October 2, 2022

Nice try

Warning To College Accounting Programs: Fudge Your CPA Exam Ranking And We Will Find You

A concerned accounting student exercises his or her professional skepticism here (good work, kiddo, you'll be a true asset to the profession!): I am an accounting student at San Diego State University.  SDSU claims that student test scores on the CPA exam rank among the top five in the nation.  I copied this from SDSU's […]

Jim Turley Explains Why You Should Work at Ernst & Young Rather Than Facebook

JT spoke to NYU students earlier this week and of course during the Q&A, Diane Brady, a senior editor at Bloomberg threw him a softie, asking if the firm was hiring, to which Diego responded, “we’re always hiring.” This, of course brought the house down (laughs, raucous applause).

Anyway, Brady decided to throw Jim a curve and asked why a young recruit would pick E&Y over Zuckerland.

“Should students ever consider starting at a big firm of yours?” Brady said. “Why not just go out there and make the billions with Facebook? What is the attraction at Ernst & Young?”

Turley responded by saying that most entrepreneurs, despite common misconceptions, are not just out to make money.

“[Entrepreneurs] go out there to find a need,” he said. “At Ernst & Young, you have opportunities to be extraordinarily mobile and move around the world.”

His advice? “First, find something that you love doing,” Turley said. “Second, align with an organization that actually thinks about where the world is going. And lastly, find an organization that wants you to change them as opposed to them to change you.”

See, if you can’t find a need then you need care about being “extraordinarly mobile.” Seems like a fair trade-off, especially since billionaires don’t travel much.

And just curious, how would the members of Ernie’s army like the firm to change? We’re assuming JT goes with the “whatever is good for the goose” mantra. Leave your suggestions below.

Ernst & Young CEO speaks at Stern [WSN]

What if Deloitte Moved Out of New York City?

What happens when you’re the Prized Catch of the New York City real estate market? You threaten to move your operations to New Jersey or Connecticut, of course!

Per a report on GlobeSt.com: “According to IDA documents, Deloitte notes that it is ‘currently assessing options’ for its metro area real estate strategy, ‘including the evaluation of existing in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.’”

One could assume that this is just a ploy by Deloitte to frighten the IDA into approving $21 million in tax benefits, but Deloitte – currently in four different buildings around the city – bit back with teeth:

In New Jersey, Deloitte US firms “have significant operations, including recently expanded, underutilized class A office space.” Similarly, Deloitte has more than 30,000 square feet of “underutilized” office space in Connecticut, and adds that “various other jurisdictions are being considered” for future growth.

Now before you East Village wannabe socialites and Park Slope stroller pushers freak, let’s break this down.

Deloitte isn’t going anywhere. Corporate Tax breaks are nothing new, right baseball fans?

Even if it were to move across the Hudson to New Jersey, it is doubtful the firm would go farther than Jersey City. Sure, there are comrades in Parsippany; but it would be very difficult to maintain a city presence from exit 45 off of Rte 80. But from a staffing perspective, this would be corporate suicide. What University of Texas (“at Austin” – sure, sure) graduate wants to move to New York City and Not. Actually. Be. In. New York. City?

Recruitment – shot.

Talent retention – HAHAHA.

A handful of current employees thankful their NJ Transit days are over – okay, I’ll give you that one.

Listen – in reality, this is a rather simple case. Manhattan is bleeding vacant office space; Deloitte is promising 2,100 new jobs; no one really wants to take the PATH train to work every morning. This should be a rather slam dunk case.

Unless, of course, Connecticut governor Jodi Rell catches wind that the Green Dot is looking for a new home.

One Possible Sign that the Modeling Career Isn’t Working: You’re Claiming Bogus Tax Refunds

We don’t mean to crush anyone’s dreams of walk-offs or eating disorders but sometimes when you’re not sure if things are working out in your modeling career, you have to be able to recognize the signs when they appear.


One sure sign that you won’t be America’s Next Top Model (or the person fetching ANTM’s rice crackers) is that you find yourself claiming to have earned $550,000 working for an “environmental group” and then requesting a $200,000 refund for that “work”:

Nyemah Johnson, who models under the name Nyemah Marxx, falsely claimed he made $550,000 working for an environmental group and was entitled to the six-figure refund, prosecutors said.

He was one of five people arrested last week in a $1.1 million tax scheme that prosecutors said was led by Queens accountant Diana Rabin.

