We usually reserve this space on Going Concern for our tax preparer friends who have to deal with mostly client-initiated and other unexpected problems on a daily (hourly?) basis during busy season. And we’ll get to them next week as they near the home stretch of the April 15 18 filing deadline. But today I […]
The woman in the photo above is Nina Olson. She is the National Taxpayer Advocate. Olson has been the National Taxpayer Advocate since March 2001. But she will retire on July 31, 2019. Now you, tax guy or tax gal, can be the next National Taxpayer Advocate and write ridiculously long reports to Congress each […]
Olson has accused the agency of relying too heavily on an automated “one-size-fits-all approach.” She said the agency misguidedly files liens against people who have no money and no assets.
“Absent data that show liens make a meaningful contribution to revenue collection and especially in this economy, I find it unacceptable that the IRS continues to torment financially struggling taxpayers in this way,” Olson wrote in a news release accompanying the report.
Perhaps Olson has a point but then Robert Snell over at Tax Watchdog might not have a job and we’d hate to see that happen. The guy is like Raisin Bran™ on the celebrity tax deadbeat.
Slipped into the health care reform bill passed in March was a new tax reporting regulation likely to create a huge burden for businesses, something we wrote about recently. Now a government watchdog, the National Taxpayer Advocate, is questioning the rule’s potential unintended consequences for small companies.
Plus, it looks like the regulation won’t raise a heck of a lot of money anyway.
The rule would require anyone with business income to issue 1099 tax forms to all vendors from whom they bought more than $600 worth of goods and services that year.
In her report, Nina Olson, the Taxpayer Advocate, warned that the rule could prove to be an unacceptable added burden for small businesses, which would face a virtual cyclone of new paperwork to comply with the regulation. “The new reporting burden, particularly as it falls on small businesses, may turn out to be disproportionate as compared with any resulting improvement in tax compliance,” she wrote. And the rule could also give an unfair advantage to large suppliers that have the resources to help customers track purchases.
What’s really going on here? The regulation, which would take effect in 2012, seems to be yet another attempt by federal and state government agencies to shore up revenues by cracking down on unpaid tax liabilities–and taking steps that intentionally or unintentionally impact small businesses in particular. For example, a bevy of agencies, plus Congress, are on a regulatory jihad against corporate misclassification of independent contractors. And there are reports that the IRS is especially eyeing small businesses in that crackdown.
Thing is, like that effort, the new 1099 tax reporting regulation isn’t likely to reap a whole lot of money. For example, the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation recently estimated the rule would raise an underwhelming $2 billion annually in added revenue, according to CNNMoney.com.
Will the Taxpayer Advocate’s remarks have any effect? Even before Olson’s report, there were signs that the IRS had started to backtrack. For example, the IRS announced in May that the rule won’t include transactions made through credit and debit cards. As the tax agency addresses all the compliance complexities of the rule, it’s likely to make other changes, as well.
But with government agencies in desperate need of money, the reporting rule isn’t going to disappear completely.
H&R Block names Alan Bennett as CEO [AP]
This all came about since Russ Smyth resigned, made official by a two sentence 8-K filing, “On June 30, 2010, Russell P. Smyth provided H&R Block, Inc. (the “Company”) with notice of his resignation as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company, and as a director of the Company. The effective date of Mr. Smyth’s resignation from these positions is August 29, 2010, unless the Board of Directors selects an earlier date.”
It seems like there’s a quasi-exodus in the C-Suite at HRB as General Couns ned on Friday and the company is still on the hunt for a CFO after Becky Shulman left in April.
Yahoo CFO Aims to End Buy-High, Sell-Low Record on Deals [Bloomberg]
Tim Morse told Bloomberg that the company has been doing things completely bassackwards, “You’ve seen our track record on M&A with buying really high and selling pretty low,” Morse said in an interview. “We’ve got to be careful.”
Some examples of doing things exactly wrong include, “Yahoo, the second-biggest U.S. search engine, agreed to sell its HotJobs website for $225 million in February after paying about $436 million for it in 2002. In January, Yahoo sold Zimbra, an e-mail and collaboration unit, netting $100 million. Yahoo bought it in 2007 for $350 million.”
Auditors could face grillings from analysts [Accountancy Age]
“Steve Maslin, chair of the partnership oversight board at Grant Thornton, envisages an expanded audit role which may involve greater face-to-face time with stakeholders, including question and answer sessions at annual general meetings.
‘Many investors believe there is valuable information that gets discussed by the auditors with management and audit committees to which investors do not have access – and I think they are right,’ he said.”
Legg Mason CFO resigns [Baltimore Sun]
Get your resumé in now.
FEI Announces 2010 Hall of Fame Inductees [FEI Financial Reporting Blog]
Come on down! “FEI’s 2010 Hall of Fame inductees: Karl M. von der Heyden, former Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Financial Officer of PepsiCo, Inc., and Ulyesse J. LeGrange, retired Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of ExxonMobil Corporation’s U.S. Oil and Gas Operations.”
National Taxpayer Advocate Submits Mid-Year Report to Congress [IRS]
Nina Olson’s mid-year report to Congress has plenty to wade through so that means none of the members will likely read it. Fortunately the IRS narrowed the three biggies (Taxpayer Services, New Business and Tax-Exempt Organization Reporting Requirements, IRS Collection Practices) into a much more consumable version.
Open Letter to the [SEC]: Investigate Troubling Issues at Amedisys Missed by Wall Street Journal [White Collar Fraud]
In Sam Antar’s latest WTFU letter to the SEC, he details some issues at Amedisys which weren’t covered in the Journal‘s report from back in April. Since we are into the whole brevity thing, we won’t get into the number crunching here but things look fishy. Plus there’s this:
On September 3, 2009, Amedisys President and COO Larry Graham and Alice Ann Schwartz, its chief information officer, suddenly resigned from the company. Amedisys provided no reason for their resignations and simply said that the two execs “are leaving the company to pursue other interests.”
In my experience, sudden, unexpected executive departures are often a sign of problems beneath the surface. And while it could be entirely coincidental, the trends at Amedisys appear to be consistent with my experience.
But Sam doesn’t believe in coincidences.