally integrated organisation, we believe it is most appropriate for us to implement the code’s provisions on a global basis also,” said Jim Turley, global chairman and chief executive of Ernst & Young. “Including individuals from outside Ernst & Young on the global advisory council will bring to the senior leadership of our global organisation the benefit of significant outside perspectives and views.”
BP Won’t Issue New Equity to Cover Spill Costs [WSJ]
But if you want to pitch in, they are happy to take you up on an offer, “BP would welcome it if any existing shareholders or new investors want to expand their holding in the company, she said. BP’s shares have lost almost half their value since the Deepwater Horizon explosion that triggered the oil spill April 20.
BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward is visiting oil-rich Azerbaijan amid speculation the company may sell assets to help pay for the clean-up of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The one-day visit comes a week after Mr. Hayward, who has been criticized for his handling of the devastating oil spill, traveled to Moscow to reassure Russia that the British energy company is committed to investments there.”
Looking for a post-college job? Try accounting [CNN]
Happy times continue for accounting grads, according to the latest survey on the matter, this time from the National Association of Colleges and Employers. The average salary listed for an entry-level accounting major is just over $50k and the article also notes that most accounting jobs go to…wait…accounting majors.
FASB, IASB Staff Describe Plans for New Financial Statements [Compliance Week]
As always, the two Boards are hoping that bright financial statement users will chime in with their suggestions but they’ve got the basic idea down, “The FASB and IASB are rewriting the manner in which financial information is presented to make it more cohesive, easier to comprehend, and more comparable across different entities. The proposals would establish a common structure for each of the financial statements with required sections, categories, subcategories and related subtotals. It would result in the display of related information in the same sections, categories and subcategories across all statements.”
Accounting rules “practically impossible to implement”, Barclays claims [Accountancy Age]
Barclays’ finance director, Chris Lucas isn’t too keen on these new loan valuation proposals. Besides the ‘practically impossible’ thing, he says, “The sensitivity disclosures…are highly subjective, difficult to interpret, and potentially misleading, particularly when the underlying data is itself highly subjective,” Lucas said.
“It is hard to see how sensitivity disclosures could be aggregated by a large institution to provide succinct data that avoids ‘boilerplate’ disclosure.”
Asking The Difficult Questions [Re: The Auditors]
“Audit committees too often rely on the auditors’ required disclosures without comment. They sometimes lack the independence, experience, or determination to ask the probing questions. It’s critical, however, that committees seek answers to vexing questions and not accept the response, ‘But that’s the way management has always done it.’ ”
Buffett Donates $1.6 Billion in Biggest Gift Since 2008 Crisis [Bloomberg]
WB continues his plan of giving away 99% of his fortune, “[Buffet] made his largest donation since the 2008 financial crisis after profits at his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. jumped.
The value of Buffett’s annual gift to the foundation established by Bill Gates rose 28 percent to $1.6 billion from $1.25 billion last year. The donation, made in Berkshire Class B stock, was accompanied by gifts totaling $328 million in shares to three charities run by Buffett’s children and another named for his late first wife, according to a July 2 filing.”
The case for cloud accounting [AccMan]
Dennis Howlett continues to provide evidence that switching to the cloud provides benefits that are simply too big to ignore, “This 2min 1 sec video neatly encapsulates why this is something you should be considering, especially if you are operating electronic CRM or e-commerce for front of house activities.”
Despite many arguments that the extension was bad legislation, it cruised through Congress and was quickly signed by the POTUS and now the window is closing fast.
For those of you that are able to itemize deductions and you’re looking for a little extra deduction for ’09, the countdown is at t-minus two days.
If you are considering a last minute donation, A) what the hell have you been waiting for? B) you’re in a bit of luck because the deadline has a little bit of wiggle room, as Kay Bell tell us, “If you charge your donations to a credit card before the end of February, that counts even if you don’t get or pay the your credit card bill until next month or later.”
For those of you that don’t trust machines and are cutting a check, you best drop it soon if you want it to hit your ’09 return, “don’t send a check dated Feb. 28 on March 15 and claim it…if a tax examiner looks at your statement and sees the check didn’t clear until the last half of March, your deduction will probably be disallowed.”
Oh and it’s cash only. Your clothes that were originally meant for your garage sale this Spring are generous but not eligible for the extension.
On a related note, part of Stephen Chipman’s blog post from this week announced that Grant Thornton had raised approximately $140,000 that will be split between the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. Thumbs up GT.
