Religious groups are starting to catch wind of a new tax quietly imposed by Republicans on churches and synagogues—and they are pissed. Yes, you read that correctly: a new tax imposed on churches. Politico reports: [Republicans’] recent tax-code rewrite requires churches, hospitals, colleges, orchestras and other historically tax-exempt organizations to begin paying a 21 percent […]
As controller and corporate compliance officer at the Akron, Ohio-based nonprofit Weaver Industries, Carla McDonald’s responsibilities include: all things financial (accounting, accounts receivable and payable, financial statement preparation, and financial presentations to the board of directors); overseeing a team of two (soon to be three) people; and maintaining regulatory compliance requirements for the organization. But […]
For Denise Garcia, it was taking a course in nonprofit accounting while a student at the University of Houston. For others, like Raquel Cosio, CPA, who started their careers in public accounting, it was auditing nonprofit clients. It was experiences like these that gave Garcia, Cosio, and other accountants a glimpse into the nonprofit world—a […]
People join nonprofits for lots of reasons. Often it’s from a desire to give back to the community or passionately support a cause. Other times a person is new to the community and wants to make some connections. This often leads a membership in a local business organization. People exclusively looking for clients might join […]
Event Date: March 26, 2014 This material focuses on non-profit organizations organization, accounting and reporting. It includes discussions of assets, liabilities and net asset accounts that are common to most non-profit organizations. Learning objectives are: Understand the fundamental definitions and operating principles of non-profit organizations Review significant Statements of Financial Accounting Standards for non-profit organizations […]
ParenteBeard, the 23rd largest CPA firm on the whole damn planet, issued the following press release earlier this month. This holiday season, ParenteBeard, a top 25 U.S. accounting firm, is helping to balance the books of what would be the largest nonprofit in the world: Santa, Inc. […] ParenteBeard began its audit of Santa, Inc. […]
As we've discussed, Occupy Wall Street has had a bit of trouble with tracking their finances. Donations initially were collected in "a large cooking pot covered in cardboard and duct tape" but as methods became more sophisticated; "donation buckets" and "a yellow messenger bag" were also utilized. Expenses are numerous, including but exclusive to meals, bail, and […]
That’s a serious question.
I’ve been to events with lots of accountants huddled up in a room showing off their technology so I am not implying that CPAs don’t care about apps, I’m just wondering if anyone would download an app dedicated to a particular AICPA conference.
CrowdCompass released the AICPA Not-For-Profit Financial Executive Forum app on October 15th and as far as I can tell, no one cares about it.
The description reads as follows:
Between the slowed-down economy and a more stringent regulatory environment, the last few years have led to a “new normal.” Gaining lost momentum and getting back on track with smart new strategies and practical solutions are necessary for success.
This AICPA Not-for-Profit Financial Executive Forum is the solutions-based conference that features top experts and is designed specifically to address these issues and provide the answers for your financial, technical and structural operations. You’ll come away with valuable insights and tools to take back to your organization and implement immediately.
The 2011 NFP FEF (if that isn’t a mouthful…) sounds like a great time for anyone actually interested in non-profits (my unofficial research shows there are about 7 of you). Not-for-profit financial executive staff members, CEOs, CFOs/executive directors and directors of finance in NFP could probably learn a lot and enrich the very core of their work by hanging around at one of these forums. Hey, you can even check in on foursquare from the conference. But the Android app? I’m not sure I see the benefit there.
Does an app make navigating the conference any easier? You still have to remember the name of the person you met three hours ago who you’re being introduced to again and no app can help you with that. It’s not like there are several square miles of territory to navigate as you’re cruising the conference circuit, so is it necessary to have your exact position on the map? Maybe I’m just an old BlackBerry user who doesn’t get it.
Anyway, the conference is from October 27-28, 2011 at the Westin in my former hometown of San Francisco, CA so it isn’t too late for you to register and fly out there to the Land of Fruits and Nuts for some non-profity goodness.
If anyone actually downloads and uses this app, can you please get in touch with me? I’m curious to hear what you did with it. Sorry, that’s kind of lazy but the AICPA isn’t going to sell me the email list of anyone who buys the app so this is the best we’ve got.
Ed. note: Willing to take some advice from three strangers and peanut gallery full of overworked, underpaid paper pushers (aka spreadsheet jockeys)? Email us at [email protected] with your problems.
First I just want to say that this website made all the down time during my Big 4 internship bearable!! Seriously, there are no words to express my gratitude!
I’ve learned a lot from your site, and I’m kinda hoping you can give me some advice…
Right now I have a full time job offer in Tax, but lately I’ve been questioning if this is the right move for me.
Honestly, I don’t think I can handle more than 3 years of public accounting, so I was wondering what job opportunities there are in the private sector for tax professionals with only two to three years of public accounting experience? (I feel like the focus is usually on audit, so I’m finding I don’t really know a lot about the tax world outside of the Big 4).
Also, I would eventually love to work for a nonprofit…would I have better luck at finding a job in this sector with an audit or advisory background, as opposed to tax?
Thanks a million!!!!
