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CPA Turns to Toys and TVs to Help Him Compete

Wooing customers away from the giants of the tax preparation industry is never easy, but one creative CPA in Tennessee is hoping toy trains, Teletubbies and teddy bears will give him an edge.Stephen Nestor, with four children of his own, knows how hard it is to cart the kids from activity to activity while also running the necessary, but boring, errands of everyday life — filing taxes, for one."My wife can't seem to go anywhere without taking kids with her," Nestor told the Tennessean.
Tax

Former Enron Chief Accountant Faces Criminal, Civil Charges

Andrew Fastow’s alleged partner in Enron crime pleaded not guilty yesterday to six criminal charges handed up in an indictment by a federal grand jury looking into the collapse of what was the nation’s seventh largest company.Richard A. Causey, 44, who was the energy giant’s chief accountant during the years in which massive fraud allegedly occurred, is accused of five counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud.
Technology

Goldman to Refund $9.5 Million to MCI

In a case of what might be called too little, too late, MCI will recoup $9.5 million it paid to Goldman Sachs for advice just prior to filing for bankruptcy in the wake of a massive accounting fraud at the company then known as WorldCom.Goldman was hired in 2002 to help with raising capital, arranging financing, discussing mergers and selling company assets, the Associated Press reported. A settlement between Goldman and MCI was reached in December was approved yesterday by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Arthur J. Gonzales, who is supervising MCI’s Chapter 11 proceedings in New York.
A&A

The Top 10 Scams, Schemes & Scandals for 2004

State securities regulators forecast that investors will be challenged with increasingly complex and confusing investment frauds and identified the Top 10 schemes investors are likely to see in 2004. New to the NASAA annual survey of state securities enforcement officials are mutual fund practices, senior investment fraud, and variable annuities.“Investors face a complex maze of scams, schemes and scandals," said Ralph A. Lambiase, NASAA's president and director of the Connecticut Division of Securities.
Technology

IRS Pulls Back From Flagging Free E-Filers For Now

Earlier in the month we reported on the privacy debate over the IRS announcing it would flag taxpayers who use its free electronic tax filing program. According to a USA Today report, after much debate the IRS has agreed to pull back on its earlier decision to require software companies to flag users of the governments’ free e-filing program. "Taxpayers should not have their records flagged and segregated simply because they choose to use the IRS Free File program," said Leroy Petz, whose company publishes the TaxBrain software.
Tax

Auditors Find Fraud at HealthSouth Could Total $4.6 Billion

Auditors looking into the fraud at HealthSouth have found it to be far more extensive than originally thought—as much as $4.6 billion in all.Initially, estimates put the fraud at $3.5 billion at the Birmingham, AL-based operator of rehabilitative clinics. The new number comes from a forensic audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Importantly, auditors found just $6 million in Medicare fraud.
Tax

Connecticut Residents Get Bogus Tax Collection Letters, Scam or Mistake?

Hundreds of Connecticut residents have received intimidating letters demanding they pay taxes owed to municipalities, even when they are not delinquent.The letters from J.K.
Tax

EU Official Seeks Tighter Rules to Prevent Future Scandals

A senior European Union official called for tougher accounting rules Tuesday, and said the Parmalat scandal in Italy may prove to be even worse than the collapse of Enron in the U.S.EU Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein recalled that after the Enron scandal erupted in the U.S., the commission stated that Europe must not be complacent and that scandals of a similar scale could also happen in Europe."Fortunately, the commission already set in motion in May 2003 action plans to improve both auditing and corporate governance in Europe," he said.
Tax

Willie Nelson Returns as H&R Block Superbowl Spokesman

Remember that bad tax tip you got from your second cousin's husband? Or that home remedy your sister's boyfriend's aunt said would clear up that rash? Do you now wish you would have gone straight to the professionals for advice? You're not alone. For the second year, country music legend Willie Nelson is the centerpiece of the H&R Block Super Bowl commercial.
Tax