2009 Haiti donation deadline Feb. 28 [DMWT]
WSJ has a Monday piece “Once-Robust Charity Sector Hit With Mergers, Closings” (the Recession Forces Nonprofits to Consolidate) that may be found here. It tells the story of a “homeless” woman with terminal lung cancer and a charity no longer able to afford to help her out. Sad.
When one charity’s COO says “we’ve had funding cut after funding cut, and we never know when the next shoe is going to drop,” that is a bad sign.
Hit by a drop in donations and government funding in the wake of a deep recession, nonprofits—from arts councils to food banks—are undergoing a painful restructuring, including mergers, acquisitions, collaborations, cutbacks and closings.
“Like in the animal kingdom, at some point, the weaker organizations will not be able to survive,” says Diana Aviv, chief executive of Independent Sector, a coalition of 600 nonprofits.
I saw that on the Discovery Channel and it wasn’t pretty.
Note: the Service says the value of your blood is not deductible as a charitable donation but cars are. As of 2005, cars are only deductible at FMV, not Blue Book. Damn you, fair value, foiled by the free market again!
Blame the Service for tightening its charitable donation rules at the worst possible time? Not sure on that one. While you’re reluctant to donate your $200 Toyota (ha) to charity because you could have claimed $2,000 under old rules, find some comfort in the fact that (alleged) terrorist “non profits” can not file for 2 years and somehow get away with it. You wonder why I advocate fixing the system from the ground up?
You can text $10 to Haiti but what about the “Economic Homeless” here in America? asks Young Money.
If this were a survey and you asked me “What do you think the IRS could do to encourage charitable donations?” I would answer “Tax breaks. It isn’t the Treasury’s job to distribute bailouts.” Yet they continue to behave as though it is their duty.
See the problem yet?
We finally nailed down some specifics from a trusted source on KPMG’s efforts to assist with Haiti relief.
The Americas Region (U.S., Canada, Central and South America, and Israel) have contributed $300,000 to the efforts so far, with a total goal of $500,000. These are the combined contributions of the both the firm and its employees. The International firm has pledged $500,000.
If you’ve got updates on your firm’s efforts or if you would like to notify us of what your firm is doing to assist the efforts in Haiti, email us at [email protected]
Private charitable efforts are as American as can be. Toqueville noted our vigorous civil society back in the early days:
Americans of all ages, all conditions, and all dispositions constantly form associations. They have not only commercial and manufacturing companies, in which all take part, but associations of a thousand other kinds, religious, moral, serious, futile, general or restricted, enormous or diminutive. The Americans make associations to give entertainments, to found seminaries, to build inns, to construct churches, to diffuse books, to send missionaries to the antipodes; in this manner they found hospitals, prisons, and schools. If it is proposed to inculcate some truth or to foster some feeling by the encouragement of a great example, they form a society.
The tax law recognizes this all-American tendency in Sec. 501(c)(3), which grants a tax exemption for associations with the proper purpose, like those in the headlines.
So along comes Eddie C. Risdal from Iowa. Eddie wanted tax exemption for a cause dear to his heart, “Mysteryboy Incorporation”:
MENBERS SHALL NOT PROMOOT, BUT WILL NOT DENY THE FACT OF PAST & PRESENT HUMAN HISTORY THAT HUMANKIND FROM YOUTH ON-THROUGH ADULTHOOD HAS IN MAJORITY BEEN SEXUAL ACTIVE WHETHER BE IN PROMISIOUS, DEVENTCY, OR EXPERIMENTATION SEXUAL ACTS, AND MENBERS WILL PROMOOT SAFE SEX EDUCATION AND SAY NO TO ILLEGAL DRUGS USES UNTIL THE EVENT THAT THEY BECOME LEGALIZED, MENBERS WILL PROMOOT FEED THE HUNGARY, SUEICIDE PREVENTION AND ANY AMENDED PROGRAMS AS THE INCORPORATION FINDS SUCH A PUBLIC NEED TO ADD SUCH PROGRAMS THAT WILL BENEFIT SOCIETY AT LARGE.
The IRS somehow found this suspicious and asked a few more questions. They came to this conclusion:
The facts of this case show that Mysteryboy Incorporation was organized and operating primarily for influencing a change in the laws concerning sexual exploitation of children.