Thanks for stopping by GC this summer and squeezing us into your “busy” internship days. (Shameless plug – remember to talk about this site when you return to campus this fall. We’ll be talking about recruiting on a regular basis).
Let’s assume that you are going to accept the offer for Big 4 tax. Maybe you have an MS in tax. Maybe there are not any audit positions available for campus hires. Maybe you have a crush on the lead engagement partner. Not my biz. Whatever your situation, you should be focusing on making yourself as merlo-rounded as marketable as possible. A few ideas:
1) CPA – Not even a question. Get it done immediately.
2) Request an audit rotation – As you experienced this summer, there are times when things get a bit slow for tax professionals. Request short term rotations into audit where you can receive additional exposure. This will be marginally easier to do if your CPA is already completed.
3) Seek out non-profit clients – It does not matter if your experience is on the audit or tax side; the goal here is to receive client exposure for a look at the culture/business model/workplace environment at some of your local NFP’s.
4) Volunteer – If NFP clients are not an option, try to find time in your schedule to volunteer. Like any new job possibility, you should research what life is like at a non-profit before jumping into the career move.
As for private sector jobs, with 2-3 years tax experience you’ll have little trouble, as many businesses are trying to do more tax work in-house as opposed to contracting it out to their CPAs. I’d encourage you to stick it out until Senior Associate if you can, since this will give you ample opportunities outside the firm (and maybe a nice get-away). Good luck.
GCers – your thoughts?
I’m a Accounting Director (upgraded staff accountant really) at a small non-profit. I’ve been with the org since getting out of college 2 years ago. My firm loves me but I’ve decided to switch, mainly because I’m not liking the AD position. First because come close of the year and January, I pretty much want to drown my life in as many Guinesses as I can find. 80+ hours per week just sucks after a while and my org doesn’t let me drink. 🙁 Second is personal – I’m wanting to be closer to family and friends.
I took the AD job because I thought it would put me well on my way to a CFO job down the road. So my question is this, are there other good ways to get to that end without going AD, Controller, CFO or something similar? Do I just need to suck it up and keep being an AD for a few more years before I can move to a controller position? Finally, if I take a staff accountant position how does that look? Thanks.
-Can’t wait to drink again
Good afternoon Guiness,
If being a CFO is your goal, you need to assess the qualities and skillsets that CFOs in your industry possess. Consider a few things when doing so:
1. Get Your CPA – There’s no denying the importance of getting the three letters next to your name. As you progress you in career, having a CPA will keep doors open for you. Read up on Adrienne’s great CPA coverage if you don’t know where to start.
2. Lose the title – You’re still very young in your career, so my advice to you is to worry less about titles and more about opportunities that open doors and expose you to a variety of accounting responsibilities. This is meant as no offense to you and your career thus far, but a staff accountant at a large corporation most likely sees more complicated accounting issues than say, a charity bookstore. Roll up your sleeves and challenge yourself.
3. Location – before you have a spouse, kids and a mortgage, get back to where you want to be. It will be easier to find a staff-level job than a specialized, more technical job that you’ll be qualified for five years from now. And call your mother, she misses you.
4. It’s not like Mad Men but… – The liquor store sells the little nip bottles for a reason. It’s a scientific fact that whiskey helps ease the frustration of 80+ hour work weeks.
May the drink-at-work Spirits be with you,
According to their most recent IRS filings, Family Radio is almost entirely funded by donations, and brought in $18 million in contributions in 2009 alone. According to those financial documents, accountants put the total worth of Family Radio (referred to as Family Stations on its official forms) at $72 million. With those kind of financials — and controversial beliefs — it’s no wonder skeptics have accused the group of running a scam. [CNN via NetNet]
Having seen the rabid crowds outside FAO Schwarz to see this guy first hand, it’s hard telling what kind of internal battle there is at E&Y to rub elbows with Harry Potter (even if he’s likely to be sans spectacles).
Daniel Radcliffe will be honored by The Trevor Project with the Trevor Hero Award during “Trevor LIVE” at Capitale (130 Bowery, NY, NY). The annual show benefits the life-saving work of The Trevor Project and will also honor Ernst & Young LLP with the Trevor 2020 Award.
If you’re not familiar with the Trevor Project, they do great work, focusing on “suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.” Kudos to E&Y for the recognition.
Preprinted shirts, sweatshirts and hats that claim the Steelers won Super Bowl XLV will be shipped to people in other countries. Volunteers at World Vision, in Sewickley, prepared the clothing for shipment on Wednesday. The organization received 150 boxes of items valued at nearly $200,000. The items will be shipped within the next few months and for the first time ever a group of NFL players will help deliver the merchandise.
The following post is republished from AccountingWEB, a source of accounting news, information, tips, tools, resources and insight — everything you need to help you prosper and enjoy the accounting profession.
In my experience, the most important thing you need to consider when looking for a job in the U.S. as a foreigner is how to work here legally. International students looking for part-time work are allowed to work no more than 20 hours a week to maintain F-1 visa. After graduation, to stay in the United States, one must find an employer willing to sponsor your working visa (called an H-1B visa).
