December 2, 2021

Taxes

Romanian Witches Use Cat Crap, Canine Corpses to Protest Taxes

The Tea Party is a buncha amateurs.

From the organization formerly known as National Public Radio:

Angry witches are using cat excrement and dead dogs to cast spells on the president and government who are forcing them to pay taxes. Also in the eye of the taxman are fortune tellers, who should have seen it coming.

And President Traian Basescu isn’t laughing it off. In a country where superstition is mainstream, the president and his aides wear purple on Thursdays, allegedly to ward off evil spirits.

And you can bet an eye of a newt that this is serious:

Queen witch Bratara Buzea, 63, who was imprisoned in 1977 for witchcraft under Ceausescu’s repressive communist regime, is furious about the new law.

Sitting cross-legged in her villa in the lake resort of Mogosoaia, just north of Bucharest, she said Wednesday she planned to cast a spell using a particularly effective concoction of cat excrement, a dead dog and a chorus of witches.

“We do harm to those who harm us,” she said. “They want to take the country out of this crisis using us? They should get us out of the crisis because they brought us into it.”

‘My curses always work!” she cackled in a smoky voice. She sat next to her wood-burning stove, surrounded by potions, charms, holy water and ceramic pots.

Angry Witches Cast Spells To Protest Romanian Taxes [NPR via DB]
Earlier:
Just So You’re Aware: Romanian Pols Vote Down Witch Tax Due to Curse Risk

Doing It Wrong Twitter Case Study: The Over-Excited Federal Taxation Agency

Without naming names (I’ll give you a hint, it starts with I and ends in S), sometimes agencies get a little too excited when it comes to social media and make the mistake of jumping in head first without analyzing their target audience’s needs. In the case of the IRS, they’re forgetting that tax dodgers know they use Twitter and Facebook to track down tax evaders (hey, if you’re dumb enough to tweet about your five years of unfiled returns, you totally have it coming) and therefore also forgetting that this might turn a few potential followers off from their feeds.

Despite that, the IRS is happy to announce several new Twitter feeds, including one specifically for Spanish-speaking taxpayers. Hola!

The IRS Twitter news feed, @IRSnews, provides the latest federal tax news and information for taxpayers. The focus of the IRS Twitter messages will be on easy-to-use information, including tax tips, tax law changes and important IRS programs such as e-file, the earned income tax credit and “Where’s My Refund.” Anyone with a Twitter account can follow @IRSnews by going to http://twitter.com/IRSnews.

Another important IRS Twitter feed, @IRStaxpros, is designed for the tax professional community. Follow @IRStaxpros by going to http://twitter.com/IRStaxpros. The IRS also tweets tax news and information in Spanish at @IRSenEspanol. Follow this Twitter feed by going to http://twitter.com/IRSenEspanol.

The IRS Twitter feeds will work in conjunction with IRS.gov and the IRS YouTube channels to bring IRS information direct to taxpayers. Since August of 2009, there have been more than 1 million views of videos on the IRSvideos (http://www.youtube.com/irsvideos), IRS multilingual (http://www.youtube.com/user/IRSvideosmultilingua) and IRS American Sign Language (ASL) (http://www.youtube.com/IRSvideosASL) channels.

What’s doing it wrong about this? Maybe the fact that the IRS keeps pumping out Twitter feeds a la PwC (who, last time I checked, had a good 30 – 50 Twitter accounts, each with a varying specialty) but still hasn’t learned how to engage, which is an important component to social media as any of us with half a social media brain already know. Twitter users don’t want to be shouted at, they generally want to interact! If I want tax news, I’m far more likely to follow Don’t Mess With Taxes and get it from her instead of wasting my time plugging into a spammy news feed run by our almighty Treasury Department.

Just sayin.

Should Derek Jeter Be Asking for a Stake in the Yankees?

Fay Vincent is making the suggestion that sports stars, like DJ, should be negotiating for shares of their respective teams.

My question is why sports figures are not taking steps to generate tax-favored income by bargaining to get ownership interests in their teams. Imagine how much better off old timers like Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris would have been if they had been able to obtain even tiny shares of the Yankees franchise in 1961. In today’s context, it is true enough that the tax rate on capital gains income may soon rise to 20%—but that’s still far below the rates levied on top income earners.

Since Vincent – a former entertainment lawyer – has been around the block with big-time earners, he might be on to something here, although maybe the Steinbrenners aren’t interested, being the shrewd business family that they are (George died in a year with no estate tax for crissakes). Since neither Jeets nor the Yanks are budging in the negotiations, this idea could work. It’ been floated in the Times so it’s not like this option is a huge secret. Make something happen, people.

By most accounts, Jeter wants to finish his career in New York and the man has been the franchise for over the last decade. Forget the cash, ask for shares and save on some taxes. It’s not complicated.

Okay, maybe it’s a little complicated.

Chris Van Hollen Isn’t Buying the “Tax Cuts Create Jobs” Story

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?

Van Hollen: Tax cuts for wealthy ‘not a big job creator’ [The Hill]

Fiscal Chickenhawks

“I’m not sure who invented the term ‘deficit hawk,’ but it seems an odd name for a creature too chicken to raise taxes.”

~ Nancy Folbre, economics professor the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Warren Buffett Still Stuck in His Way Re: Taxes

You know how old people can get.

[via TaxProf]

From Traditional IRA to Roth IRA: New Rollover Rules

For years prior to 2010, only taxpayers with modified AGI of $100,000 or less generally were permitted to convert a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA. For years beginning in 2010 and after, the AGI limitation has been eliminated. Thus, regardless of AGI, all otherwise eligible taxpayers will be allowed to convert an IRA to a Roth IRA. The amount converted is includible in income as if a withdrawal had been made, but no early withdrawal penalties are assessed.


Two-year income spread if conversion done in 2010 – For conversions occurring in 2010, unless a taxpayer elects otherwise, none of the amount is includible in gross income in 2010, with half of the income resulting from the conversion includible in gross income in 2011 and h, income inclusion is accelerated if converted amounts are distributed before 2012. In that case, the amount included in income in the year of the distribution is increased by the amount distributed, and the amount included in income in 2012 (or 2011 and 2012 in the case of a distribution in 2010) is the lesser of: (1) half of the amount includible in income as a result of the conversion; and (2) the remaining portion of such amount not already included in income. The following example illustrates the application of the accelerated inclusion rule.

Example – Betty has a traditional IRA with a value of $100,000 consisting of deductible contributions and earnings. Betty does not have a Roth IRA. She converts the traditional IRA to a Roth IRA in 2010, and as a result of the conversion, $100,000 is includible in gross income. Unless Betty elects otherwise, $50,000 of the income resulting from the conversion is included in income in 2011 and $50,000 in 2012.

Later in 2010, Betty takes a $20,000 distribution, which is not a qualified distribution and all of which, under the ordering rules, is attributable to amounts includible in gross income as a result of the conversion. Under the accelerated inclusion rule, $20,000 is included in income in 2010.

The amount included in income in 2011 is the lesser of (1) $50,000 (half of the income resulting from the conversion); or (2) $80,000 (the remaining income from the conversion). The amount included in income in 2012 is the lesser of (1) $50,000 (half of the income resulting from the conversion), or (2) $30,000 (the remaining income from the conversion, i.e., $100,000 – $70,000 ($20,000 included in income in 2010 and $50,000 included in income in 2011)).

Preparer note – While you cannot elect out of the two year spread on only a portion of the conversion income in 2010 (it’s an all or nothing election), husband and wife may each make separate elections for their individual IRA accounts. For example, a wife could elect to report her conversion income in 2010 and her husband could report his 2010 conversion income in 2011 and 2012. This may result a better spread of the income. The same taxpayer is allowed to make separate elections for separate IRA accounts.

If you need guidance on answering the question, “should my client convert to a Roth?” check out CPE Link’s Federal Tax Update: Part 2 webcast scheduled November-January.. You’ll get a myriad of planning ideas and even access to a simple, but sophisticated, calculator. (Note: The above information was excerpted from Vern Hoven’s manual used in the webcast.) In addition to coverage of the IRA & Individual Retirement area, you’ll get an update on Real Estate & Investment, and Estates, Trusts & Beneficiaries.

Lame Duck Tax Policy Prognostication

From tax policy cynic Joe Kristan:

It’s unlikely that the lame ducks will accomplish much.

Jesus, that’s no way to start.

I expect an AMT patch to pass (though you should bet the other way if they offer points). I would bet against the extenders getting past the lame ducks, though it could happen. Action on the Bush tax cuts and the estate tax seems unlikely to me. It would require a triumphal GOP to work out a deal with a President whose response to disagreement so far has been to repeat himself slower and louder. The same dynamics bode poorly for the next Congress when it meets in January.

After such an ugly campaign, we wouldn’t put it past a bunch of losers (read: Democrats) to spite the entire country just because they couldn’t effectively communicate any accomplishments from the past two years. Of course, that’s us being cynical to a fault.

Thinking a little more practically, we agree with Joe on his AMT patch prediction. The rules are such a mess that it could stand a complete overhaul but we realize that’s nothing short of water into wine with less than two months left in 2010.

As far as the tax cuts are concerned, the shred of political capital that the members of Congress who will remain in DC have left simply cannot be lost. And besides, the President and Congress fundamentally agree on a major portion of the policy – that is, to extend tax cuts for the middle class. Again, this could be a pipe dream, but compromising on the extension of the cuts for the wealthiest Americans for two years seems like a simple solution (as bad of an idea as it is).

As for the estate tax – it’s toast. No one seems to give a shit about it except for Jon Kyl but once the first decrepit billionaire (who is unwilling to pull the plug on themselves) kicks the bucket in 2011, thus paying 55% tax on the estate, it will only take one phone call and Congress will spring into action.

Sigh. Place your bets.

Earlier:
After Tomorrow, a Bunch of Losers Will Have to Quit Their Pouting and Come Up with Some Tax Policy Solutions

Jacques Cousteau’s Son Owes IRS $3 Million

Robert Snell over at the Tax Watchdog has another tax delinquent scoop and for the first time – as far as we can remember – it involves a dashing adventurous type as opposed to your run-of-the-mill hip-hop artist or Nicolas Cage.


Jean-Michel Cousteau (whose beard has to be the inspiration for Steve Zissou, even though the film is a parody of the old man) owes the IRS and the State of California around $3 million from a slew of liens:

• The IRS filed a $109,768 lien against him July 20.
• The IRS filed a $480,061 lien June 22.
• The IRS filed a $600,076 lien June 15.
• The state of California filed a $60,198 lien against him April 29.
• The IRS filed a $212,748 lien Dec. 16, 2009.
• The IRS filed a $238,852 lien Oct. 15, 2009.
• The state of California filed a $41,860 lien Oct. 8, 2009.
• The IRS filed a $193,496 lien April 14, 2009.
• The IRS filed a $187,423 lien April 14, 2009.
• The IRS filed a $518,227 lien April 6, 2009.
• The IRS filed a $396,586 lien Feb. 1, 2008.

Jesus, man. No room for a CPA on your boats? We realize that some have weight issues which could cause a problem but just throw them in the water regularly and they’ll shed the extra pounds in no time.

Ocean explorer underwater on taxes [Tax Watchdog]

Study: Rich People Getting the Pleasure of Assisting Governments Increase Revenues Worldwide

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.

The worldwide decline in top personal income tax rates over the past seven years generally appears to have come to an end, as this year’s average rate increased 0.3 percent globally, according to KPMG International’s 2010 Individual Income Tax and Social Security Rate Report, released this we remained static in most locations, including the United States, the finding of an upward moving trend in the KPMG report suggests some governments are beginning to opt for a personal tax rate increase to help combat deficits and raise additional revenue.

“In the current economic environment, as many countries are faced with increasing budget deficits, they need funding for various economic stimulus packages,” said Ben Garfunkel, national partner in charge of KPMG LLP’s (U.S.) International Executive Services practice. “Our study indicates that many of these countries are levying tax increases on their highest earning taxpayers in order to increase revenue. We also see governments becoming increasingly sophisticated and rigorous in the framing and application of their tax rules.”


According to the KPMG report, the majority of rate movement in 2010 originated in Europe. The United Kingdom implemented a 10 percent increase raising its top rate from 40 percent in 2009-10 to 50 percent in 2010-11 — the highest rate increase seen globally this year.

Other Western European governments have followed suit in an attempt to increase tax revenues. Iceland, amid the collapse of the banking sector, replaced its flat tax regime with a progressive approach raising the top personal income tax rate by approximately nine percent.

Greece, in response to public deficit concerns, raised its top rate by five percent. Portugal, and, most recently, France raised top rates by three percent and one percent, respectively, to help address budget shortfalls. Ireland’s top rate also increased by one percent in 2010.

Striking the Right Balance

“Personal tax rates can be a crucial deciding factor when evaluating where to locate workforces or the costs associated with international assignment programs,” said Garfunkel. “Tax authorities are trying to strike the right balance as they face increasing pressure to identify and secure greater revenues, while also trying to attract businesses to set up operations in their country.

“High income earners typically have the talent and credentials to migrate to countries that have lower personal income tax rates and a need for skilled labor,” added Garfunkel. “Attracting such individuals — including their tax revenues and disposable income — using a competitive personal tax rate, while also trying to address budget deficits, is a challenge, especially in the current economic environment.”

Top Rates Decrease in Some Countries

Some countries are decreasing their top personal income tax rates. Denmark opted to introduce a stimulus package in hopes of increasing consumer spending and as a result, decreased its top rate by almost seven percent. Croatia, this past July, also dropped its top rate by five percent.

Other report findings include:

• The low flat tax initiatives of Eastern European governments have stagnated. Estonia has abolished its plan to reduce its flat tax rate to 18 percent by 2012, while Latvia increased its flat tax from 23 percent in 2009 to 26 percent in 2010.

•Average top rates in Asia-Pacific declined by 0.4 percent in 2010. New Zealand and Malaysia dropped their rates by five percent and one percent respectively.

•Although the average rates for Latin America jumped 0.8 percent in 2010, personal income taxes continue to remain relatively low in Latin America.

Paul Hogan Returns to Australia to Bury His Mother and Now Australia Won’t Let Him Leave

And you thought the IRS was a bunch of cold SOBs.

To be fair, the Aussies are pretty bent out of shape over the long-running dispute over taxes owed on Mick’s $37+ million in earnings. Hogan has responded to all the Australian Taxation Office’s requests with a consistent “blow me” which probably hasn’t gone over to well Down Under.

Actor Paul Hogan, best known for playing an outback hunter in the “Crocodile Dundee” movies, has been stopped from leaving Australia until he pays a multi-million dollar tax bill, according to his lawyer.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) served U.S.-based Hogan with a departure prohibition order when he returned to Sydney last Friday for the funeral of his 101-year-old mother Florence, his lawyer Andrew Robinson said in a statement.

This prevents the 70-year-old actor from leaving Australia until any alleged tax debts are paid or arrangements made for the tax liability to be discharged.

Taxman bars Crocodile Dundee from leaving Australia [Reuters]

Paging Tea Party Members…

“If you wanted to irritate the raise-taxes folks with tax-hiking proposals designed to nettle and sting their tender flanks, what would you do?”

~ James Lileks puts it out there. His example was taxing professors on their tenure. Ironically, this comes via TaxProf Paul Caron. If you’ve got ideas, leave them below.

Sometimes Billionaires Get Bad Tax Advice, Just Like Us!

It’s probably safe to say that billionaire hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman doesn’t get poor service very often. As the founder of Omega Advisors and #655 by Forbes‘ last count, the man has arguably earned the right to demand only the best, especially when it comes to something as important as tax services.

Howthat Cooperman is just the latest billionaire to have tax issues (McCombs, Anschutz have had troubles recently) that might cause a less prudent mega-rich person to flip their lid (e.g. Ted Turner, Steve Jobs).

Cooperman recently received a letter from the IRS informing him that despite the generous gift of $43 million to his own foundation, the contribution could not be allowed because the donation was a non-marketable security made to a private foundation, which is not allowed by the IRS. Had he made the donation to say, NORML (he looks like he could get behind it, couldn’t he?), or some other public charity everything would have been hunky-dory.


Unfortunately for Mr Cooperman, this isn’t the case and the IRS sent him a bill for $14 million in back taxes and $5 million in penalties. Understandably, this aggression will not stand and the “plain-speaking” Coop has taken the case to court to insist that he relied on his accountants to get this shit right. It’s complicated, after all. It’s not about the money, it’s the principle. Coop would gladly schlep in suitcases of consecutively numbered hundos to settle this here and now but the penalties are uncalled for and he’s bound and determined to prove that. But who actually is to blame?

The lawsuit says Cooperman’s two personal returns claiming the deductions were prepared by his longtime accountant, Mark I. Gittelman, a CPA with Gittelman & Co., Clifton, N.J. The formal appraisals to support the claimed deductions were done by RSM Business Services and Duff & Phelps, Cooperman’s suit adds.

[…]

McGladrey does tax work for other Cooperman entities, including his hedge fund, Omega Advisors. Cooperman told Forbes that McGladrey knew he was planning to donate a nonmarketable security to his private foundation and take a deduction when the firm rendered its appraisal for a fee that Cooperman said was about $20,000.

Again, the money isn’t important but for crissakes, McGladrey, you just don’t half-ass your work for Leon Cooperman. Forbes was all over this issue back in ’04. Where were you in 2004? Stumping for John Kerry?

Of course we all know where this is eventually going – litigation! When rich people get wronged, someone inevitably pays and it sounds like LC is happy to sit tight and let the tax court do its thing. Once that’s resolved, he’ll turn his sights towards the responsible parties:

Cooperman clearly is thinking about malpractice litigation. He acknowledged McGladrey is likely to assert it didn’t prepare or sign the tax returns with the disallowed deductions, although the firm’s formal appraisal was attached.

Best of luck to everyone involved!

Billionaire Leon Cooperman: I Got Bad Tax Advice [Forbes]

Here’s Why Nikki Haley’s Late Tax Returns Aren’t a Big Deal

Reportedly, South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley likes to cite her experience as an accountant on the campaign trail.

That’s all well and good but now there are reports all over the web that Ms Haley has a helluva time filing her taxes on time and that she and her husband racked up some fines because of their tardiness. This, of course, has people freaking out because A) she’s running for public office and B) because she’s an accountant.


The AP reports, “Tax records released Wednesday by Haley’s campaign show she and her husband have filed their taxes late since at least 2004. Haley is a fiscal conservative and tea party favorite who cites her experience as an accountant on the campaign trail. The state legislator and her husband have been fined nearly $4,500 over five years. Haley’s spokesman Rob Godfrey says the Haleys filed extensions when necessary and have paid what was required.”

What the AP doesn’t tell you, that everyone in the biz knows, is that accountants like Haley likely don’t know a damn thing about taxes. There’s nothing to indicate that she has work experience as a tax accountant. It’s a common misconception amongst non-beancounters that accountant = tax genius. Obviously this is bullshit and that the truth of the matter is that most non-tax accountants would rather chew broken glass than even consider picking up a Master Tax Guide.

