Yes! Okay, I probably need a little more substance for a blog. To be clear, I’ve been in business for myself for five years. Over that time I’ve had an opportunity to talk to numerous accountants who have made the jump into their own business. I’ve collected their stories and weighed up why I think […]
Leaked financial statements are fun. This morning Sam Biddle at Gawker published Snapchat's internal balance sheet and 11-month income statement from last year. It's nothing to get too worked up about; the company lost a lot of money last year, which is to be expected, and they have a lot of cash on hand. Again, […]
One of the biggest distractions for small-business owners has to be maintaining their books and their accounting. Attaining a firm for the business might be too expensive an endeavor, yet handling it by yourself takes away valuable time from growing your core business. Enter inDinero: a one-stop shop for all your bookkeeping needs. The company […]
Here's an interesting discovery from Xero: 53 percent of small businesses they surveyed "say they don’t work with an accountant at all." So not only are all firms the same, they're not crucial to fledgling businesses? Is this an opportunity or a barrier? Go.
Are you a prudent business person staring at his/her five-line balance sheet thinking, "As a prudent business person whose financial reporting isn't bound by generally accepted accounting principles and doesn't engage in transactions that require highly-specialized accounting guidance, I'm interested in some simpler accounting framework options. I've gone through the PCC's Private Company Decision-Making Framework but I really like to […]
The ongoing bickering over FRF for SMEs — which went Defcon 4 the other day with a strongly worded press release from NASBA — has just gone nuclear. I come from a single parent household so I don't know what it's like to live in a home with parents who are on the brink of divorce […]
On Tuesday we discussed the AICPA's effort to offer a new OCBOA for small businesses, making special note of the Financial Accounting Foundation's slightly irritated response. While the FAF was fine with Melancon & Co. issuing the new Financial Reporting Framework (FRF) for SMEs, they wanted to remind everyone that FRF was most certainly not […]
Yesterday we discussed Ignite Restaurant Group, an emerging growth company ("EGC") under the JOBS Act, and their battles with financial reporting. Today we were introduced to another EGC, this time the company is WeRvaluecoupons.com who filed its Form S-1 with the SEC earlier this month. WeRvalue isn't quite as far along in the "emerging" process […]
SEC Chief Accountant James Kroeker is "hopeful" that the SEC can figure something out re: IFRS in the coming months but if you're a controller/CFO type at a small company who thought that this wasn't going to be your problem, Jim has news for you: He downplayed the notion of smaller firms being able to […]
Actually, it’s just for the kids.
Ernst & Young LLP, a global professional services firm, will be the Presenting Sponsor of a Guinness World Records attempt by local area elementary school students to make history with the “Longest Lemonade Stand.”
The record-setting attempt will be made Saturday, August 20, National Lemonade Day, in Beverly Park in Beverly Hills, Michigan, with proceeds going to support local school initiatives. The Longest Lemonade Stand record attempt includes an age-appropriate curriculum specifically designed to use the lemonade stand concept to teach kids basic business principles.
The students have already sold nearly 300 individual stand “kits” to families representing 16 area public, private and parochial schools. Participating families will bring their individually decorated stand sections to the park on event day to create the 1,200-foot-long stand required for the Guinness World Record!
Considering the fact that it’s not uncommon for local authorities to take a no tolerance stance on non-compliant stands, I hope Ernst & Young has informed participants that attention to detail is very important in business.
And you guys had the nerve to talk smack about me trying to give inheritance advice yesterday. Pfft.
In a recent article entitled Basics of Accounting Are Vital to Survival for Entrepreneurs, the New York Times tells the tale of Bart Justice, an industrial engineer-turned-business owner who decided to start a mobile document shredding business in 2004 after a rash of new security laws. Justice got a loan from the bank, bought a mobile shredding truck, hired a driver and opened a shop in Huntsville, AL called Secure Destruction Service. Sounds good, no?