I came to the U.S. last August from China, and am enrolled in a master of accounting program at George Washington University in Washington, DC. Like other international students in a completely new place, I initially felt hopeless as to where to start my job search. I began searching recruiting websites, but found that these websites aren’t as helpful for students without experience.
Another method I tried was to take advantage of all the resources my school offered, including a career center. These often offer more entry-level opportunities. You can often find networking opportunities through career centers as well.
I was honored to act as the president of the student chapter of IMA® at my university in my first semester and actively took part in the events held by the local professional chapter every month. During this time, I not only got to know some professionals but also got an understanding about business culture in the U.S. – a great help in my job hunting.
In my second semester, I secured my first unpaid internship with a nonprofit organization located in Washington, DC. At the same time, I volunteered to help prepare tax returns. These experiences helped build up my résumé and enhanced my communication skills. Likewise, for those international students who do not have any working experience, it might be a good start to focus on volunteer opportunities and unpaid internships. Nonprofit and international institutions are more willing to sponsor foreign students since they know the process quite well. For those who work in companies that are hesitant to sponsor your working visa, try talking with your supervisor or the HR department to explain that the visa sponsorship process is simple.
This past summer, through on-campus recruiting, I was offered a challenging internship with a government contractor. After spending the summer there, I gained a deeper understanding of accounting issues on daily basis and had more responsibilities.
In addition to adding professional experience to my résumé, I was also looking to strengthen my academic background and social skills, which included passing the CMA® exam and becoming more involved with IMA. I will also attend the 11th annual IMA Student Leadership Conference in California this November. Currently, I am working as an intern at a financial institution which has relationships with banks in China. In addition to assuming some financial and accounting responsibilities, I will also be involved in projects aimed at the Chinese market.
Thanks to my former experience, I got used to my new position quickly and was able to perform my work with minimal supervision. The company even expressed their willingness to sponsor me for the H-1B when I graduate. This shows how it is very useful to rely on your educational and professional background and seek out job opportunities with links to your home country.
Groups Push Legal Limits in Advertising [NYT]
“The basic rule of thumb for nonprofit groups organized under Section 501(c) of the tax code is that more than 50 percent of their annual activities cannot be political. Although it is a matter of debate how spending on traditional issue ads would be categorized by the Internal Revenue Service, it is indisputable that spending on express advocacy would be classified as political.”
Lords to hear top six firms on audit reform [Accountancy Age]
“A showdown has been planned for the UK’s top six acevidence is heard at a House of Lord’s inquiry into audit reform.
The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee will take evidence from the heads of the Big Four – PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and Ernst & Young – followed by their mid-tier rivals – BDO and Grant Thornton – during its inquiry into audit competition.”
Accounting industry sees ray of light on the horizon [Crain’s]
“Demand for accountants is forcing large CPA firms to bump salaries by as much as 3.8% next year, the steepest jump since 2008. U.S. companies with more than 20 employees plan to increase hiring of full-time accountants and finance personnel this quarter for the first time since early 2009, says Michael Shapow, a senior vice-president at Menlo Park, Calif.-based staffing firm Robert Half International Inc.
During the dot-com era, bachelor’s degrees in accounting fell from 53,000 in the mid-1990s to 35,000 in 2002, according to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Washington, D.C. The figure has boom-eranged, rising to 49,000 in 2008, creating a new problem: not enough professors.”
Systemic Risk! Dominance! Momentum! Auditors In Crisis. Again. [Re: The Auditors]
The “outrage” and “risk” over the dominance by the Big 4 in the audit industry is so played.
Obama Attacks Republicans on Tax Policy [TaxProf Blog]
AICPA to SEC: Companies Will Need as Much as Five Years to Ready for IFRS Adoption [JofA]
“In the portion of its letter regarding the impact of IFRS conversion on contractual arrangements, the AICPA voices support for a requirement for companies adopting IFRS to file one year of comparative financial statements rather than two. ‘Our research indicates that companies will need five years preparation time to adopt IFRS if the SEC requires two years of historical comparative financial statements. If only one year of comparative financial statements is required, a four-year transition period would be needed to adopt IFRS.’ The SEC has not said what the requirement would be.”
Just in case you have been hiding under a rock for most of 2010, the big deal for nonprofits has been this whole 990 requirement and, more specifically, the fact that many still haven’t filed information returns despite every trick in the book by our friends at the IRS to get them to comply.
First they asked nicely. Then they sent out reminders. And then they went so far as to give procrastinating charities an extension on the May 15th deadline so they could get their butts in gear and start filing away. Apparently this wasn’t enough for some offenders so the Service stepped it up a notch by calling everyone out in the hopes that being publicly humiliated might do the trick. We can only hope.
We found it especially interesting to see the Cal State Sacramento Accounting Society on the list of California 990 slackers but unfortunately didn’t have the time nor energy to comb through all 1,162 pages to see who else we know on the list. 1,162! In California alone!