Further, since Haley and her husband’s income has nearly tripled since the year she was elected to the SC house, they probably started using a CPA and got used to blowing off their taxes until October. Happens all the time.

Besides, since Ms Haley is endorsed by Sarah Palin and the Tea Party, this can only strengthen her base with these people. They only wish they had the money and the fortitude to blow off their tax responsibilities like Ms Haley.

Records: SC gov candidate Haley paid taxes late [AP]

Accounting News Roundup: Mazars Would Like to See More Competition in the Audit Market; Citi CFO Settles with SEC; Colbert on Tax Cuts | 07.30.10

Auditors don’t know the meaning of ‘competition’ [FT]
In a letter to the Financial Times, David Herbinet, the UK Head of Public Interest Markets for Mazars, takes issue with the notion (he says ‘puzzled’) that there is robust competition in the audit market, “Figures calculated from the most authoritative research available – the Oxera report that first spurred examination of the issue – show that a FTSE 100 auditor can on average expect to remain in place for an eye-watering 48 years and their FTSE 250 counterpart for 36 years. When the research was conducted more than 70 per cent of the FTSE 100 audits had not been subject to tender for at over, 97 per cent of current FTSE 350 audits are held by just four firms. If this represents fierce competition I would not like to see a stagnant market.”

Facebook Said to Put Off IPO Until 2012 to Buy Time for Growth [Bloomberg]
“Facebook Inc. will probably put off its initial public offering until 2012, giving Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg more time to gain users and boost sales, three people familiar with the matter said.

Facebook would benefit from another year of growth absent the added scrutiny that comes with a public listing, instead of holding an IPO in 2011 as investors speculated, said the people, who asked not to be identified because Facebook doesn’t discuss share-sale plans. Still, Zuckerberg, who holds board control, could push for a stock sale at any time, they said.”

U.S. Financial System Still at Risk, Says IMF [WSJ]
Get RIGHT out of town. “The International Monetary Fund says the U.S. financial system is “slowly recovering,” but remains vulnerable to crisis, in part because Congress and the administration have failed to streamline a regulatory system marked by turf battles and overlapping responsibilities.

‘We asked many times why bolder action could not be undertaken,’ said the IMF’s Christopher Towe, who oversaw the agency’s first broad review of the U.S. financial sector.”

SEC Charges Citigroup and Two Executives for Misleading Investors About Exposure to Subprime Mortgage Assets [SEC]
That includes former CFO Gary Crittenden who agreed to pay a $100,000 fine.


Colbert on the Expiration of the Bush Tax Cuts [TaxProf]

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
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John Kerry Is Paying the Taxes on His Yacht, Would Appreciate It if Everyone Changed the Subject

Talk about wearing the guy thin.

Moral of the story? Call for an investigation of a wealthy guy – a wealthy Senator – with a wealthier wife and he’ll gladly cut a check to get you to shut the hell up.

Chris Tucker Is Making a Run at Nicolas Cage-Level Tax Trouble

Maybe! CT owes the Treasury $11.5 million for back taxes, according to reports. This covers the 2001-2002, 2004-2006 tax years.

This sum nips on the heels of the $14 million that Nic Cage paid the Feds last year (and the $3.8 million he owes California for this year). In addition to the sum due to Shulman & Co., Tucker owed California $3.5 million last year, so, clearly, we’ve got ourselves a race here.

The difference is that NC has been working, which gives him a glimmer of hope of being in full compliance.


Tucker hasn’t been in a film since Rush Hour 3 in 2007 which, as some have pointed out, may be extremely good news for fans of that particular franchise.

Chris Tucker — 11 Million Tax Problems [TMZ]

John Kerry Saves $500k in Taxes By Dropping Anchor in Rhode Island

Don’t any of you get the idea that John Kerry is docking his new $7 million yacht in Rhode Island to navigate around Massachusetts’ sales tax and the annual excise tax. That would be, in a word, ludicrous.


“Kerry spokesman David Wade said Friday the boat is being kept at Newport Shipyard not to evade taxes, but ‘for long-term maintenance, upkeep and charter purposes.’ ”

And Rhode Island is the Ocean State, so it makes perfect sense. “Isabel” is a 76′ beaut that has “two cabins, a pilot house fitted with a wet bar and cold wine storage.” A pretty swell ride.

It’s difficult to say why the Mass. Senator wouldn’t park the vessel near home base but we’d be willing to hear some theories.

Mass. Sen. Kerry docks yacht in RI, saving $500K [AP]
Sen. John Kerry skips town on sails tax [Boston Herald via TaxProf]

Accounting News Roundup: Rangel Found to Have Violated Ethics Rules; Friends of “Miami’s Go-to Forensic Accountant” Ask for Leniency; A “Refreshing” Settlement | 07.23.10

Rep. Charles Rangel broke ethics rules, House panel finds [WaPo]
“A House ethics subcommittee announced Thursday that it found that Rep. Charles B. Rangel violated congressional ethics rules and that it will prrobably beginning in September. The panel is expected to make the details of his alleged violations public next Thursday.

Rangel (D-N.Y.) has been under the House ethics committee’s microscope since early 2008 after it was reported that he may have used his House position to benefit his financial interests. Two of the most serious inquiries have focused on Rangel’s failure to declare $239,000 to $831,000 in assets on his disclosure forms, and on his effort to raise money for a private center named after him at City College of New York using his congressional letterhead.”

Geithner: Taxes on Wealthiest to Rise [WSJ]
“The Obama administration will allow tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to expire on schedule, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Thursday, setting up a clash with Republicans and a small but vocal group of Democrats who want to delay the looming tax increases.

Mr. Geithner said the White House would allow taxes on top earners to increase in 2011 as part of an effort to bring down the U.S. budget deficit. He said the White House plans to extend expiring tax cuts for middle- and lower-income Americans, and expects to undertake a broader revision of the tax code next year.

‘We believe it is appropriate to let those tax cuts that go to the most fortunate expire,’ Mr. Geithner said at a breakfast with reporters.”

FASB Requires More Disclosures Around Credit Risk [Compliance Week]
Accounting Standards Update No. 2010-20, Receivables (Topic 310) calls for more credit risk disclosures to give investors a better view of the credit risk in a company’s portfolio of receivables as well as the adequacy of its allowance for credit losses. Under the update, companies will be required to say more about aging receivables and credit quality indicators in particular.

The new disclosure requirements affect financing receivables and trade accounts receivable, including loans, trade accounts receivable that are greater than a year old, notes receivable, credit cards and receivables for certain leases. The new disclosure requirement does not affect short-term trade accounts receivable, receivables that are measured at fair value or the lower of cost or fair value, and debt securities.”


Convicted accountant Lewis Freeman’s friends urge leniency [Miami Herald]
“Miami’s go-to forensic accountant” Lewis Freeman is to be sentenced today for stealing nearly $3 million from victims of fraud who he was appointed to protect. He faces a dozen to fifteen years in prison but his friends and supporters have turned on the pity party, sending nearly 300 letters to Judge Paul Huck, asking for leniency.

“[E]very one of those letter writers also asks the judge to show mercy, emphasizing that the affable New York native should not have to languish in prison because he has done so much for institutions like his alma mater, the University of Miami, Miami Children’s Hospital and the Miami Children’s Museum, among others.”

No need for non-audit ban, regulator claims [Accountancy Age]
“Accountants will not have to give up their non-audit work for audit clients, under proposed guidelines released today, which have not recommended an outright ban, suggested by politicians in the wake of the financial crisis.

The Auditing Practices Board, of the Financial Reporting Council, which publishes guidance for auditors, does not believe an outright ban on non-audit services should be enacted and has instead proposed to tinker with present disclosure requirements.”

Could This Be a Real Deterrent? [Floyd Norris/NYT]
Despite the usual fare in the SEC’s settlement yesterday, Floyd Norris writes that the $4 million fine for Michael Dell and other executives is “refreshing.”

Being a Former 007 Does Not Entitle Sean Connery to a ‘License to Not Pay Taxes’

Meant to get this out there on Friday but you know how it is. Anyhoo, everyone’s favorite Bond-turned-Darrell Hammond impersonated celebrity, Sir Sean Connery is having a bit of tax trouble in the country now known as the World Cup champions:

Legendary James Bond actor Sean Connery is being investigated for alleged tax fraud involving the sale of two large tracts of land in Spain.

Investigators say a property firm linked to the 79-year-old actor failed to pay taxes after he and his second wife sold land they owned on the outskirts of Malaga, Spain

The fact that the Connerys haven’t been arrested and are merely celebrities being investigated because some real estate companies involved in some shady dealings should be enough evidence to indicate that celebrity news is waning in the dog days of summer. Dr. Henry Jones wasn’t quote in the Daily Mail’s story but we’re hopeful that, if asked, it would go more or less go like this:

Man Attempts to Pay $6,400 Tax with Kiddie Pool Full of Pennies

God bless our friends to the North. If you can’t have a sense of humor about this stuff, you’re likely to do something stupid like, say, join the Tea Party:

A Quebec man, fed up with his skyrocketing property taxes, carted more than 200,000 pennies down to City Hall to pay his bill. But he was denied, and asked to simply cut a cheque.

Normand Czepial of Ripon, Que. — less than an hour’s drive northeast of Gatineau — arrived at City Hall on Wednesday with a children’s pool filled with 213,625 pennies.


Now we’re wondering – did Normand roll into his bank that morning to make the withdrawal and demand the smallest denomination possible or had he been saving all the copper coins his entire life for this exact moment?

Whichever it is, we applaud this particular brand of awesome. The only beef we have this move is that he used the kiddie pool to schelp the pennies down to City Hall. What the hell, man? Depriving your kids of fun in the middle of summer? Sure you’re a little bit of smartass (which we like) but it appears also a bit of dick in the Dad Department. Not cool.

Czepial’s property tax bill reportedly rose by nearly $4,000 dollars last year to $6,400. Czepial tried to pay with pennies to protest the hike.

Ripon Mayor Luc Desjardins was surprised to see the stunt, but had to tell Czepial to find another way to pay his bill.

Under the Currency Act, nobody is obliged to accept more than 25 pennies as payment for any product or service. Normand Czepial, unfortunately, was 213,600 over the limit.

Even the Toronto Sun is throwing around the jokes! Everyone that is threatening to move to Canada given a particular election of [insert hated political figure] should take note that it sounds kinda fun up there!

Man tries to pay tax with 200,000 pennies [Toronto Sun via TaxProf]

Can Someone Give Wesley Snipes a Hug?

Because the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruined his day, “The district court acted well within its considerable discretion in sentencing Snipes to thirty-six months in prison.”

WS was looking for probation for his conviction of willful failure to file federal income tax returns.


wes snipes

[h/t White Collar Crime y TaxProf]

Add “Slapped with Tax Lien” to Lil Wayne’s Accomplishments While in Prison

Robert Snell over at Tax Watchdog tell us about Lil Wayne’s latest problem. This time it’s a $1.1 million tax lien courtesy of the IRS via Dade County Florida.

It’s probably NBD for LW, as he’s dealt with the Service in the past, paying a $977k lien back in August of ’08.

What is interesting is that this particular legal snag is on top of several other accomplishments that Wayne-o has stacked up while in prison.


Last month, he pleaded guilty to a laundry list of drug charges – possession of a narcotic drug for sale, misconduct involving weapons, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of dangerous drugs – related to a stop that occurred outside Yuma, AZ in 2008.

He [pleaded guilty] over a live video feed from Rikers, and will most likely get 36 months of probation in return (the official sentencing is scheduled for June 30). For those keeping track at home, the plea bargain follows sports blogging, life-saving, prison-rule flouting, and rapping as things Wayne has accomplished while in jail.

And now delinquent taxes. Very impressive.

Lil Wayne, big debt [Tax Watchdog]
Famously Hardworking Rapper Pleads Guilty to Drug Charges While Already in Prison [Vulture]

Accounting News Roundup: Congress Still Stalling on Tax Bill; ‘Most Americans Have Not Planned Well for Their Futures’; Deloitte’s Schroeder Joining FASB | 07.15.10

As Tax Cuts’ Expiration Date Nears, Little Consensus [WSJ]
“Lawmakers are negotiating a tax bill, but appear increasingly likely to wait until after the November election to take any final action that could anger voters—either by raising taxes, or by cutting them and thereby deepening deficits. Congress ultimately could decide to extend current tax levels for just a few months, leaving the issue for the next Congress to settle. Another option is a short-term extension of a year or two, avoiding for now the huge cost to the Treasury of a permanent extension. It’s even possible Congress might fail to take any action this year.”

From Jail, Conrad Black Fights $71 Million Tax Bill [Forbes]
“Imprisoned former media baron Conrad M. Black is fighting a $71 million bill from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, which says from 1998 to 2003 he filed no tax returns and paid absolutely nothing on $120 million in taxable income.

In a previously unreported lawsuit in U.S. Tax Court, Black, now serving a six-and-a-half-year-sentence in a Florida federal prison, is challenging the IRS’ demands and asserting the income in question wasn’t taxable in the U.S.”

Americans More Optimistic on Economy Than Their Own Finances, Survey Says [Bloomberg]
Who said Americans only think about themselves? “Americans are generally hopeful, and much of the economic news leads us to conclude that we are out of the recession and a double dip is unlikely,” said Robert Glovsky, chair of the CFP Board and director of Boston University’s program for financial planners. “With that said, most Americans have not planned well for their futures.”

Harvey Golub Resigns as AIG Chairman [WSJ]
“A weeks-long standoff between the chairman and chief executive of government-controlled American International Group Inc. ended Wednesday, when Chairman Harvey Golub resigned, saying, ‘I believe it is easier to replace a chairman than a CEO.’

Mr. Golub’s decision marks a victory for Robert Benmosche, the company’s hard-charging chief, who chafed under Mr. Golub’s oversight. Mr. Benmosche had told the board their working relationship was ‘ineffective and unsustainable,’ Mr. Golub said in his resignation letter.”

FASB hires expert to review how new rules perform [Reuters]
“Mark Schroeder, a recently retired senior partner at Deloitte & Touche [DLTE.UL], will serve as the board’s first “post-implementation review leader” and also serve a similar role for the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, FASB said.

The hiring of Schroeder is one of the big steps that FASB has taken to formalize its process for review of how new standards are performing. Banks and investors had complained during the financial crisis that FASB’s new rules on mark-to-market accounting had contributed to freezing the credit markets, but there was no formal process for reviewing the rules.”

Accounting News Roundup: BP in Talks to Sell Assets, Including Alaska Ops; Koss Lawsuit Details Embezzlement ‘Spurts’; The Estate Planing Debacle | 07.12.10

BP Mulls Selling Off Billions in Assets [WSJ]
“BP PLC is in talks with U.S. independent oil and gas pron a deal worth as much as $10 billion that could include stakes in BP’s vast Alaska operations, according to people familiar with the matter.

A deal, which would go a long way to helping BP cope with the financial stress of paying for the clean-up of the Gulf oil spill, could be reached in the coming weeks, though there is no guarantee it will succeed, one of these people said.”

Bank Profits Depend on Debt-Writedown `Abomination’ [Bloomberg]
This abomination has an official name, SFAS 159, The Fair Value Option for Financial Assets and Financial Liabilities

“Bank of America Corp. and Wall Street firms that notched perfect trading records in the first quarter are now depending on an accounting benefit last used in the depths of the credit crisis to prop up their results.

Bank of America, the biggest U.S. bank by assets, may record a $1 billion second-quarter gain from writing down its debts to their market value, Citigroup Inc. analyst Keith Horowitz estimated in a June 23 report. The boost to earnings, stemming from an accounting rule that allows banks to book profits when the value of their own bonds falls, probably represented a fifth of pretax income, Horowitz wrote.”

Koss embezzlement ran in spurts, lawsuit says [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel]
The most impressive “spurt?” $478,375 over three days in 2006. According to Koss’ lawsuit against S-squared and Grant Thornton, $145,000 also disappeared from the petty cash fund over the years, amongst other “unauthorized transactions.”


Bias At Work: To Sue or Not to Sue? [FINS]
Harassed? Discriminated against based on age, sexual orientation, race et al.? Of course suing your employer is an option. This is America after all, where the opportunity to slap someone with a lawsuit is your god-given right. But is it always the right move?

Bolt running from the taxman – Usain snub for British meeting [Daily Mail]
The fastest man in the world would prefer to keep a little money for himself, “Under present tax rules, if Bolt competes once in Britain and only five races elsewhere, the British taxman will demand one-sixth of everything he earns, whether in Britain or not. His taxable earnings would not only include his considerable appearance fees but also his hefty endorsement contracts.”

The Big Four’s UK Firms Pick Up Non-Executive Directors — And Then …? [Re:Balance]
Jim Peterson expands on his thoughts about the Big 4 non-executive directors in the UK, “Not only can good governance not be inflicted or imposed, in other words, because resistant leaders will find ways to disturb or subvert the purpose, but a virtuous culture will display its legitimacy without the need for pietistic overlays.”

Too Rich to Live? [WSJ]
The estate tax debate has gotten even more morbid than it would ordinarily be, ” ‘You don’t know whether to commit suicide or just go on living and working,’ says Eugene Sukup, an outspoken critic of the estate tax and the founder of Sukup Manufacturing, a maker of grain bins that employs 450 people in Sheffield, Iowa. Born in Nebraska during the Dust Bowl, the 81-year-old Mr. Sukup is a National Guard veteran and high school graduate who founded his firm, which now owns more than 70 patents, with $15,000 in 1963. He says his estate taxes, which would be zero this year, could be more that $15 million if he were to die next year.”

Tax Return of the Day: Four Pounds of Unadulterated Joy

Warren Mayer of Coyote Blog posted this photo of his four pound tax return:


Don’t forget that the picture above is direct result of this:

Tax reform anyone? If you’ve got a tax return that weighs more, feel free to send us the pics (on the scale of course).

[h/t TaxProf]

That Orangey Glow Will Be a Little More Expensive Today as Tanning Tax Takes Effect

Everyone in the melanoma-for-sale business is perplexed about the tanning tax that goes into effect today and the Journal reports that the hella confusion is mostly about why some businesses are able to dodge the tax while others are not.

Case in point, health clubs get to offer their George Hamilton specials tax free while video stores (?) that offer tanning do not.

When Jeanne Chamberlain turns up at work Thursday, she’s going to have to grapple with America’s first federal tax on tanning services, a 10% levy designed to help pay for Congress’s health-care overhaul.

Ms. Chamberlain runs a video-rental store.

These would normally be unrelated facts, but 20 years ago, Ms. Chamberlain followed a number of her peers in adding tanning services to smooth out the bumps in her Rice Lake, Wis., business. Today, she wants to offer one free tan for every three rentals. Should that freebie be taxed? Ms. Chamberlain doesn’t know, and even if she did, she doesn’t yet have the software in place to help with the calculations.