In its first year, the company had $70,000 in sales. Within four years, the company had annual revenue of $500,000, six employees and two offices. Again, that sounds great but revenue is not the same as equity or net worth, even a non-accounting nerd like me knows that much.
When he wanted to add another shredding truck, Justice went back to the bank and borrowed more money. The bigger he got, the more money he needed to borrow. Somehow, he didn’t understand that this borrowed money was not actually revenue and was, in fact, a liability as he had to pay it back at some point.
“I knew how to print a financial statement from QuickBooks, but I couldn’t tell you what it meant,” he said.
Fast-forward to 2008, when Justice joined a peer group for Christian business owners. “They would ask me questions about my numbers, and I didn’t know how to answer them,” he said. “They told me my business was going to fail unless I got a handle on paying down my debt.”
No shit, Sherlock, did you need a financial professional to tell you that?
Here’s the gist of the article: if small business owners don’t get number-crunching, put the money out and hire someone who does. What the NYT does not have the balls to suggest is that small business owners should stop saying “I hate accounting” because they think it’s still cute and go out and take an introductory accounting class or two. No one expects business owners to be able to pull analytics out of their asses but it can’t hurt to maybe at least understand that you want liabilities to be less than assets to stay alive.
If finicky expense-tracking is going to evolve with the times, there has to be a way to track every dime spent from anywhere and it appears Chase is making an effort toward that goal with its newest offering: Jot.
Jot will provide Ink from Chase customers a variety of mobile benefits, including the ability to:
— Receive text alerts within seconds of making a purchase with their Ink card;
— Immediately tag these purchases to custom categories on a mobile device or online;
— Enable employees to tag their business expenses;
— Immediately view all transactions on their account, including those of their employees, through their mobile device or online;
— Adjust employees’ card spending limits in real-time via a mobile device; and
— Create and download reports into accounting software, including QuickBooks(R) and Excel(R).
“Small business owners are innovative, passionate and hardworking, and Chase’s dedication to partnering with these business owners comes from the belief that this group of entrepreneurs is an integral part of the American economy,” said Richard Quigley, president of Ink from Chase. “Jot was designed with small business owners’ immediate financial needs top of mind. Jot will enhance the finance-savvy business practices of small business owners, allowing for additional time and an improved focus on the passion and sense of accomplishment they have for their businesses.”
Financially-savvy Ink customers who have an iPhone or Android phone can download Jot by visiting the Ink website. Once you’ve got it downloaded you and your employees’ spending will be reined in and you’ll be back agonizing over more important things in no time.
Tax assassin Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform have thrown their support behind some important legislation that was introduced to mark American Craft Brew Week – The Brewer’s Employment and Excise Relief Act of 2011 or BEER Act.
While we’re certain that Grover & Co. regularly quaff craft brews, ATR’s support is also grounded in fiscal policy. Here’s Grover in his letter to Senators Mike Crapo (R-WY) and John Kerry (D-MA), the sponsors of the bill:
The BEER Act would reduce from $7 to $3.50 the tax paid per barrel on the first 60,000 barrels produced by small brewers. This is estimated to generate $19.9 million in capital for small beer producers, an enormous resource to promote job growth in the craft brewing industry.
Currently, brewers large and small pay the same tax on any production over 60,000 barrels. Set at an astounding $18-a-barrel tax, this represents a crushing weight on small brewers. This onerous tax penalizes production and disincentivizes industry growth, unnecessarily handicapping an industry that provides 100,000 jobs in the United States alone.
Your bill addresses this discrepancy by lowering the excise tax from $18 to $16 per barrel for production from 60,000 barrels up to 2 million barrels. This will provide an estimated $27.1 million for craft brewers to create jobs and spur economic growth.
Now, you don’t have to be a craft brew fan (like me) and you don’t have live in a state that produces many of these craft brews (like me) to get behind something as common sense as this. Unless, of course, all you drink is Bud Light™, which just means you’re a loser with no taste.
