A&A news

A&A

More Workers Eligible for Overtime Pay Under Rule Change

A new rule defining who must receive overtime pay will cover workers who make up to $100,000 a year, up from the $65,000 overtime ceiling proposed previously.Also, more low-wage workers would automatically become eligible for overtime, and emergency services workers would earn overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours a week.The U.S. Department of Labor on Tuesday issued the long-awaited and far-reaching change to the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act.
Community News

Good Questions Uncover Client Related Problems

In his book SPIN Selling, Neil Rackham discovered that sellers are fearful of asking problem questions while buyers welcome them. Buyers report that professionals, who ask problem questions seem to understand the business, seem to talk about valuable things and are more interesting.
A&A

IRS Awards $7.5 Million to Tax Clinics Assisting Low Income Taxpayers

The National Taxpayer Advocate, Nina Olson, announced that the Internal Revenue Service has awarded $7.5 million in matching grants to Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs). This amount will fund 135 clinics in 2004.
Technology

OpenPages Acquires PwC's Sarbanes-Oxley Software

PricewaterhouseCoopers is getting out of the compliance software business.PwC and compliance platform vendor OpenPages announced last week that OpenPages has acquired the audit firm’s software product for Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) compliance. Terms of the deal were not announced.PwC’s product, called Internal Controls Workbench (ICW), will become OpenPages ICW. OpenPages already offers SOX Express, and has 50 clients and more than 7,500 users.
A&A

2004 Retirement Confidence Survey: Percentage of Americans Saving Stagnant Since 2001

What will it take to get more Americans to save and plan for retirement? Despite a recovering economy and efforts to educate the population about the importance of planning and saving for retirement, the percentage of Americans who say they are saving for retirement remains stagnant.
A&A

SOS from Financial Institutions: Stop Excessive Spending on Risk and Compliance!

BearingPoint, Inc., a business consulting and systems integration firm, announced the findings of a survey of leading financial institutions, conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), that found wasteful spending and duplication of efforts around risk management and financial transparency, due to the absence of data standards.
A&A

Executive Compensation Emerges as Number One Corporate Governance Issue

Executive compensation has emerged as the top corporate governance issue this proxy season. Compensation panels are being scrutinized at unprecedented levels and shareholders are voting "no" on them when a disconnect between pay and performance is observed."The perceived failure of boards of directors to self-regulate and curtail excessive executive compensation has increasingly angered shareholders and incited dialogue regarding legislation to control compensation," states Bill Ide, Sr.
A&A

Spitzer’s Office Adds $250 Million to State Coffers

The New York State Attorney General’s office has doubled the amount of money it won in fines and restitution last year, thanks to a number of multimillion-dollar settlements with firms on Wall Street.Eliot Spitzer’s office won $786 million last year in judgments and settlements — the highest ever — up from $352 million the year before, the Wall Street Journal reported."As a result of the office's activities, more than half a billion dollars will be returned to individual New Yorkers, and another $250 million will go to the state's coffers, which will reduce the tax burden on stat
A&A

SEC Rethinking Late Trade Crackdown

The Securities and Exchange Commission may offer alternatives to its plan to stop late trading in mutual funds.While Chairman William Donaldson defended the 4 p.m. "hard close" proposal before the Senate Banking Committee Thursday, he acknowledged the concerns. The SEC has received almost 1,100 formal comments, mostly in opposition, the Chicago Tribune reported.Many investors and retirement plan administrators oppose the plan, which would require all mutual fund trades to be placed with the fund firm — not just brokers — by 4 p.m. Eastern time to receive that day’s price.
A&A

Analyst Identifies New Ways to Reduce Risk of ID Theft

Billions of dollars -- that's what identity theft costs U.S. businesses and consumers each year. New research clearly demonstrates that online banking, bill payment and statement viewing is one of the best ways businesses and their customers can protect themselves against identity theft. Yet, consumers still believe incorrectly that online financial transactions increase their risk of fraud.
A&A

Increases in Audit Fees Not as Sharp as Expected

Companies that feared enormous increases in Sarbanes-Oxley Act-related audit fees can rest a little easier. The huge jump in fees doesn’t seem to be materializing in most cases, USA Today reported.Financial Executives International (FEI) reported in February that 321 chief financial officers had predicted audit fee increases of up to 35 percent. Instead, based on a USA Today analysis of data from AuditAnalytics.com of the 100 largest Standard & Poor’s 500 that have reported in for 2003, the jump in audit fees is more like 19 percent.
A&A