For starters, video stores still exist? We had just assumed that they had gone out with powdered wigs. Netflix, Hulu, etc. etc. And since when do they offer tanning services? “Oh I see you’ve got Gigli there, great choice. Would like to hop in one of our tanning beds while I rewind the tape?”

Anyway, back to the tax:

Among the new details: “qualified physical fitness facilities” that include access to tanning beds as part of their membership fee won’t be subject to the tax.

That means customers at Sun Tan City in Owensboro, Ky., will pay 10% more for a dose of ultraviolet rays. But if they go to Anytime Fitness 100 yards away, and tan inside one of its two beds, they’ll escape.

“My jaw dropped,” said Rick Kueber, founder and chief executive of Sun Tan City, a 124-outlet chain based in Elizabethtown, Ky. Then he got to thinking. “If I had six treadmills in each of my stores, can I call myself a health club?”

Can anyone explain this? Our best guess is that since health clubs force you to get you off your ass, while video stores put you back on them, they’re getting a break. That seems to be pretty advanced for Congress logic but we’ll assume that it’s in the ballpark.

But It’s really NBD for the committed to skin cancer crowd however, “[Fifteen-year-old Grace] McCleary and others who lounged last week in the notorious Land of the Tanned – see MTV’s Jersey Shore – said a few dollars tacked on wouldn’t deter them.”

Fortunately, the IRS has advice (as it always does) for those affected and our resident tax sage, Joe Kristan has the details. So, there’s no risk to the industry as a whole – thank god – just a little extra bureaucracy in the pot in the form of Form 720. Enjoy!

Federal Tan Tax Burns Some Badly but Keeps Everybody in the Dark [WSJ]
Tanning-bed enthusiasts say tax won’t deter them [Philadelphia Inquirer]

Turns Out the Guy that Joe Biden Called a Smartass Is Just an Ass

Yesterday we learned about Joe Biden not taking too kindly to a custard shop manager’s suggestion that he can eat all the free custard he wants as long as JB & the rest of the crew “lower our taxes.”

The Veep retorted that maybe the dude in the funny paper hat should try saying nice for change instead of being a smartass. It was the typical Joe Biden charm that you would expect. Perhaps he should have suggested visiting the White House’s tax savings tool instead of name-calling but the past is the past and we’ll just chalk up another Joe Biden moment of hilarity/political liability.

But wait! What if the VP was right about this portly custard slinger? We read over a little mini memoir over at Daily Intel that indicates that the guy probably had it coming:

First of all, as anyone who has ever lived in Milwaukee knows: Kopp’s Frozen Custard is the most delicious dessert on the planet. It’s basically ice cream with twice the fat. So when Smilin’ Joe Biden showed up at Kopp’s in Glendale, Wisconsin, last week, you can only imagine his annoyance at being interrupted in the middle of his first taste — from the looks of things, Friday’s special flavor, chocolate chip cookie dough — by a store manager cracking that the cone was free, as long as the vice-president would agree to “lower our taxes.” Biden being Biden, he called the manager “a smartass.” And who was that smartass? None other than my nemesis of twenty years ago — the first boss I ever hated and feared.

Said smartass is Scott Borkin and the author of this piece, Dan Kois, proceeds to tell a tale of a lunatic boss from hell (thanks, Richard Lewis):

Once, very late on a long, hot night of customers piling in and the custard machines jamming and the store’s owner, Carl Kopp, walking around in his apron and hat terrifying everyone, Scott Borkin came over to collect a shake for order number 87. “What the hell is this?” he asked me.

Inside, I panicked. What had I done wrong this time? But I had the ticket right in my hand — malt with chocolate — and was positive that’s what I had made. “It’s a chocolate malt.”

“No, this,” he said, pointing at my Sharpied “7” on the lid. I’d written it with a line through the center because once someone had mistaken my non-lined 7 for a 2.

“Uh, it’s a seven,” I replied.

“This is a seven,” he said, taking the ticket from my hand and drawing a non-lined numeral. “Do it right or you’re outta here.” He plucked the malt off the counter and stalked away. “This isn’t Germany!” he called over his shoulder.

Christ. Threatening termination because of lined 7 and anti-Germany? PLUS he likes bitching about taxes? This guy could be the next Joe the Plumber. Oh wait, he’s already been on Fox & Friends. Mission accomplished.

Accounting News Roundup: Auditors ‘Portray Worrying Lack of Skepticism’; Are Tax Strategies Patentable?; Method Man Pleads Guilty, Cuts Check for NYC Tax Evasion | 06.29.10

FSA accuse auditors of failing to question management bias [Accountancy Age]
The Financial Services Authority has decided that it was about time it called out a few people, “Auditors have become yes men who don’t adequately question management bias according to concerns raised by the UK’s chief financial regulators. The Financial Services Authority (FSA) and the Financial Reporting Council today released a scathing discussion paper into the profession following concerns raised in the wake of the financial crisis. Among its concerns is that auditors ‘portrays a worrying lack of skepticism’ when scrutinising potential management bias.”

Not onlef=”http://www.accountancyage.com/accountancyage/news/2265630/fsa-audit-report-regulator”>FSA wants new enforcement powers including the ability to ” fine, censure or disqualify audit firms.” The FSA also wants to meet with auditors several times a year, rather than just once, as well as direct access to audit committees.

Alex to Become Hurricane as Swells Reach Gulf Spill [Bloomberg]
“Tropical Storm Alex, the first named system of the Atlantic hurricane season, strengthened today, forcing the evacuation of rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and pushing swells toward the worst U.S. oil spill.

The storm, packing maximum sustained winds of 70 miles (110 kilometers) per hour, was 460 miles southeast of Brownsville, Texas, before dawn today, moving north-northwest at 8 mph, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in an advisory. The circulating winds were near reaching hurricane status of 74 mph.”

New York state may tax out-of-state hedge fund execs [Reuters]
Desperate idea of the day from the brain trust in Albany, “Recession-hit New York could raise an extra $50 million a year by collecting income taxes from people who work for hedge funds in the state but live elsewhere, according to a legislative plan to raise revenue…A spokesman for Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said by telephone on Monday that it means hedge fund managers would be treated the same way as other commuters.”


Aprill: The Impact of Bilski on Tax Strategy Patents [TaxProf Blog]
In non-PCAOB SCOTUS news, the decision in Bilski v. Kappos addressing “Whether a ‘process’ must be tied to a particular machine or apparatus, or transform a particular article into a different state or thing (‘machine-or-transformation’ test), to be eligible for patenting….” was examined by Ellen P. Aprill of Loyola-L.A. regarding the impact on tax strategy patents:

“Bilski is at best a mixed bag for those who think tax strategies should be patentable. It gives little help and does allow business method patents, albeit somewhat begrudgingly. It demonstrates that for those who believe that tax strategies should not be patented, legislation is needed.”

Method Man pleads guilty to NYC tax-evasion charge [AP]
“Hip-hop star Method Man pleaded guilty to a tax-evasion charge Monday, writing a check on the spot for the final $40,000 restitution payment after owing about $106,000.” What, no cash?

U.S. Court to Hear Janus Appeal In Securities Case [Reuters]
“The lawsuit, brought on behalf of those who bought Janus stock from mid-2000 through early September 2003, alleged that the prospectuses of several of Janus funds created the misleading impression that the company would adopt measures to curb market timing, when in fact secret arrangements with several hedge funds permitted such transactions, to the detriment of long-term investors.”

Joe Biden Gaffe of the Day: Calls Custard Shop Manager ‘Smartass’ Who Asked for Lower Taxes

It was actually over the weekend but talk about ruining a perfectly good photo-op.


For starters, taxes – like healthcare reform – are a big fucking deal and need to be debated in an environment more suitable for policy debate. Secondly, if you listened to the Veep’s advice, maybe you wouldn’t be complaining in the first place.

[h/t TaxProf]

Accounting News Roundup: G-20 to ‘Stabilize’ Debt by 2016; Auditors May Be Forced into Whistleblower Role on Banks; Yes, Taxes Are Historically Low | 06.28.10

G-20 Agrees to Cut Debt [WSJ]
“The wealthiest of the Group of 20 countries said they would halve their government deficits by the year 2013 and ‘stabilize’ their debt loads by 2016, a signal to international markets and domestic political audiences they are taking seriously the need to wean themselves from stimulus spending.”

Once you catch your breath from laughing, the President also cited the tax code specifically and his threatening to put some (i.e. Congress) in a tight spot:

“They might have to make deeper cuts in deficits to comply with its pledge. A White House statement said that government debt in the fiscal year15, would be at an “acceptable level.” President Obama said that next year he would present “very difficult choices” to the country in an effort to meet deficit goals.

The president cited his disappointment with the U.S. tax code. ‘Next year, when I start presenting some very difficult choices to the country, I hope some of these folks who are hollering about deficits and debt step up, ’cause I’m calling their bluff,’ Mr. Obama said.”

Bank auditors eyed for whistleblower role [FT]
A paper from the UK’s Financial Services Authority puts forth the discussion of requiring auditors to work more closely with regulators on irregularities found during the bank’s audit engagement.

“Experts say bank executives are nervous about the prospect of increased bilateral discussions between regulators and auditors. Auditors have been fearful the paper could thrust the profession into a regulatory spotlight it has so far avoided.”

Koss Fraud: We didn’t bother to look at the endorsements on our own checks, but Grant Thornton should have! [Fraud Files Blog]
Fraud sage Tracy Coenen presents her latest view on the Koss fraud mish-mash and how Koss management has managed to make themselves “look like absolute morons.”


BP Loses $22 Billion in Legacy of Share Buybacks [Bloomberg]
“The sum represents the hole after the 52 percent plunge in BP shares since the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank, resulting in the worst oil spill in U.S. history. BP bought back more than $37 billion of its stock in a bid to return money to investors between 2005 and 2008. Those shares are now worth $15 billion, excluding dividends.”

Martin Ginsburg, Noted Tax Lawyer and Husband of Justice Ginsburg, R.I.P. [ATL]
Mr Ginsburg was a tax law professor at Georgetown for many years and was known for his great sense of humor, as evidenced by his faculty bio, noted by our sister site, Above the Law:

Professor Ginsburg is co-author, with Jack S. Levin of Chicago, of Mergers, Acquisitions, and Buyouts, a semi-annually updated treatise which addresses tax and other aspects of this exciting subject. The portions of the treatise written by Professor Ginsburg are, he is certain, easily identified and quite superb.

Open Letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission Part 9: Overstock.com’s Excuses Simply Don’t Add Up [White Collar Fraud]
It appears Sam Antar has caught Overstock.com in another disclosure snafu but this time it isn’t really clear whether the company gave the wrong excuse, lied to the SEC or simply doesn’t know what they’re doing, “Overstock.com’s 2008 10-K report claimed that a reportable “gain contingency” existed as of November 7, 2008. However, the company contradicted itself and claimed to the SEC reviewers that reportable reportable ‘gain contingency’ did not exist on November 7, 2008.

If Overstock.com’s 10-K disclosure is true, the company’s explanation to the SEC Division of Corporation Finance can’t be true. Likewise, if Overstock.com’s explanation to the SEC Division of Corporation Finance is true, the company’s 2008 10-K disclosure can’t be true.”

Accounts bodies revise workplan [FT]
Convergence 2.0.

Today’s taxes aren’t too bad [Don’t Mess with Taxes/Kay Bell]
Kay Bell provides some perspective on tax rates over the last century. The following graphic should help clear up any confusion.


Wesley Snipes May Still Be Able to Get Back into the Vampire Game

If it wasn’t for WS, there would be no vampire craze. Sure the last Blade film was six years ago. And sure the first in the series was twelve years ago but it doesn’t mean the man still didn’t start the popularization of bloody-thirsty, sexy undead types.

However, this prison sentence thing hanging over his head has probably made him a bit of a liability. But thanks to some crafty lawyering, he’s been able to stave off the joint long enough to catch a bit of luck.


Since Ponzi-schemer-to-the-stars Kenneth Starr has been outed as a complete shame (not to mention a complete wuss) Wes can get back to the business of making truckloads of cash in this bloodsucking phenomenon:

A federal appeals panel is considering whether the arrest of actor Wesley Snipes’ former financial adviser could pave the way for a new trial on tax evasion charges.

Snipes was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison in 2008, but his attorneys asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta to allow a new request to dismiss the movie star’s conviction or grant him a new trial.

The motion centers on the arrest of Kenneth Starr, the one-time financial adviser to Snipes and other celebrities.
He was a key witness in Snipes’ 2008 trial but was charged in May with securities fraud worth $59 million.

Federal panel considers Wesley Snipes’ appeal [AP]

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

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

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

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

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

Turbo Tax

Tax Court Rejects Geithner/TurboTax Defense [TaxProf]

Accounting News Roundup: New Rule from FASB, IASB Will Bring Leases on Balance Sheet; California’s Latest Revenue Idea; Madoff CFO Released to House Arrest | 06.23.10

New Accounting Rules Ruffle the Leasing Market [NYT]
The convergence efforts by the FASB and the IASB have managed to produce a consensus on lease accounting and it has repercussions on both sides of the balance sheet.

“The two boards have come up with a new standard, which will be completed next year and enacted in 2013, that will require companies to book leases as assets and liabilities on their balance sheets. Currently, American and foreign companies list many leases as footnotes in their financial statements. As a result of the change, public companies will have to put some $1.3 trillion in leases on their balance sheets, according to estimates by the See Commission. Because many private companies also follow GAAP accounting, the number could be closer to $2 trillion, experts said.”

Middle-Class Tax Boost Is Broached [WSJ]
Reaction to Steny Hoyer’s call in a speech for Congress to quit lying to themselves was not met with enthusiasm.

The Journal reports that the GOP has different ideas, including House Orange leader John Boehner is quoted in the Journal, “Mr. Hoyer’s speech brought a round of criticism from Republicans, who emphasize spending cuts instead, and oppose allowing any Bush tax cuts to expire. House GOP Leader John Boehner of Ohio said Mr. Hoyer was admitting ‘that he supports raising taxes on the middle class to pay for more government spending.’ ”

Rep. Oompa Loompa obviously didn’t hear the part of the speech where Hoyer addressed the “cut spending” broken record, “The eagerness of so many to blast spending in the abstract without offering solutions that come close to measuring up to the size of the problem.”


California could turn license plates into ad revenue space [Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal]
The latest out of the brain trust in Sacramento, “As California faces a $19 billion deficit, the Legislature is considering whether to allow license plates to become traveling ad spaces.

When the vehicle is moving the license plate would look like the ones we’re used to now, but when the vehicle stops for more than four seconds a digital ad or other message would flash. The license plate number would always be visible.”

Madoff crony sprung [NYP]
“Earlier yesterday, former Madoff CFO Frank DiPascali Jr. was released to house arrest.

A grizzled-looking DiPascali refused to answer questions about the report in Monday’s Post that Madoff told fellow jailbirds that DiPascali knows the identity of three people the Ponzi king gave money to shortly before his arrest.

A judge initially refused prosecutors’ requests that DiPascali be released so he could assist in their ongoing probe, but in February he won a $10 million bail package based on his extensive cooperation.”

BP confirms Bob Dudley in key Gulf clean-up role [AP]
Knock ’em dead!

Business Leader Slams ‘Hostile’ Policies on Jobs [WSJ]
“In comments marking one of the sharpest breaks between top executives and the Obama White House, [Verizon Communications CEO Ivan] Seidenberg used a speech at Washington’s Economic Club to unleash a list of policy grievances over taxes, trade and financial regulation.

Mr. Seidenberg’s comments are particularly notable because he heads the Business Roundtable, a group encompassing the chief executives of the nation’s largest listed companies whose members have enjoyed frequent access to the president and his top aides. Its leaders have advised the White House on topics from economic recovery to health care to clean energy.”

SEC Self-Funding Is A Mistake! [The Summa]
“In support of SEC self-funding, SEC chairs always argue in public that they lack sufficient and consistent funding to enforce securities laws and regulations. As proof, they point out that Congress occasionally cuts back on SEC funding.

What they don’t mention is that the budgetary review process provides an opportunity for Congressional oversight of the SEC. When the SEC is performing poorly, say due to the atrocious leadership of the Chairs (i.e., Cox and Schapiro), a Congressional budget cut is a natural and effective response. Of course SEC chairs want self-funding, it gives them a pass from oversight. Who wouldn’t want that?”

Gulf Coast Workers Not Really Down with Taxes on Their BP Payments

Wait! You mean we have to pay taxes if we receive cash? When the hell did this happen? What if you’re part of the “self-reliant nonconformists who don’t pay much heed to everyday rules and regulations” community? Does that earn you a pass?

The AP reported on some workers on the Gulf Coast who are simply not aware of the notion of income taxes and would very much like to keep it that way:

Out-of-work Gulf Coast shrimper Todd Pellegal spent his first $2,500 check from BP quickly, paying off bills and buying groceries for his family.

He never even considered putting some of it away for taxes.

Now he’s among the people up and down the Gulf Coast reeling from the oil spill disaster who are surprised — and frustrated — to find out the Internal Revenue Service may take a chunk of the payments BP PLC is providing to help them stay afloat.

Many were already angry about how long the oil giant took to cut the checks. So when they got the money — generally about a few thousand dollars each so far — they spent it fast.

“If they’re going to pay you a lump sum, like for a year, then bam, take the taxes out of the check,” said Pellegal, of Boothville, La. “But a little bit at a time, they shouldn’t.”

Right, because withholding taxes from a paycheck isn’t how it works for every other person in the country who pays income taxes. Whoever heard of “net pay”?? But don’t bother suggesting planning for such a phenomenon as being paid by check:

“They should do a projection of their taxable income and determine if there is going to be a tax liability and have enough to cover that,” said Crystal Faulkner, a partner in the Cincinnati-based accounting firm of Cooney Faulkner & Stevens LLC.

That doesn’t sit well with Cherie Edwards, who is now only working one day a week at her job booking charter fishing trips at Zeke’s Landing in Orange Beach, Ala. The lost hours due to the oil spill are costing her about $270 week.

She said she got her claim number from BP on Thursday and plans to file an application in the coming day. So far, she said, no one has mentioned to her about a potential tax liability.

“I haven’t even thought about taxes. Wow. That makes me mad,” said Edwards, who has one child in college and another in high school. “I’m already losing money, and now I’ve got to figure out how to hold back money to pay taxes?”

Jesus lady, you’re right. Getting used to the $0 tax liability and then all of a sudden learning that you are required by law to pay them would piss off just about anyone.

IRS May Tax Payments to Gulf Coast Victims [AP via Tax Lawyer’s Blog]

Would the IRS Take the Heisman Trophy as Payment for Back Taxes?

Maybe! But we’ll get back to that in a minute.

There was a fair amount schadenfreude aimed at the University of Southern California when the school was slapped with sanctions a couple weeks back and at Reggie Bush for his role in the whole sitch.

