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IRS Says That the Earthquake in Haiti Is Officially a Disaster

Late on Friday, the IRS declared the earthquake in Haiti to be qualified disaster for federal tax purposes. Call us impatient but did it really need to take that long? It doesn’t seem like it was that tough of a call:

Qualified disasters include presidentially declared disasters and any other event that the Treasury Secretary determines to be catastrophic. The IRS has determined that the earthquake in Haiti that occurred this month is an event of catastrophic nature for purposes of the federal tax law.

We appreciate the complexities of the tax law and we’re certainly aware that tax season is under way but couldn’t someone at the IRS put out a one sentence statement saying, “Yeah, definitely a disaster,” say, the following day? That Friday even? Were there other, more pressing matters on the to-do list? The disaster qualifications must be more subjective than we imagine.

The PCAOB Chairman Is in It for the Money

Thumbnail image for pcaob.jpgHow’s this for awkward: Mary Schapiro makes $162,000 as the big chief at the SEC. The Chairman of the PCAOB makes $672,676 a year and board members get $546,891. And just so you know, B to the H to the O makes $400k.
The Berg says that, “Salaries for PCAOB members exceed the pay for most public officials to make the jobs competitive with the private sector,” which probably explains it but cripes. That’s good scratch for sitting in meetings all day and continually telling auditors how much they suck at their jobs.

The whole subject came up in the article because Schape and Co. are trying to find a permanent chairman to replace interim chair Dan Goelzer and two retiring board members.
The lead horse is Kurt Schact, the managing director of the CFA Institute’s Centre for Financial Market Integrity. Mr. Schact has a JD and BS in chemistry from the University of Wisconsin. Candidates for the two soon-to-be vacated board seats include one CPA, Helen Munter (Deloitte) and two former SEC attorneys, Linda Griggs and John Sturc.
Does anyone see a problem here? Does anyone think for one minute, that the PCAOB will be better off with fewer auditors guiding the ship? There must not be a single qualified auditor in the entire universe that could possibly want to chair the PCAOB. Thankless job to be sure but at least the money is decent.
Anyway, the good news is that arguments for Free Enterprise Fund v. PCAOB will be heard at the SCOTUS next week. Maybe we’ll all get lucky and this appointment crap will become meaningless.
SEC Said to Consider CFA’s Schacht to Lead U.S. Auditor Board [Bloomberg]
See also: CFA Institute’s Schacht May Chair PCAOB [Web CPA]

SHOCKER: Tax Reform Will Have to Wait

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Tax Code.jpgIf you’re like us, you’ve been anticipating the report on tax reform from the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board like teenage girls jonesing for New Moon.
Unfortunately, the report has been delayed and the Board will only be issuing “an almanac” of ideas at this point. The original deadline was for this Friday but you know how that goes.

Apparently you heeded the call put forth by the White House because they’re still reviewing all your brilliant ideas:
Tax Vox (our emphasis):

The White House statement says the board has not yet had time to review the hundreds of ideas it has received from the public. At the time same time, it asked for more suggestions. Yet, it is hard to believe that the panel is going to hear much new. After all, the ground of simplification and enforcement has been pretty well-plowed for years.

So keep those ideas coming people. Anything goes. Abolishment? Sure, they’ll think about it. Taxing the stupid? Best idea we’ve heard so far. If you’ve got suggestions, drop them here first then ring up the WH. They’re waiting.
White House Tax Reform Report Delayed Until Next Year [Tax Vox]
Also see:
President’s Tax Reform Task Force to Miss Dec. 4 Deadline to Issue Report [TaxProf Blog]
Tax Reform Panel: Something Someday [Tax Update Blog]

Bob Herz and Jim Kroeker Are Avoiding the Convergence Dance

dancing_herz_Kroeker_jpeg.jpgFor the love of everything that is good and holy, would someone like to be the FASB Chairman? Or the Chief Accountant of the SEC?
We realize that they’re both thankless jobs but we need people in there that are going to make some things happen.

After Jim Kroeker said this:

“[T]he boards have agreed that the projects that they’re working on are areas that need improvement, not just under U.S. GAAP but under IFRS, then I think convergence efforts should continue or would continue without an SEC finalization of the roadmap,”

Bob Herz is now saying this:

“[T]he ball is mostly with the [SEC] at this point” … Herz noted the SEC has yet to rule on the “roadmap” for U.S. compliance with IFRS it proposed a year ago.

So, let’s get this straight: JK is said, “You go first.” Now Bob Herz is saying, “No, you go first.” Does anyone want to introduce these two clowns? Are they waiting for knighthood before they move on this?
We suggest that somebody toss Mary Schapiro in there to A) complete the trilogy of stooges and B) so she can bonk their heads together. That might get them motivated.
Herz: U.S. Convergence Ball Is in SEC’s Court [CFO]

The SEC Is Still Putting the Dream Team Together

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 140px-United_States_Securities_and_Exchange_Commission.pngWhen tasked with protecting investors by going after the likes of Mark Cuban, the key players must be selected very carefully. Accordingly, the SEC continues to make key appointments in due course. The newest guardian of the investing public is Paul Beswick. He will serve as the head of the Accounting Group in the Office of the Chief Accountant (“OCA”).
For those of you not intimately familiar with the SEC’s enigmatic web, the Accounting Group is the portion of the OCA that likes to stick its beak into the biznass that matters most to accountants and auditors:

The Accounting group works closely with private-sector accounting bodies such as the Financial Accounting Standards Board. Registrants, auditors, and other divisions and offices within the SEC regularly consult with the group regarding the application of accounting standards and financial disclosure requirements.
Mr. Beswick will continue to support the Office of the Chief Accountant’s work related to oversight of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) until a replacement is named for his prior position.

Administrative matters simply do not appear to be at the top of the Commission’s to-do list. Understandably, there have been far more pressing matters, such as training employees, developing SIMS for personal finance education (with Bust Out while you wait) and appointing 20-something Chief Operating Officers. Your continued patience is appreciated.
Paul Beswick Named SEC Deputy Chief Accountant in Charge of Accounting Group []

By the Time Everyone is Converted to IFRS, We Won’t Need Roads

doc brown.jpgRemain calm IFRS fanboys and girls. You’re probably sick of our piss-poor attitude with regard to progress on anything remotely related to accounting rule convergence.
Well now you can tell us to suck it as the better-late-than-never anointed Chief Accountant, James Kroeker because he, “assured a roomful of accounting experts that the roadmap is on track,” according to CFO.
Continued, after the jump

We’ll give Kroeker credit for not using the economic crisis as an excuse like every other talking head or bureaucrat in the universe. No, his turning the tables, “Kroeker noted that the crisis may have, in fact, underscored the importance of IFRS. That’s because the discussions related to the credit crunch were global in scope, as were the responses and potential solutions, he added.”
Small issue: Kroek did admit is that even though a few companies could probably be coverted by 2011, most wouldn’t be required to do so until 2016. That’s all very nice but we’re sure we’ll all be driving flying cars by then.
Global Standards Alive and Kicking, SEC Accounting Chief Says [CFO]