Government

Widespread Accounting Problems Reported in Iraqi Defense Ministry and Oil Account

The Iraqi Board of Supreme Audit, in a confidential report delivered to Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and reviewed by Knight Ridder, has uncovered widespread fraud and waste in $1 billion worth of weapons procurement contracts involving senior Iraqi officials in the Defense Ministry.
Community News

A Long Time to Go in Search an Error

How far back would you search in your books, or a client’s books, to find an error that may, or may not be there? Kimberly Fales, town accountant for Townsend, Massachusets went all the way back to 1986.According to the Townsend Times, the error Fales was tracking began with a $1,334,800 loan approved in a special town meeting on October 21, 1986. The intended use for the money was extending and looping Townsend’s water mains. The first attempt to fund the loan through a debt exclusion was rejected by voters on April 27, 1987.

Smaller Federal Budget Deficit Expected This Year

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released a new report estimating that the federal budget deficit for the current fiscal year will drop by $81 billion to $331 billion. Last year's record budget deficit was $412 billion. Since these estimates have been compiled so close to the end of the current fiscal year, they are considered extremely dependable. These results seem to support the President and Congress' economic policies although the CBO report doesn't foresee any improvement in the long-term fiscal outlook for the remainder of the decade.
Tax

Teacher Spending Earns a Tax Break

Amidst the flurry of back-to-school shopping and sales, it’s easy to lose track of spending. For teachers and other educators, it is especially important to put those receipts somewhere safe, because they may lower their 2005 taxes.According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), up to $250 of qualified expenses may be deducted when figuring the adjusted gross income (AGI) for 2005 of any individual working at least 900 hours during the school year as a teacher, instructor, counselor, principal or aide in a public or private elementary or secondary school.
A&A

FAA Taking Sharper Look at Contracts

Questionable billing and hiring practices by a government contractor have spurred the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to determine whether certain contracts are costing the agency more money than they save.According to the Washington Post, the FAA is now reviewing so-called support services contracts with hundreds of small businesses because of problems with D.C.-based Crown Consulting Inc, which has 58 different contracts with the FAA worth up to $135 million.

Few Options for Medicare Part D Drug Benefit

Although several details of the new Medicare Part D drug benefit plan are yet to be set, seniors who don’t enroll for the prescription drug coverage will be penalized 12 percent for each year they delay in signing up for the program. Some seniors wouldn’t need to enroll in the program because they have no current drug bills or small drug bills at least.

GASB Publishes Other Post-Employment Benefits Implementation Guide

The Governmental Accounting Standard Board (GASB) published a Guide to Implementation of GASB Statements 43 and 45 on Other Postemployment Benefits last week. The Guide assists preparers and auditors or governmental financial statements and their advisers in implementing accounting and reporting standards recently issued by the GASB regarding healthcare and other non-pension benefits for retirees.
A&A

Wyoming Will Use New System to Track Education Grants

State audit officials in Cheyenne, Wyoming have announced that they will install software to separate out and track federal grants, beginning with the Education Department, according to the Associated Press. The tracking software has already been installed on the Department of Environmental Quality to track federal grants, State Auditor Max Maxfield said, the AP reported.

Spitzer Gains Allies in Fight Against Bank Regulators

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has gained some heavy-weight support in his legal fight against a federal banking regulator's attempt to stop his probe of mortgage-lending practices.Attorneys general in 34 states and the National Association of Realtors have joined Spitzer in seeking dismissal of a case filed by the U.S.
A&A

Fed Increases Interest Rates - Again

The Federal Reserve on Tuesday once again raised interest rates, the 10th increase in 14 months, and signaled that more rate hikes are likely.The central bank stated that it would raise short-term rates at a "measured" pace, a term that analysts believe will translate into quarter-point increases at Fed meetings set for September, November and December, the Associated Press reported.The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) raised a key short-term rate by one-quarter percentage point to 3.5 percent. In just over a year, the benchmark rate has increased 2.5 percentage points.
Tax

Energy Tax Incentives Just a Signature Away

All that is keeps the Energy Tax Incentives Act of 2005 from becoming law is President Bush’s signature.
Tax

Cases Referred in KPMG Case

The investigation and possible prosecution of KPMG has been the focus of a larger investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ) into abusive tax shelters sold to corporate taxpayers and wealthy individuals by accounting firms, banks, and law firms. There are now signs that DOJ is working toward a decision.DOJ found that KPMG sold four types of overly aggressive tax shelters to over 350 people between 1997 and 2001 that brought in $214 million in fees according to the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations. These shelters cost the Government around $1.4 billion in unpaid taxes.

