Bramwell’s Lunch Beat: Rep. Mocks IRS with New Bill Proposal

Offshore accounts: What to do now
Laura Saunders of the Wall Street Journal wrote on Friday that the effects of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which starts on July 1, are being felt already.

She noted that in Zurich, 9-year-old Elliott Milne, the son of a Utah native, recently tried to open his first bank account, a rite of passage in Switzerland, and deposit 120 carefully saved Swiss francs. The bank officer “fawned over him until she saw his US passport. Her face fell and she rejected him,” says his father, Dustin Milne, an executive at Vontobel Swiss Wealth Advisers, an investment firm.

The ban on US accounts isn’t just happening at high-end firms. A spokesman for National Savings & Investments, a British government program offering savings bonds, said it is closing the accounts of customers affected by FATCA because the administrative costs are “disproportionate and not a good use of UK taxpayers’ money,” according to the article.

Stockman offers up ‘Dog Ate My Taxes’ Bill
Representative Steve Stockman (R-TX) on Friday offered up a tongue-in-cheek rebuke of the IRS and its handling ex-agency official Lois Lerner’s missing emails by introducing “The Dog Ate My Tax Receipts Act,” wrote David Eldridge of Roll Call.

Under the Stockman proposal, taxpayers who do not provide documents requested by the IRS can claim one of the following reasons:

  1. The dog ate my tax receipts.
  2. Convenient, unexplained, miscellaneous computer malfunction.
  3. Traded documents for five terrorists.
  4. Burned for warmth while lost in the Yukon.
  5. Left on table in Hillary’s Book Room.
  6. Received water damage in the trunk of Ted Kennedy’s car.
  7. Forgot in gun case sold to Mexican drug lords.
  8. Forced to recycle by municipal Green Czar.
  9. Was short on toilet paper while camping.
  10. At this point, what difference does it make?

Paul Ryan just hammered the IRS
During the House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the lost IRS emails on Friday, Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) blasted the IRS and Commissioner John Koskinen, saying, “You are the Internal Revenue Service. You can reach into the lives of hardworking taxpayers and with a phone call, an email, or a letter you can turn their lives upside down. You ask taxpayers to hang on to seven years of their personal tax information in case they are ever audited, and you can’t keep six months’ worth of employee emails?”

In a column for Slate, Jeff Dickerson, the site’s chief political correspondent, said he can’t think of a federal agency that is less forgiving about record keeping.

“If you are audited, the IRS wants you to move fast. Not only do you have to keep your records for years, as Ryan says, but the IRS wants you to move quick like a bunny. And the entire process has one subliminal message to it: ‘I don’t believe you,’” Dickerson wrote.

“That is exactly what Ryan said to the IRS commissioner, who took umbrage. Now he knows how it feels,” he continued. “It’s not Commissioner Koskinen who lost the emails, he’s just on the wrong side of a bad policy that doesn’t require the IRS to be as records-conscious as the citizens it polices. But in the traditional IRS power relationship, it’s usually the subjects of its audits who feel the unfocused and overly harsh attention of a system that assumes they are guilty.”

Treasury: Lerner never talked Tea Party with us
Bernie Becker of The Hill wrote on Friday that US Treasury Department officials said there’s no reason to believe that Lerner came to them with the IRS’s improper scrutiny of Tea Party groups.

One official said the Treasury handed over a wide range of communications between Lerner and the department’s employees, as requested by GOP investigators, according to a letter obtained by The Hill.

According to Becker, Alastair Fitzpayne, a Treasury assistant secretary, told House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) in the letter that there’s no evidence suggesting “Lois Lerner communicated with anyone at the Treasury Department” about the IRS’s treatment of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.

A Treasury official said the department gave the committee more than 2,400 pages worth of documents from January 2009 to May 2011.

Fitzpayne also said there’s no evidence that the Treasury had anything to do with the IRS’s screening of Tea Party groups.