Today, I was pleased to take another step to relieve unnecessary burdens on small businesses by signing H.R. 4 into law. Small business owners are the engine of our economy and because Democrats and Republicans worked together, we can ensure they spend their time and resources creating jobs and growing their business, not filling out more paperwork. I look forward to continuing to work with Congress to improve the tax credit policy in this legislation and I am eager to work with anyone with ideas about how we can make health care better or more affordable. [WH]
Now that the repeal has passed, where will all the energy spent on pandering to small businesses go?
Bowing to pressure from business groups worried about an avalanche of paperwork, the U.S. Senate voted on Tuesday to rescind a tax-reporting requirement included in last year’s healthcare overhaul law.
With bipartisan support, the Senate voted 87-12 to pass legislation sponsored by Republican Senator Mike Johanns that repeals a requirement for businesses and landlords to file a Form 1099 document with the Internal Revenue Service for purchases of goods and services exceeding $600 a year.
President Obama is expected to sign the bill at which point GOP leaders are expected to criticize him for something.
If only somehow they could kill it completely, could we fully revel in the disfunction of the legislative branch:
What is clear is that nothing is certain with moving a 1099 repeal. The House passed a standalone measure on March 3 and the Senate tacked on an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorization bill, which passed the upper chamber, each with different offsets to cover the costs of the repeal.
The White House and House and Senate lawmakers across both parties back the elimination of the 1099 provision from the healthcare law but are at odds over how to make up for $22 billion in lost revenue as projected by the Joint Committee on Taxation.
Fate of 1099 repeal still up in the air [The Hill]
It must be survey season so since you kids received the last one so well (surely I jest), we humbly present this latest survey of 1,217 Intuit small business and 1,200 Intuit accountant customers between Oct. 15 – 20, 2010. Thanks, Intuit!
The good news is that there really is no good news but that hasn’t put a damper on survey respondents’ view of things to come. It’s sort of exceptional, in our opinion, that 75 – 80% of respondents feel today’s economic climate is just fair or poor but more than that feel optimistic about opportunities in the future.
In a considerable showing of resilience, 65 percent of accounting professionals and 54 percent of small business owners said their companies grew in the last 12 months. Despite this growth, 75 percent of accounting professionals and 80 percent of small business owners rate today’s economic climate as “just fair” or “poor.”
Both groups expressed optimism for the future, with 94 percent of accounting professionals and 87 percent of small business owners seeing opportunities to grow their businesses in today’s economy.
Well if there are going to be new opportunities once things look up, where are they going to come from? According to respondents, news and technology are the key:
77 percent of accounting professionals said “access to industry news and/or trends” is the most important; “investing in new technology” ranked second.
73 percent of small business owners placed “marketing and/or advertising” as the most important; 57 percent said they plan to focus on “expanding their range of offerings.”
Funny, Sage just asked 533 accountants and IT professionals what keeps them up at night and they responded with getting new clients and regulatory compliance. For Intuit’s respondents, however, client retention ranked higher than finding new ones.
When asked what keeps them up at night, 32 percent of accounting professionals said “keeping clients happy.” For 26 percent of small businesses, “paying bills” is their number one concern.
Fine, so what does all this mean?
“Accounting professionals and small business owners are extremely adaptable and flexible individuals,” said Shawn McMorrough, lead research manager of Intuit’s Accounting Professionals Division. “Despite feeling the pinch in this challenging economic environment, they are optimistic and continue to weather the rapidly shifting business environment. Their unrelenting passion for serving their customers helps accounting professionals and small businesses succeed in the face of any challenge the market presents them.”
Should the rest of the world take that as a good sign that things aren’t as bad as Jr Deputy Accountant, Michael Panzner and the Mogambo Guru might make it seem? It looks that way, though the doomsayers are still in business for the foreseeable future. Yay?