How Bush really feels about it seems to be a mystery since he’s been quoted saying, “[This] is the closest thing to death without dying” but also a less passionate response, “Whatever happens, happens.”

Borderline schizophrenia aside, Fox News reports that Reg might have to pay some back taxes on the estimated $300,000 in luxury gifts he allegedly received:

“If the entire $300,000 is determined to be taxable,” Los Angeles-based CPA Mark Greenberg said, “about 50 percent of that would go to the IRS and Franchise Tax Board. And with penalties and interest, it could go up to 60 percent since it’s going back a few years.”

Greenberg estimates that Bush, now the star running back for the New Orleans Saints, “ultimately will wind up paying about $150,000,” but “it could be up to $200,000” if his financial team can’t get the penalties and interest waived.

We’re sure Bush would never have to give up his trophy a la the Juice since A) he didn’t kill anyone and B) his sponsors are still firmly in his corner, so the money shouldn’t be a problem. That being said, having the IRS snooping around your financial situation is about annoying as a Keeping Up with the Kardashians marathon.

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

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

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

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

And how did that work out for Mr. Lowe?

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

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

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

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

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

The case illustrates some hobby loss red flags:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who knew!?

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Accounting News Roundup: UK Launches Probe of E&Y’s Final Lehman Audit; Revolving Door at SEC Scrutinized; Swiss Upper House Rejects Referendum | 06.16.10

UK watchdog launches Lehman audit probe [Reuters]
The UK’s Accountancy and Actuarial Discipline Board (AADB), investigative and disciplinary body for accountants, has started an investigation into the Ernst & Young’s final audit of Lehman Brothers’ UK operations for the year ending November 30, 2007.

E&Y, completely familiar with this drill, is sticking to their guns, “Ernst & Young’s audit opinion stated that Lehman’s financial statements for that year were fairly presented in accordance with the relevant accounting standards, and we remain of that view.”


SEC ‘Revolving Door’ Under Review [WSJ]
Currently, the SEC does not have a cooling off period for former staffers that take a position with a private firm. Former staffers (i.e. lower-level employees) need only to provide a written letter disclosing the fact that they will be representing their new employer in an investigation.

The Journal reports that Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) announced on Tuesday that an investigation into the practice had recently been launched by the Inspector General David Kotz, “[W]e are currently conducting an investigation of allegations very recently brought to our attention that a prominent law firm’s significant ties with the SEC, specifically, the prevalence of SEC attorneys leaving the agency to join this particular law firm, led to the SEC’s failure to take appropriate actions in a matter involving the law firm,” Mr Kotz said.

The Journal reports that law firm in question “could not be determined.”

There have been several instances of quick transitions of former Commission staffers to new representing their new firms, including the most recent example of an attorney leaving the Division of Trading and Markets for the Chicago-based high frequency trading firm Getco, LLC and an accountant from the enforcement division who represented his new employer in a nonpublic investigation.

IRS hatches new assault on ‘Survivor’ [Tax Watchdog]
Thanks reality TV gods, Richard Hatch is still in our lives. He still owes $1.7 million in taxes from 2000 and 2001.

The CAE’s real challenge – ethics, courage, and complacency [IIA/Marks on Governance]
Norman Marks responds to a commenter that believes that a Chief Audit Executive need not focus on auditing and communicating those results and risks but instead “be conscious of and responsive to management expectations,” and basically substantiate that internal audit isn’t a giant waste of money.

Mr Marks questions this notion in its entirety, “It’s fine to supplement essential assurance activities with the tangible value-adding programs…But, the assurance work has to be covered or (in my opinion) internal audit is failing to do its job. When that is a conscious decision, I have to question the ethics – and the courage – of the individuals involved.”

Swiss Upper House Rejects Call for Referendum on UBS Pact [WSJ]
The upper house in Swiss Parliament would like their counterparts in the lower house to leave their popular referendum idea wherever they found it. Presumably everyone understands that super secret Swiss banking as the world knows it is over and lower house is a little slow to catch on. They’re supposedly debating the referendum circa now.

Class Action Complaint against Amedisys uses Sarbanes-Oxley Act Corporate Governance Provisions to Battle Alleged Corporate Malfeasance [White Collar Fraud]
Amedisys got caught red-handed by the Wall St. Journal abusing the Medicare system and Sam Antar hopes that this is a sign of things to come:

The SEC rules under Sarbanes-Oxley for public company codes of ethics broadly define corporate malfeasance by senior financial officers, requires such companies to promptly report any misconduct, prohibits companies from ignoring any misconduct, and makes it relatively easy for investors to sue for misconduct.

Hopefully, more lawsuits will cite code of ethics violations by public company senior financial officers in the future.

Alabama Candidate Must Not Be Aware That the IRS Has a Stockpile of Shotguns

Alabama Congressional candidate Rick Barber arranged a sit-down with some Founding Fathers to do some venting in his most recent ad:


GW looks serious about this “armies” thing doesn’t he? Well, there’s a good reason for that as, David Weigel notes at WaPo or you can see at the U.S. Treasury website, Washington did some of his own army gathering when he squashed the Whiskey Rebellion that arose from the Whiskey Act of 1791.

So it’s more likely that #1 is warning young Barber, saying “Knock yourself out ‘Bama. You’re going to need all the help you can get.”

Earlier:
The IRS Goes Gun Shopping

Transocean Saved Billions in Taxes by Moving Legal Domicile Offshore

While BP continues to get murdered in the press for its role in the Deepwater Horizon nightmare in the Gulf of Mexico, we bring you a new reason to hate on another big player in this mess, Transocean. Martin Sullivan writes in Tax Analysts’ Tax Notes about the billions in taxes Transocean has managed to avoid since moving its domicile offshore – first to the Cayman Islands and then to Switzerland.

For those of you not completely up-to-speed on your Deepwater Horizon cast of baddies, Transocean was the owner and operator of the De BP was the project operator (think of a general contractor) of the rig, paying Transocean $500,000 a day to drill the well.


Sullivan writes in his piece that despite Transocean being legally domiciled in Zug, Switzerland, (a transaction known as an inversion or corporate expatriation) it really does very little to change the substance of the company’s operations, “These tax-motivated restructurings occur with little or no real change in day-to-day business operations. Top executives, key personnel, and all significant business operations in the United States before the transaction remain in
the United States.”

The transactions were controversial to be sure, and companies that engaged in them were likened to Benedict Arnold by politicians when the came under fire back in the early Aughts. To get an idea of Transocean’s savings, Mr Sullivan presents data that shows the company’s preinversion average effective tax rate of 31.6% and its postinversion tax rate of 16.9%. This saved the company just over $1.8 billion in taxes over the last ten years.

Transocean consummated their inversion back in 1999, so they were far ahead of the curve, as the tax benefits for inversions were stripped out in the code effective for transactions that occurred after March 4, 2003 but the savings have added up over the years as the company saved over $750 million just last year.

But Transocean has largely stayed out of the spotlight in this whole shitshow and has been in CYA mode virtually the whole time, consistently citing an indemnification agreement with BP, filing to limit its liability:

As set forth under Federal Law, the complaint also asks that the companies be judged not liable on claims for certain, defined losses or damages relating to the casualty or, if they are judged to be liable, that the liability for such claims be limited to the value of their interest in the Deepwater Horizon rig and its freight including the accounts receivable and accrued accounts receivable as of April 28, 2010. The petitioners assert in the filing that the entire value of their interest does not exceed $26,764,083.

And scoffing at any notion of not paying its dividend, reminding everyone that they declared it long before explosion on the rig they were operating, “Transocean will honor all of its legal obligations arising from the Deepwater Horizon accident. The dividend proposal was announced on February 16, 2010, described in the preliminary proxy statement which was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on March 1, 2010, and approved by shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting on May 14, 2010.”

Throw the decade or so of tax savings and it sounds like Transocean has it made in the shade. How’s that for corporate responsibility and accountability? It’s not like we’re dealing the largest environmental disaster ever.

Transocean: Better at Tax Planning Than Oil Drilling [TaxProf]

The IRS Is Sitting on Your Checks

We haven’t come across a single person that is happy about cutting a check to the United States Treasury. In fact, some people would like their CPAs to stick their beard trimmings in with checks and include a note that says, “Here’s my money. Shove it. Oh, and enjoy the scruff.”

You would think that – after washing their hands for 20 minutes – someone at IRS would rip open your letter to find your check and drop everything to make the deposit. “Thank God! Everybody! We’ve got the Johnson check! I’ve got to get to the bank ASAP to make sure we can cover our glorious new pens.”


But this is not the case. No, the IRS doesn’t have a sense of urgency that you might have when you get a check in the mail. The Service’s resident mother-in-law, the TIGTA let’s us know how about their latest disappointment:

TIGTA found that the IRS is generally scanning checks and accurately posting checks to taxpayer accounts. However only 13 percent of the 770,504 payments reviewed by TIGTA payments were deposited the next business day through the Treasury Department’s Financial Management Service. As a result, the IRS lost $695,115 in interest on the payments that were not promptly processed. TIGTA found that the IRS is generally scanning checks and accurately posting checks to taxpayer accounts. However only 13 percent of the 770,504 payments reviewed by TIGTA payments were deposited the next business day through the Treasury Department’s Financial Management Service. As a result, the IRS lost $695,115 in interest on the payments that were not promptly processed.

And that’s your interest, American Taxpayers, sayeth J. Russell George, “When payments are not promptly processed, taxpayers lose the benefit of the interest earned that is credited to the Department of the Treasury.”

The TIGTA obviously understands that it was painful for you to cut that check in the first place, so the quicker it gets cashed, the sooner you will be doing your part – earning interest for every man, woman and child in this great land.

Plus, the sooner the money is out of your account, the less likely you’ll be to continue stewing about the unfairness of it all, only to conclude that quitting your job to attend rallies or participating in virtual marches may be the only way to help you to feel better.

The IRS Needs to Process Paper Checks More Quickly, TIGTA Finds [TIGTA PR]
Full Report [TIGTA]

Accounting News Roundup: BP Weighing Options on Dividend; Will the “New Wealth Taxes” Affect You?; Medifast Keeps Things Vague | 06.14.10

BP unlikely to cancel dividend, but mulls several ideas: source [Reuters]
They may defer it, pay it in shares or “pay into a ring-fenced account until the oil spill liabilities become clearer.” All of which will please absolutely no one.

Auditors to reveal bank talks under new plans [FT]
Proposals by the ICAEW would require auditors to disclose their private discussions with bank audit committees afteshowed that “the value of bank audits had shown investors especially were dissatisfied by the audit report. The internal process involved was perceived as helping to keep bank executives in check, but investors felt the report was only a box-ticking exercise.”

The Big 4 have historically resisted these types of proposals, arguing that it will expose them to additional legal liability.

Suggestions cited include assurance on the “front half of annual reports,” as well as an audit of the banks’ summaries of risks. The ICAEW said it was aware that this would add to the auditors’ workload.


Vantis trading suspension follows difficult financial period [Accountancy Age]
The court-appointed liquidator for Allen Stanford’s bank, Vantis, has had trading of its shares suspended by the AIM after the company was unable to obtain any funds for their services related to the Stanford case, among other financial difficulties.

Ernst & Young had issued a going concern opinion for the company back in February, warning that continued lack of cash flow would have to be remediated quickly for any possibility for the continuation of the business.

How the New Wealth Taxes Will Hit You [WSJ]
Are you one of those “rich” people? That is, do you have an adjusted gross income of $200,000 or more ($250,000 for joint filers)? If so, you’ll probably want to know that two new tax levies will come your way in 2013 as a result of the new healthcare legislation – a 0.9% levy on wages and a new 3.8% tax on investment income.

The 0.9% tax is on any wages over $200k/$250k. For example, if you are single and made $300,000, your additional tax would be $900.

Similarly, the investment income tax would tax any investment income in excess of the $200k/$250k threshold and the 3.8% tax would be applied. What’s investment income you ask?

Interest, except municipal-bond interest; dividends; rents; royalties; and capital gains on the sales of financial instruments like stocks and bonds. The taxable portion of insurance annuity payouts also counts, unless it is from a company pension. So do gains from financial trading, as well as passive income from rents and businesses you don’t participate in. All are subject to the 3.8% tax on amounts above the $250,000 or $200,000 threshold, as described above.

Income that is not considered investment income include: distributions from IRAs, pensions and Social Security, annuities that are part of a retirement plan, life-insurance proceeds, muni-bond interest, veterans’ benefits, and income from a business you participate in, such as a S Corporation or partnership.

KPMG considering move to 1801 K [Washington Businsess Journal (subscription required)]
KPMG might move their Washington, DC office location to 1801 K St. NW from 2001 M St. NW according to “real estate sources.” KPMG’s spokesman said that the firm is continuing to “examine all of our options.” The situation is fluid.

Open Letter to the [SEC]: Why You Must Review Medifast’s Revenue Accounting Disclosures [White Collar Fraud]
Sam Antar would like to put the SEC on notice that Medifast seems to be less than transparent when it comes to its disclosures, “it seems that Medifast is recognizing revenue upon shipment and not delivery. As a minimum, Medifast, like Overstock.com, should be required to expand and clarify its disclosures to avoid confusing investors.”

No Mr. Wendt, Having Played an Accountant on TV Won’t Help Your Tax Problem

When who played one of the most treasured accountants in television history can’t manage to use his fictional expertise to get themselves out of a tax jam, you have to start asking yourself – what chance do any other future thespians that play accountants have?


Robert Snell over at Tax Watchdog reports that George Wendt owes the state of California $30,000 in taxes, citing public records.

Robert did his usual diligence asking for the celebrity’s point of view and he managed to get Norm’s agent, Arthur Toretzky who was less than thrilled with the inquiry. Here’s a portion of his response to Robert’s email:

Do you reporters get a charge out of writing this stuff? George is one of the nicest guys in the world and you want to embarrass him. I just don’t get it. How this wold [sic] has changed. Good luck with getting whatever information you need, and I hope this at least puts you in contention for a Pulitzer.

Not sure if Robert responded to Artie but on Tax Watchdog it’s pretty clear why this is important:

Every year, about $345 billion in federal taxes are either late or unpaid, according to the IRS, ripping open holes in budgets and shortchanging schools and public safety. That forces taxpayers to cough up more than their fair share, tax experts say.

Unless you don’t think that’s a big deal. Besides, if he had Ted Danson’s business manager maybe this wouldn’t have happened.

Billionaire’s Heirs May Beat the Estate Tax and They Have Congress to Thank

The New York Times has interesting story on Dan Duncan, a Houston billionaire who couldn’t beat death but his heirs may just beat the taxes thanks to Congress falling asleep at the wheel.

Duncan did all right for himself. He became the richest man in Houston and was ranked 74th on Forbes’ latest list by creating a natural gas empire that he started with a couple of trucks and $10k. Getting self-made crazy rich involves a little bit of luck so now it appears that he has passed on a little of that luck on to his heirs who may be inheriting his $9 billion fortune tax-free.

In case you estate tax mess continues to drag on, and on and on.


The Times story says that the Treasury collected $25 billion in estate taxes in 2008. With that kind of haul how could Congress let this happen? Joe Kristan passed along a little background to us from a Tax Analysts report 2001, some time ago that explains:

Although President Bush is scheduled to sign the tax bill into law next week, the bill contains a sunset provision that invites further debate in Congress during the next decade on whether many of the provisions will become permanent or take effect at all.

Just after H.R. 1836 becomes fully phased-in and estate taxes are repealed, the entire tax cut bill would expire as of December 31, 2010, under the bill’s sunset provision unless Congress enacts new law before that date.

The sunset provision opens up a new arena for debate among conservatives who are eager to make the provisions permanent and liberals who would prefer to postpone phasing in the provisions to pay for other government programs. Meanwhile, tax planners are left questioning the final outcome as they examine the new law.

As originally designed, the bill would have extended through 2011 and made the tax cuts permanent. However, that bill would have been subject to a budgetary procedure known as the “Byrd Rule,” which requires 60 votes in the Senate to alter revenue beyond a 10-year period. To avoid the procedure, Republican taxwriters adjusted the tax cut agreement for H.R. 1836 by allowing the provisions to sunset by December 31, 2010.

Democrats have argued that the sunset provision masks the true cost of the bill because the revenue loss accounts for only nine years of the budget window and less than one year of the bill’s full effect, including repeal of the estate tax. “Not only have they increased the back-loading to hide the true cost of this tax bill, but they have actually eliminated a year from the calendar,” said Senate taxwriter Kent Conrad, D-N.D., in a May 26 floor statement. “What they have done is graduated to a whole new level of accounting gimmickry to disguise the full cost of this tax bill.”

Joe’s emphasis. He then wrote to us, “Stupid? Well, it’s Congress, what do you expect?”

Blame who you want – George W. Bush for signing the expiration into law in 2001 or the Democratic controlled Congress for letting it expire – but at this point in time, regardless of your political persuasion, Duncan’s family and other wealthy families (some wealthier than others) are catching a huge break.

The Duncans didn’t talk to the Times for the story but it does state, “Many lawyers say Mr. Duncan’s heirs have the means and motivation to wage a fierce court battle to challenge the constitutionality of any retroactive tax.”

Good for them. If Congress tries to pull a fast one on them with a retroactive tax they should fight it tooth and nail. Despite the fiscal situation facing the country, Congressional incompetence and inaction shouldn’t get a mulligan.

No, the IRS Will Not Be Cool with Your Request for Bogus Refunds in Order to Pay Your Gambling Debts

If you find yourself in a bit of tax trouble, the IRS is more than happy to work with you. They gave all those UBS tax evaders all the chances one could ask for. They are giving small nonprofits a break on submitting their 990s. Hell, they are opening regularly on Saturdays.

The best thing to do if you find yourself in a pinch is call them, explain the sitch and we’ll bet you dollars to vegan donuts that Doug Shulman and Co. will work it out with you.


Having said all that, it’s extremely unlikely that the Service will work with you if, say, you attempt to obtain a couple million in bogus refunds to pay off your gambling debts. You do this under the assumption that the U.S. Government will gladly take an IOU until you get around to scraping it together. Who hasn’t gotten a little careless during football season a time or two and needed to commit a federal crime to make things, amiright?

Federal authorities this week arrested a former Los Angeles County worker who allegedly used the personal information of more than 150 welfare applicants to file nearly $2 million in fraudulent claims for tax refunds.

Trang Van Dinh, a 62-year-old resident of Glendale, worked for the county for a decade and filed the returns in a desperate attempt to pay gambling debts, county auditors said.

[…]

His arrest comes months after Dinh was fired from his county job after acknowledging wrongdoing in an interview with county investigators, said Guy Zelenski, chief investigator for the county auditor-controller. County officials spoke to Dinh after IRS investigators notified them of their suspicions.

“He thought he could pay the IRS back and he would have no problems,” Zelenski said.

No problems, like facing 220 years in FPMITA prison problems?