The bright side, of course, is that there is no such thing as bad publicity and assuming Mr Marxx has access to something a step above a public defender, he’ll manage to stay out of jail for too long and maybe then he’ll be able to land the “shirtless bro” gig outside the A&F.

Manhattan model, Nyemah Marxx, is caught in $200,000 tax scam [NYDN]

For the Last Time, Only Tim Geithner Can Blame TurboTax and Get Away with It

Seriously people. We thought that the fog of confusion around this issue had been lifted. We’ll go over it again for those of you just joining us.

If you are not a well-connected bureaucrat with a fabulous coif, you are not afforded the same privileges as though who are/do.

And tax court debunks the latest attempt to draw some likeness between a regular schmo and T Geith:

We shall address briefly petitioner’s contention that the IRS granted “favorable treatment” in a case involving U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, which petitioner described as “incredibly similar” to the instant case. According to petitioner, “there should not be different, or favorable rules for the well-connected”. The record in this case does not establish any facts relating to the case to which petitioner refers involving U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner. In any event, those facts would be irrelevant to our resolution of the issue presented here. Regardless of the facts and circumstances relating to the case to which petitioner refers involving U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, petitioner is required to establish on the basis of the facts and circumstances that are established by the record in his own case that there was reasonable cause for, and that he acted in good faith with respect to, the underpayment for each of his taxable years 2005 and 2006 that is attributable to his failure to report self-employment tax.

Turbo Tax

Tax Court Rejects Geithner/TurboTax Defense [TaxProf]

Tax Court: Don’t Bet Your Bass on Those Hobby Losses

One of the promised benefits of feminism was that both men and women would reap benefits from allowing women to achieve their potential in the workforce. And for Mr. Steve Lowe, it absolutely worked that way.

The Tax Court gives a hint at Mrs. Lowe’s achieved potential:

During the years at issue petitioner wife (Mrs. Lowe) worked full time as a “controller” for Fry Steel Co., where she has worked for over 38 years. She earned $177,219 and $184,181 in 2005 and 2006, respectively, with an additional $12,000 per year for taking notes at the board of directors meetings.

And how did that work out for Mr. Lowe?

In 2005 Mr. Lowe fits run by either American Bass, FLW Strem Series, or Western Outdoor News (WON) and reported gross income on petitioners’ Schedule C of $4,241. In 2006 Mr. Lowe fished in 15 tournaments run by those same organizations and reported $10,932 of gross income. The entry fees ranged from $280 to $825 with an additional $325 for a “coangler” amateur in FLW events.

Yes, Mrs. Lowe’s empowerment enabled her to hold down a fulfilling and well-paid job, freeing her husband to follow his dreams – to go fishing every day.

The only thing that could possibly be better than fishing every day while your wife brings home a nice paycheck is to get a tax deduction for fishing every day while your wife brings home a nice paycheck. And Mr. Lowe gave it a try, deducting $49,067 of fishing expenses in 2005. Unfortunately, he hooked a snag.

The tax law disallows losses from activities “not engaged in for profit” – the so-called “hobby loss” rules. The Tax Court summed it up (my emphasis):

Mrs. Lowe earned substantial income from her job at Fry Steel Co., and the losses from Mr. Lowe’s fishing activity resulted in substantial tax benefits. During the years at issue Mrs. Lowe earned an average of about $180,000 a year from her job, and petitioners were able to deduct an average of about $41,000 per year on their joint Federal income tax returns due to Mr. Lowe’s fishing activity losses. Mr. Lowe was not employed before the fishing activity and was able to pursue this activity because of Mrs. Lowe’s substantial income. We also note that Mr. Lowe fished for recreation and pleasure long before commencing his competitive bass fishing activity. He clearly enjoyed that activity and likely would have incurred significant fishing costs yearly for personal pleasure had he not conducted his claimed business activity.

The case illustrates some hobby loss red flags:

The activity loses money and shows no sign of doing otherwise – It’s fishing, for heavens’s sake.

The losses offset significant other income – If you would be getting the earned income credit otherwise, the IRS doesn’t invoke the hobby loss rules.

The activity is fun – If your money-losing business can be perceived as fun – like fishing, say, or playing slots – it’s that much harder to convince the IRS that you’re really in it for profit. Remember, though, that even miserable activities (like selling Amway or writing blog posts) can run afoul of the hobby loss rules.

So Mr. Lowe lost his deductions. The Tax Court waived penalties, though, and Mr. Lowe, as far as we know, still can fish every day while his wife works. Millions of red-blooded men would take that deal, even without tax deductions.