As you know, the bane of small businesses across this great land, the 1099 reporting requirement, was repealed by the Senate earlier this month. Despite some maneuvering amongst Senators to be crowned the biggest champion of small business, it seems that everyone agreed that this little sliver of the healthcare reform bill needed to go.
Now the House has taken up the charge but The Hill reports on a portion of President Obama’s proposed budget that is already annoying the hell out of some:
President Obama’s fiscal year 2012 budget still contains a portion of the 1099 provision while eliminating the requirement for goods but retaining it for services. The proposal is expected to raise about $10 billion over 10 years.
The National Federation of Independent Business blasted the new 1099 proposal as a “bait and switch.”
“We are disappointed that the president has not clearly heard what small businesses are saying,” NFIB senior vice president of Federal Public Policy Susan Eckerly said in a statement. “We at NFIB remain committed to helping the president and Congress understand the needs of small business as the budget process moves forward.”
But before you get your panties in a bunch, the Office of Management and Budget can explain:
“The administration recognizes the burden that this expanded information reporting provision will put on small businesses and proposes to repeal the provision,” the document says. “Instead, the administration proposes that a business be required to file an information return for payments for services or for determinable gains aggregating to $600 or more in a calendar year to a corporation (except a tax-exempt corporation); information returns would not be required for payments for property.”
If you call that an explanation.
The repeal of the 1099 provision in the healthcare reform law has been dogging Congress since the bill was signed into law last March. Because small businesses will no doubt lead the economic recovery, remove all the snow that has dumped on this great land and may just get the Egypt situation under control, every pol within a stone’s throw of the Potomac is trying to get their name on this thing. Nebraska’s Mike Johanns (R) and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin (D) seemed to have this locked up but as we surmised, other Democrats are trying to get in on some of this small business saving action.
Senate Republicans expressed some confusion and approval Wednesday that their push to repeal the unpopular 1099 provision from the healthcare law has been taken over by Democrats.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who has signed onto a bipartisan bill sponsored by Sens. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) that has the support of 61 lawmakers, proposed her own amendment that adds five words to the Johanns-Manchin repeal measure ensuring that no “unobligated funds” are used from the Social Security Administration.
So Senator Stabenow’s little maneuver has her nicely positioned to lay claim as a champion of all the Mom and Pop shops out there and shockingly, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is cool with it:
“It turns out Senator Johanns did such an outstanding job raising awareness about the 1099 requirement that Democrats took the idea and are now claiming it as their own,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said. “Which is fine with us. It’s not a bad precedent actually. We’ve got a lot of other good ideas that we’d be happy to share.”
While Senator McConnell sounds like he’s fine with Stabenow semi-jacking the bill, a staffer was less impressed:
“Dems went from putting it in the bill, to opposing the fix, to sponsoring a different fix, to sponsoring the Republican bill,” one senior Republican aide told The Hill.
Gotta love politics.
Senate Republicans express confusion over 1099 amendment [On the Money/The Hill]
The Hill reports that the new bill has 52 co-sponsors which lead you to believe that this time, repeal will be a cinch:
Senators reintroduced bills that would eliminate the 1099 requirement for businesses to report annual purchases of at least $600 from each vendor. Most Democrats, including the Obama administration, support repealing the provision, but lawmakers have clashed over how to offset the $19 billion in lost revenue.
A bill introduced Tuesday by Sens. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) authorizes the Office of Management and Budget to identify unobligated federal funds to cover the cost of repeal.
“It’s a bad policy; it hurts businesses and it should be repealed, enough said,” Johanns said in a conference call with reporters.
The measure has 52 co-sponsors including 12 Democrats: Sens. Mark Begich (Alaska), Michael Bennet (Colo.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Manchin, Ben Nelson (Neb.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Mark Udall (Colo.), Mark Warner (Va.).
With such an overwhelming show of bipartisan support the only issue now is who will get the credit for saving small business as we know it?