Fired L.A. County worker arrested in tax fraud case [Los Angeles Times]

Accounting News Roundup: Senate Proposal Would Double Tax on Carried Interest; Take Client Compliments with Skepticism; Agents Honored for Busting Petters | 06.09.10

Showdown on Fund Taxes [WSJ]
The U.S. Senate plan to tax private equity and hedge fund managers who earn carried interest has been rolled out and it would double the rate on this income from 15% to 30% in 2011 and 33% in 2013. Supporters of the bill argue that carried interest is “basically wages” and that the 15% is a “fundamental unfairness in the tax code.”

The industry is not amused by the Senate’s latest rich hating measures. The Journal quotes Douglas Lowenstein, president of the Private Equity Council, “[E]arning carried interest involves taking risks, making long-term investments and exposing yourself tot you’ll have to return your earnings if things don’t work out. No one who gets a paycheck has to face those consequences.”

But that’s not all! Also in the proposal is a “enterprise-value tax” provision that would tax the sale of any private equity fund, hedge fund, or real estate partnership at higher rates than of other businesses including publicly traded oil and gas partnerships.


Ex-CEO and CFO of Duane Reade Convicted in NY [AP]
No matter what Anthony Cuti and William Tennant did (“scheming to falsely inflate the income and reduce the expenses that Duane Reade reported to investors.”), if you bank with Jamie Dimon, you’re grateful for every DR.

How White-Collar Criminals Exploit Your Vanity – Beware of Compliments [White Collar Fraud]
Sam Antar has all but eliminated any possibility of ever getting a date ever again by admitting that any compliment that he gives is may have an ulterior motive, “The more likable and charming that I was as a criminal, the easier it was for me to successfully lie to my victims and deceive them. People are far less skeptical of people who they like and the white-collar criminals know it and exploit it.”

Most of you have never been paid a compliment by Sam but maybe some of you can think of a client that seems to go out of their way to stroke your ego. Or maybe it’s a combination of a compliment here or there (e.g. “you’re looking buff” or “nice ass”) from the controller and the hot junior accountant that keeps inviting you out to lunch for no discernible reason.

The lesson here is be skeptical of things being a little too good to be true for an audit. If your client doesn’t particularly like you and they look like they came from deep inside the ugly forest you might be able to rest easy. Otherwise, stay on your toes.

EBay’s Whitman Faces Brown for California Governor [Bloomberg]
A former auctioneer will face off against a failed Presidential candidate for the arguably the worst job in the country.

Four who took down Petters honored [Minneapolis Star-Tribune]
Swashbuckling industrialist-cum-Ponzi Scheme architect Tom Petters is doing 50 years for his crimes but the four investigators – FBI special agents Brian Kinney and Eileen Rice, FBI forensic accountant Josiah Lamb and Kathy Klug of the IRS’ Criminal Investigation Division – were honored yesterday for their efforts with a 2009 Law Enforcement Recognition Award by the Minnesota U.S. Attorney.

Of course, they couldn’t have done it alone (plus it’s honor just to be nominated), as they were assisted by more than 100 other agents who brought down Petters. Then someone made a Bernie Madoff joke and the fun ended right there.

Just Because You Support Tax Cuts Doesn’t Mean You’re a Fiscal Conservative

Since the the stench of last-minute pandering to voters is in the air today, Howard Gleckman points out over at TaxVox that while many candidates are quick to launch in with “I will cut taxes!” or “I believe in smaller government!” to catch some of the hot Tea Party action, these candidates (and many of the Tea Party types themselves) don’t really qualify as fiscal conservatives (if you go by the Wikipedia definition) who support balanced budgets and deficit reduction:

They are plainly interested in tax cuts—a core belief that appears repeatedly on Websites, position papers, and speeches throughout the movement. And while tea partiers say they favor smaller government, many in fact propose to shrink it in only trivial ways—by cutting earmarks or waste and abuse. Candidates elected on platforms supporting very large tax cuts and small spending reductions are likely to oppose aggressive efforts to reduce deficits, not back them. While some analysts see the tea partiers as the 21st century progeny of Ross Perot’s fiscal conservatism, nothing could be further from the truth.

One of Gleckman’s examples is Sharon Angle who claims to be the “one true conservative” (presumably that means a fiscal conservative) and is running for the Republican nomination in Nevada to face off against Harry Reid. Here is one of her ads:

There’s the mantra: “Limited Government!” “Lower Taxes!” As Mr Gleckman notes, Ms Angle would “abolish the Internal Revenue Code but doesn’t quite say how she’d finance government.” That’s a bit of a problem, especially since she says in her “On the Issues” page under healthcare that “the government must continue to keep its contract with seniors, who entered into the system on good faith and now are depending on that contract.”

Since this essentially represents the Tea Party’s position on healthcare we’ll agree with Gleckman when he says, “This view makes deficit reduction a challenge at best, especially when paired with big tax cuts.”

The point here is this – if you’re beating the drum of tax cuts and limited government to pander to a hot political movement but if you’re going to largely continue to spend tax dollars with the same fervor as George W. Bush, that doesn’t make you the second coming of Ross Perot.

Dylan McKay Won’t Be Able to Save Brenda Walsh From Her Tax Problem

Yesterday we may shared with you the unfortunate news about the dude from Reading Rainbow having a little tax problem which may have taken you back to the days of still whining about the lack of Cocoa Puffs in your house.

This time around celebrity tax problems take a little bit of a different path down memory lane (and a different theme song to get stuck in your head) to those days where your hormones were in control and the feeling of awkwardness was constant. For those of you too young to be familiar or give a rat’s ass about 90210, we’ll kindly enlighten you by stating unequivocally that Gossip Girl WOULD NOT EXIST without 90210.

Yes, Brenda Walsh, er, Shannen Doherty seems to have run across some tax trouble (just about $250k, NBD really) and as is our wont, we’ll present some possible solutions.


A) Another run at DWTS (nobody really gets it the first time).

B) 90210 movie – May we suggest that old wardrobe and hair styles be incorporated and that they should definitely go for the R rating? (seriously, how many times do you wish Dylan would have said “Fuck you Brandon, you momma’s boy” right in his smug face?)

C) Call ex-boyfriend Rick Salomon and see if he’s interested in making another movie.

D) Serious suggestions welcome.

‘Dancing’ star trips over tax bills [Tax Watchdog]

Hillary Clinton Sounds Like She Would Be Supportive of the Wealth Squads

“The rich are not paying their fair share in any nation that is facing the kind of employment issues [that America is] – whether it’s individual, corporate or whatever taxation forms are.”

~ Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

New York Assembly Kicking Around the Idea of Raising the Millionaire Tax

It’s bad enough that Wealth Squads are going to be kicking down doors left and right but now this?


Still doesn’t quite top California’s budget misfire but keep trying Albany!

N.Y. Assembly Looks at Millionaire’s Tax [FOX via Tax Policy Blog]

Lots of People in the South Have $0 Tax Liability

So those nonpayers you heard about throughout tax season? Proportionately, lots of them are in the south (don’t ask us why they used red/blue):


Purely by the numbers, California has the most with over six million taxpayers whose credits and deductions reduce their tax liability to zero. However, of the ten states that have the highest proportion of nonpayers, nine of them are in the south, including Texas and Florida, who have 4.2 and 3.4 million tax filers that had no tax liability respectively.

The total number of nonpayers in the south is approximately 13 million or 25% of the total 51 million, according tot he IRS’ data. So whatever the expression is that includes the combination of God loving the South and hating taxes, suddenly has more credence to it.

States Vary Widely in Number of Tax Filers with No Income Tax Liability [Tax Foundation]

Getting Regular Sex in Denmark May Have Cost Søren Hansen About $2.6 Million

Back in March we told you about non-Phil/Tiger golfer Søren Hansen, who was looking at jail time for dodging about 10 million kroner in taxes.

He managed to avoid the Danish joint but a judge did order him to pay 8 million in back taxes and an additional 8 million in fines. This works out to $2.6 million which is around what Tiger Woods spends on hookers in a weekend. So in other words – a chunk.


Hansen maintained throughout the ordeal that he was not a resident of Denmark because he changed his residence to Monaco in 1999 (it’s on his Wikipedia page for crissakes! What’s it going to take?!?) and thus not subject to the tax. The judge didn’t buy it because “he used his summerhouse in Hornbæk for residential purposes, as well as stayed over in his girlfriend’s Copenhagen apartment regularly.”

Obviously Hansen could have moved his g/f to Monaco to avoid all the trips back but that would have put a serious damper on the Monaco tail situation.

Golfer hit for 16 million kroner [Copenhagen Post]

Imprisoned Russian Billionaire Shows Americans How To Protest Tax Injustices

If you’re formerly the richest man in Russia and you’ve been wrongfully imprisoned (sayeth he) you’re not going to take this shit lightly. Flying a plane into a building is cowardly; shooting at another person – what does that accomplish?; Bulldozer? That guy is an idiot.

No, if you’re seriously going to show these tax happy bastards that you mean business, only explicit self-loathing will suffice.


Mikhail Khodorkovsky is serving an eight year prison sentence for tax evasion and fraud and he was recently dealt a blow in his attempt to land a new trial:

Mikhail Khodorkovsky has gone on hunger strike in protest at an order extending his detention ahead of a new trial. In a statement quoted by his lawyer, Khodorkovsky said the order violated legal amendments that had been approved by President Dmitry Medvedev. He has vowed to continue his protest until President Medvedev confirms that he is “fully aware” of the situation.

All he wants an acknowledgment from the President of the country and then he’ll get back to eating with a spork.

Russian oil tycoon Khodorkovsky on hunger strike [BBC]

In Washington State, a Kit-Kat Bar is Not Considered Candy for Sales Tax Purposes

[caption id="attachment_10643" align="alignright" width="260" caption="Not candy"][/caption]

Listen up people. Since many of you regularly get either your breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, pre-midafternoon snack, afternoon snack, pre-leaving work snack or – during busy season – your dinner out of a vending machine this could be cause for concern.

States are strapped for cash so t��������������������ve you joy is a logical and effective conclusion. Accordingly, sweets, sodas, booze, cigarettes, strippers are all fair game. Some of these are old hat (e.g. booze, cigs) and some are becoming more popular (e.g. candy, soda). Washington state is rolling out its candy tax on June 1, 2010 and as you might have guessed, it’s not nearly as simple as you would think. There are many questions.


First off, candy needs a definition, so Department of Revenue de Washington presents its version:

“Candy” means a preparation of sugar, honey, or other natural or artificial sweeteners in combination with chocolate, fruits, nuts, or other ingredients or flavorings in the form of bars, drops, or pieces. Candy does not include any preparation containing flour. Candy does not require refrigeration.

OFTLOG. Couldn’t it just boil down to: “Anything handed out on Halloween”? But wait, the questions get better:

Are bags of trail mix containing small amounts of candy subject to sales tax?
No, trail mix is not considered to be candy if it contains only small amounts of chocolate chips or other candy.

Are sweetened breakfast cereals considered candy if they do not list flour as an ingredient?
No. Breakfast cereals are non-taxable food, even if they are sweetened and do not list flour as an ingredient.

What about prepackaged combination packs of candy? I sell bags of mixed candy bars for one, non-itemized price. Some of the bars contain flour, while others meet the definition of candy. Do I collect sales tax on the bags of candy?
The sale of the bags of candy represents a bundled transaction. See RCW 82.08.190 for more information on bundled transactions. Because one of the items in this bundled transaction is subject to sales tax, the entire bundle of products is subject to sales tax. See RCW 82.08.195 for more information.

However, you can exempt the bundled transaction from sales tax if you demonstrate that the purchase price or sales price for the taxable candy is 50% percent or less of the total purchase price or sales price of the bundled food products. See RCW 82.08.190(4) for information about how this 50% exception works.

Are nicotine gum and analgesic gum candy?
They are not candy, but they are subject to sales tax because they are over-the-counter drugs. Over-the-counter drugs refer to any drug sold with a label that identifies the product as a drug and includes either of the following:

A “drug facts” panel; or
A statement of the “active ingredient(s)” with a list of those ingredients contained in the compound, substance, or preparation.

Nicotine gum and analgesic gum (gums containing aspirin) meet the description above and should be treated as taxable over-the-counter drugs unless purchased with a prescription. See RCW 82.08.0281 for more information regarding over-the-counter drugs.

How are products in the baking aisle treated?
Below is information on selected baking aisle products [we’re skipping the table but fact that there is a table to explain the candy/non-candieness of the baking aisle is ridiculous]

Are fruit snacks such as fruit roll-ups and fruit leathers subject to sales tax as candy?
Fruit roll-ups and fruit leathers are subject to sales tax if they contain any sugar, honey, or other natural or artificial sweeteners and do not contain flour or require refrigeration. The fruit added to such item is not considered a sweetener (fruit is not intended to refer to concentrated fruit juices).

Are sweetened dried fruits candy?
Yes, dried fruits are candy when they are sweetened with natural or artificial sweeteners. This is true whether the product is sold prepackaged or in a bulk bin, by weight. Unsweetened fruits are not candy.

Is halvah candy?
Halvah is a confection usually made from crushed sesame seeds and honey, but in some instances may be made with grain based ingredients. It has been a traditional dessert in India, the Mediterranean, and the Balkans. Halvah that is based on nut butters (or seeds) and contains no flour is candy. Halvah that is flour-based is not candy. You should read the ingredient label if you are unsure.

Are energy bars and protein bars candy?
Energy bars and protein bars that contain no flour and require no refrigeration are taxable as candy. Bars that contain flour or require refrigeration are not candy.

Are cough drops subject to sales tax as candy?
Cough drops are not taxable as candy if they have either:

A “drug facts” panel; or
A statement of the “active ingredient(s)” with a list of those ingredients contained in the compound, substance, or preparation.

In such situation, the cough drops represent over-the-counter drugs. These cough drops are subject to sales tax unless purchased with a prescription. See RCW 82.08.0281 for more information regarding over-the-counter drugs.

Cough drops that do not have either of the above are candy.

Some takeaways: 1) Careful with the trail mix that has lots of M&Ms, it could possibly be taxable 2) Lucky Charms, et al. are safe 3) If anything has the word “gum” in it, it’s up for debate (e.g. Nicotine gum). Strangely enough, condom gum, edible undies, etc. is not mentioned 4) Fruit Roll-ups, energy bars, halvah and cough drops are all in the gray area.

And in case that doesn’t clear it up, there’s an entire spreadsheet that you can refer to (file below) but no, a Kit-Kat bar is not considered candy. Neither is a Milky Way. Got it?

Quick Tax Quiz: When Is a Candy Bar Not a Candy Bar? [Tax Policy Blog]
Washington State Candy List

Just to Be on the Safe Side, the Dayton, Ohio H&R Block Should Be Prepared for More Trouble

If you figure one H&R Block employee was nearly gunned down because they were being audited, God knows what an indictment would mean for the safety of their employees:

A federal grand jury has indicted West Carrollton club owner and Brookville resident Stanley W. Combs III on the charges of one count of operating an illegal gambling business and four counts of making false statements on federal income tax returns…

…The indictment alleges Combs substantially under-reported the income he received as the owner and operator of Fraternal Order of Orioles, Nest 293 at 842 Watertower Lane in West Carrollton and a related entity at 10955 Lower Valley Pike in Medway, Ohio.

There’s no indication that an H&R Block employee advised this particular alleged tax dodger but better to be prepared.

Related: Did anyone tell these crazies in Ohio that they can get help FOR FREE tomorrow? For crissakes, there’s even one in Dayton at 200 W. Second St. Pull yourself together Buckeye State.

Club owner indicted for illegal gambling, income tax fraud [Dayton Daily News]

Houston Tax Prep Shop Duped Homeless People into Taking Free Cash

If somebody is handing out free money, why would you ask questions?


Some favorite moments:

Homeless dude: “Here’s a stack of cash. It’s yours.”

Homeless dude: “Boom, it sounds good, so you’re going to jump on it.”

Tax worker: “Your return is $1,266.”
Homeless person: “How can that be?”
Tax worker: “Um, uh, for housekeeping.”
Homeless person: “This isn’t going to get me in trouble or anything?”
Tax worker: “Nuh uh (no), because it was cash, you know, you could have done housekeeping at your friends, family.”

Reporter: “You had no idea this was going on?
Dubious businessman: “No sir.”
Reporter: “And you expect us to believe that?”
Dubious businessman: “Yes.”
Reporter: “And you expect our viewers to believe that?
Dubious businessman: “Yes.”

Houston tax office filing bogus returns for homeless people to make big bucks [KHOU.com]

Help the IRS Improve Its Service on the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel

If you are some kind of tax activist, not a felon and ready to serve your country, we may have the volunteer opportunity of a lifetime for you: Serving on the IRS’ Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP). The deadline for applications is this Friday and we’re pretty sure the Service has been swamped with would-be heroes vying for a chance to provide a voice to the poor, abused little taxpayer.


“TAP members represent the typical taxpayer and provide the IRS with invaluable insights that are crucial to sound tax administration,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman.

To qualify, you must pass an FBI fingerprint check (sorry, Lone Wolves, you’re pretty much disqualified right off the bat and will have to stick to crashing planes into IRS buildings if you want your voice to be heard), not be a lobbyist, and of course be caught up on your own tax bills.

Think of it like a focus group for taxes except unlike traditional focus groups, you won’t be getting $75 for an hour’s worth of opinions. TAP members serve a 3 year term and are expected to commit 300 – 500 hours per year serving the Service taxpayer. Members are required to attend a yearly meeting in Washington, DC each fall, at least one face-to-face subcommittee meeting with other members in their region and must participate in a monthly conference call.

So go on, little taxpayers, give the IRS a piece of your mind. And 500 hours of your time, of course.

Strip Club Owner, Sans High School Diploma, Blames His Accountant for Tax Troubles

When you own a strip club there are certain things that you understand. Things like, knowing that there is large portion of the male species that will pay women to take off their clothes regardless of the fact that sex is not happening. And while this is going on, they’ll imbibe lots of booze. And eventually, they may get hungry and with the last sliver of will power they have left, pull themselves away to pay $5.99 for a prime rib buffet. AND since there’s no windows in the place these men will stay in your strip club and spend money until you throw them out or they’ve spent every last dime. Oh, and poles are imperative.

On the other hand, there are things that strip club owners are less savvy about. One of these things may be tax compliance. Accordingly, many proprietors find a local accountant, they swap services, everyone wins.


However, every once in awhile this traditional arrangement may run awry. Kevin Moury, owner of Kittens (NSFW), is suing his accountant, Michael Walsh, for negligence in preparing his returns that resulted in “criminal charges, penalties, costs, fines, loss of income, medical expenses, loss of life’s enjoyments, emotional distress and mental anguish.”

Okay, before we continue, we have to ask – “loss of life’s enjoyments” and “medical expenses” because of a CPA? Where do we draw the line people? Next thing you know, accountants will be blamed for the collapse of the entire financial system…

Anyhoo, Moury pleaded guilty in October to “federal charges of falsifying tax returns and failing to report substantial cash income.” He spent one night in jail, got nine months of house arrest and had to pay back taxes of $88k, etc. etc.

