Government

Practice Management

Top Resolutions for Business in 2006

A Small Business Television (SBTV.com) poll, of 600 owners of small businesses, reported that 70 percent would make marketing and sales their top business resolution, followed by technology at 26 percent, according to a Principal Financial Group. Only 2 percent of the respondents would make business finance-related resolutions, with the same number resolving to focus on workforce issues. Internet marketing is at the top of the “Six for ‘06” list of business resolutions developed by AllBusiness.com, a leading online resource.

Company Drug Prescription Plans Vary

The Kaiser Family Foundation has released a new retiree health benefits survey showing that almost 80 percent of employers that currently offer retiree health benefits will take government subsidies to maintain prescription coverage in 2006. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the basic Medicare coverage of more than 12 million retirees is supplemented by company health plans. The annual survey was released last week in Washington.
Community News

AICPA Supports Bill on Non-Resident Retirement Income

The American Institute of CPAs has supported a House bill that would ensure that certain deferred compensation plans would not be eligible for non-resident state income tax.The AICPA said that it opposes the position that states can tax the nonqualified retirement benefits paid by a partnership to its retired non-resident partners.States are prohibited from taxing the retirement income of non-residents under Public Law 104-95, passed in 1996.
A&A

FTC Fines DirecTV $5M for Privacy Violations

Signaling that the federal government is serious about enforcing the national Do-Not-Call Registry, the Federal Trade Commission has fined a satellite television operator more than $5 million.The FTC contends that DirecTV and companies it hired to promote its programming, have violated the do-not-call law since October 2003. The FTC announced the company would pay a $5.3 million fine.The do-not-call list has been lauded as a government success story, with 110.4 million residential and mobile telephone numbers registered, the Washington Post reported.

European Parliament Passes New Accounting Rules

The European Parliament has passed strengthened accounting rules to increase transparency and to avoid some of the pitfalls of the Enron and Parmalat scandals. The Financial Times reports that companies in the European Union will have to disclose off-balance sheet arrangements and their financial impacts. Listed EU companies will be required to publish annual corporate governance statements, as well.
Tax

Don't Let Holiday Time Be Scam Time

Santa and his elves are not the only busy people at this time of year. Robbers, thieves, carjackers and shoplifters all seem to thrive during the holiday season.
Tax

Bill of Rights Day: Not Just Another December Holiday

Thursday, December 15, is Bill of Rights Day. On that day, back in 1791, the first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights, of the U.S. Constitution, were ratified by three-quarters of the original states.

Retiree Drug Coverage; Competition Intense Among Medicare Insurers, Employers

Four in five employers that pay for retirees’ drug costs will accept government subsidies to continue coverage, according to a survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Hewitt Associates, of 300 companies with 1,000 employees each, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports. When it drafted the program, Congress created a tax-free subsidy to encourage companies to continue offering retiree drug coverage. The subsidy, for 2006, will be equal to 28 percent of a retiree’s drug costs between $250 and $5,000, the Intelligencer states.
Community News

Regulators Call for More Transparency, Less Complexity

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is seeking help from the accounting industry to simplify the rules that may be partly to blame for the corporate scandals of recent years, the SEC chairman said Monday.The SEC, working with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) and the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), is undergoing a “major national effort to make accounting less complex,” said SEC Chairman Christopher Cox, at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants' (AICPA) annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
A&A

President, Congress Turn to Immigration Reform

President Bush delivered a major speech last week outlining his plan for immigration reform, bringing into focus, once again, Americans’ troubled relationship with undocumented workers, the Hudson County Journal News reports. The House and Senate are considering four other separate proposals.Estimates of the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. today range from 8.7 million (U.S. Census Bureau) to 20 million (Bear Stearns, the investment company), according to Reuters.