Both parties have seized on the 1099 requirement to score political points. Republicans are posing repeal of 1099 as part of their promise to chip away at the reform law, while Democrats are touting it as a sign of their willingness to improve the current law.
Just for the sake of spiteful mischief, we’re hoping this goes nowhere (any and all theories on how they manage to do that are encouraged). Stay tuned!
Senators introduce bipartisan 1099 repeal bill [On the Money/The Hill]
In case you needed another sign that we are heading full speed towards a stalemate on tax policy, the Representative from Maryland would like to be recognized for calling BS on the popular Republican rhetoric:
“It’s clear that the tax cuts for the folks at the very top have not created any jobs. After all, we’ve had them in place now for more than eight years, and we know what the jobs situation is,” Van Hollen said during an interview Monday on MSNBC.
“The notion that you’ve got to continue them in order to somehow boost the economy, when those are in place right now and we have a lot of people unemployed, is a clear indication that they are not a big job creator.”
Eric Cantor’s rebuttal will sound similar to this:
“Taxes shouldn’t be going up on anybody right now.”
“This election … was really the American people saying they are tired of the lack of results in Washington,” he said. “They want to see more jobs for more Americans. They want to see us … cut government spending, rein in the size of government so we can get this economy growing again. That was the prescription, that was the mandate that came from the people.”
So there’s no middle ground to be found here, guys? No chance you can put down the ideological rhetoric for the sake of, ya know, screwing the American people?
“One item that I think we all agree on that was in the Senate bill, not in the House bill, but became part of the law was 1099, which affects small businesses and small contractors and how they report their transactions. They know what it means, and they know they’d like to see it go. I think that’s probably the first place we could go together.”
~ The soon-to-be former Speaker of the House is willing to talk about this one.
Obama says he’s not caving on tax cuts [CNN]
President Barack Obama declared Friday that his “number one priority” is preserving tax cuts for the middle class, and sharply denied that comments by his senior adviser David Axelrod suggest that his administration is about to cave in to Republicans who also want to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.
“That is the wrong interpretation because I haven’t had a conversation with Democratic and Republican leaders,” Obama said of a Huffington Post article suggesting that in advance of negotiations with lawmakers next week, the White House has calculated that giving in on tax cuts for the rich is the only way to get the middle too.
Companies Would See Big Tax Shifts [WSJ]
Tax-reform plans proposed by President Obama’s deficit-cutting commission would radically change corporate tax policy and, business groups say, could improve U.S. competitiveness in global trade. But they also could create winners and losers among U.S. companies.
Business groups and economists have long sought fundamental changes to the tax code, which hasn’t been overhauled since 1986.
Pwning the social debate [AccMan]
Proceed with caution. Sayeth Dennis Howlett, “If the title of this post bamboozled you, the rest will make your head explode.”
House Dem leaders’ reactions to fiscal panel report differ sharply [The Hill]
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) came out swinging, calling the proposals “simply unacceptable,” while the two men battling to be her deputy, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.) and whip James Clyburn (S.C.), released muted responses. Neither Hoyer nor Clyburn criticized the commission, avoiding a politically explosive set of ideas as they wrestle for support from their Democratic colleagues for the post of minority whip.
Backdating Scandal Ends With a Whimper [DealBook]
“These prosecutions went out with a whimper rather than a bang,” said Christopher J. Clark, a criminal defense lawyer at Dewey LeBoeuf who has done work on backdating cases. “With few convictions and no substantial sentences, juries and the courts simply did not agree with the government’s position that stock option backdating represented a serious financial crime.”
Richard Hatch still surviving life’s rocky road [Providence Journal]
Survivor champ, convicted tax dodger and “l’m living on borrowed 15-minutes-of-fame time” Richard Hatch is now going to be on the Celebrity Apprentice.
A QuickBooks Alternative for the Accounting-Phobic Owner [You’re the Boss/NYT]
Spooked by QuickBooks? WorkingPoint may be the solution for the debit-credit disinclined.