We did manage to skim it, finding Oakland’s “Get Legit” and “Get It Together Inc” charities hilariously ironic considering the Service is just trying to get these lazy procrastinators to get it together. Perhaps those guys need to focus efforts on their own affairs and stay out of the community until they can figure this simple little task out. Get it together!
Listen people, this is serious. Sure the IRS said it was serious months ago but we’re serious it’s serious, one need look no further than the IRS document calling these guys out to know just how serious. “Exempt Organizations At-Risk of Revocation” makes it pretty clear at this point. Now we’re not saying today’s deadline is absolutely 100% but we’re pretty sure the Service is done playing around while nonprofits figure this out.
Want another good laugh? The American Tax Reform Committee, American Tax Reform Foundation and the American Taxpayers Alliance (all DC-based) must have been so busy trying to hook us up on some tax reform that they forgot to do some important interacting with their favorite agency. Whoopsie.
Even funnier, apparently the DC Internal Revenue Agents Association and Internal Revenue Service Employees Beneficial Association must have missed out on the memo as they are on the 990 slacker list too. Shock that.
P.S. – Internal Revenue Service Bowling League of Dallas, you guys are on the list too. Put down the ball and get on it instead, you of all people should have been the first ones with your 990s ready to go! Let’s not forget the IRS Employees Association of the District Direct in NY, Internal Revenue Service Employees Fund of Des Moines and Internal Revenue Service Employees Association of Wilmington, you guys have some ‘splainin to do.
Isn’t church boring and preachy enough?
Current law prohibits pastors from speaking on politics or endorsing a political candidate, but David Barton of WallBuilders says the IRS’s intimidation of removing a church’s tax exemption status is unconstitutional. Even though some pastors have intentionally crossed the line, Barton does not think the IRS wants to take them to court because it may lose.
“The IRS doesn’t have any interest in doing this because if they do, I believe they know they are going to lose. And if they lose, you have 370,000 pastors in America who suddenly find out that there’s no restriction on them,” Barton suggests.
But this isn’t about politics, this is about TRUTH!
“You cannot lose your tax exemption as a church because as a church, you have a constitutional standing for tax exemption,” he points out. “So with that basis, losing your letter means absolutely nothing — and that’s something pastors are now figuring out.”
Barton argues that the pulpit was and should continue to be the news perspective for America, so he encourages all pastors to speak out and stand for truth.
Barton: No need for pastors to fear IRS [One News Now]
Attention Twin Cities nonprofit leaders! Looking to blow off your responsibilities for one more day? Don’t know what we’re talking about, you say? Yeah, losing your tax-exempt status isn’t really that important.
Anyway, Congresswoman Betty McCollum (who, apparently, isn’t aware of more pressing issues) is giving you the opportunity today at 1 pm local time to discuss HR 5533 rather than file your delinquent 990(s) that are DUE TOMORROW.
Washington, DC – Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN-04) will join nonprofit leaders in a public discussion about how to strengthen Minnesota communities by improving the partnership between nonprofits and the federal government. The conversation will be an opportunity for local nonprofit and foundation leaders to engage in dialogue about the Nonprofit Sector and Community Solutions Act (H.R. 5533), federal legislation introduced by the Congresswoman.
There has already been a tremendous response from the nonprofit community. The event has reached its full capacity of nearly 200 attendees.
Although the nonprofit sector plays a significant role in the U.S. economy and is critical for the implementation of government policies and programs, no federal entity is responsible for promoting the success of the nonprofit sector as a whole. In an attempt to bridge that gap, Congresswoman McCollum introduced the Nonprofit Sector and Community Solutions Act in June. This bipartisan legislation takes the first steps toward integrating the nonprofit sector into the federal policymaking process by establishing formal structures in Congress and federal administrative agencies focused on the success of nonprofits. To date, H.R. 5533 has 20 cosponsors and is officially supported by over 500 nonprofit organizations across the country.
WHO: Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN-04) (keynote)
Jon Pratt, Executive Director, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (keynote)
Pham Thi Hoa, Executive Director, CAPI
Mark Peterson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Lutheran Social Service
Sandra Vargas, President and CEO, The Minneapolis Foundation
WHEN: Thursday, October 14, 2010, 1:00 – 2:30 PM
WHERE: Neighborhood House, 179 Robie Street East, St. Paul, Minnesota, 55107-2360
“I’m tired of pastors submitting to this tyranny — and I’m expecting to try to get the IRS to sue us so that we can take it all the way to the Supreme Court and restore freedom in America’s pulpits.”
~ Pastor Cary Gordon, of Cornerstone World Outreach in Sioux City, Iowa, has some strange ambitions.
Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) – who probably isn’t in any danger of losing reelection – appears to be pandering to key fanatical college football voter bloc.
“As public charities that take in millions of dollars each year, they receive significant tax exemptions and benefits that must not be abused,” wrote the four House members in a letter to IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman, obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press. The lawmakers, all critics of the BCS, added: “We therefore ask that you act on our request and thoroughly examine these troubling claims” made about the bowls.
