Economy

Tax

Congress Extends Popular Tax Breaks

Congress extended three of President Bush's most popular tax cuts by lopsided margins Thursday night.First, the House passed the $145 billion package of tax relief by a 339-65 vote; less than an hour later, the Senate approved the measure 92-3, the Associated Press reported.
Community News

Americans Want Higher Corporate Citizenship Responsibility

Americans have serious and growing concerns about the depth and direction of corporate citizenship by the business community, according to a national opinion survey by GolinHarris. The recently completed corporate citizenship survey of 2,770 Americans, "Doing Well by Doing Good: The Trajectory of Corporate Citizenship in American Business," asked consumers if they felt U.S.
Tax

Teachers Losing Tax Deduction for Supplies

With states battling budget shortfalls, teachers are feeling the pinch, most recently in California where a tax credit that reimbursed teachers for up to $1,500 spent on classroom supplies has been suspended. A federal rule that allowed for $250 tax deduction for out-of-pocket teacher expenses expired this year.The Associated Press reported that on average teachers spend about $458 a year on supplies they and their students would otherwise do without. The average was determined by the National School Supply and Equipment Association, a Maryland-based trade organization.
Community News

Liberty Tax Service to Offer Free Amended Returns

Liberty Tax Service offices will offer free 2003 amended tax returns and free advice for those who have suffered casualty losses due to Hurricanes Frances, Charley and Bonnie. Those suffering property losses in the areas the President has designated as Federal disaster areas of Florida may amend their 2003 tax return to claim the loss. This will enable them to get the refund sooner since they do not have to wait until their 2004 tax return is filed.
Technology

Top Tech Companies Offer Solution to Stock Options

Three technological giants have joined forces in an attempt to prevent legislation that will require companies to report distributed employee stock options as current expenses. Cisco Systems Inc., Genentech Inc., and Qualcomm Inc. will present their proposal today before the Financial Accounting Standards Board, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. FASB has been wrestling with this issue for a decade in an attempt to release a standard that would require expensing of stock options.
Tax

Pimco Settles Fraud Charges for $50 Million

The Securities and Exchange Commission this week announced that PA Fund Management LLC (PAFM), PEA Capital LLC (PEA), and PA Distributors LLC (PAD) (collectively, the PIMCO Entities) agreed to a settlement of charges that they defrauded investors in the PIMCO Funds: Multi-Manager Series in connection with an undisclosed market timing arrangement. Under the settlement, the PIMCO Entities have been ordered to pay $50 million, consisting of $10 million in disgorgement and a civil penalty of $40 million.
Tax

Crackdown on Back Taxes Spurs 200 Banks to Consider Settlements

As part of a campaign to capture overdue tax payments, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue has offered to discuss possible settlements with more than 200 banks.The department sent a letter proposing settlement talks to the state's 320 banks, some of which have moved loans, bonds and other assets to subsidiaries in Nevada, where there is no corporate income tax, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Tax

Congress Cuts IRS Enforcement Budget

Congress has scaled back the Internal Revenue Services' ambitious enforcement proposal by $420 million.IRS Commissioner Mark Everson had requested a $10.7 billion budget for the 2005 fiscal year, or a 5 percent increase, to crack down on abusive tax shelters and other tax-avoidance techniques by wealthy taxpayers, corporations and some charities. However, the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on transportation and Treasury issues approved a $10.25 billion budget last week. The companion committee in the House set aside $10.3 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported.Sen.
Tax

GAO: Tax-Free Credit Unions Shouldn't Attempt to Sell 'Stock'

The General Accountability Office (GAO), the federal government's watchdog agency, has released a report criticizing a National Credit Union Association (NCUA) proposal to allow tax-free credit unions to sell stock to raise secondary capital to further fuel their rapid growth.The 55-page report, titled "Credit Unions: Available Information Indicates No Compelling Need for Secondary Capital," concludes that the NCUA proposal would fundamentally jeopardize the member-owned, nonprofit nature of credit unions or create additional systemic risk for the industry.
A&A

