Economy | AccountingWEB


Businesses Face Health Care Dilemma; Teamsters Win Another Round

Last week the Teamsters union negotiated the highest health increase ever in the freight industry. While health costs are increasing at an unprecedented rate and employers are cutting benefits, raising the cost of employee participation, or both, the major trucking companies agreed to health and pension fund increases of $3.10 per hour and a continuation of the no-co-pay policy that is nearly non-existent among the rest of corporate America.

Economy Facing Worst Hiring Slump in 20 Years

The New York Times reported last week that the U.S. economy is experiencing its worst hiring slump in nearly 20 years and the end is not in sight. According to U.S. Labor Department statistics, the economy has lost more than 2 million jobs for a drop of 1.5 percent since March 2001. Unemployment statistics do not accurately reflect the rate of unemployment because many unemployed people have stopped looking for jobs. ("U.S.

New Report Says State Tax Systems Need Revamping

A new report, "The Way We Tax: A 50-State Report," produced by the staff of Governing magazine, points out weaknesses in state tax systems across the country. "The vast majority of state tax systems are inadequate for the task of funding a 21st century government," the authors begin. "Many of those tax systems are also unfair."The report claims that tax policies among the states, which vary greatly from state to state, are based on decisions made during the depression era. While economic conditions have changed, taxes, for the most part, have not kept up with the change.
Community News

Grant Thornton Publishes Survey of Mid-Market Business Owners

Accounting firm Grant Thornton recently published its fifth semi-annual survey of middle-market business owners with the intent of shedding light on the issues that affect growth and profitability of companies with annual revenues between $5 million and $500 million.

Grant Thornton, Community Bankers, Suggest Tax Fixes

The Independent Community Bankers of America, in cooperation with Grant Thornton, has released a comprehensive study outlining a menu of federal tax relief and simplification measures to improve the country's economy.The 50-page study, "Community Bank Tax Relief and Simplification Options," was developed by the community banking sector to suggest policies that should be enacted to assist small businesses and individuals, and increase the viability of community banks to serve these customers.The Top Ten Tax Fix

Bankruptcy Reform Back on The Table

Is 2003 the lucky year for bankruptcy reform legislation? When Congress adjourned last November, it was the third time in six years that lawmakers had failed to pass stricter bankruptcy legislation. Weary and tired from the prolonged battle, many key supporters, including Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) and industry lobbyists, vowed not to try again in 2003. But with bankruptcies at record levels, the bill seems destined to return. The legislation still has strong backers in Congress and the White House, and Sen.

Bush Tax Plan Has Something For Everyone

President Bush presented his latest tax plan to Congress on Tuesday. Included in the plan are tax reductions and credits that will benefit all taxpayers.The tax plan features the following reductions:An immediate elimination of federal income tax on all dividend income, retroactive to January 1, 2003.An immediate increase in the child tax credit for children under the age of 17 from the current $600 per child to $1,000 per child effective for tax year 2003.

Online Charitable Giving Takes Hold

The holiday shopping season has always been associated with the ringing of the bell of the Salvation Army officer standing in front of the mall encouraging children and their parents to drop in whatever they could to help those in need.

President Bush Pushing For Immediate Tax Cuts

In an attempt to spur the sagging economy, the Bush White House is considering recommending tax cuts that could go into effect as early as January 1, 2003. Top among the cuts under consideration are an immediate repeal of the marriage penalty, currently slated for repeal in 2009, and an increase in the Child Tax Credit to $1,000.