Tax cuts and estate tax policy being ignored and these ‘troubling claims’ are you are bringing to the IRS’s attention? We’re all for a playoff in college football and we understand that tax policy can make your head hurt sometimes but but FOR THE LOVE OF GOD this is what some people in DC are doing:
The letter was signed by Texas Republican Joe Barton, who has sponsored legislation aimed at forcing college football to switch to a playoff system to determine its national champion; Wyoming Republican Cynthia Lummis, a co-sponsor of Barton’s bill; Texas Democrat Gene Green, who has co-sponsored a resolution calling for a playoff system and for a Justice Department investigation; and Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz, a former BYU kicker.
Yesterday The Human Rights Campaign Foundation released their Corporate Equality Index for 2011. If you’re not familiar with the survey, it “assesses American workplaces on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.”
We’re happy to report that the Big 4 are perfectly gay friendly which probably surprises no one (or not?). The firms go to great lengths to be inclusive, especially in public eye and a ranking like the HRC’s is a perfect opportunity to call attention to their efforts.
This is the ninth year for the survey and its largest – with 844 companies being rated. Scores are determined based on the following criteria:
Criterion 1a Prohibits Discrimination Baation (15 points)
Criterion 1b Provides Diversity Training Covering Sexual Orientation (5 points)
Criterion 2a Prohibits Discrimination Based on Gender Identity or Expression (15 points)
Criterion 2b Provides Diversity Training Covering Gender Identity OR Has Supportive Gender Transition Guidelines (5 points)
Criterion 2c Offers Transgender-Inclusive Insurance Coverage for at Least One Type of Benefit (5 points)
Criterion 2c+ Offers Transgender-Inclusive Insurance Coverage, Including Surgical Procedures (4 )
Criterion 3a Offers Partner Health Insurance (15 points)
Criterion 3b Offers Partner Dental, Vision, COBRA and Dependent Coverage Benefits (5 points)
Criterion 3c Offers at Least Three Other “Soft” Benefits for Partners (5 points)
Criterion 4 Has Employer-Supported Employee Resource Group OR Firm-Wide Diversity Council (15 points) Would Support ERG if Employees Express Interest (half credit)
Criterion 5 Positively Engages the External LGBT Community (15 points)
Criterion 6 Responsible Citizenship Employers will have 15 points deducted from their score for a large-scale official or public anti-LGBT blemish on their recent records (-15 points)
Big 4 spin-off Accenture also scored a perfect 100 while Capgemini scored a 60, receiving no points for any of the #2 criteria or criterion 5. We took a quick glance through and didn’t notice any more accounting firms, although McGladrey parent H&R Block is on the list, scoring at 65, missing on criteria 2a, 2c and 5.
This seems like a pretty easy diversity win for most firms. Prohibiting discrimination is a piece of cake (enforcing it is another discussion) while providing training and benefits is simply good business. Likewise, if a company has an “employer-supported resource group” or “diversity council,” engaging the LGBT community should be a natural progression.
Where firms may get tripped up is the “Responsible Citizenship Employers” criterion. “[A] large-scale official or public anti-LGBT blemish” consists of the following:
Scores on this criterion are based on information that has come to HRC’s attention related to topics including but not limited to: undue influence by a significant shareholder calculated to undermine a business’s employment policies or practices related to its LGBT employees; directing corporate charitable contributions to organizations whose primary mission includes advocacy against LGBT equality; opposing shareholder resolutions reasonably aimed at encouraging the adoption of inclusive workplace policies; revoking inclusive LGBT policies or practices; or engaging in proven practices that are contrary to the business’s written LGBT employment policies.
While it isn’t likely that any firm would fall victim to this, law firm Foley & Lardner was dinged for representing clients that opposed gay marriage even though they provided many services to many LGBT causes.
As much as we don’t like it, bigoted, well-funded nonprofits need professional services and they pay accounting firms lots of money to provide them with services. As of now, the HRC doesn’t seem to be holding that against professional services firms but this is a divisive issue, not matter how you slice it. And until total equality is achieved, the HRC will likely keep a close eye on companies that assist groups it opposes.
We were really hoping to avoid the whole Christine O’Donnell anti-masturbating/witchcraft/evolution-is-a-myth dealio but we can’t, in good conscience, ignore the fact that the nonprofit group founded by a candidate for the U.S. Senate hasn’t bothered to file tax returns in three years.
The AP got their hands on IRS documents that show O’Donnell’s “pro-abstinence outreach organization” failing to file their 990 for the past three years. This, as you may know, means that the anti-pre-marital bumping uglies organization could lose its tax-exempt status.
O’Donnell’s camp is blowing this off (seems to be standard operating procedure), “It’s not any big deal. I’m dealing with this for all kinds of clients right now,” the AP quotes the campaign’s lawyer, “There are thousands of nonprofits doing this. Everyone is scurrying around.”
According to the AP, the most recent return filed by Savior’s Alliance for Lifting the Truth (SALT) shows $2k in contributions and $1,973 in expenses.
Since this attorney seems to be on top of the situation, we probably don’t have to tell her that the nonprofit can likely file a 990-N in less time than it would take for a young Salty to engage in a manual override. Or cast a spell on the IRS. Whichever.
