Government

Tax

IRS Taking New Steps to Improve Questionable Refund Program

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today that new steps, including the notification of taxpayers when refunds are frozen and the more timely release of frozen refunds not warranting further review, have been undertaken to improve the Questionable Refund Program (QRP) and reduce the number of taxpayers subject to frozen refunds.Advertisement
Practice

Circular 230 Changes Proposed

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) last week proposed amending Treasury Department Circular 230, governing tax professionals practicing before the IRS. The proposed amendments are the result of a thorough review of the extensive public comments received in response to an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking relating to the Office of Professional Responsibility in December 2002. A hearing on the proposed regulations is scheduled for Wednesday, June 21, 2006.
Tax

Mark Your Calendar: Location-Based Tax Incentives

Location, location, location. This familiar mantra of the retail and real estate industries now applies to tax incentives. The numerous valuable tax incentive programs available to businesses based upon their location, will be the topic of a live, 150-minute audio conference presented by CCH, a Wolters Kluwer company, on at 2 p.m.
Technology

Cell Phone Users May be Eligible for Federal Excise Tax Refund

A federal appeals court in Washington D.C., in December, became the third appeals court to void the federal excise tax on telephone services which are billed only by time, and not by time and distance, USAToday reports. The excise tax, originally levied to support the Spanish-American War, was last amended in 1965, when the statutory definition of long distance charges became “time and distance”, according to technology-reports.com. The government has argued that the intent of the law is to tax all commercial long distance.
Technology

GoDirect Campaign Aimed at Baby Boomers

A nationwide telephone survey of 1,400 adults sponsored by The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Banks, part of their join GoDirect initiative, revealed that, contrary to widely held perceptions, baby boomers are less inclined to use direct deposit than today’s seniors, a U.S. Treasury press release reports.

GASB Exposure Draft Adds Pollution to Financial Statements

On the eve of the Association of Government Accountants’ (AGA) Fourth Annual Leadership Conference, the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) has issued an exposure draft identifying five key circumstances when pollution remediation must be accounted for. “Today’s proposal intends to improve financial reporting by fostering more transparent and more consistent accounting that encourages comparability,” Robert Attmore, Chairman of the GASB said in announcing the exposure draft.
Tax

Online Tax-Paying Options

In an effort to better connect with taxpayers, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has added online payment options to the usual ways for us to pay our taxes. Paying your taxes online integrates with their current electronic filing program. In 2004, more than 68 million taxpayers filed electronically, according to Bankrate.com. Most people file electronically because they are due refunds, but now the IRS is offering ways to pay for the rest of us who might pay writing a check, according to Bankrate.com. Any of these options will surely be welcome come Monday, April 17th.
Tax

IFAC Issues Exposure Draft for Non-Exchange Revenue

The International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB) of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) this week issued an exposure draft (ED) on the financial reporting of revenue from non-exchange transactions, including taxes and transfers.
Technology

IRS Oversight Board Wants e-Filing Goal Extended to 2011

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Oversight Board released its Electronic Filing Annual Report to Congress on Monday and acknowledged that the IRS will not meet the goal of 80 percent of all returns filed electronically mandated by the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998. The Board credited the 2007 deadline with pushing the IRS to increase the number of taxpayers who e-file their returns to 52 percent in 2005, and projects, based on their analysis of current trends, that four out of five taxpayers will file electronically by 2011.
A&A

Accountants & the World Economic Forum

The annual World Economic Forum (WEF) was held last week in Davos, Switzerland. Over 2,300 people attended from 89 countries, representing 1,000 businesses, to help the interaction between different stakeholders and identify opportunities for addressing global challenges such as the creation of jobs, according to the Daily Times.
A&A

Greenspan and Bernanke: Day of Transition

After Alan Greenspan retires on January 31, Ben Bernanke is the new Fed Chairman. It’s an election year and “We’re going to see a show like we’ve never seen for two decades,” predicted Kevin Hassett, chief economist at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a conservative think tank. Rising interest rates will be a clear topic of focus for lawmakers. Forbes describes the Fed’s raising of the Fed funds rate as heartless.
Community News