Darrell Issa calls White House attorney on IRS email loss
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) requested late last week that former IRS counsel-turned-White House attorney Jennifer O’Connor to testify on Tuesday morning about her knowledge of Lerner’s crashed hard drive, Rachael Bade of Politico reported.

O’Connor was hired on at the IRS from May 2013 to November 2013 to serve as counselor to Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. Bade noted that one of her primary duties was to help the IRS respond to congressional inquiries after the targeting controversy came to light. And IRS chief counsel William Wilkins told the panel during its IRS probe that O’Connor was one of two people supervising the collection of “documents relating to the committee’s requests for material.”

Issa suspects O’Connor, a former partner at DC’s WilmerHale, may have known about the missing Lerner emails.

“Given your prominent role in supervising the IRS’s document review and production processes, you likely knew or should have known that the IRS was missing a portion of emails sent or received by Ms. Lerner responsive to the Committee’s subpoena,” Issa said in a statement, according to the article.

Scottsdale accountant seeks world’s worst businesses
Mike Sunnucks of the Phoenix Business Journal wrote on June 18 that Erik Ketelaar, the owner of Ketelaar Accounting PLLC in Scottsdale, Arizona, is launching a new program next month called the World’s Worst Businesses.

Ketelaar wants to seek out companies who need turnaround help and will document those efforts. The Scottsdale accountant said his idea may even be pitched as a television show akin to the restaurant and bar turnaround shows that dot the cable television landscape, Sunnucks wrote.

The accounting firm has a website, Worldsworstbusiness.com, and is conducting casting calls of struggling businesses for the endeavor.

Quick Links:

  • Recruiters attempting to recruit people who work at McGladrey to work at McGladrey (Going Concern)
  • IRS can’t afford to upgrade to Windows 7 but can afford to pay Microsoft to use XP (Going Concern)
  • Inverse logic: The rush of firms fleeing America for tax reasons is set to continue (The Economist)
  • US-foreign mergers raise calls for tax reforms (NPR)
  • Thomas Ewing: Tax reform is key to fiscal responsibility (State-Journal Register)
  • Tax reform? Please, not again! (News Journal)
  • Corker’s gas tax proposal gets mixed reviews (The Tennessean)
  • Admit it: The Clintons didn’t do any tax planning you wouldn’t do (Forbes)
  • Saying no to austerity, Spain unveils tax cuts (New York Times)
  • Mary Jo White of SEC seeks to make more bond market data available (DealBook)
  • Belgian police question UBS executive in tax evasion probe (Wall Street Journal)
  • Legal pot estimate cut as 44% Washington tax curbs demand (Bloomberg)
  • Terror suspect used tax refund for Syria trip, US says (Bloomberg)
  • Former IRS commissioner assesses agency’s current problems (Don’t Mess With Taxes)
  • Meet the tax professor behind the ultimate IRS scandal blog (The College Fix)
  • Successful Deloitte accountant led a double life as a sex trafficker tricking women into coming to Britain and working as prostitutes (Daily Mail)

You may like these other stories...

School tax breaks get House support as Democrats objectRichard Rubin of Bloomberg reported that the House of Representatives on Thursday voted to expand and simplify tax breaks for education as Republicans continue to pass...
While reputational risk is the No. 1 nonfinancial concern among corporate directors, cybersecurity/IT risk is gaining steam. In fact, both private companies and organizations with more than $1 billion in revenue felt they...
Many senior US tax professionals believe that a streamlined audit process will be the top benefit resulting from the IRS Transfer Pricing Audit Roadmap, a new toolkit organized around a notional 24-month audit timeline,...

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Aug 5
This webcast will focus on accounting and disclosure policies for various types of consolidations and business combinations.
Aug 20
In this session we'll review best practices for how to generate interest in your firm’s services.
Aug 21
Meet budgets and client expectations using project management skills geared toward the unique challenges faced by CPAs. Kristen Rampe will share how knowing the keys to structuring and executing a successful project can make the difference between success and repeated failures.