SEC Looking for Ways to Improve Regulatory System for Smaller Companies

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Advisory Committee on Smaller Public Companies on Tuesday, August 2, published a series of questions developed to help solicit input from the public, including investors and companies, on ways to improve the current regulatory system for smaller companies and to examine the impact of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.“The Committee has done an outstanding job identifying vital areas for discussion and potential enhancement of the regulatory framework for smaller public companies,” SEC Acting Chairman Cynthia A. Glassman.
Tax

IRS Postpones Closure of Taxpayer Help Centers

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will temporarily postpone plans to close 68 of its 400 Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs) late this fall. The plan also includes closing up to six telephone help centers, further decreasing the number of weekly hours available for taxpayers to call for tax assistance. IRS TACs assisted more than 7.7 million taxpayers in 2004.The IRS’s decision came easier as the Senate and the House provided funding ($10.68 billion and $10.56 billion respectively) in excess of the Service’s 2005 request of $10.24 billion.

Patent Filings Pose Identity Theft Risks

If you have a patent that has passed into the public domain or that you have failed to pay maintenance fees on, you are a potential victim of identity theft. When applying for a patent for an invention with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, your full name and address, your date of birth and your Social Security Number are required on the application. When the patent moves into the public domain after 20 years, your personal information goes with it.
A&A

House Passes Small Business Health Fairness Act

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Small Business Health Fairness Act on Tuesday, July 26, legislation that would permit small businesses to join together across state lines to purchase health insurance for their workers through Association Health Plans (AHPs). The bill allows small businesses to purchase healthcare through trade associations and professional organizations.
Technology

Insider View: XBRL - US Conference for Government and Industry

My last report about XBRL conferences covered the April International Conference held in Boston. One point made was the need for XBRL to go mainstream, and last week's conference offered proof of continued adoption. The public day of the conference was held in Vienna, Virginia at the new FDIC facilities. In addition to displaying their new facilities, the FDIC, after their 2 years of research and development around XBRL, also rolled out their going live with XBRL for bank call report filings.
Tax

Industry Concerned as PCAOB Adopts Ethics/Independence Rules

The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board adopted certain ethics and independence rules concerning tax services, contingent fees and related standards on Tuesday, July 26, 2005. Auditing Standard No. 4, which establishes requirements and provides direction on reporting whether previously reported material weakness continues to exist, was also adopted.The rules adopted Tuesday identify three circumstances when providing tax services impairs an auditor’s independence.

White House Flip-Flops

“YOU WORE FLIP-FLOPS TO THE WHITE HOUSE????!!!!” Kate Darmody’s brother isn’t the only one asking that question, or expressing their shock that anyone would wear flip-flops to a formal, or at least business-attire, event. Some would excuse the offenders pointing out that they are college students and athletes, not diplomats or even business professionals. This is certainly true. But should age and life status really make a difference when it comes to appropriate attire. And what is appropriate attire?According to the L.A.
Community News

Harsh Criticism for the Mayo Foundation's Accounting Practices

Court documents pertaining to a suit brought against the Mayo Foundation by a former accounting employee under the False Claims Act and settled in May for $6.5 million, were released Monday to the Rochester, Minnesota, Post-Bulletin, according to the Associated Press. The documents had been under seal until the Post-Bulletin challenged the settlement order, according to the Associated Press.These documents show that federal investigators alleged that the Mayo Clinic had serious problems accounting for research grants, according to the Associated Press.

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