This all came up because Moury apparently thought it was a-okay to deposit money from various revenue streams like fining dancers for tardiness or bolting early, massages for customers, and Jell-O shots (you know, the usual stuff) and then not report it as income. Obviously the IRS was not cool with this, prosecutors threatened to go after his wife and daughters (all employees at Kittens, btw) and that got him to plead guilty.

As a result of his guilty plea, Moury lost a sweet $90k/year gig as a “superintendent of environmental management” (which sounds a lot like “boss of the garbage collectors” but whatevs) and this resulted in lost future earnings of $1.3 million, allegeth the lawsuit.

Regardless, this shit ain’t fair and the accountant needs to be held responsible (his attorney the allegations or “groundless”) and Moury’s attorney isn’t shying away from the stupidity defense:

The lawsuit claims Moury’s lack of formal education — he didn’t finish high school and has a high school equivalency certificate — led him to rely on Walsh to accurately report his income and prepare his tax returns.

“Mr. Moury gave his accountant anything and everything for his business, his real estate and the salary from his job with Methuen,” Cote said. “He signed the returns, but did he looked at them? No. Is he responsible? Yes.

Strip club owner blames accountant for his tax woes [Eagle-Tribune]

Accounting News Roundup: More Dodgy Accounting from Lehman Brothers; Deloitte Announces $100 Million Investment in China; Less Than 100% of Tea Partiers Believe They are Overtaxed | 04.13.10

Lehman Channeled Risks Through ‘Alter Ego’ Firm [NYT]
That alter-ego firm is Hudson Capital and the Times reports that while HC “appeared to be an independent business, it was deeply entwined with Lehman,” citing a Board of Directors controlled by the bank, Lehman’s 25% ownership, and many former LEH employees working at HC. Hudson reportedly provided LEH with financing “while preventing ‘headline risk’,” but the relationship was designed specifically to maximize the utility of Hudson “without jeopardizing the off-balance sheet accounting treatment,” according to memo cited by the Times.


Deloitte To Spend More Money In China For Business Expansion [Dow Jones]
Deloitte is investing $100 million in China over the next three to five years, hiring 1,000 to 2,000 new employees per year, per Global CEO Jim Quigley and Deloitte China CEO Christopher Lu. This follows a five-year, $150 million investment by the firm announced in 2004.

Quigely told Dow Jones, “When I have made my investment decisions as the CEO of Deloitte, the market where we are investing the most is in China. We’ve now expanded. So another $100 million is coming this direction as we continue to want to grow our business here, and take advantage of the opportunities available to serve China companies and to serve companies outside of China who want to invest here.”

66% Say America Is Overtaxed [Rasmussen via TaxProf]
If you needed a poll that shows that Americans hate taxes in order to convince you, Rasumussen is all over it. 66% of people surveyed believe Amecians are overtaxed, as opposed to 25% who disagree. The issue is severely divided politically with 81% of Republicans believing they are overtaxed as opposed to Democrats who were split on the issue. 73% of those surveyed that did not affiliate with either party believe they are overtaxed while 96% of the Tea Party movement believe they are overtaxed.

Quote of the Day: Rich People Unite for Higher Taxes | 04.07.10

“We’re calling on other wealthy taxpayers to join us to send the message to Congress and President Obama that it’s time to roll back the tax cuts on upper-income taxpayers.”

~ Mike Lapham, paper-mill heir, would like to pay more taxes.

Tea Partiers Taking Serious Measures, Arrange Virtual March with Avatars

The Tea Partiers (not to be confused with tax protestors who are way more delusional) have made their names known all across this great land for hating on taxes. They’ve marched pretty much everywhere but do you know where they haven’t marched? On the Internet! That’s right, nothing like a virtual march with politicians up for reelection joining the cause (can’t be seen with those nutjobs in person).

The “march” will occur on, you guessed it, April 15th and it will occur “in” Washington DC.


Some of the other cartoon leaders that will be in “attendance” are

• Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey

• Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee

• Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist

• Senator John McCain (R-AZ)

• Michael Reagan, son of former President Ronald Reagan

• The Tea Party Express – A red bus.

We have to admit that we’re impressed with this risky move by this group that we would otherwise shun a technological feat of this magnitude. Does anyone think that Dick Armey or John McCain even knows what an avatar is? What lucky member of their respective staffs got the responsibility of creating those?

This is especially fun for the tea p’s because since this particular march is virtual, it is likely that certain actions and/or methods that the tax haters could only dream of before, will now be allowed. These may include but not limited to:

• Leaving flaming bags of shit on White House’s front steps.

• Protestors showing “video” of President Obama walking around wearing a Sandwich Board saying “I love taxes.”

• Resurrecting the Founding Fathers (zombie TJ!) to get their testimonials about how the Obama Administration is ruining America.

• Portray Nancy Pelosi giving a speech on the Capitol steps in one of those olive-colored Castro outfits.

• Bring Ronald Reagan back to life, just because.

• Other portrayals of “taxation without representation” taken wildly out of context.

All we ask is that you keep it non-violent. Tea p’s that aren’t too good with them computers need not worry though, actual marches will be held around the country on April 15th where you’ll be allowed to shout, march and carry signs with plenty of misspelled words.

Tax Protesters Launch Online March on Washington [Web CPA]
Online Tax Revolt [Website]

You Can Blame the Tax Code for Expensive Baseball Tickets

Since it’s opening day for baseball, there are probably a few of you (non-tax accountants) that are at the ballpark enjoying sun, overpriced beers and, if you’re lucky, some complimentary tickets on behalf of your firm.

If you happen to be shelling out your own hard-earned money however, you’re no doubt aware that price of your tickets continue to go up season after season. Throw in $9 beers and Brother Jimmy’s BBQ and you’ll spend a small grip just to enjoy a day of sport and no work.

What’s the cause of the skyrocketing cost of attending a baseball game, you ask? The tax code of course!


That’s according to an op-ed by two professors, Duke law professor Richard Schmalbeck and Rutgers business professor Jay Soled, in today’s Times.

There are many reasons for the price explosion, but a critical factor has been the ability of businesses to write off tickets as entertainment expenses — essentially a huge, and wholly unnecessary, government subsidy.

These deductions have led to higher ticket prices in two ways. On the demand side, they have fueled competition for scarce seats, with business taxpayers bidding in part with dollars they save through the deductions.

On the supply side, the large number of businesses bidding for expensive seats has driven the expansion of luxury skyboxes and a reduction in overall seats in new ballparks.

The authors note that baseball was, until the 1970s, a “populist sport” and fans of all economic classes could attend games for a reasonable cost. Those days are long gone and the professors blame the ability of corporations to deduct business-entertainment expenses as the culprit. They state that you not need look further than the opening of the new Yankee Stadium that has “3,000 fewer seats than its 1923 predecessor but almost three times as many skybox suites.”

The professors advocate a limit on deductions for on luxury tickets to a low fixed amount (e.g. $50). They cite the outright elimination as “unrealistic” but we can’t recall at time when “realistic” and “Congress” collided in a sentence.

We agree with our esteemed colleague at ATL that if you really want to stick it to the companies who take advantage of tax code’s generous provisions, just make skybox tickets non-deductible altogether.

As the authors note, Corporate America has a love affair with sports-related perks and we’d guess that eliminating the deduction would not stop them from buying luxury tickets. The client relation types in your firms know that there is an intangible value to wooing potential clients in some comfortable confines as opposed to cramped seating in the stands with the commoners.

Throw Out Skybox Tax Subsidies [NYT via ATL]

Accounting News Roundup: Tax Freedom Day Is Nigh; Does the U.S. Government Need a Going Concern Opinion?; Google CFO Does Okay for Himself | 03.31.10

Tax Freedom Day 2010 Is April 9; Historically Massive Deficits Promise Later Tax Freedom in the Future [Tax Policy Blog]
This year April 9th marks, Tax Freedom Day. That’s 99 days of work for you to pay all your federal, state and local taxes for 2010. This is only one day later than last year but two weeks earlier than 2007, according to the Tax Policy Blog. However, TPB notes that the earlier tax freedom isn’t really much to get excited about.

Tax Freedom Day does not count the deficit even though deficits must eventually be financed. Since 1948, when Tax Freedom Day was first calculated, the difference between what governments are spending and what they’re collecting has never been as great as during 2009 and 2010. If Americans were required to pay for all government spending this year, including the $1.3 trillion federal budget deficit, they would be working until May 17 before they had earned enough to pay their taxes—an additional 38 days of work.

Expressing a Going Concern Doubt on the United States Government, Not According to GAAP [JDA]
Speaking of deficits, what does the U.S. Government’s deficit look like on a GAAP basis? Somewhere in the nabe of $4 trillion. But before you get all huffy about spendy Democrats, this is true bipartisanship at work. The deficit that includes social security and medicare was $11 trillion in 2004 and was all over the map throughout the aughts. Anyone thought of giving the U.S. a GCO?? AG notes that it’s a bit of problem when the government can’t even make things look rosy, “[W]hen even the government accounting makes things look bad (see: pensions), you really know you’ve got a problem on your hands.”

Google’s Schmidt Got $245,322; CFO Paid $24.7 Million [Bloomberg BusinessWeek]
The $24.7 million in total comp that Patrick Pichette received for ’09 was up from $7.63 million in ’08, the year he joined the company. Most of this year’s haul was from $10.9 mil in stock awards and $10.8 in stock options. His salary was only a measly $450k.

States Are Coming Up with Some Really Bad Ideas for Taxing Services

Yesterday we explained why sin taxes can work, despite the feelings of those that just want to tell the religious types to GTFO of the legislative process. While we agree that religious based legislation is a bad — nay — a horrendous idea, since more states refuse to legalize and tax certain things like marijuana, gambling, prostitution, among others, our elected officials have started coming up with even far worse ideas that the Texas pole tax.


The Times ran a story over the weekend that examined various states and what types of services they are taxing to close their budget gaps. While many states are considering taxes on professionals like lawyers and accountants, legislators in other states have gotten so desperate it appears they’re just pulling ideas straight out of their asses:

In Nebraska, a lawmaker has introduced a bill to tax armored car services, farm equipment repairs, shoe shines, taxidermy, reflexology and scooter repairs. In Kentucky, Jim Wayne, a state representative, and some fellow Democrats are proposing taxing high-end services: golf greens fees, limousine and hot-air-balloon rides, and private landscaping.

In June, voters in Maine will decide whether to accept a state overhaul of its tax system that would newly tax services like tailor alterations, blimp rides, and entertainment provided by clowns, comedians and jugglers.

We get it. States are desperate for revenues but these are the ideas? A juggler tax? Taxing your shoe shines? How’s this idea for taxing a service? Prostitutes! A service is being provided, yes? Make it a 50% tax, whatever the hell you want. Plus, more people getting laid might actually cut down on the crazies taking matters into their own hands.

We decided to get a service provider’s (not a prostie) thoughts on the matter, so we asked resident GC tax expert Joe Kristan for his thoughts:

Being a service provider myself, I can’t say I’m excited about the idea. Still, standard tax theory would say that services should be covered to make the tax as broad as possible, allowing (in theory) a lower rate. Iowa taxes a bunch of services, including foot reflexologists (you’d thank that would take care of the budget right there), but CPAs and lawyers are exempt. I’d say it’s because we’re special, but mostly it’s because we have special lobbyists.

All right, so maybe there’s a “theory” to it but something tells us it has nothing to do with taxing clowns.

States Seeking Cash Hope to Expand Taxes to Services [NYT via Web CPA D&C]

A Salute to Charlie Rangel

Apparently it’s Chuck Rangel day here at GC. Since we know there is a contingent of you that love Rangs and his exploits (and bow ties!) we feel compelled to follow up the ironic tax advice report with this.


We don’t know who’s running against Rangel (anyone?) this fall but we don’t see how this spot would be excluded from the arsenal.

[h/t TaxProf]

Here’s Why Most Sin Taxes Aren’t Stupid (Hint: It Makes More Things Legal)

Elie Mystal, the Editor of our sister site Above the Law, did a fair amount of kvetching over the Texas “pole tax” on Friday. He focuses primarily on his distaste for sin taxes, “I can’t avoid sin taxes — and thus I can’t stand them. First of all, they are regressive. Secondly, they’re anti-business. So we literally have a tax regime that freedom-loving progressi conservatives should hate, and yet sin taxes continue to be an acceptable way for the government to shove its morality down our throats.”

We’ll address that statement in a minute but first, we’ll examine the pole tax which supporters have stated, “is an appropriate exercise in state power — promoting public safety by discouraging the ‘combustible combination’ of drinking and live nudity.”


Elie’s thoughts:

Nude women + alcohol = rape? What kind of sex crazed sociologist came up with that equation? Just because boobs and beer make your sick ass go out and terrorize females doesn’t mean that other males are incapable of telling the difference between fantasy and cold, lonely reality.

And if this is a serious problem — what the f*** is $5 going to do about it? Texas legislators want us to believe that there is an epidemic of sexual assaults occurring because of the “combustible combination” of alcohol and live nude girls, but they also want us to believe that a $5 surcharge is going to make a difference.

We agree with Elie that Texas has come up with a bad — nay — horrendous idea. An extra $5 at the door isn’t going to accomplish a damn thing. Strip clubs are highly “combustible” environments regardless; taxing patrons to get them to think twice before entering doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Where Elie is dead wrong is his notion that “Either [the behavior subject to tax] is a serious societal problem that the government needs to step up and make [it] illegal — or it isn’t. If it’s not that big a deal, then what is a sin tax other than the government trying to get a taste of a lucrative American business?“

We have a problem with the “step up and make it illegal” part. The decriminalization and taxation of certain “sins” is a perfectly good way for states to raise money since taxes on income and property are far more political and thus, not effective.

Alcohol and tobacco both cause a myriad of health problems in humans that can result in high medical treatment costs. Taxes on these items are appropriate in order to supplement the burden that they place on society as a whole. Drugs and prostitution are, for the most part, criminalized. Thousands of people are arrested and jailed yearly for engaging in these behaviors, imposing millions of dollars in costs to taxpayers. Here’s a newsflash: human beings are not — ARE NOT — going to stop engaging in these behaviors. So why not take the “criminal” element out of the equation?

If they were to be made legal, highly regulated and taxed, states could enjoy new revenue streams and citizens can engage in behavior that they choose. That’s something many “freedom loving progressives” can certainly get behind. Plus, if drugs and prostitution are legal, won’t this encourage entrepreneurship and a more competitive marketplace? That sounds like something “money-loving conservatives” would approve of.

So while we’re with Elie railing against Texas’ impotent legislation, sin taxes are useful when implemented intelligently. California is putting legalized marijuana to a vote and DC may not be far behind so maybe we’re beginning to see some common sense for a change.

No Sin Taxes in the Champagne Room [ATL]
Earlier:
Texas Stripper Tax Will Survive One More Valentine’s Day

What’s the Best Course of Action When Your Client Starts Sobbing Over Their Tax Bill?

Tax professionals require many traits: good with numbers; explaining complex issues; the ability to forego adequate sleep regularly; borderline insanity, among others. One talent that some tax gurus, certainly not all, possess is that of makeshift therapist. When you think about it, this makes perfect sense, since Americans hate taxes and the IRS.

This passionate resentment obviously leads to strong emotions and sometimes actions; emotions that have to be addressed by tax professionals. Many situations that CPA, EA, or tax attorney encounter necessitate the phrase “calm your ass down.”


From the San Francisco Chronicle, a few examples include, marital relations “My actual designation is enrolled agent, but it should be marriage and family counselor…Sometimes I know about a divorce before the spouse. Or I’ll get a call after a couple has just had a hellacious fight, and she or he wants to have the tax refund put in another account.”

Then of course, the overall warped fear of the IRS that no amount of Xanax will help subside:

“People have had it drilled into their heads that the IRS is as close as we can get to the secret police,” says Stephen Graves, a CPA in downtown San Francisco who has been preparing tax returns for more than 40 years.

“The IRS (audit) is the adult equivalent of being called into the office — it’s a very interesting, basic emotion,” he adds. “Twenty to 30 percent of my job is kind of like being a shrink, and guiding them through that fear.”

However, the biggest common denominator that tax pros report is the weeping. All clients have personal problems of some sort but when you break the news to them that they owe the Feds a grip of cash, that can be too much to bear.

Your inclination may be to roll your eyes and drum your fingers on your desk until they get it out or to point at them accusingly and shout, “Jesus! Pull yourself together man!” but this would not be the advised course of action. The most effective? Nod, listen and don’t get all judge-y:

[T]heir techniques are decidedly un-quantitative. “I listen…I try not to patronize them and say, ‘Everything will be OK.’ I try and be a good listener. A lot of times people just need to get it off their chest and get on with it.”

“I try to be empathetic…Nobody leaves my office without a hug.”

There’s the answer friends. Hugs. More hugs.

Tears and taxes: Meet my therapist, the accountant [SF Chronicle]

The IRS Will Enforce Mandatory Healthcare Using the Honor System

How much tax would you pay on April 15 if the IRS couldn’t levy on your bank account, slap you with a lien, charge you penalties and interest, or send you to jail? Not much, eh? Then ponder the rules forcing individuals to buy “minimum essential coverage” under Obamacare.

The forced purchase of insurance is key to Obamacare. The “personal responsibility requirement” – a funny name for a requirement imposed by the state – is needed to make sure that low-risk individuals buy insurance to help keep it affordable for high-risk buyers (or, less politely, healthy young men are forced to subsidize everybody else). The penalty is considered vital to any semblance of fiscal soundness for the program. The rule is backed up by penalties and will be collected on tax returns.


The reaction of healthy young men in 2014 when this penalty kicks in will be “Dude. You’re not serious.”

And they will be right.

Caleb noted this yesterday from the Joint Committee of Taxation explanation of the penalties (my emphasis):

The penalty is assessed through the Code and accounted for as an additional amount of Federal tax owed. However, it is not subject to the enforcement provisions of subtitle F of the Code. The use of liens and seizures otherwise authorized for collection of taxes does not apply to the collection of this penalty. Non-compliance with the personal responsibility requirement to have health coverage is not subject to criminal or civil penalties under the Code and interest does not accrue for failure to pay such assessments in a timely manner.

If we take them at their word – and new Code Sec.5000A(g)(2) seems to say just this – why would any sensible taxpayer ever pay the penalty?

• They can’t threaten you with jail.
• They can’t hit you with a lien.
• They can’t levy your accounts.
• There’s no interest charge, so even if you do pay it late somehow, you’ve had the interest in the meantime.

We tax preparers probably won’t be allowed to recommend non-payments to our clients, or we will be silenced by our new IRS preparer enforcement overlords, but people will figure it out in a hurry. And if you think that people will pay taxes anyway without the threat of collection, penalties or interest, then why are we wasting any money funding the IRS?