Banks Cheer FASB's Delay of Rule on Writing Down Debt

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) on Wednesday delayed a rule that would force companies to reduce the value of debt securities because of rising interest rates.The new guideline called for financial services firms to recognize certain losses in their bond holdings each quarter, even if the losses are caused only by higher interest rates, the Wall Street Journal reported.The delay is "a sigh of relief" to banks, said Donna Fisher, the director of tax and accounting at the American Bankers Association.
Practice

Companies Choose Consumer-Driven Health Plans to Curb Costs

Nearly one in five companies (19 percent) of 314 firms surveyed offer a consumer-driven health plan, up from 11 percent in 2003, according to Deloitte Consulting LLP.
Tax

IRS Announces Interest Rate Increase for Q4

The Internal Revenue Service today announced there will be a one percentage point increase in the interest rates for the calendar quarter beginning October 1, 2004.
A&A

Study: CEOs Who Outsourced More Took Home Larger Salaries

A new study on executive compensation found that chief executives who sent the most service jobs overseas made more money last year than other CEOs.At the 50 companies that outsourced the most service jobs, average CEO compensation rose 46 percent in 2003. CEOs at the 365 big companies surveyed by Business Week saw an overall 9 percent increase in 2003, according to the study by the Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy.The two groups put out an annual “Executive Excess” report.
A&A

Census Figures Show Slump in Women's Income

The gap in pay widened between men and women full-time workers last year, surprising analysts who could not explain why women's pay slumped for the first time in four years.Women made 75.5 cents for every dollar a man made last year, according to Census Bureau figures reported last week in USA Today. That figure in 2002 was 76.6 cents, an all-time high.
Community News

Study: Those Who Invest in Their Business, Grow Their Business

The adage "you have to spend a buck to make a buck" holds true, according to a new study of small business owners and accountants. Intuit Inc.'s annual "Voices of Small Businesses and Accountants Study" found that 64 percent of businesses and 73 percent of accountants who invested in their business reported growth in the last 12 months. "Investing in your business or in your accounting firm may sound like common sense, but it's often a scary proposition when things look uncertain in the economy," said Jill Ward, vice president and general manager of Intuit's Accountant Central group.
Tax

H&R Block's Unexpected Loss Alarms Analysts

Though analysts were expecting the largest tax-preparation company to post a profit in the first quarter, H&R Block instead lost $44.1 million.In a note to investors called “Credibility Shock,” Michael Millman of Millman Research Associates called the loss a “costly communications error,” Investor's Business Daily reported.For the three months that ended July 31, rising mortgage rates hurt H&R Block's mortgage business, but the company said it expects earnings to improve as the firm adjusts to the higher rates.Stock prices slumped more than 7 percent by mid-day Wednesday to $4
A&A

Large U.S. Companies Increase Hiring and Investment Plans

Senior executives at most large U.S. companies plan to increase both hiring and investments over the next 12 months amid growing optimism about the economy, according to the PricewaterhouseCoopers Management Barometer. "Despite higher oil prices and the unsettled situation in the Middle East, executives expressed confidence about the continued strength of the economy and their company's ability to grow at a healthy pace," said Frank Brown, global leader of PricewaterhouseCoopers' Advisory practice.
A&A

Investor Scam; Con Artists Snaring Victims Across the Country

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) this week issued an investor alert designed to warn Americans about a new scam sweeping the country-answering machine "wrong number" stock touts. Voice mail messages are appearing on home answering machines from coast to coast saying that the stock price of certain small, thinly traded companies will soon shoot up.
Tax

Janus Finalizes $226M Settlement on Fraud Charges

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced on Wednesday a settled enforcement action against Janus Capital Management LLC (JCM), for entering into undisclosed market timing agreements with certain investors. The Commission ordered JCM to pay disgorgement of $50 million and civil penalties of $50 million, for a total payment of $100 million. JCM also consented to a cease-and-desist order and a censure, and agreed to undertake certain compliance and mutual-fund governance reforms.Stephen M.

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