Southwest Airlines to Buy AirTran [WSJ]
“Southwest Airlines agreed to acquire AirTran Holdings Inc. for $1.4 billion in cash and stock, the first major merger among healthy U.S. discount carriers.
The proposed deal follows Southwest’s failed effort to acquire Denver-based Frontier Airlines earlier this year and would revive its stalled efforts to launch international services by accessing AirTran’s network to the Caribbean.”
Troubling Trades Found Ahead of Flash Crash [DealBook]
“The Chicago data firmed strange patterns — dubbed “crop circles” — in stock market data around the flash crash on May 6 has put together a new analysis that it says backs the theory that one or more trading firms was intentionally trying to flood exchanges with orders.
The firm, Nanex, hopes the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission will be able to address its analysis in their long-awaited report on the flash crash due to be published before the end of this month.”
Treasury Said to Prepare AIG Exit, Repayment Plan [Bloomberg]
“The U.S. Treasury Department may announce plans as early as this week to return American International Group Inc. to independence and recoup taxpayer money from the insurer’s bailout, according to three people with knowledge of the talks.
The biggest part of that strategy is for Treasury to begin converting its $49 billion preferred stake into common stock for sales by the first half of next year, said the people, who declined to be identified because the negotiations are private. The timing of an announcement depends on the pace of talks between regulators and the New York-based insurer, and discussions may extend beyond this week, the people said.”
PCAOB Begins Negotiations With European Regulators [Compliance Week]
“Now that Congress and the European Union have removed a big obstacle to international audit inspections, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board is trying to forge some new relationships with its counterparts overseas to get back on track.
PCAOB spokesman Colleen Brennan said the board is beginning to negotiate with various audit regulators in Europe to see how it can proceed in each country inspecting audit firms that audit financial statements in U.S. capital markets. The board is hopeful it can reach bilateral agreements with individual regulators to perhaps gain access to work papers that will enable the board to fulfill its inspection mandate under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.”
IRS Offers Olive Branch to Business [CFO]
“The Internal Revenue Service has taken taxpayers’ comments to heart and revised its proposal on uncertain tax positions, in a way that is much more favorable to corporations. The final Form 1120, called Schedule UTP, and its instructions eliminate two draft requirements that companies argued were particularly onerous: the calculation and inclusion of a maximum tax adjustment for each position, and disclosures around positions that are not subject to an accounting reserve.
IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman announced the release of Schedule UTP on Friday, in a speech delivered to the American Bar Association in Toronto. The agency has instituted a five-year phase-in period for filing the schedule, said Shulman.”
Job Interview Is Where Most Mistakes Are Made, According to Survey [FINS]
If you make a faux pas during an interview, rather than faint consider five suggestions that FINS has to keep your hopes alive.
PwC names industry leaders and academics as non-execs [Accountancy Age]
“Dame Karen Dunnell; Sir Ian Gibson; Professor Andrew Hamilton; Sir Richard Lapthorne; and Paul Skinner and come from the fields of business, academia and the public and professional services sectors.
They will sit on a newly-formed public interest body where they will be joined by partners fo [sic] the firm but have a majority.”
Cloud Computing: What Accountants Need to Know [JofA]
A crash course.
Finding Surprises in the Small-Business Jobs Bill [You’re The Boss/NYT]
“Most of the controversy surrounding the small-business jobs bill that cleared the House of Representatives on Thursday — after nearly a year of discussion — concerned a $30 billion small-business lending fund to be established by the Treasury Department.
But like most of the legislation, the lending fund is a temporary fix. It will make investments in banks for just one year. The tax breaks in the bill, worth about $12 billion, are mostly good for a year or two.”
Dodd-Frank Lets Small-Company Auditors Off the Internal Controls Hook: Putting a Partial Lid on the Sarbox [Re:Balance]
Jim Peterson reflects on Dodd-Frank’s ‘get out of jail free’ for small company filers.
Would “ObamaCare” (Health Care Reform) Tax the Sale of Your Home? Probably Not. [Tax Foundation]
“There has been a story and an e-mail floating around for some time claiming that the recent health care reform bill (PPACA) would impose a 3.8 percent “sales” tax on the sale of every home. The e-mail has been rightfully debunked by the usuals (Factcheck.org and Snopes), but here is what the bill would actually do regarding taxation of the sales of homes.”
Pastors Defy IRS On ‘Pulpit Freedom Sunday’ [ABC News]
“The pastors, along with the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based nonprofit Alliance Defense Fund, planned today’s event as a reaction to a law stating that churches are not allowed to support politicians from the pulpit, according to the ADF.
The growing trend is a challenge to the IRS from the churches, and may jeopardize their all-important tax-exempt status. But some pastors and church leaders said they are willing to defy the law to defend their right to freedom of speech.”
‘Consumers Are Paralyzed’ Over Tax Doubt [WSJ]
“Congress halted plans to pass a major tax bill before the November elections, leaving taxpayers and financial advisers unsure of how to plan for the future.