IRS Urges Taxpayers to Check Earned Income Tax Credit Eligibility

The Internal Revenue Service is urging working taxpayers with low incomes to review their eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit to see if they qualify for tax relief. This year, the IRS and 14,000 volunteer sites are available to help taxpayers figure out their eligibility.The IRS receives the majority of EITC claims in February, usually after workers receive their Forms W-2.
A&A

IRS Launches a New Program for Business Taxpayers

On January 12, the Internal Revenue Service launched a new program for new business taxpayers designed to boost electronic payment of taxes. This development offers some taxpayers new, quicker access to an electronic payment system.This initiative will be available using the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), a service offered free by two bureaus of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, IRS and the Financial Management Service (FMS).
Tax

New Arrest in Parmalat Scandal, Accounting Firms Named in Probe

The investigation into food giant Parmalat widened Monday, as a former director was arrested and two of the bankrupt company’s former audit firms face an official inquiry.Milan magistrates launched formal investigations into Deloitte & Touche’s Italian branch and the former Italian arm of Grant Thorton.
Community News

Protesters Say H&R Block Exploits Low-Income Taxpayers

A national nonprofit community group organized a series of 40 protests against H&R Block’s refund loans, saying that the tax-preparation company takes advantage of low-income clients.The protests were led last week by The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, which opposes the company’s ''refund anticipation loans,'' the short-term loans offered by H&R Block and other tax preparers.The loans sound attractive because H&R Block will loan clients their refund amount quickly, and the loans have proven to be popular.
A&A

Congress to Consider Withholding Taxes From Contractor Pay

The taxpayer advocate is recommending that independent contractors have taxes withheld from payments, similar to the system used to tax regular employees. The advocate, Nina E. Olson, holds a position created by Congress in 1998 to ensure taxpayers are treated fairly by the Internal Revenue Service. Olson’s office is required to produce an annual report to Congress that lists the most pressing concerns in order of importance.
Tax

The Impact of Sarbanes-Oxley on Corporate Tax Departments

By Raj Kushwaha, EVP Products and Services, Velosant, LPThe United States’ Sarbanes-Oxley Act (U.S. Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act) of 2002 marks the most significant reform in US public financial reporting of recent times. Designed to restore public confidence in the management of public companies following the outcry over Enron, WorldCom and others, Sarbanes-Oxley has impacted directly on the responsibilities and liabilities of Corporate Executives, Board of Directors, Audit Committees, Auditors and Analysts.
Tax

Senate Committee Wants Tax Records of Muslim Charities

The Senate Finance Committee wants to see confidential tax and financial records of 27 Muslim charities and foundations as part of a broad investigation into whether the tax-exempt organizations are tied to terrorist groups.The committee has asked the Internal Revenue Service to turn over records that include lists of donors and leaders, applications for tax-exempt status, audit records and the results of criminal investigations, the Washington Post reported.Committee staffers and outside experts say the request, announced Wednesday, is unusual in its scope.
Tax

Alternative Minimum Tax Top Problem Facing Taxpayers

National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E.
Tax

IRS Has Free Publications on Every Topic You Need

From aardvark to zyzzyva, the IRS has a publication that covers it — free for the asking. The IRS has numerous publications on a variety of tax-related topics available by phone, fax or on this Web site.Are you a student seeking knowledge on the lifetime learning credit? Check out Publication 970. Are you a first-time home buyer? Information on potential deductions is housed in Publication 530.No matter what you’re looking for, you can find it by using one of these easy steps:Access the IRS.gov’s “Forms and Publications” page to find what you need.
Tax

Fastow Strikes Plea Deal, Will Serve 10 Years for Role in Enron Scandal

He helped engineer one of the biggest frauds in history and yesterday former Enron Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow pleaded guilty to charges that will put him in prison for 10 years. His wife Lea, former Enron assistant treasurer, pleaded guilty to a lesser tax charge and will spend five months in prison.The plea by Fastow includes a stipulation that he will cooperate with prosecutors who are investigating, but haven’t charged, other top Enron officers, including former Chairman Kenneth Lay and former CEO Jeffrey Skilling.

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