Newsweek, Daily Beast Set Merger [WSJ]
Under the proposed agreement, expected to be disclosed Friday, the two news organizations will be combined in a 50-50 joint venture called the Newsweek Daily Beast Co. The deal comes three weeks after the two sides abandoned talks of a merger over a disagreement about control.
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.
Microsoft is beta testing a new subscription-based product called Office 3 following applications: Microsoft Office Professional Plus (Microsoft’s flagship productivity suite, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other applications); Microsoft Exchange Online (e-mail, mobile access, contacts, anti-virus, and anti-spam); Microsoft Sharepoint Online (collaboration tool for building public or team-based Web sites); and Microsoft Lync Online (an instant messaging and online meeting tool).
In 2011, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online will join the above offerings. This is not Microsoft’s first foray into Cloud-based apps. Anyone with a free SkyDrive account can use the Office Web Apps (browser-based versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) and store up to 25 GB of documents online. Further, Microsoft has been offering subscription plans for the Business Productivity Online Standard Suite that has offered a similar mix of communication products sans Microsoft Office.
Anyone interested can sign up for the beta of either the Small Business or Enterprise versions of the program. Those who are accepted into the beta program receive the desktop version of Office 2010 Professional Plus, along with online access to Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync. Once Office 365 leaves beta, the service should be of particular interest to small business owners.
Exchange and SharePoint typically require dedicated servers, which in turn require specialized information technology expertise. These cloud-based versions will enable just about any business to take advantage of these powerful applications for e-mail, group calendaring, and collaboration.
The Small Business plan will cost $6/user/month for 1 to 25 users and will include:
• Office Web Apps
• Exchange Online, including 25 GB mailboxes, and the ability to send 25 MB attachments
• SharePoint Online
• Lync Online
• Support provided via a moderated community forum
The Enterprise plan will cost $24/user/month and will include:
• Office Professional desktop software
• Office Web Apps
• Exchange Online, including 25 GB mailboxes, and the ability to send 25 MB attachments
• Sharepoint Online, including Forms, Access, Visio, and Excel services
• Lync Online
• 24/7 IT-level phone support
• Financially-backed 99.9% uptime service, or, in other words, downtime of less than 9 hours per year
Larger businesses also will be able to subscribe to a kiosk plan that starts at $2/user/month to offer e-mail, SharePoint sites, and Office Web Apps to workers without dedicated computers. An Office 365 for education will be available in the future to help educational institutions provide services to students without maintaining servers.
Many businesses aren’t yet comfortable with having mission-critical applications and data residing in the Cloud, but this combination of low cost and high flexibility might cause skeptics to pause and consider the possibilities.
About the author:
David Ringstrom, CPA, heads up Accounting Advisors, Inc., an Atlanta-based software and database consulting firm. Contact David at [email protected].
BofA Finds Foreclosure Document Errors [WSJ]
The Charlotte, N.C., lender discovered errors in 10 to 25 out of the first several hundred foreclosure cases it examined starting last Monday. The problems included improper paperwork, lack of signatures and missing files, said people familiar with the results. In certain cases, information about the property and payment history didn’t match.
KPMG investigated over BAE audit [Accountancy Age]
The investigation by the Accountancy and Actuarial Discipline Board (AADB) focus British Aerospace/BAE Systems between 1997 and 2007, looking at commissions paid by BAE to subsidiaries, agents or other companies.
Any professional advice, consultancy or tax work provided to BAE by KPMG during that period will also come under the microscope in relation to commission payments. The investigation will focus on commissions connected to three legal entities: Red Diamond Trading; Poseidon Trading Investments; and Novelmight.
Key Tax Breaks at Risk as Panel Looks at Cuts [WSJ]
The tax benefits are hugely popular with the public but they have drawn the panel’s focus, in part because the White House has said these and other breaks cost the government about $1 trillion a year.