The Tax Court found that cause a bit too close to Eddie’s heart (my emphasis):
The activities in which petitioner proposes to engage seek to decriminalize the type of behavior (1) for which Mr. Risdal, petitioner’s founder, sole director, sole officer, and executive director, was convicted and incarcerated and (2) which formed the basis for his having been adjudicated a sexually violent predator subject to civil commitment under Iowa Code Ann. ch. 229A (West 2006).10 On the record before us, we find that petitioner has failed to show that those activities will not provide Mr. Risdal with a platform from which he will seek to legitimize the illegal behaviors in which he has engaged, for which he was convicted, and which formed the basis on which he is civilly committed under the laws of the State of Iowa. On that record, we find that petitioner has failed to carry its burden of establishing that its proposed activities will not further the private interests of Mr. Risdal in violation of section 501(c)(3) and the regulations thereunder.
The moral? Civil society ends where civil commitment begins.
Joe Kristan is a tax shareholder for Roth & Company, a Des Moines, Iowa CPA firm, where he works with closely-held businesses and their owners. Prior to helping start Roth & Company, he worked for two of what are now the Final Four CPA firms. He writes the Tax Update Blog and is available for seminars, first communions, Bar Mitzvahs, etc. You can see all his posts for GC here.
Not surprisingly, the House passed H.R. 4462 earlier today in order to accelerate charitable donations made for the relief efforts in Haiti. The bill was sponsored by Charlie Rangel (D-NY) and Dave Camp (R-MI).
We pointed out the thoughts of Howard Gleckman over at Tax Vox this morning and our contributor, Joe Kristan chimed in agreement earlier over at Tax Update Blog:
When something bad happens, politicians reflexively reach for the tax code. They should put it down and back away slowly…As bad as Haiti is, it’s not the first disaster ever, and one more change to the tax law isn’t going to solve that sad country’s problems. Of course, the proposed changes are more about politicians making a show of concern than actually accomplishing anything.
While our sentiments are with these two tax gurus, let’s not forget that every single member of the House of Representatives is up for re-election in less than 10 months. No one was going to vote against this bill. The Senate will pass it and the POTUS will sign it.
Noting that the bill is bad policy misses the point. We’ve all gotten used to Congress making the tax law progressively worse, so is it really necessary to mention that two-thirds of taxpayers don’t itemize deductions and thus, won’t see any benefit at all on their 2009 tax returns?
Those two-thirds of taxpayers don’t think about the standard deduction when they donate money to anything. It’s not about solving the problems of the mind job of the IRC, it’s about encouraging people to do what they can to help.
Save the bitching about Congress for [insert anything else].
Haiti Tax Relief [TaxProf Blog]
America’s Nastiest CEO [The Big Money via Gary Weiss]
We’re still wondering if the KPMG Salt Lake City office knows what they got themselves into by taking Overstock.com on as a client.
Gary Weiss notes:
The Big Money this afternoon came out with a devastating (and gutsy) article by former Fortune writer Roddy Boyd on the corporate crime petri dish that is Overstock.com, and its nuts CEO Patrick Byrne. The title is “America’s Nastiest CEO,” and it descri stematically harassed and attacked critics to cover up his own incompetence and wrongdoing–stuff that actually is a lot worse than has previously been acknowledged.
Calling all Manchester United fans [AccMan]
Dennis Howlett — never shy with his opinion — segues into an argument for blogging after noting that the Manchester United don’t need to:
There is a blog post over on Social Media Today that demonstrates as well as just about anything I’ve seen written why you should almost never listen to folk who call themselves ‘social media experts/gurus/consultants.’ Awarding itself the grand title: World’s Most Valuable Soccer Team Doesn’t Get Social Media the author proceeds to show almost zero understanding of The Beautiful Game or the people who are part of that world.
After blowing up one person’s argument for social media, DH turns the tables back to why it’s a good idea:
I have for the longest time said that professionals should write blogs. Many seem bemused by the question: we’re too busy, what would we say? we don’t want to blatantly promote, we’re not sure clients would care…the list goes on. Many talk about networking and the need for face to face meetings in order to make the kind of marketing impression they believe will win business.
In case you still think that the traditional networking is still more your speed, DH continues:
Unlike football fans, clients don’t congregate in large numbers every Saturday afternoon although they may do so in smaller numbers in industry specific associations from time to time. And of course you should be making an effort to attend those kinds of event. But in the meantime and if you are serious about running a business as opposed to a practice, then surely it makes sense to stand alongside your clients?
Have you run out of excuses for your firm having a blog?
Don’t Give Special Tax Breaks for Haiti Relief [Tax Vox]
Before everyone gets excited about the possibility of your contributions to the Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, et al. being deductible for 2009, don’t forget that many of you won’t benefit from a tax standpoint:
The proposal won’t help the two-thirds of taxpayers who take the standard deduction since it only accelerates itemized deductions. Even among itemizers, those millions of givers who are contributing $10 by text message are not going to care much about whether they can write off those few dollars this year or next.