One of three scenarios face Congress when it returns from the election recess: It will extend all of the Bush tax cuts of 2001, which expire this year; it will hammer out a new law, perhaps using some of President Barack Obama’s budget proposals; or lawmakers will let the cuts expire, which would mean higher rates for all taxpayers.
Meantime, ‘consumers are paralyzed,’ said Dean Barber, a planner who heads the Barber Financial Group near Kansas City. ‘They have money to spend but they aren’t going to until they know where the tax burden will lie next year.’
The problem extends to business as well. ‘There are 29 million private businesses in this country, and they interact with our members,’ said Barry Melancon, head of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. ‘Universally we are hearing that businesses are paralyzed by lack of capital and uncertainty over taxes.’ ”
SEC Hiring for Multiple Offices [FINS]
“The SEC is hiring qualified talent for both its Division of Enforcement and its Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE). The agency is looking for candidates with experience in risk management, operations and accounting and other specialties.
In testimony given yesterday at a Senate Banking Committee hearing, Robert Khuzami, director of the Division of Enforcement and Carlo di Florio, director of OCIE, spoke to their respective units’ hiring needs.”
Ernst & Young Previews New Campus Recruitment and Social Media Strategies [PR Newswire]
E&Y is hiring 6,000 campus recruits – both interns and new associates – this fiscal year. That’s an increase over last year’s numbers (although the press release doesn’t say by how much). The firm also states that 60% of its workforce will be Gen Y by the end of 2011.
Tax Policy in an Election Year [Tax Updated Blog]
Joe Kristan answers questions that politicians won’t.
Comtech Telecommunications Does the Right Thing by Fixing Errors in Latest Report [White Collar Fraud]
Sam is sending an autographed “WANTED” poster of his cousin “Crazy” Eddie as an “attaboy” for Comtech CEO Fred Kornberg for “[taking] the high road and corrected its errors without attacking a critic.” That “critic” being Sam, who reported on Comtech’s erroneous EBITDA calculation last July.
Whether this type of nostalgic temptation works for the other company execs that are on Sam’s radar remains to be seen.
Pastors to challenge IRS by endorsing candidates [AP]
One hundred men and women of the cloth will be endorsing political candidates from their pulpits this Sunday. If the IRS is doing its job, agents should be kicking down doors at many of God’s homes on Monday.
If you’re a college football fan, the debate over the Bowl Championship Series is something that has been rehashed every year since it came into existence. As we see it, there are three camps to this situation:
1) Those that hate the BCS with every fiber of their being and would sacrifice a family member (not always a hard choice, we realize) to have a playoff system.
2) Those that are fairly indifferent, which includes significant others that only pay attention because their gridiron-crazed other half can’t stop talking about it – “Nothing you can do about it, so just leave it alone.”
3) Those that support the BCS system because it makes them filthy rich.
But who knew that there was political action committee whose sole purpose for existing was bringing this controversial enigma to its knees? As you might expect, their pursuit has been all for naught but now they are feeling more confident because they are pursuing the BCS in a way that has proven historically successful: tax-related charges:
Playoff PAC, a political action committee that wants the bowls replaced with a championship playoff system, plans to file a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service on Thursday against the operators of the Fiesta, Sugar and Orange Bowls, three of the five games that constitute the Bowl Championship Series (the others are the Rose Bowl and the BCS title game). The Associated Press obtained a copy of the complaint prior to its filing.
A team of six lawyers and one accountant, working for no compensation, reviewed 2,300 pages of tax returns and public documents associated with all four bowls, said Playoff PAC co-founder Matthew Sanderson. The Pasadena, Calif.-based Rose Bowl was found to be “fairly free of these irregularities,” Sanderson said.
Think about it. A seemingly invincible opponent – Al Capone, UBS, you get the pic – has to have a chink in its armor somewhere. With this in mind, the Playoff PAC figured that finding a violation of the mind-numbing U.S. tax law was the best way to slay the BCS beast.
Playoff PAC is citing ‘extravagant’ salaries for the Sugar and Fiesta Bowl CEOs ($645k and $600k respectively) compared to the salaries of the Rose and Orange Bowls ($280k and $360k) as well as zero-interest loans that were provided to Fiesta Bowl executives. Playoff PAC is also poking around perks – the usual: golf, entertainment – provided to Bowl execs and possible extensive lobbying by the Fiesta Bowl and contributions to J.D. Hayworth, who ran and lost against Senator John McCain in the GOP primary.
Naturally, the Bowl people say this is all old worn-out nonsense from a bunch of haters. They comply with all laws, yada, yada, yada.
The problem, as the AP article points out, is that even if the Bowls are throwing around their donations all willy nilly, that doesn’t mean the IRS will revoke their tax-exempt status nor is it likely to get the playoff system in place that virtually everyone wants.
Using the tax law to break the iron grip that the BCS overlords have on the sport may be the right approach but Playoff PAC is going to need a much more convincing case then some exorbitant salaries, a few rounds of golf and big catering spreads. “IT’S DIVISION ONE FOOTBALL!” after all; it’s not for amateurs (except for the players, of course).