At stake, in addition to the mortgage-interest deductions, are child tax credits and the ability of employees to pay their portion of their health-insurance tab with pretax dollars. Commission officials are expected to look at preserving these breaks but at a lower level, according to people familiar with the matter.
Harry Reid Voted to Raise Taxes ‘Only’ 51 Times [TaxProf Blog]
Apparently there was some talk that it was actually in the ballpark of 300.
Reflections on the Basel Committee Principles for Enhancing Corporate Governance [Marks on Governance/IIA]
News you can use.
Business leaders press administration for repeat on tax break [On the Money/The Hill]
The National Association of Manufacturers and other groups argue allowing companies to “repatriate” money earned abroad to the U.S. at a lower tax rate could spur the economy by providing businesses with a burst of cash they could invest in their companies.
“The business community is looking at ways to jumpstart the economic recovery and here is one you could do without increasing the deficit,” Dorothy Coleman, vice president of tax and domestic economic policy for the manufacturers.
PwC slates FRC idea to create Big Five [Accountancy Age]
Paul Woolston, head of public sector assurance at PwC, criticised the Financial Reporting Council’s suggestion the Audit Commission be used to create a fifth player in the audit industry, currently dominated by the Big Four – PwC, Ernst & Young, Deloitte and KPMG.
“It is at least ironic that the FRC has said what it has, in that the Audit Commission itself has operated with a large monopoly,” he said.
“It is odd that the FRC is concerned about any one organisation having the market share.”
SEC Aims to Streamline Complaint Process [WSJ]
The launch is a step in the agency’s efforts to avoid bottlenecks and duplication in the handling of complaints, which traditionally have been fielded by individual SEC offices and filed there. Complicating matters is the variety of forms in which such complaints come—mail, phone calls, emails and interviews.
“This process is going to ensure that it’s all transferred into a structured format so that it can be more easily searched and analyzed,” Robert Khuzami, director of enforcement, said in an interview.
“We will have all of it in one place, searchable, which will do a lot for us in the long run,” he said.
Thus Far under Obama, the Only Individuals Paying Higher Taxes Are Smokers and Tanners, But They May Have Company Soon [Tax Foundation]
Jersey Shore quips go here.
Tax Cuts Slide To Back Burner On Campaign Trail [WSJ]
It’s a sign that a decision by Democratic leaders, to put off a vote on extending the tax cuts until after the Nov. 2 elections, may be paying off politically.
“It’s harder to write an ad portraying a vote that hasn’t happened yet,” said Brian Gaston, a former senior aide to House GOP leaders and now a lobbyist at the Glover Park Group.
Google 2.4% Rate Shows How $60 Billion Lost to Tax Loopholes [Bloomberg]
Google y $3.1 billion in the last three years using a technique that moves most of its foreign profits through Ireland and the Netherlands to Bermuda.
Google’s income shifting — involving strategies known to lawyers as the “Double Irish” and the “Dutch Sandwich” — helped reduce its overseas tax rate to 2.4 percent, the lowest of the top five U.S. technology companies by market capitalization, according to regulatory filings in six countries.
TUI Travel CFO Quits After Accounting Error [Dow Jones]
In an embarrassing admission, the company said an ongoing audit for the fiscal year ended September 2010 had highlighted the accounting error in the integration of IT systems in its U.K. mainstream business that had accrued over a period of four to five years and which increased its total write-off for 2009 from GBP29 million to GBP117 million.
Chief Executive Peter Long told Dow Jones Newswires that the issue had been identified when it reported its third-quarter results but continued to investigate the matter and “only last night were we able to determine the scale of the problem.”
Banks Clueless on Foreclosure Mess Severity [Jonathan Weil/Bloomberg]
The biggest U.S. mortgage lenders and servicers say they’re putting the foreclosure mess behind them, and that it never was a major problem. The reality is these companies are so big and unmanageable, the people in charge of running them have no way to know if that is true.