FASB Issues Proposed Stock Option Rule

As expected, the Financial Accounting Standards Board moved yesterday to require employee stock option pay be shown as an expense on company financial statements, beginning next year, the Wall Street Journal reported.FASB has debated the issue for two years and the exposure draft issued yesterday was long awaited. Stock options, which give employees the right to buy company stock at a fixed price within a certain time period, have never been regulated or recognized as a company expense. They are reflected in the footnotes of the company’s financial statements.
A&A

Coping with Time Pressure in an 'I Want It Now' World

by Dr. Kerry L. JohnsonJohn needed to process the paperwork on 5 more sales by noon and had another 10 issues to iron out in underwriting. He was falling behind in his client calls and couldn’t even get the standard paperwork done. His wife was getting ticked at him claiming he wasn’t the guy she married. He hadn’t spent more than 10 minutes with his kids in the last week. All this and he couldn’t even claim he was making more money. John was feeling more stressed as the week went on. It didn’t make sense. He should be able to coast a little after all these years.
A&A

As Stock-Option Rule Nears, Opponents Turn up Heat

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) is soon expected to require companies to expense stock options like other forms of compensation, but opponents are fiercely lobbying Congress to block the new rule.The anticipation of FASB action, which could come this week, has "galvanized the effort" said Jeffrey Peck, a lobbyist and consultant to the International Employee Stock Options Coalition.
Community News

How do we Spread Flexibility in the Workplace?

Despite the desire by many attorneys at some time in their careers to have more flexibility in their working arrangements, particularly now that technology makes it so much easier, decision makers and even the candidates for flexibility themselves resist such arrangements. The deterrents to faster progress are perceived fears and uncalculated costs and benefits.
A&A

SEC Investigates Executive Compensation at Tyson Foods

The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Tyson Foods Inc., looking into the compensation paid to the company’s officers, including Chief Executive Officer John H. Tyson, 50, grandson of the company’s founder.The world’s largest meat processor acknowledged that the SEC’s probe has shifted from informal to formal, Bloomberg reported.According to company filings with the SEC, Tyson received a 2003 salary of $993,590 plus a $2.5 million bonus and $325,286 in “other compensation.” He was elected chairman in 1998 and became chairman in 2000.
Community News

IMA Members Win Awards for Top CMA/CFM Scores

The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) is honoring 18 IMA Members with awards for their superior scores on the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and Certified Financial Manager (CFM) examinations, during summer 2003.Those who have achieved IMA’s global CMA/CFM designations are among an elite group of distinguished managerial finance and accounting professionals who have advanced beyond the practical accounting skill set.
A&A

Treasury, IRS Caution Taxpayers about Frivolous Tax Refund Claims on Stock Options

Last week, the Treasury Department and the IRS issued a notice cautioning taxpayers against promoters who purport to offer ways in which the taxpayers can avoid income tax or alternative minimum tax (AMT) from the exercise of stock options.
A&A

IRS Says Credit-Counseling Firms May Face Prosecution

IRS Commissioner Mark Everson has threatened criminal prosecution and revocation of tax-exempt status for credit counseling companies that charge high fees and even fail to send money to the creditors of their debt-ridden customers.Everson told a Senate subcommittee on Wednesday that his agency’s audits "may very well result in the lifting of some tax exemptions and, in fact, criminal referrals to the Department of Justice." Testifying before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee's investigative panel, Everson said audits on one-third of the $1 billion nonprofit industry should be com
A&A

Homeowners Could See New Tax Break on PMI

Congress is considering a new tax deduction for homebuyers who could not afford a down payment amounting to 20 percent of the purchase price.Those homeowners have to pay private mortgage insurance, which banks and lenders charge when the down payment is below the 20 percent threshold. The Associated Press reported that under a tax plan before Congress, millions of lower-income homeowners would be able deduct that cost, which is significant in some cases.For example, the owner of a $160,000 house would pay $50 to $80 every month for private mortgage insurance, also known as PMI.

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