Those who might benefit–relatively high-earning itemizers who give substantial gifts–can easily address this cash flow problem under current law. All they’d need to do is change their withholding or estimated tax payments to reflect any unusually large gifts to Haiti relief.
And not only that, what about other charities that are not subject to the timing change? Don’t they still need money?
Btw, a 2008 paper by Jon Bakija and Bradley Heim finds that higher-income taxpayers are more likely to adjust their giving to reflect changes in their after-tax cost–another reason they’d be the biggest beneficiaries of this bill. But even for them, this small temporary timing change is not likely to matter very much.
Still, some people would change their behavior, and that troubles me. Will they reduce gifts to other worthy causes in favor of newly tax-favored Haiti-related charities? Many organizations are already struggling with major recession-driven reductions in contributions and this would hurt even more.
Haiti still needs everyone’s help, no question but don’t be shocked if Congress’ latest attempt at helping out doesn’t turn out to be that helpful.
We just had to ask. In response to our post from this morning we’ve received several emails about what firms have done so far in the response to the devastation that was caused by the earthquake in Haiti:
• Deloitte – The firm contributed $100,000 to the Red Cross and Deloitte professionals are encouraged to donate to either the Red Cross/International Response Fund (immediate disaster assistance) or to the United Way Worldwide Disaster Fund are for long-term relief efforts. Donations will be earmarked for Earthquake Recovery.
• Moss Adams – The Firm is matching 100% of employee contributions up to $100,000. As of today, partner and employee contributions amounted to $30,000 and the firm is matching these contributions with $30,000 donations to both the Red Cross and World Vision.
• Ernst & Young – The Firm has created the “Ernst & Young Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund” and donated to $100,000 to get things started. All the funds donated by the firm and its professionals will go directly to Save the Children, Doctors without Borders, and Partners in Health.
• BDO – Jeremy Newman posted today on his blog about the firm’s efforts, including the office in The British Virgin Islands.
• Grant Thornton – The firm is matching employee contributions up to $50,000. The funds will be donated to the Red Cross and The Salvation Army.
• McKonly & Asbury – Scott Heintzelman — The Exuberant Accountant — along with his fellow partners and employees are working with Hope International to raise funds for the relief efforts. A spokesperson for the firm told GC that the firm is expecting to raise several thousands dollars.
• Crowe Horwath – Matching employee contributions up to $50,000. All funds are going to the Red Cross and UNICEF.
Keep us updated with your firm’s efforts and we’ll continue to post them.
Because we’ve been looking for some PR and haven’t seen much.
We’ve got no doubt that accounting firms large and small are doing their part to help out the relief efforts there but we’re surprised about the lack of PR. Other than a brief memo (PDF below) from the AICPA that we saw on Twitter this morning, we haven’t seen much of anything.
Our sister site Above the Law has covered the many law firms that have donated to the efforts in Haiti but we haven’t seen anything on accounting firm donations efforts. Even, everyone’s favorite ward of the state, Citi, is helping out in the big way.
Maybe it’s being kept internal but it seems like an opportunity to demonstrate what firms are doing to help.
If your firm has made efforts, or if you’re a PR professional for your firm and you have a press release describing your firm’s efforts let us know and we’ll spread the good word.
“Tim, you really shouldn’t have. Seriously. I’m a King, for crying out loud.”
In case you’ve forgotten, KPMG’s bear-building extravaganza is tomorrow and word around the campfire is that everyone is psyched.
At least one office is dedicating the better part of the morning to the “Town Hall” portion of festivities which sounds like it could be a real hoot. We’re guessing there might be a little session regarding stationery controls, given the whole Canopy sitch.
Since all the offices are having their get-downs tomorrow keep us updated throughout the day on anything interesting that comes up.
At least for one day, anyway.
You’re all acutely aware that many firms are opting to forgo holiday parties this season in favor of charitable activities.
Regardless of your desire — and our sincerest hopes for you — to get cop-slugging drunk on your firm’s dime, the commitment of time to charity is admirable. KPMG is spending an entire day building bears and wrapping them with books. We’re not sure how that will work but whatever.
As an added bonus, we heard that at least one office is attempting to make things more festive:
If some of you aren’t able to get behind the celebration of hideous Clark Griswold-esque sweaters for the sake of sport, shame on you. In fact, since the charitable activities are mandatory (as we understand), we’d go so far to suggest that the donning of ugly sweaters should also be mandatory. Judging by many or your fashion proclivities, this will be as easy as opening your closet.