State Surveys Confirm Widespread Revenue Shortfalls

provided by CCHStates are in the worst fiscal situation since World War II, caused in part by outdated tax systems, according to National Governors Association (NGA) executive director Raymond C. Scheppach. States "continue to have tax systems built for a manufacturing economy in the 1950s, not for the high-tech, international economy of the 21st Century," he said at a November 25, 2002 press briefing in Washington to announce the release of "The Fiscal Survey of States."Scheppach said the explosion of health care costs also has led to overextended budgets.
Education & Careers

2003 Salary Guide For Accounting and Finance Professionals Released

On average, starting salaries for accounting and finance professionals should remain little changed from 2002, according to the just-released 2003 Salary Guide from Robert Half Finance & Accounting and Accountemps. With continued economic uncertainty, demand will remain strong for accounting professionals who can implement cost containment and cash-flow improvement initiatives, research shows. The 2003 Salary Guide is based on an analysis of the thousands of job orders managed by the company's U.S.
Community News

Deloitte Releases Annual 401(k) Benchmarking Survey

Big Four firm Deloitte & Touche has released its 2002 Annual 401(k) Benchmarking Survey which provides insight into trends in 401(k) plan management across industry lines. For the survey, 823 companies responded to a questionnaire. The average company size in the survey is estimated to have between 5,000 and 6,000 employees.

Survey: Top 100 Not For Profit Organizations Shed Light on NFP Future

The NonProfit Times, in association with accounting firm Grant Thornton, has released the 14th Annual NonProfit Times 100, an in-depth study of the financial positions of the 100 largest not-for-profit organizations in the country.The study was conducted through an examination of federal Form 990s, organizational annual reports, and personal interviews. To be included in the listing, an organization needs to raise at least 10% of its revenues from the public.

Transfer Pricing Shenanigans Hide Billions From IRS

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University and Florida International University have released a disturbing study showing that fake pricing schemes for import-export transactions are defrauding the federal government of well over $50 billion annually.Consider the following: Razor blades imported from Britain for $113 apiece. Tweezers from Japan for $4,896 each. Cut rubies from Burma for $38,192 per carat. And for U.S.

Economic Fallout Casts Spotlight on Pension Accounting

Auditors of companies with large defined benefit plans would be wise to pay extra close attention to their clients' pension accounting this year, as investors and analysts cast a wary eye on corporate pension woes. Reasons for concern:Effects on profits. A report issued by Morgan Stanley this summer points out that net pension surpluses among S&P 500 companies were $235 billion in 2000, but tumbled 98% to only $4 billion in 2001.

New Study Highlights Bad News For Seniors With IRAs

A study released last week by the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) of the House of Representatives points out problems with the current law requiring mandatory withdrawals from retirement plans which, in a declining stock market, result in seniors being required to reduce their retirement holdings much faster than they originally anticipated.Hefty penalties on non-mandated withdrawals from Individual Retirement Accounts and other tax-deferred accounts such as 401(k)s discourage seniors from withdrawing their money when the market conditions are conducive to sound investment strategy.

Workers Weigh Causes And Effects of Accounting Scandals

A survey of employees working for public companies probed the workers' attitudes about the causes and effects of recent accounting scandals. The results, which were made available by Fleishman-Hillard Knowledge Solutions, show concern about corporate greed, short-term financial focus, and the impact of the scandals on the U.S.

WTO Wins Right to $4 Billion in Sanctions Against U.S.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled last Friday that the European Union (EU) has the right to impose trade sanctions amounting to $4.043 billion on the U.S. to make up for tax breaks given to U.S. corporations that export products to European countries.The issue at task is a situation that occurs when a U.S.

Tax Holidays Spur Shopping Sprees

Several states are gearing up for back-to-school shopping with tax holiday programs designed to help taxpayers through a time of heavy spending and to give a boost to the local economy. The idea has been around for five years, ever since New York tried a tax holiday in 1997.
Community News

Study: 71 Percent Of Fast Growth Companies Lack Current Valuations

PricewaterhouseCoopers' "Trendsetter Barometer" interviewed CEOs of 407 product and service companies identified in the media as the fastest growing U.S. businesses over the last five years. The surveyed companies range in size from approximately $5 million to $100 million in revenue/sales. More than two-thirds of America's fastest growing companies don't know what they are worth, according to the latest "Trendsetter Barometer" from PricewaterhouseCoopers. Only 29 percent of surveyed "Trendsetter" companies report having a current valuation.


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