A Look Inside the Encyclopedia of Taxation & Tax Policy

This collection of almost 250 essays, written by more than 150 tax experts, is being called a “must-have” reference for tax professionals and anyone involved in public policy and public administration.
Community News

Towards a Uniform National Sales Tax System

The nationwide effort to create a uniform sales tax system is under way and gaining steam, as 13 states, so far are cooperating to create a streamlined collection process.The Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement is a multi-state initiative meant to simplify the varying sales tax laws for businesses that sell their products in multiple states.Forty-four states agreed, in November 2002, to participate in the program. The agreement officially took effect last October, when the 13 states became full members.
A&A

EEOC’s 2005 Performance Report Highlights Small Business Outreach

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued its Performance and Accountability Report for fiscal year 2005 last month, citing achievements of the past year and identifying its strategic objectives for the years 2006 – 2009. The National Contact Center began accepting calls in April, providing easy access to the public. It receives 24,000 calls a month. With a goal of prevention, as well as enforcement, the Commission conducted 479 no-cost outreach events directed toward small businesses in 2005.
A&A

SOX and Environmental Reporting

The EPA reports that companies, governments and other entities, are required to spend a record $10 billion to come into compliance with environmental laws as a result of enforcement actions in 2005. A record 627 entities voluntarily disclosed violations and more than 600,000 businesses and individuals received EPA assistance in understanding and complying with environmental laws.
A&A

Postage Increase: Don’t Forget Your 2-Cents Worth!

The price of a stamp went up 2 cents over the weekend, in the first increase since 2002. Postage on the first ounce of first class mail is now 39 cents and 24 cents for each additional ounce. The increase follows legislation requiring the United States Postal Service (USPS) to put more than $3 billion in an escrow account this year.“We’re trying to transform the way we do business with the public, as far as getting better automation, providing better service because right now, we’re a little behind, but we’re catching up,” Leroy Williams, a USPS supervisor told CBS.

Implementation Guide for GASB Statement 44 Offers New “Specialty” Guidance

The Governmental Accounting Standard Board (GASB), last week introduced the Guide to Implementation of GASB Statement 44 on the Statistical Section. The Guide, developed to assist preparers and auditors implementing the expanded statistical section of state and local government’s comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR), contains 120 questions and answers relevant to important aspects of Statement 44.“Statement 44 revises the statistical section for the first time in twenty-five years, so governments have been seeking help in adopting the new guidelines,” says GASB project
Tax

Customer Satisfaction with Government Agencies Drops Slightly

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) for U.S. Federal Government shows that overall customer satisfaction with federal agencies has dropped 1.1 percent in 2005. The Federal Times reports this annual study shows that customer satisfaction decreased in 43 percent of federal agencies, while showing customer satisfaction improvements in 35 percent of agencies. Twenty-two percent of agencies did not see change. The aggregate ACSI increased last year by 1.7 percent.
Tax

2005, the Year of the Restatement and the Year KPMG Survived

With a background of former executives seen entering courthouses, called to account for corporate scandals of previous years, and indictments announced against individuals and KPMG partners, corporate accounting issues surfaced in a less dramatic way in 2005, through restatements of financials, at giants like American International Group (AIG) and mortgage companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

SOX Section 404 Backlash

Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) has been law since July 2002 and the collapses and financial carnage created by Enron, Tyco International, WorldCom, Adelphia Communications, HealthSouth, and Cendant, may have lost their prominence in people’s minds. Bloomberg reports executives are becoming more vocal that SOX has become an overzealous exercise to contain and detect corporate corruption. Section 404 is the current battlefield. “I would like to see it opened and revised. Sarbanes-Oxley has become extraordinarily expensive,” said David Chavern, vice president of capital markets at the U.S.

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