Bramwell's Lunch Beat: Dog Days for Ex-Accountant

Obama pick for IRS chief pledges to restore public trust
In a continually developing story, President Obama’s pick to lead the IRS told a Senate committee on December 10 that he would work to restore the public’s trust in the tax agency, Bloomberg reported.

“The realistic goal is to find problems quickly, make sure they stay fixed, and be transparent about the entire process,” John Koskinen, a former chairman of Freddie Mac who developed a reputation as a turnaround expert in the public and private sectors, told the Senate Finance Committee during his confirmation hearing as the next IRS commissioner on Tuesday morning.

The embattled IRS has been “struggling with budget cuts and the political reverberations from its admission that it applied tougher scrutiny to Tea Party groups applying for tax-exempt status,” the article stated.

Big Four firms to be questioned on push into consulting
The chairman of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) stated during an American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) conference on December 9 that he plans to ask the Big Four firms about their recent push into consulting and what they are doing to avoid any problems it could pose.

James Doty said the PCAOB will schedule a meeting next year with representatives of major firms to discuss their consulting expansion, Michael Rapoport of the Wall Street Journal reported.

“The Big Four accounting firms have been ramping up their consulting practices over the last several years, and deriving much of their growth from those businesses rather than from auditing,” Rapoport wrote. “That has led to concern among some observers that consulting might take the firms’ focus away from their core responsibility to watchdog companies’ financial statements, although the firms insist that is not a problem.”

Former accountant hits the numbers with mobile dog grooming business
Stamford, Connecticut resident Janine McCormick left her high-paying job at a hedge fund last year to start her own mobile dog grooming business – and she has no regrets.

“I wish I had done it twenty years ago,” McCormick, who was an accountant for twenty-five years, told the Stamford Advocate in this article.

McCormick started WAGS: Wash and Groom Spa in September 2012 after quitting her hedge fund job in July of that year. Her mobile office is a van, which is equipped with a table and a full bath/shower in the back. McCormick puts the dogs on the table, then lifts them into the shower stall. She grooms between four and six dogs a day.

GOP demands IRS explain ObamaCare fraud prevention
Two Republican lawmakers – Tennessee Congresswoman Diana Black and Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Meehan – are demanding that the IRS explain how it will ensure the security of its system for processing Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies, The Hill reported on December 9.

In response to a report released last week from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) that found the IRS system for determining who will be eligible for tax subsidies under the ACA is not secure, the two lawmakers wrote a letter to Acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel demanding a written explanation of the IRS’s plan for handling secure data. Black and Meehan also wanted information on how the agency coordinates with other officials implementing the ACA.

“[The TIGTA] audit raises important questions as to whether the IRS can successfully protect taxpayer data against fraud and abuse,” they stated in the letter.

Expiring sales tax deductions could cost taxpayers big in these states
A new study from the Pew Charitable Trusts found that taxpayers who itemize state taxes on their federal taxes could find themselves out of luck if – without congressional action – those deductions expire at the end of the year, the Washington Post reported.

That means fewer deductions and higher federal taxes for residents in seven states that rely more on sales taxes than income taxes for revenue.

“In Washington state, which has a high sales tax but no income tax, nearly three in ten filers claim a sales tax deduction,” the article stated. “The average filer claims more than $600 in deductions. More than 20 percent of all tax filers in Nevada and Texas claim sales tax deductions; so do more than 15 percent of filers in Florida, Tennessee, Wyoming, and South Dakota.

“All seven of those states have no state income tax,” the article continued. “Without the sales tax deductions, tax filers in those states wouldn’t be able to take advantage of federal itemizations.”

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