This provision means one of two things: either this penalty is a joke, and they are just kidding about the cost estimates of the bill — they will be much, much higher — or the toothless penalties are just a PR stunt that they plan to correct as soon as they can get away with it.

The Top Ten Tax Procrastinating Cities

So capital market servants, filed your tax returns yet? No? Too busy, you say? Fine. We’ve all got our excuses. Personally, we’re holding out until Doug Shulman and/or Tim Geithner start returning our calls about their compliance efforts for 2009. Since we’ve been encouraged to not hold our breath on this, we’ve already filed our extension.

But where are most of the kings of putting off the 1040 until the last minute? The greatest concentration of “I’ll do it this weekend” types? The engineers of procrastination station?


Well if you guessed Houston not only are you correct but you’ve got more useless knowledge in your brain than Ken Jennings.

TurboTax’s rankings are based on the largest number of people that file between April 14 – 17. Here are your biggest putter-offers for 2009 (with previous year ranking in parents):

1. Houston – (#2)

2. Chicago – (#4)

3. New York – (#3)

4. Austin, Texas – (#11)

5. San Francisco – (#1)

6. Seattle – (#7)

7. San Diego – (#5)

8. Los Angeles – (#8)

9. Dallas – (#9)

10. Las Vegas – (#10)

This marks the fourth time that H-town has topped this list but we’ll be damned if we can figure out why. Does the humidity and obesity cause a hibernated state that we’re not aware of or is just good old fashioned, “we’re Texans and we hate taxes”? California too. What the hell is their problem?

In order to get to the bottom of this, we asked a friend (and strangely enough, a tax guru) who is a current Los Angeles resident and former resident of Houston to explain and she put in this way:

“Well.. Californians are selfish and think they can do whatever they want to get theirs…and pretty much Texans are the same, but they do it with a smile and an accent.”

Makes total sense now.


Free Tax Filing, Efile Taxes, Income Tax Returns – TurboTax.com

Houston, We Have a Problem [Tax Break]

Ludacris Should Be Giving Ving Rhames Tax Advice

In today’s celebrity tax scofflaw du jour, we learn that Ving “Why do people always have to bring up that scene in Pulp Fiction” Rhames owes the IRS over $800k from two liens, both filed by the IRS in Los Angeles.

Rhames has had trubs in the past, having liens filed against him last May as well.

It seems to that California, being in the fiscal trouble that’s it in, really needs to call on its other celebrity residents to hold some sort of Haiti-esque fundraiser for some of their fellow celebs.


Sure, it might not fix all the state’s budget problems but at least we could admire our celebrities for being financially responsible pillars of the community rather than pillars of the community when there’s an international crisis. Plus, maybe California wouldn’t have to fire more teachers.

In semi-related news, you will never, ever, EVER hear about Ludacris owing the IRS a damn thing. Not now, not ever.

“I pay more in taxes than most people would ever imagine. I guarantee you, I’m looking dead in the camera, you will never hear about Ludacris owing the damn IRS no damn money.”

Okay, financial celebrities f-ups, get on the horn and find out what the great financial mind-cum-rapper/actor of Ludacris has in store for you. Things haven’t worked out so far, so it can’t hurt to see what the man has to say.

Ving Rhames far from OK with Uncle Sam [Tax Watchdog]

Accounting News Roundup: Sarbanes-Oxley’s Credibility Takes a Major Hit; You Shouldn’t Hate the IRS; You Especially Shouldn’t Tell Inappropriate Jokes About the IRS | 03.15.10

The Valukas Report on Lehman Brothers: Sarbanes/Oxley’s Credibility Takes a Dive [Re:Balance]
Has the Vakulus report exposed Sarbanes-Oxley as a, dare we say it, a waste of time? Perhaps that’s a stretch but the question of its effectiveness in the case of Lehman Brothers is certainly worth noting, “if Sarbox didn’t have an impact on Dick Fuld and Lehman, what possible good has it wrought?” asks Jim Peterson.

CNBC tried having this discussion on Friday although it didn’t seem to get anywhere. And some may say that SOx has resulted in a many positive developments, although this latest disaster may indicate that overwhelming support of legislation should be a sign that something doesn’t smell right, “the hindsight revelation of the Valukas report is that the inability of Sarbox to reach global-scale problems shows the futility of legislation so politically anodyne that it passed the US Senate by a vote of 96-0.”


In other words, SOx was sold as the cure-all to the problems revealed by Enron et al. and it made for some nice pandering during an election year. Once the election was over, Congress figured their work was done and nearly eight years later people are asking questions. The question now is, who will pick up the Lehman/E&Y torch in this cycle? There’s less than eight months until election day!

Why I Don’t Hate the IRS — and Neither Should You [Politics Daily]
Okay, so maybe the IRS isn’t perfect but using planes, guns or more subtle forms of dissatisfaction doesn’t really help matters.

“While it may be superficially gratifying, it is absurd to use the IRS as a whipping boy. Is there anyone who really believes that we could live in a world where citizens expect the government to provide benefits without raising the taxes needed to pay for them?”

Last we checked, the answer to that question is yes, starting with the fans of Joe Stack’s Facebook page.

TIGTA Is Investigating 70 Jokes/Inappropriate Statements About the Attack on the Austin IRS Office [TaxProf Blog]
Aaaannnd another thing. If you think you can tell semi-serious jokes about the IRS plane crash, you will be dealt with in a swift and serious manner. Expect to receive yearly financial rectal exams for the rest of your time on Earth. Someone in Utah should be paying especially close attention.

Quote of the Day: We Will Tax Those Love Handles Right Off | 03.10.10

“While such policies will not solve the obesity epidemic in its entirety and may face considerable opposition from food manufacturers and sellers, they could prove an important strategy to address overconsumption, help reduce energy intake and potentially aid in weight loss and reduced rates of diabetes among U.S. adults.”

~ Researchers from the University of North Carolina, who concluded that an 18% tax on pizza and soda could help adults lose an average of 5 pounds a year.

Accounting News Roundup: SEC Official Explains His Porn Habits; Private Companies May Embrace IFRS Quicker; New Bill Would Ax Tax Tardy Fed Employees | 03.04.10

Porn Nightmare Never Ends for SEC Official [FINS]
Whatever your porn preferences, you’re probably not sharing them with complete strangers. If you are, the cloud of awkward around you has got to be so thick that you may as well have leprosy. However, if you have the unfortunate luck of getting caught viewing this art form at work, then you might be forced to discuss your preferences, how often you’re engaging in the activity, among other things:

[T]he really juicy stuff begins when he’s asked about accessing Web sites like tgirlhotspot.com and ladyboyx.com (warning, very NSFW): “Our records show that on Wednesday, August 13, 2008, beginning at 1:57 p.m., you made approximately 85 attempts…to access a Web site called tgirlhotspot.com. Do you have any recollection of attempting to access this site?”

The employee answers: “I do not personally have recollection of it, but it would not surprise me.” To which the inspector — and the reader — responds: “Okay. That’s fair.”

Seriously, who can remember every instance that they’ve visited ladyboyx.com? Does the guy have a photographic memory? Maybe on certain images but date, time, and spreadsheet you had open that you could quickly jump to in case someone came to close? That’s asking a little much.

Should the U.S. Forget about Private-Company GAAP? [CFO Blog]
Now that the Blue Ribbon Panel for private company GAAP has been announced, it makes some people wonder if the non-SEC types will just ignore this whole song and dance the Commission is doing get with the IFRS program ASAP. Ahh, the advantages of being a private company…

Even though both the BRP and the SEC will release their musings on their respective topics in 2011, private companies already have options, “[T]he U.S. private sector has already set some IFRS wheels in motion. In 2008, AICPA recognized the IASB as an official standard-setter, which means U.S. auditors are allowed to issue opinions on private-company financial results filed using IFRS.”

It’s doubtful that IFRS reporting will spread like H1N1 among private companies but while the SEC twiddles the private sector seems to recognize where all this is ultimately going.

Jason Chaffetz: Ax Hill staff tax cheats [Politico]
Since all the members of the House are up for reelection this year, everyone needs something solid to campaign on and apparently Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) has found his stump.

Chaffetz is introducing legislation that would extend an IRS policy — termination employees that haven’t paid their federal taxes — to all federal departments and agencies.

In 2008 alone, 447 House employees and 231 Senate workers didn’t pay their taxes, according to figures from the IRS, Office of Personnel Management and Department of Defense.

“We have over 600 staffers on Capitol Hill not paying their taxes. That’s just not acceptable,” Chaffetz said in an interview with POLITICO. “It’s disingenuous to take federal taxpayer dollars and not pay your full share of taxes. It’s wrong.”

Between to the two bodies in Congress, over $8 million are owed in taxes. We don’t have to remind anyone how little money this is grand scope of the federal government. But hey! Rep. Chaffetz has an election to win and by God, this could be the ticket. Some other notable delinquent federal employees include the Postal Service at $257 million; Dept. of Veteran Affairs at $131 million; Army and Navy owe $81 million and $61 million respectively.

But pointing out those people wouldn’t make for very good press.

Thankfully, Most Americans Show Hatred for the IRS in Less Violent, More Passive-Aggressive Ways

Okay, so the past few weeks we’ve seen some psychotic behavior as it pertains to IRS. And yesterday, someone’s llelo (yes, it’s Utah, but that’s the best we’ve got right now) was mistaken for Anthrax and it caused the FBI and Hazmat to storm the building and leave with bodies wrapped up like mummies. If you’re getting worried that people might be freaking out, you’ve got some solid evidence in your corner.

The good news is that not everyone who hates the IRS with every fiber of their being is so cold that they’ll fly a plane into a building, shoot a gun at their spouse or destroy the very home they live in.

Michelle Lowry knows first-hand how much people hate the Internal Revenue Service.

The 37-year-old Leander woman, who processes forms for the IRS in Austin, confronts that venom regularly. People slip razor blades and pushpins into the same envelopes as their W-2 forms. They send nasty notes with their crumpled documents. Last year during the height of the Tea Party movement, hundreds of taxpayers included — what else? — tea bags with their returns.

See? It is possible to show hatred for the IRS without trying to killing someone or destroying your own property. Let’s try thinking things through before we start going completely batshit insane, shall we?

Passive-aggressive protest seems like a more modern way of showing contempt for the government anyway.

Threats, contempt come with job for IRS workers [Austin American-Statesman]

More IRS Violence: Joseph Stack Was Not the First Violent Tax Protester…and He Won’t Be the Last

Even More Tax-Related Violence: Wife Shoots at Refund Hogging Husband

As we still tread in the wake of the Joe Stack attack on the IRS, it seems that bizarro things are happening all over this great land of ours and many of them have to do with taxes and/or the IRS. Jailbirds requesting fraudulent refunds and receiving them, IRS-inspired bulldozing of houses and now we’ve learned about a woman who tried to kill her husband who wouldn’t share their tax refund money.

And like Joe, Bulldozer Terry and the Florida inmates, the woman is pretty satisfied with her actions:

Investigators say the woman then went into the city of St. Louis and threw the gun in a sewer. Police contacted the woman a short time later and she turned herself in. Police say she didn’t seem sorry.


“She felt more than justified. She cooperated very well, with the reasoning why she fired the shots, as well as recovering the gun. She said she didn’t want a child to find the gun in the sewer,” says Daniel O’Conner, the Assistant Chief of Police for Pine Lawn.

This lady can’t be all bad; she was thinking about the kids when she threw that gun in the river. There’s no indication that the husband in this little caper was just a greedy SOB or if his not-so-good sharing skills were justified due to a spendy Mrs.

Regardless, it’s seems that every hour brings another story that strengthens the argument that taxes are the cause of all the strife and violence in this country. We should have taken the IRS shotgun shopping spree as a sign.

[h/t TaxProf and Tax Update]

Accounting News Roundup: Bipartisan Tax Reform Bill to be Introduced; PCAOB Offers More Documentation Guidance; Iowa Congressman “Emphasizes” with Joe Stack | 02.23.10

A Bipartisan Plan for Tax Fairness [WSJ]
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Judd Gregg (R-NH) co-wrote an op-ed to introduce their bill for tax reform: The Bipartisan Tax Fairness and Simplification Act of 2010.

The magic word! Bipartisanship! No one will argue against this bill with the magic word in there. Well, we’ll see. In the meantime they plugged all the things voters like to hear:

• Most taxpayers will be able to use a one-page 1040.

• In some cases the IRS will prepare the return for you; all the taxpayer will have to do is sign date and return.

• Reduce the six tax brackets to three: 15%, 25%, and 35%.

• Tripling the standard deduction.

• The first 35% of long-term capital gains income would be tax exempt.

• Flat corporate tax rate of 24%.

Sounds simpler, anyway.


PCAOB Offers Guidance on AS7 Documentation [Compliance Week]
Don’t worry auditors, this is just a little guidance on Auditing Standard 7: Engagement Quality Review that was requested by the SEC. All it says is that if your engagement happens to be royally f—ed up (i.e. “significant engagement deficiency is identified”) then you have to include enough documentation so that some strange auditor, with some experience, can understand why your engagement is such a mess. Nothing extra but don’t leave out the gory details.

Steve King To Conservatives: ‘Implode’ IRS Offices [Talking Points Memo]
Congressman Steve King (R-IA) is the winner of open-mouth-insert-foot (Joe Biden is awfully quiet these days) this week after saying that he “emphasized” with Joe Stack and that he encouraged listeners at the Conservative Political Action Conference to “implode” other IRS offices.

This may be blown out of proportion since no one typically gets hurt in an implosion but we don’t think the likes of Glenn Beck should be allowed near explosives of any kind.

Joseph Stack Was Not the First Violent Tax Protester…and He Won’t Be the Last

While the apparent kamikaze raid on the Austin IRS offices yesterday may be the first air assault on an IRS office, it’s not the first time somebody on the wrong end of the tax law attempted an entirely stupid and futile gesture of violent tax resistance.

Take Minnesota computer entrepreneur Robert Beale. Rather than showing up for his tax trial, he hit the road and spent 14 months on the run. When in jail awaiting his rescheduled trial, he arranged a “common law court” of associates to “arrest” his judge. He unwisely made these arrangements through a wired prison phone, and got an extra 11 years in prison for his trouble. He had a solution for that, too, telling his sentencing judge: “’I do not consent to incarceration, fine or supervised release,’ he said. ‘I have not committed a crime.’” Amazingly, convict consent is not required in the Federal prison system, and Mr. Beale is currently residing in Yazoo City, Mississippi.


A Florida contractor, Randy Nowak, chose a different path. In 2008, he was concerned that an IRS agent was closing in on offshore bank accounts. As the IRS offshore amnesty wasn’t yet up and running, he attempted to hire out the murder of the IRS agent. For good measure, he wanted to burn down the local IRS office. He met with a mean looking 6-4 biker nicknamed “The Reaper” to arrange the work. Plans went awry when “The Reaper” turned out to be an undercover FBI agent wearing a wire. Mr. Nowak had an explanation:

Nowak’s attorney argued that his client was actually afraid of the biker and that a friend had gotten him unwittingly involved in the plot. His lawyer pointed to a number of phone calls between Nowak and his friend, who secretly alerted the authorities to the plot. The attorney claimed that Nowak had been trying to persuade his friend to call off the hit, but the friend warned him against angering the gang.

The jury didn’t buy it, and Mr. Nowak received a 30 year sentence. Still, he is only in his early 50s, so he has more to look forward to than 67 year-old Ed Brown. When Mr. Brown’s trial on tax charges seemed to be going badly, he retreated to a fortress-like New Hampshire homestead filled with food and ammo and surrounded by booby traps. He held out for months until he was captured by U.S. Marshals posing as sympathizers. He will begin his 37-year sentence on federal weapons charges when he completes his 63-month tax sentence. He is scheduled for release in 2044, when he will be about 111 years old.

The Austin Kamikaze’s plans did sort of resolve his tax problems, but at a price beyond what most people with tax problems are ready to pay.

‘Subversive’ Organizations Must Register in South Carolina; Terrorist Tax to Follow?

Do you have a client thinking of starting a subversive organization in South Carolina? Are they looking to expand their network of businesses to include one with the expressed mission of overthrowing the U.S. government? Thought so!

Just so you know, they are required by law to register with Secretary of State and declare their intentions or they will be subject to a $25,000 fine and 10 years in prison. Let’s keep the ship tight people.

The Subversive Activities Registration Act was passed last year by the Palmetto State legislature and is now officially on the books. Oh! And there is a $5 filing fee (we attached for the form below for your convenience).


If you’re not sure if the new entity will qualify, the law defines subversive organization:

(1) “Subversive organization” means every corporation, society, association, camp, group, bund, political party, assembly, body or organization, composed of two or more persons, which directly or indirectly advocates, advises, teaches or practices the duty, necessity or propriety of controlling, conducting, seizing or overthrowing the government of the United States, of this State or of any political subdivision thereof by force or violence or other unlawful means

South Carolina, clearly not satisfied with the job being done at DHS, obviously enacted this little gem of legislation to exploit these organizations’ propensity for full disclosure. What’s the point of organizing a business with such an important purpose if everything isn’t going to be on the up and up?

The Raw Story reports that enacting redundant legislation is the norm for the Palmetto State as “[it] is among those states which require drug dealers to declare their illegal income, or face additional criminal penalties on top of the already established penalties for buying, possessing and selling drugs.”

We can only assume that the SC pols will now get to work on a new “Terrorist Tax” that will be known as the Super-Anti-American Business Sucks Act. It seems like a natural progression of the legislation there.

No joke: South Carolina now requires ’subversives’ to register [The Raw Story]
Terrorists Must Register With SC Secretary Of State [Fits News]
[h/t Joe Kristan and Russ Fox of Taxable Talk]
SubversiveAgentForm

This Man Hates Taxes More Than He Loves His Family

Well, he doesn’t come right out and say that but actions speak louder than words, amiright?

This is Guy Hands, Founder, Chairman and Chief Investment Officer of Terra Firma a private equity firm with locations in London, Frankfurt, and Guernsey where he currently resides.

He moved there last April from Kent, a county in Southeast England, to “protest at higher income and capital gains tax rates,” and that “he has ‘never visited’ his school age children since he left the [the United Kingdom]. They have remained with his wife at their former family home in Kent and they now have to travel to Guernsey to see him.”


Guy “Father Knows Best” Hands also doesn’t visit his parents any more “and would not do so except in an emergency,” so he’s not much of a son either.

The devoted family man is an “‘outspoken’ critic of UK tax levels,” so this level of commitment to avoid paying taxes shouldn’t be a surprise. Non-resident tax status is at stake here; he won’t set foot in a UK airport even to transfer.

GH’s shrewd sensibilities were revealed in court papers last week as the venue for his dispute with Citigroup over Terra Firma’s purchase of music group EMI is being decided. If the proceedings are moved to London, Hands’ tax planning could be completely thwarted and — gasp — he might see his children in the UK (if time permits of course).

