Bramwell’s Lunch Beat: A Six-Year-Old’s Letter to the IRS

Camp: Tax reform draft coming next week
The much-anticipated “comprehensive discussion draft” on tax reform is expected to be released by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) next week, according to Bernie Becker of The Hill.

In a message sent to his fellow Republican committee members that was obtained by The Hill, Camp wrote that he had decided to move ahead even though “many in Washington are scared by the prospects of tax reform,” Becker reported yesterday.

Camp also noted that those trying to put the brakes on tax reform “don’t want to look special interests in the eye and say the game is up,” the article stated.

Camp said his plan would simplify the tax code for both employers and families, and give a spark to the economic recovery, but added no new details about the proposals in the discussion draft, according to Becker.

Six-year-old gets letter from IRS, issues a response

Dear Taxman.

I got your letter. I am now 6 years old. It is ok if you talk to my mommy Susan F. Smith about my tax papers until I am 18.

Paulie Smith

This was the boy’s response to the IRS, which was written in crayon. Why did he get a letter from the IRS? Read more here, courtesy of Opposing Views.

FASB to focus on targeted GAAP improvements for insurance
The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) voted yesterday to consider targeted changes rather than a significant overhaul of financial reporting requirements for insurance contracts under US Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), according to the Journal of Accountancy.

Board members also decided not to continue with a comprehensive project on accounting for insurance contracts with the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), according to the article. The FASB chose not to postpone its deliberations until the IASB issues a final insurance contracts standard.

“FASB members expressed a desire for consistency with the IASB as improvements are made, but the vote signals a different general direction for FASB from the IASB in one of four remaining major convergence projects between the organizations,” wrote Journal of Accountancy Senior Editor Ken Tysiac.

Change the rules on secret money
The editorial board of the New York Times sided with the IRS on rules it proposed late last year that would clarify both how the agency defines political activity and how much not-for-profits are allowed to spend on it.

“In November, when the Internal Revenue Service finally stirred itself to propose a modest crackdown on the abuse of the tax code by political groups, it was immediately attacked by tax-exempt nonprofit groups on the right. That wasn’t too surprising; secret donations from conservatives to these groups are the principal reason American politics is now dominated by those with huge bank accounts,” the editorial board wrote on February 18.

“But now liberal tax-exempt groups are also raising their voice in protest over the IRS’s plans, afraid that they will be caught in the same crackdown, and will be unable to engage in political activity. The best thing the IRS can do is to ignore both sides and proceed swiftly ahead, making its proposed rules even stronger to squeeze the influence of money out of politics.”

The auditing roadblock: It’s not just China
In a February 19 article in the New York Times, Floyd Norris wrote that the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) released a list of fifty-eight international audit firms that it has been unable to inspect for at least four years.

While China leads the list – there are eight Chinese firms and another eight based in Hong Kong – the biggest scope of the problem, according to Norris, is Europe.

“Forty of the audit firms are based in the European Union, where each country can decide for itself if it wants to be cooperative, and some are distinctly more eager than others to do so,” he wrote.

“Italy, France, and Sweden lead the European list with five uninspected audit firms each, followed by Belgium with four. There are none in Britain, and only one in Germany. The other countries with at least one uninspected audit firm are Austria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece. Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, and Spain. The two uninspected firms in Latin America are both in Venezuela.”

Tax season ‘sanity’: A catalyst for success
Ira Rosenbloom, chief operating executive of Optimum Strategies LLC, wrote a blog for The Progressive Accountant yesterday on the six core elements of a tax season “sanity” system that can bring excellent results during this busy time of year for CPAs.

For example, his fourth core element is “Use the ‘Ax’ in Tax.” He emphasized that accountants should “do away with all of your reasons not to have personal and family time each week.”

“Socializing, as well as exercising, is crucial to maintaining a healthy outlook during busy season,” Rosenbloom wrote. “Continue planning activities, such as card games, date nights, ladies nights, coaching, sporting and family events. The work will get done and the ideas that you would like to share with clients will come more easily if you are relaxed and comfortable. Tax returns can go on extension – life’s special moments do not always come around a second time.”

After retailer breaches, SEC plans roundtable on cybersecurity
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) plans to hold a roundtable on March 26 to discuss cybersecurity, after recent massive breaches at Target Corp. and Neiman Marcus refocused the attention of the business community and policymakers on the area, Reuters reported.

In 2011, the SEC drafted informal staff-level guidance for public companies to use when considering whether to disclose cyberattacks and their impact on a company's financial condition, the article stated.

SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White last year told Congress that her agency was reviewing whether a more robust disclosure process is needed. But she told reporters last fall she felt the guidance appeared to be working well and that she didn't see an immediate need to create a rule that mandates public reporting on cyberattacks, Karey Van Hall wrote.

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