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December 5, 2022

Life Isn’t Fair

Wesley Snipes’s Prison Sentence Seems Pretty Fair

After suffering in tax and appellate court purgatory for several years, Wesley Snipes is finally reporting to prison today for his conviction of willful failure to file tax returns. There’s a whole slew of stories out there on the subject because a celebrity is going to prison, in case you weren’t aware, is important news.

However, as we told you about last week, some people aren’t convinced that the sentence is fair.

Responding to a post by Tim Cavanagh at Reason, rather than embrace mostly inflammatory nonsense, our friend Joe Kristan writes an objective analysis to get to the bottom of the debate:

Mr. Snipes was convicted of three counts of willfully failing to file tax returns for three years. The federal guidelines for prison sentences on tax crimes are largely based on the “tax loss” determined for the crime. Mr. Snipes’ “tax loss” was determined to be over $40 million, which would by itself indicate a sentence of at least 78 months – 6 1/2 years — under the guidelines. Since the maximum sentence for three counts of failure to file is the three years he got, the sentence is actually smaller than the guidelines would indicate.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, “The sentence is longer because a nasty judge is making an example out of one of the most important American artists in vampire cinema!” Joe checked into that too:

But Mr. Snipes still has a legitimate complaint if he’s the only person getting jailed for criminal failure to file, or he’s getting a much longer sentence than others. Is his sentence exceptional?

I don’t know of any statistical study of tax sentences, so we’ll go to the Google. (prison failure to file -snipes). The first page of results includes:

Anthony Kevin Slicker: $265,477 tax loss, 12 month sentence for failing to file for 1 year.

Steven A. Roebuck, Dentist: unknown tax loss, two-year sentence for failing to file for two years.

Arlan Turley, Dentist: 18 months, unknown tax loss, failure to file for two years.

Contrary to Tim Cavenaugh, then, other people get the maximum sentence 12-month per-year for willful failure to file, even with much lower tax losses.

Will the culture suffer? That’s up for debate. But willful failure to file taxes still happens to be a crime with punishment guidelines. If Wes was really saving all of us from vampires maybe the judge would have a good reason to make an exception. Although, that could make for a decent screenplay (straight to video, natch). Three years should be enough time to nail it down.

KPMG Partner Thinks It’s Really Unfair That Audit Firms Keep Getting Sued

You know what sucks? Getting sued. Ask Bill Michael, KPMG’s UK head of FS. He’s pretty sick and tired of all the sue-happiness going on in the world today. Sure, the financial crisis nearly destroyed the world as we know it but dammit, blaming auditors is downright ludicrous. Why? Because it’s unfair.

Bill Michael, UK head of financial services at KPMG, attacked what he described as “unfair”, “deep pocket” lawsuits which pay “little or no attention to the balance of responsibility between auditor and management”.

“We operate in a highly litigious environment where the balance of risk and reward has driven us to a world of caveats,” said Mr Michael. “Any corporate failure or financial loss invariably carries with it the risk of suing the auditor.”

Right. Because in law school they teach future litigators to “pay attention to the balance of responsibility between auditor and management.” Supposedly Bill Mike would like everyone to start respecting the Big 4 business model and leave them alone to do their work. Because in case you hadn’t heard, this is a life and death matter for accounting firms, you know:

“I can tell you, we are acutely aware of risk management and its consequences from both an individual and a firm perspective.

“You only have to look at what happened to a great firm like Arthur Anderson after its audit of Enron,” said Mr Michael. Arthur Anderson was eventually cleared after its audit of the collapsed energy trader, but the accountancy has already folded as a result.

He also criticised the “enormous rewards for failure” in the banking industry, drawing attention to the way some of those responsible for the collapse of major firms were able to move to other banks or hedge funds.

“The risk-reward relationship is not only lop-sided; it impairs our ability to provide broader observations,” said Mr Michael.

Describing the sometimes tense relationship between accountants and the firms they are auditing, he said that each review often started with the premise of “we don’t trust you”.

So in other words, get your witch hunt on with the banks and hedgies but leave us the hell alone. Nobody likes us the way it is.

Litigation culture is ‘unfair’ warns KPMG accounting head [Telegraph]

KPMG Detroit MIA from Free Press’s ‘Top Workplaces’ List

Disappointment.jpgWhen we learned that KPMG had been left off the Detroit Free Press’s list of Top Workplaces 2009, we thought that it had to be a mistake.
We’re so used to accounting firms being found on “Top Place to/for [enter anything about yourself here]” lists that we almost called up the DFP to demand a recount. Then we got to wondering what HR/Marketing did with the boilerplate email to be sent to employees? Just save the draft and said, “We’ll get ’em next year”?


Well, this is all very awk. Especially since PwC (dropped from the top spot last year, btw), Deloitte, and E&Y find themselves in #2, #3, and #4 on the list for large employers.
So far we haven’t been able to determine if KPMG Detroit has been on the list in years past (which at least makes them consistent) so maybe Motown has decided to pack it in. The firm makes every national “Best of” list but is omitted from your own city’s list? How do the local bigwigs spin that one?
We realize that we didn’t make the Best Workplaces list here in Detroit but we have made many national lists. You can all take comfort in knowing that KPMG is a great place to work in every city but ours.
Regardless of how seriously the firms take the “local” lists, for the other three firms to be listed and the Radio Station to be MIA makes for a big bowl of “how the hell do we explain this one?”. Especially when you consider the methodology: “The rankings are solely based on employee feedback.”
Look, we could sit here and speculate on the reasons why KPMG was left off the list but we’re better off leaving that to you. Discuss the Radio Station’s omission in the comments.
Alphabetical listing of Top Workplaces 2009 [DFP]
Large employers survive by encouraging inclusion [DFP]
Earlier: Rumor of the Day: Deloitte Snagging Chrysler Audit from KPMG?
Earlier: Chrysler Auditor Switcheroo Follow-up

When $11.99 at Taco Bell Can Cost You $300

taco bell.jpgNow that American consumers have maxed out their credit cards, they’re trying to pay for everything in cash or using their debit cards. Noble attempt but if they buy something when their account is zero, the dreaded overdrafts fees are bleeding them out. IT’S NOT FAIR!
It’s becoming apparent that banks will be vilified for anything that results in revenue. And who comes to the rescue when banks are wronging the American people? Congress, obv.
That’s right, thank God we’ve got lawmakers working for the people because right now the banks are “walking across the battlefield and shooting the wounded”, which, we have to admit, is a pretty awesome analogy.
Yes, banks are charging fees for too many things that shouldn’t be allowed. Consumers need to be able keep to spending long after their accounts are at zero. How hell else can this economy get rolling again if Americans aren’t spending?
Nevermind that 3,000 banks may collapse if legislation passes that would limit overdraft charges. And forget about setting up automatic transfers from savings, THERE ARE NO SAVINGS. Help us, Congress. PLEASE.
Overdraft Debit Fees Treat Customer to $300 Fast-Food Charge [Bloomberg]