Joe Kristan is a shareholder of Roth & Company, P.C. in Des Moines, Iowa, author of the Tax Update Blog and Going Concern contributor. You can see all of his posts for GC here.

Filing a Bogus $1 Trillion Lien Against IRS Employees Proved To Be an Ineffective Intimidation Technique

Who knew!?

Oregon attorney Micaela Renee Dutson and her husband Tony Dutson were convicted of defrauding the U.S. Government of over $7 million but not before doing their damnedest to stave off the IRS and DOJ investigating them.


The Dutsons were a creative couple, selling “pure trust” packages to their clients who were told that their income would be tax free if it were placed in trust. They sold these products despite “several warning letters from the IRS, articles in the Oregonian newspaper warning the public against tax shelter scams, and a complstice Department on behalf of the IRS in an effort to stop them from selling their tax shelters.”

The IRS started auditing the Dutsons’ clients who, prior to engaging the dynamic tax duo, were seemingly compliant taxpayers. The IRS informed these clients that the “trusts” were actually illegal tax shelters and that they were being bamboozled.

This was, of course, unacceptable to the Mr and Mrs and they went on a serious offensive:

[T]he Dutsons began a campaign to obstruct the IRS’s audits and investigation, and to harass and intimidate the individual IRS employees who were auditing or investigating them. First, they created and presented dozens of fictitious financial instruments to the IRS purporting to pay off back taxes for themselves and a number of their clients.

Even though they knew the bogus instruments had no financial value and had never been accepted by a creditor, they continued to sell them to their clients with false promises they would pay off their tax liability. The Dutsons also advised clients to use them to pay off commercial debts, including mortgages and court-ordered obligations. Together, the Dutsons and their clients presented over $44 million worth of these bogus financial instruments over a four-and-a-half-year period.

To further obstruct the IRS, and harass and intimidate its employees, the Dutsons advised clients to file frivolous lawsuits against the IRS employees. The Dutsons charged their clients $3,500 each to prepare court documents and help their clients file them. They continued to advise clients to file these lawsuits — even after a federal court had dismissed the first of these suits as frivolous and without merit — without telling their clients about the dismissal.

After the Justice Department filed the complaint for a permanent injunction, and IRS special agents had notified the Dutsons in person that they were under criminal investigation, the Dutsons filed a $1 trillion lien in California against several IRS employees who had attempted to audit or investigate the Dutsons, as well as the DOJ attorneys who filed the complaint. A federal court later ruled that the lien was null, void and without legal basis, but one week later, the Dutsons prepared a $108 million lien for a client against John Snow, who was then Secretary of the Treasury.

The Dutson probably figured the jig was up and since $1 trillion is a nice round number the figured “why the hell not?!?” Back in the early ’00s a trillion was fantastical number (for the most part), not tossed willy-nilly like it is these days. The Dutsons could have filed the lien for $1 gabizillion and it would have made as much sense.

Oh and while they were at it, just file another one against the Secretary of the Treasury. If it was Tim Geithner, sure we can see that happening for a whole host of reasons but John Snow? Wasn’t he one of the most harmless cabinet members of the Bush Administration? If they would have filed the lien against Dick Cheney they could have garnered a little popular support at least.

Oregon Attorney Convicted of Tax Fraud After Filing $1 Trillion Lien Against IRS [Web CPA via TaxProf]

The IRS Has Gotten Wise to Dead People Seeking Refunds

Pulling off tax fraud is a tough proposition. Hell, even the guys that are good at it get busted.

Plus, despite our low expectations, the IRS has managed to get wise to the filing of tax returns with huge refunds. To try and pull such a stunt will not help your burgeoning criminal career.

Another bad jig (seemingly) would be to attempt filing a tax return seeking a refund for a dead person. Despite what some might consider to be a no-brainer, a couple of guys in California still thought it was worth a shot. Web CPA Reports that Haroon Amin and his partner Ather Ali filed tax returns for 250 dead individuals in 2002 and 2003.

The IRS got wise to some of this but still managed to send out a few checks to addresses controlled by the two men. Mr. Amin pleaded guilty today and faces up to five years in prison where hopefully he can get some help improving his criminal instincts.

Man Pleads Guilty to Filing 250 Tax Returns for Dead People [Web CPA]

Tax Court: “…religious, charitable, scientific…literary, or educational purposes…” Doesn’t Mean “Sex with Kids.”

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.

Cite: Mysteryboy Incorporation v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo 2010-13.

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.