SEC Eases Revenue Accounting Rule for Vaccine Makers

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), on Monday, announced a change in accounting guidance for pharmaceutical companies supplying vaccines to the Pediatric Vaccine Stockpile or the Strategic National Stockpile. Under the new guidance, vaccine manufacturers can recognize revenue upon delivery to government stockpiles rather than delaying revenue recognition until the vaccine is distributed.
Tax

Tax Reform May Wait Until 2007

A rewrite of the tax code, once targeted as a major theme for 2006, may be pushed back by one or two years.A tax proposal is unlikely to draw Democratic support in a mid-term election year, according to Time magazine, quoting anonymous Republican sources. "No one wants to put something out there that's not going to go anywhere," a White House official told the magazine.
Community News

New Jersey Task Force Releases Plan for Underfunded Pension System

New Jersey’s pension system needs $12.1 billion to meet its current pension obligations to teachers, police officers and local government workers, according to the report of the governor’s Benefits Review Task Force released last week.The Task Force, appointed by Acting Governor Richard Codey and headed by retired Goldman Sachs executive, Philip Murphy, concluded that the current system could not be maintained without large tax increases or severe cuts in state services, Bloomberg.com reports.
A&A

Microsoft Yields: Will Adopt Open Document Formats

In an apparent effort to respond to Massachusetts’ Governor Mitt Romney’s plan to adopt a so-called OpenDocument format for storing state documents by 2007, a move that could eventually cause the state to remove Microsoft’s Office software from its computers, Microsoft announced in November that it would submit its Office Open XML (XML) to the standards body Ecma International, at their December meeting, the Associated Press (AP) reports.

2006 PCAOB Budget Approved

The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) has approved its 2006 budget of $128 million. The accounting industry regulatory agency will use a $19 million excess from a 2005 budget to reduce the 2006 accounting support fee paid by publicly traded companies according to Reuters. Accounting support fee assessments of $109.3 million are projected for 2006 while $136.1 million in fees were assessed in 2005 according to the Compliance Reporter. The approved budget has been passed onto the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for final approval according to Reuters.

Hawaii Bottle Bill Fails Audit

After two years of preparation by Hawaii’s Department of Health (HDOH), the State’s Deposit Beverage Container Program or so-called “bottle bill” has become an accounting nightmare according to the state auditor’s report. There have been $39 million in collections as of June 2005 and HDOH still lacks an auditable financial accounting system.
Practice Management

Governance & Accounting Still Concern Investors

Things have improved but there is still cause for concern. That is the message investors and creditors seem to be sending in a special report published Monday by Standard and Poor’s.“Governance and accounting remain heightened areas of concern for investors and creditors, and it remains critically important for them to assess the often qualitative, intangible, and principle-based dimensions of governance and accounting,” said George Dallas, managing director and global practice leader, corporate governance, Standard and Poor’s in a prepared statement.
Community News

Job Losses in Cities Mounting But Accounting Firms Prosper

Federal programs sponsored by both the Clinton and Bush administrations over a period of years have failed to stop the loss of jobs in the nation’s cities, according to a Harvard University study reported by the Associated Press. Nearly half of the country’s 82 largest municipalities lost jobs from 1995 to 2003 in comparison with surrounding metropolitan areas, only one of which lost jobs.Michael Porter, the Harvard business professor who conducted the study said “It’s sobering. . . .

Senate Pension Reform Bill Approved

The Senate passed a bill aimed to strengthen U.S. company pension plans although warned that President Bush intends to veto the legislation. The White House labeled the bill inadequate according to the New York Times. The House may reconcile two bills that were approved by separate committees next month.In a prepared statement, Bill Thomas, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee said, “Pensions obviously are a critical component of retirement security for millions of Americans, providing an important source of income for retirees.
Tax

State Surpluses May Lead To Tax Cuts

The U.S Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that state and local revenues are up 7.2 percent in the first three quarters of 2005. With state personal and corporate tax collections peaking, the question is what to do with their revenue surpluses in 2006. Strong revenue growth has New Mexico realizing a $1 billion surplus, Florida a $3 billion, and even California seeing a $3.4 billion surplus according to USA Today. States taxing energy production and real estate construction have seen windfalls also. “Every month we’re surprised by the good news and say it has to slow down.

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