Presumably everyone but if you guessed that the Rev had the good sense to hire a crack-squad of debit & credit mavens to keep everything at National Action Network tip-top, you’d be sorely mistaken.
An accounting firm hired by Al Sharpton’s National Action Network found the civil-rights group in such financial disarray that it flunked its record-keeping — and may not even survive, The Post has learned.
The scathing critique was spelled out in a hard-hitting internal audit of NAN’s books, a copy of which was obtained by The Post.
“The organization has suffered recurring decreases in net assets — and has been dependent upon advances from related parties and the nonpayment of payroll tax obligations — to maintain continuity,” the firm KBL concluded in an April 2 audit of NAN’s 2008 financial records, the most recent available.
The audit, which was submitted to NAN’s board of directors, warned, “These circumstances create substantial doubt about the organization’s ability to continue.”
KBL said it was “unable to form an opinion” on the accuracy of NAN’s financial figures “because of inadequacies in the organization’s accounting records.”
There are two things that really stick in the craw of many Americans: 1) The freedom-hating IRS and 2) Muslims thinking that they can build mosques in this country wherever they want.
Well now, according to a report issued by The Investigative Project on Terrorism (“IPT”) there is reason to lump the two together because a report now shows that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf – the leader of the Islamic Community Center planned two blocks away from Ground Zero – obtained a ‘sketchy tax break‘ for a religious group he founded.
The IPT investigation found that “Feisal Abdul Rauf filed for ‘church’ status to the IRS for his newly formed Islamic group in 1998 and listed an apartment building where he claimed in the federal application that 400-500 people worshiped there.”
More alleged chicanery detailed in the IPT press release:
[A] review of the building and real estate records indicates there is nowhere in the building to house that many congregants. ASMA lists its office address as 201 W. 85th St., Apt. 10E on the federal tax form, while it cites only the building address as its location for prayer services.
In the article, IPT also shows:
• Rauf’s American Society for Muslims Advancement listed its office as the apartment of Rauf’s wife, Daisy Khan.
• Khan was listed as an ASMA director living at 201 W. 85th St., Apt. 10E, in the group’s 1997 incorporation papers filed with the state of New York. A year later, the group’s IRS filing does not list Khan as a director but instead gives her home address as ASMA’s address.
• ASMA told the IRS in 1998 that it planned to build a prayer center that would hold up to 1,000 worshipers at a time. That was never built.
• Although ASMA has tax-exempt church status, its website shows it has no permanent prayer site and the group no longer touts religious services as part of its mission.
The Post – likely acting on orders from the News Corp. overlords – inflames things bit further (citing IPT’s report) pointing out all the benefits that the ASMA enjoyed as a result of the exemption:
“Church status” is more than just an exemption — it means never having to pay taxes, file returns or reveal the sources of a congregation’s money or how it’s spent, according to the Washington-based Investigative Project on Terrorism, which discovered the group’s startling claims on the IRS form it filed seeking the special status.
On that form, the organization said it held services at 201 W. 85th St.
That’s a 17-story apartment building with no public space big enough to accommodate the 450 to 500 worshippers the group claimed regularly showed up five times a day to pray.
So now that the IRS has been twisted (albeit marginally) into the Burlington Coat Factory Mosque controversy, opponents of one or both will likely be reenergized for their holiday weekend protesting plans. Although, since the IRS has already been accused of anti-Israel it should make things slightly more interesting.
But that’s exactly what they got! The pro-Israel nonprofit Z Street filed suit against IRS Commish Doug Shulman because Z Street and other “pro-Israel groups whose policies conflict with that of the [Obama] administration,” are getting the stinkeye from the IRS.
From Zulu Avenue’s complaint:
The case is brought because, through its corporate counsel, Z STREET was informed explicitly by an IRS Agent on July 19, 2010, that approval of Z STREET’s application for tax-exempt status has been at least delayed, and may be denied because of a special IRS policy in place regarding organizations in any way connected with Israel, and further that the applications of many such Israel-related organizations have been assigned to “a special unit in the D.C. office to determine whether the organization’s activities contradict the Administration’s public policies.” These statements by an IRS official that the IRS maintains special policies (hereinafter the “Israel Special Policy”) governing applications for tax-exempt status by organizations which deal with Israel, and which requires particularly intense scrutiny of such applications and an enhanced risk of denial if made by organizations which espouse or support positions inconsistent with the Obama administration’s Israel policies, constitute an explicit admission of the crudest form of viewpoint discrimination, and one which is both totally un-American and flatly unconstitutional under the First Amendment.
Pro-Israel group claims IRS persecution [Politico]
GM’s balance sheet draws praise ahead of IPO [MarketWatch]
“Peter Bible, partner-in-charge at accounting firm EisnerAmper LLP, said General Motors is now carrying a much stronger balance sheet than its predecessor, based on the company’s initial public offering filed late Wednesday. ‘Their debt-to-equity ratio looks handsome,’ Bible said in an interview. ‘This thing has gotten restructured quite a bit. GM’s health care liabilities have fallen significantly. As I look at the balance sheet, it is much healthier.’ ”