One thing that remains unknowable is how many flawed home- mortgage records and foreclosure proceedings are out there waiting to be unearthed. Dozens of federal and state agencies are investigating. It’s anyone’s guess what they might turn up.
NJ man cashes $158G check IRS mistakenly sent him [Asbury Park Press]
He figured no one would notice.
For ‘B-to-B’ Companies, Finding Facebook ‘Friends’ Can Be a Struggle [WSJ]
These days, even small “business-to-business” concerns like Bill.com are experimenting with social media, perceiving the popular online hangouts as low-cost, easy-to-use venues for attracting new customers and retaining existing ones. But unlike their consumer-focused counterparts—retailers that sell smartphones, jeans, games and other personal products—so-called B-to-B businesses seem to be having a harder time connecting with their target audience.
Some IRS agents carry guns, too, agents tell UAB accounting student group [Birmingham News]
“My first day on the job, I thought, ‘Why are they carrying guns?'” said Donald Smith, a UAB graduate and special agent with the IRS-Criminal Investigation unit.
Korea wants G20 to delay accounting standard consolidation [Korea Times]
Apparently they have a say in the matter
If you’ve suspected that complying with federal regulations is particularly onerous for small businesses, a new report from none other than the US Small Business Administration will provide you with plenty of new ammunition.
The report, called the Impact of Regulatory Costs on Small Firms and written by the SBA’s Office of Advocacy, estimates just how much it costs very small, smallish and big companies to follow the rules. The conclusion is that businesses with under 20 employees pay the most per worker–$10,585 per employee each year. The cost for businesses with 20 to 499 employees is $7,454 and for firms with 500 and more employees, $7,755.
The reason, of course, is the matter of fixed costs. A small business incurs about the same expense as a larger one. But the big guys can spread the expenses over more revenue, output, and employees, resulting in lower costs per unit of output.
The report, which looked at data from 2008, found that small businesses with under 20 employees pay the most to comply with environmental, tax, and occupational safety and health and homeland security regulations. Most notably, the cost per employee for environmental compliance is $4,101 compared to $883 for the biggest companies.
Clearly the unequal burden of regulatory compliance makes life a lot harder for small businesses and, in fact, serves to undercut their ability to compete. “This potentially causes inefficiencies in the structure of American enterprise, and the relocation of production facilities to less regulated countries, and adversely affects the international competitiveness of domestically produced American products and services,” says the report. “All of these effects, of course, would have negative consequences for the US labor market and national income.”
Still the report didn’t comment on the benefits of regulations. That’s another issue entirely. In fact, just because they cost a lot doesn’t therefore mean the rules shouldn’t exist. It does, however, indicate that something is very wrong with the way they’re applied–and that, for small companies to thrive, change is imperative.
According to the report, economic regulations, which include things like rules related to tariffs, are the only area where large firms have the highest cost. That is due, in part, to the Regulatory Flexibility Act, which requires agencies “to assess the effect of regulations on small businesses and to mitigate undue burdens, including exemptions and relaxed phase-in schedules.” The RFA, says the report, has been particularly effective in shielding small businesses from the cost of complying with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
Seems there should be a significantly more concerted effort to exempt small businesses from certain regulations or, at least, to help with compliance efforts. Some 89 percent of all companies in the US employ fewer than 20 people. If the cost of complying with regulations is really egregiously high for the vast majority of companies simply due to their size, it’s incumbent upon the rule-makers to do something about it.
Analyzing the Small-Business Tax Hysteria [You’re the Boss/NYT]
“The rhetoric on this subject has become counterproductive. It can’t be helping consumer confidence, and it’s certainly not creating any jobs. In what used to be a running joke on ‘The Simpsons,’ whenever trouble arose, Reverend Lovejoy’s wife would shriek, ‘Won’t somebody please think of the children?!!!’ The emerging counterpart to that cry in our real-life politics seems to be, ‘Won’t somebody please think of the small businesses!’ ”