I save tax by never visiting my family, says tycoon Guy Hands [Guardian]

White House Backs Down on Corporate Foreign Earnings Tax

This story is republished from CFOZone, where you’ll find news, analysis and professional networking tools for finance executives.

The Obama administration is slowly starting to pick its battles; starting with taxes on corporations’ foreign earnings.

The administration has abandoned its proposal to eliminate U.S.-based multinationals’ ability to defer tax on income by shifting assets to foreign subsidiaries, according to a published report.

While details are sketchy, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that the administration’s proposed budget for fiscal 2011 shows that it has abandoned its plan to eliminate the so-called “check the box” system under which U.S. companies can defer U.S. tax on income by shifting income-generating assets to foreign subsidiaries without recognizing gains on the transfer.


The proposal would have eliminated companies’ ability to avoid tax on such transfers and forced the repatriation of earnings shifted in this way.

According to Bloomberg, the administration backed down in the face of intense opposition from multinationals. Observers note that Congress has tried to squelch the efforts of the Internal Revenue Service to clamp down on U.S. companies getting foreign tax breaks at the same time as U.S. tax breaks, although many of those breaks are facilitated by the check the box system.

“Maybe the administration figured this was one it did not need to pick a fight on,” Jasper Cummings, a partner in the Raleigh, N.C., office of Alston & Bird and a former associate chief counsel of the IRS, said in an email to CFOZone Tuesday. “They have enough fights as it is.”

Still, Cummings noted that the administration still has “a pretty long list of other changes” in international taxation that it is pursuing. Chief among them is a plan to tighten the pricing rules for transfers of intangible assets.

As CFOZone reported last fall, one such proposal would crack down on asset transfers of employee compensation. In a paper released in May outlining its budget for the last fiscal year, the administration said it would “clarify” the treatment of transfers of intangible assets to include shifts of such expenses.

At present, many companies avoid paying tax on gains resulting from transfers of so-called “workforce in place” under rules that also allow goodwill and “going concern” to go untaxed. In early 2007, however, the IRS issued a staff directive and audit guidelines warning that it was “improper” for taxpayers to classify workforce in place as goodwill and going concern. And an IRS official in September indicated that transfers of workforce in place should include the value of products or services the employees create if much of the work is complete at the time of the transfer.

According to Bloomberg, the administration’s proposals to toughen the rules on transfer pricing would generate $15.5 billion in tax revenues for the coming year and along with other international tax changes produce $122.2 billion over a decade.

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

Private charitable efforts are as American as can be. Toqueville noted our vigorous civil society back in the early days:

Americans of all ages, all conditions, and all dispositions constantly form associations. They have not only commercial and manufacturing companies, in which all take part, but associations of a thousand other kinds, religious, moral, serious, futile, general or restricted, enormous or diminutive. The Americans make associations to give entertainments, to found seminaries, to build inns, to construct churches, to diffuse books, to send missionaries to the antipodes; in this manner they found hospitals, prisons, and schools. If it is proposed to inculcate some truth or to foster some feeling by the encouragement of a great example, they form a society.

The tax law recognizes this all-American tendency in Sec. 501(c)(3), which grants a tax exemption for associations with the proper purpose, like those in the headlines.

So along comes Eddie C. Risdal from Iowa. Eddie wanted tax exemption for a cause dear to his heart, “Mysteryboy Incorporation”:

MENBERS SHALL NOT PROMOOT, BUT WILL NOT DENY THE FACT OF PAST & PRESENT HUMAN HISTORY THAT HUMANKIND FROM YOUTH ON-THROUGH ADULTHOOD HAS IN MAJORITY BEEN SEXUAL ACTIVE WHETHER BE IN PROMISIOUS, DEVENTCY, OR EXPERIMENTATION SEXUAL ACTS, AND MENBERS WILL PROMOOT SAFE SEX EDUCATION AND SAY NO TO ILLEGAL DRUGS USES UNTIL THE EVENT THAT THEY BECOME LEGALIZED, MENBERS WILL PROMOOT FEED THE HUNGARY, SUEICIDE PREVENTION AND ANY AMENDED PROGRAMS AS THE INCORPORATION FINDS SUCH A PUBLIC NEED TO ADD SUCH PROGRAMS THAT WILL BENEFIT SOCIETY AT LARGE.

The IRS somehow found this suspicious and asked a few more questions. They came to this conclusion:

The facts of this case show that Mysteryboy Incorporation was organized and operating primarily for influencing a change in the laws concerning sexual exploitation of children.

The Tax Court found that cause a bit too close to Eddie’s heart (my emphasis):

The activities in which petitioner proposes to engage seek to decriminalize the type of behavior (1) for which Mr. Risdal, petitioner’s founder, sole director, sole officer, and executive director, was convicted and incarcerated and (2) which formed the basis for his having been adjudicated a sexually violent predator subject to civil commitment under Iowa Code Ann. ch. 229A (West 2006).10 On the record before us, we find that petitioner has failed to show that those activities will not provide Mr. Risdal with a platform from which he will seek to legitimize the illegal behaviors in which he has engaged, for which he was convicted, and which formed the basis on which he is civilly committed under the laws of the State of Iowa. On that record, we find that petitioner has failed to carry its burden of establishing that its proposed activities will not further the private interests of Mr. Risdal in violation of section 501(c)(3) and the regulations thereunder.

The moral? Civil society ends where civil commitment begins.

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

Joe Kristan is a tax shareholder for Roth & Company, a Des Moines, Iowa CPA firm, where he works with closely-held businesses and their owners. Prior to helping start Roth & Company, he worked for two of what are now the Final Four CPA firms. He writes the Tax Update Blog and is available for seminars, first communions, Bar Mitzvahs, etc. You can see all his posts for GC here.

Quote of the Day | 01.20.10

“The White House should take note from the Massachusetts Senate election that making life harder for small and medium-size businesses is not the right answer.”
~ Dean Zerbe, National Managing Director of alliantgroup on the Obama Administration’s urging of Congress to crack down on corporate tax cheats.

Double-dipping the Economic “Recovery”

Thumbnail image for tax man.jpgIn case you haven’t heard, it’s go time for the Obama administration to cover its continually-growing deficit with no sign of increased foreign investor demand for unstable and uncertain US debt. What happened to passing a health care overhaul before Christmas? And what about those 140 failed banks in 2009? And hey! What became of that $700 billion in stimulus money that was supposed to save and create bazillions of jobs?
Here’s the solution. Tax their asses.
NYT:

President Obama will try to recoup for taxpayers as much as $120 billion of the money spent to bail out the financial system, most likely through a tax on large banks, administration and Congressional officials said Monday.


In a desperate scramble to come up for cash, the administration has thrown out a couple of unpopular ideas (unpopular if you’re a banker, of course) including excessive taxes on bonuses and bizarre financial transaction taxes. Like squeezing blood from turnips, apparently these guys forget that it was less than a year and a half ago that Hank Paulson appeared on the Hill threatening full-on financial doomsday were TARP not instituted rightf*ckingnow. So much for pulling out the bazooka in his pocket.
And let us not forget that shit rolls down hill. Who do you think would ultimately be responsible for these additional monies? The banks or the idiot customers who continue to shovel out ever-increasing fees to said banks? Exactly.

Lobbyists for bankers, taken by surprise, immediately objected to any new tax. They said financial institutions had been repaying their portion of the bailout money in full, with interest. Losses from the $700 billion bailout fund — estimated to run as high as $120 billion — are expected to come from the automobile companies and their finance arms, the insurance giant American International Group and programs to avert home foreclosures, and the president is aiming to recoup that money.

I really, really hate to side with the bankers here but they are absolutely right. If retribution for the financial crisis is our goal, taxing them to death isn’t the way to achieve that. If paying our government’s bills is the goal, however, I could see how this could easily be spun into populist payback for the pain and suffering of the last 2 years.
Hate to break it to you, America, but any money potentially recouped by this genius scheme has already been spent and certainly wouldn’t result in any long term benefit to us as a country. I’d use the pay day loan analogy again but hell, isn’t it played out by now?

Review Comments | 12.29.09

Thumbnail image for Joe-Francis.jpg‘Girls Gone Wild’ Founder Sues IRS – The newly crowned Douche of the Decade is in a litigious mood. After threatening to sue Gawker for the prestigious honor he was bestowed, DOTD is now suing the IRS for freezing his assets. Will someone stop to this man douche?[Web CPA]

Bill Would Require Comptroller General to be a CPA – Now there’s an idea. [Web CPA]

Lehman administrators PwC repay $11bn to creditors – Seems like good news. [BBC]

2010: Get Ready for a Tax-a-palooza – “Facing trillions of dollars of expiring Bush-era tax cuts, President Obama and Congress will be forced to make some critical decisions in the new year.” [Tax Vox]

SEC Seeks PAFs: Jan. 13 Deadline – Professional Accounting Fellows. You. [FEI Financial Reporting Blog]

Let’s Talk About the Terrorist Underpants, Shall We? – Yes. Let’s. [DI]

Revealed: How Oscar Nominee Ballots Are Counted – Because we know you were wondering. [The Wrap]

Tax Court Channels Kenny RogersRaj isn’t the only fan. [Tax Update Blog]

Shareholders Win Settlement in Comverse Suit – Deloitte pitched in $275,000. That’s roughly the equivalent to one partner’s Starbucks budget. [Web CPA]

Bouncing Back: Overcoming a Negative Performance Review – Anyone? [FINS]

Tax Accountants to Get Biggest 2010 Raise – Good news already! [TaxProf Blog]

Luckily for Nicolas Cage, Ghost Rider 2 Is In Development

raising.arizona.073007.jpgToday in getting-sued-by-your-ex-but-my-name-isn’t-Steven Cohen news, Nicolas Cage is now being sued by his ex-girlfriend, Christina Fulton for $13 mil.
She’s claiming that Ghost Rider and his accountant, Samuel Levin (no relation), were really not very fucking good with the money and now she owes $1 million to the IRS annnnnd she has $250,000 in credit card debt annnnnd she lost her house.
If that’s not enough, Cage and Levin already don’t think too much of each other as they’ve been suing/countersuing each other over whether Cage sucks more at spending money ($1.6 million comic book collection) or Levin at managing it (risky real estate investments).
Good luck lady. The ex-Mrs. C’s chances seem better.
Nicolas Cage’s Ex Sues Him and His Former Accountant [Web CPA]

The Latest Solution to Your State’s Fiscal Troubles

spicoli.jpgCNN, who sometimes puts out pure and utter crap, has issued a 50-state ranking of potential tax revenues that could be earned if marijuana was legalized and taxed.
The ranking is based on “state-by-state marijuana consumption, from Jeffrey Miron (Harvard University, Department of Economics), Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition,” according to Paul Caron at TaxProf Blog. The total tax revenue projected by the study is $778 million.
Shockingly, California would benefit the most (especially since they won’t get additional money from Ahnuld), earning an estimated $105 million. A couple of notable states in the top twenty include Colorado and Oregon who both jumped considerably on the list as compared to where they rank in population. In other words, ganja use per capita is higher there (yes, that’s an intentional pun).
What the study fails to incorporate is the increase in sales tax revenues that would result from the surge in junk food and movie ticket sales. Despite this omission, the study demonstrates that all states would earn money that they would otherwise gone to some weird dude that only has black lights in his apartment.
Since this partial solution makes entirely too much sense, we expect the majority of states to continue to cut education and public service jobs to meet their budget goals.
Projected Revenues From Marijuana Tax [TaxProf Blog]

L.A. Times: ‘Think of it as a forced, interest-free loan’

Starting Sunday, [November 1,] cash-strapped California will dig deeper into the pocketbooks of wage earners — holding back 10% more than it already does in state income taxes just as the biggest shopping season of the year kicks into gear.
Technically, it’s not a tax increase, even though it may feel like one when your next paycheck arrives. As part of a bundle of budget patches adopted in the summer, the state is taking more money now in withholding, even though workers’ annual tax bills won’t change.
Think of it as a forced, interest-free loan: You’ll be repaid any extra withholding in April. Those who would receive a refund anyway will receive a larger one, and those who owe taxes will owe less.

Californians, take it from here.
California to withhold a bigger chunk of paychecks [LAT]
See also: California Borrows from Peter to Pay Peter Then Robs Paul at Gunpoint [JDA]

‘Sex Is Kind of Like Dancing, Right?’

ACORN, yes, Bill O’Reilly’s favorite non-profit, is giving tax advice. Apparently, prostitution qualifies as a performing art. Who are we to argue?


Yes, it’s almost ten minutes but it’s worth it.

Check out Part II over at TaxProf Blog.

Wanted: New Political Rhetoric to Pander to the Populist Masses

taxes_protest.jpgWealthy taxpayers now have some legit data that allows them to give the finger to all the rabid populist outrage that’s been going around. According to the most recent data provided by the IRS, the top 1% of taxpayers pay more taxes than the bottom 95%. The wealthiest 1% picks up 40.4% of the tax bill while the bottom 95% gets 39.4%.

This amounts to pretty inconvenient data for lots of Democrats politicians who have been screaming for years that the wealthiest Americans need to pay more taxes.

Tax Burden of Top 1% Now Exceeds That of Bottom 95% [Tax Policy Blog via TaxProf Blog]

Going Concern is Not Immune to the Michael Jackson Circus

1.michael_jackson_71246050015.jpgWe’ve been able to avoid the whole Michael Jackson debacle up until now. We couldn’t, in good blogging conscience, avoid this particular story.
The estate of Michael Jackson is probably going to have to turn over at least $80 million to the IRS and they get to cut the line right to the front to collect.
“As in a bankruptcy case, Jackson’s creditors will jockey for first crack at his fortune. But the estate’s initial obligation will be to pay the late star’s taxes, said Beth Kaufman, a Washington-based attorney specializing in estate tax issues. ‘There is no question that the U.S. government has first priority,’ she said.
Oh, and the Service is not going to take the royalty rights to She Loves You or I am the Walrus either:

To settle his tax bill, the executors of his estate may have to sell or borrow against lucrative but hard-to-value assets or ask the IRS for a multi-year extension. That could allow the estate to pay the tab over time with earnings from Jackson’s share in rights to songs by the Beatles and his own music — prized properties whose value will likely make the estate’s tax bill only bigger. “The government is not going to take a Beatles record as payment. They want to be paid in cash,” said Roy Kozupsky, a veteran estate lawyer in New York who has worked on behalf of several wealthy clients.

Reportedly, Jackson still made $40 million a year from his ownership of the recordings. This will no doubt make the calculation of the tax bill more complicated and thus, we’ll continue to be saturated with all the excruciating details about this story that we just don’t want to hear.
Death and taxes: Big IRS bill looms for MJ estate [AP via TaxProf Blog]

WSJ: Entrepreneurs Win Tax Case Versus IRS

two thumbs up.jpegGet some coffee, we’re about to talk some tax law…
In a major win for small businesses, a U.S. Tax Court ruled in favor of farmers in Nebraska who claimed that losses from their LLC were not “passive” as the IRS has been arguing for years.
As a result of the ruling, losses from investments in LLP’s and LLC’s held by active participants will be allowed to offset said individual’s personal and investment income.
Prior to the ruling some losses were being carried forward for years until the investment produced a profit or was sold and because the case was heard in U.S. Tax Court, the ruling applies to all states.
The IRS, as always, seems to have outs. Sayeth the Journal, “The agency could appeal the Tax Court ruling to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. It also could try to get Congress to change the law or try a new strategy to maintain the status quo.”
Okay, we made it through that…
Entrepreneurs Win Tax Case Versus IRS [WSJ]

Swiss Gov’t: You Want the Names? You’ll Have to Waterboard Us.

ubs.jpgWith only days until a showdown between the IRS and UBS, the Swiss Government has announced that it will stop the release of the 52,000 client names even if the U.S. Court orders the names to be released.
Now before you say, “Oh, Swiss Government, you’re so cute with your braided blonde hair and neutrality,” they sound pretty serious:

“Switzerland makes it perfectly clear that Swiss law prohibits UBS from complying with a possible order by the court in Miami to hand over the client information,” the Swiss Justice Ministry said. “On the basis of the Federal Council’s landmark decision, UBS will by no means be in a position to comply with such an order.” The Finance Ministry added that “all the necessary measures should be taken to prevent UBS from handing over the information on the 52,000 account holders demanded in the U.S. civil proceeding.”

We really feel that a few Toblerones would really go a long way to convincing the IRS that the names aren’t really that important. Just say the word IRS and we’re sure that they can make it happen.
Switzerland: Will Block UBS From Giving U.S. Client Data [WSJ]

H&R Block Suggests That You Start Saving Receipts

IRS_logo-thumb-150x140.jpgH&R Block announced yesterday that it expects the IRS to get less kind and gentle in the coming years as the Service attempts to close the $345 billion tax gap.
The announcement states that the IRS is nearly doubling its budget for next year and that last year, 1 in 99 individual tax returns were audited as compared to 1 in 202 in 2000.
Maybe the Democrats do want all our money…
Audits Double This Decade [H&R Block Press Release]

BBC: Grant Thornton is Scheming for the Rich People

Grant-thornton-logo.JPGOkay, so large accounting firms don’t have the best reputations. They also have the tendency to be thick as thieves when they come under scrutiny. And the green eyeshade look has never been one that screams trustworthy.
But now, in what might be a bit of presumptuous awesomeness, the BBC is coming right out and calling Grant Thornton’s Growth Securities Ownership Plan (GSOP) a scheme. Maybe we’re jumping to conclusions but the subtitle doesn’t strike us as being subtle: “A big accountancy firm has denied that it has been peddling a tax avoidance scheme to help rich people avoid paying the new 50% income tax rate from 2010.
Let’s break some of the key words and phrases down:
Peddling: Use of this word basically implies that narcotics are involved
Tax Avoidance Scheme: Implies a conspiracy of smart people to screw the tax authority on behalf of…
Rich People: Not the best time in history to be lumped into this particular demographic
WTG, G to the T. Not only are you trying to screw the taxing authority in Britain by virtue of the equivalent of slinging financial smack, you’ve got the audacity to do it on the behalf of rich people.
Accountants deny ‘new tax dodge’ [BBC]

UBS Closer to Getting the McCarthy Treatment

IRS_logo-thumb-150x140.jpgIf you’ve got a Swiss bank account, here’s hoping you opened it because it was convenient for your monthly skiing/Toblerone getaway.
The U.S. and Swiss governments have agreed to share more tax information in order to crack down on all the tax dodgers out there that send their money offshore. The timing of this agreement is is especially diabolical because the IRS is currently trying to get Swiss bank behemoth UBS to name names of over 50,000 American clients.
Hearings in Miami are scheduled for next month to see if the names can be released, however, the Swiss have stated that this may violate Swiss law of double-secret-no-tattling-on-clients.
Ultimately, the Swiss Federal Council and Parliament will decide if the new agreement is kosh but judging by the Obama Administration’s hard-on for closing tax loopholes, they’ll probably play ball.

U.S. and Switzerland to Share More Tax Data
[DealBook/NYT]