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States Can Now Start Claiming Their Share of $10 Billion in Tax Relief

The U.S. Treasury Department began the process of distributing $10 billion in temporary fiscal relief payments to states under the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act signed into law by President Bush on May 28, 2003. "The Treasury Department will ensure that payments are made available as quickly as possible," said Treasury Secretary John W.

Six Canadian Firms Urge Ottawa to Address Corporate Governance

Accountability is contagious. Taking their lead from efforts to clean up the U.S.

GASB Updates Statement No. 34, Issues Statement 41

Updating guidance put forth in its landmark Statement No. 34, Basic Financial Statements — and Management’s Discussion and Analysis — for State and Local Governments, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) recently issued Statement No. 41, Budgetary Comparison Schedule — Perspective Differences.GASB establishes and improves financial accounting and reporting standards for state and local governments.The new statement clarifies existing guidance on budgetary comparisons set forth in Statement No. 34.

Colorado Gives Tax Delinquents Amnesty in June

With states facing record deficits — and most constitutionally unable to operate in the red — the State of Colorado is giving its tax delinquents the month of June to settle up with the government with no penalties and half the interest due. Colorado is facing a $1 billion budget shortfall for the third year.It’s been eighteen years since Colorado offered an amnesty program, and it is a good deal for both tax dodgers and the state. A person who owes $1,500 in taxes from 1995 would now owe the state $ 3,061.76 when figuring in penalties and interest.
Community News

US Supreme Court Bumps H&R Block Case up to Federal Level

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned a state court ruling and decided that federal court was indeed the proper venue for usury claims in a lawsuit filed against H&R Block. The usury claims arose from the practices regarding Block's tax refund anticipation loan.The lawsuit originated in Alabama State Court against Block and Beneficial National Bank, a division of Household International, which partnered with Block to provide tax refund anticipation loans.

GAO Finds Continued Weakness at IRS

The U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) reported this week that while the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has made “important” progress toward improving its security and implementing an information security program, weaknesses continue to pose a risk to taxpayer data.GAO’s report, "Progress Made, But Weaknesses at the Internal Revenue Service Continue to Pose Risks," states that the "confidentiality, integrity and availability of sensitive systems and taxpayer data" are at risk.

New $20 Bill Features a Dash of Color

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the Federal Reserve unveiled a new $20 bill earlier this week. The newly designed $20, which will go into circulation in the fall, will still be mostly green, but it also will be pale blue, light peach, yellow, and copper. (See image below)This is the first time in a century that US bills will be multicolored. From 1869 to 1905 bills from $1 to $1,000 were printed in a variety of colors to thwart counterfeiters. During the Civil War, approximately one-third of all bills were counterfeit.

Senate Panel Scrutinizes Wall Street Settlement

United States Senators have expressed skepticism and have questioned whether the recent $1.4 billion Wall Street settlement against large investment banks would lead to meaningful reform and help the average investor. The comments came during a Senate Banking Committee hearing about the recent settlement between federal and state regulators and 10 investment banks over conflict of interest charges.

Cash-Strapped States Consider Corporate Sponsorship

Walden Woods for sale? If a proposal currently under consideration in the Massachusetts legislature gains support, the Commonwealth would join the growing list of states and localities looking to offset huge deficits by giving corporate America the chance to sponsor parks, landmarks and buildings.A number of mayors across the country have considered the idea of putting some of their treasurers out for bid, but Massachusetts would be the first state to pass such a law.

Oversight Board Gives IRS a Mixed Review

On May 7, the Treasury Department’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Oversight Board presented its annual report to a House Appropriations subcommittee. The report comes at the midway point in the IRS’s 10-year modernization program. While the board stated that substantial progress has been made in the last five years, the board also noted that the IRS is failing to meet key goals, in part because of inadequate funding.

OMB Director Daniels Resigns . . . to Run For Indiana Governor?

U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., announced yesterday that he will step down from his post within the next 30 days. He is expected to soon launch a bid for governor of his home state of Indiana.Nicknamed "the Blade" by President Bush for his budget-cutting penchant, Daniels was popular with the President and Republicans, but mocked by Democrats who clashed constantly with the diminutive, spirited budget director. Sen.

U.S. Comptroller General Seeks Name Change, Personnel Authority

The U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) announced last week that it would seek to change its name to the Government Accountability Office and to ease personnel restrictions found in Title 5 of the U.S. Code. The legislative branch watchdog agency performs audits and investigations at the behest of Congress and has gained new momentum under the leadership of Comptroller General of the United States David M. Walker, CPA, who proposed the new legislation.
Community News

Judge Nixes $25M Settlement For H&R Block

A federal district judge in Chicago has dealt a blow to a proposed $25 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit against H&R Block, Inc. U.S. District Judge Elaine Bucklo rejected the proposed deal and also removed six plaintiff lawyers from the case, claiming that they had failed to obtain evidence that could have helped their clients’ case.The Illinois lawsuit was filed three years ago on behalf of 18 million plaintiffs. The suit claims that Block and a unit of Household International Inc. had charged as much as 100 percent interest on loans issued in advance of tax refunds.

White House Continues Fight For Greater Tax Cuts

Provided by CCHPresident Bush will continue to urge Congress to pass legislation that cuts taxes by at least $550 billion over 10 years, as agreed to by the House, which approved the fiscal year (FY) 2004 budget resolution, HConRes 95, on April 10. The budget resolution limits the Senate's economic growth package to $322.5 billion from FY 2003 to 2013. To ensure passage of the budget resolution, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E.

Social Security Clarifies Policies Towards Protecting Military Family Benefits

Social Security Administration Press ReleaseMilitary families will not lose valuable government disability benefits because a member of the household has been sent into combat.

NYC Goes After Foreign Governments For Back Taxes

When economic times are tough, state and municipal taxing authorities get creative.

States Back Offshore Compliance Effort

As the deadline for the Internal Revenue Service’s Offshore Voluntary Compliance Initiative (OVCI) draws near, 10 states have announced they will grant special consideration to taxpayers who apply to the initiative. If individuals amend their state returns and pay all tax, penalties and interest by October 15, they can avoid state prosecution.“The actions by these states send another strong signal to people improperly using offshore credit cards.

Officials Consider Relaxing Rules to Fire IRS Workers

In 1998, Congress enacted stricter rules for terminating Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees, a move that was meant to strengthen taxpayers’ rights. Now, the Bush administration and key legislators want to lessen some of the rules, which they say have contributed to low morale and a decrease in tax law enforcement.Since passage of the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, 71 IRS employees have been fired. The majority of the terminations were because employees failed to file a tax return on time or underreported their income.

GASB Issues Deriviative Disclosure Improvement Bulletin

GASB Press ReleaseIn an effort to improve disclosures about the risks associated with derivative contracts, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) has released for public comment accounting guidance that would provide more consistent reporting by state and local governments.

Report Fails to Resolve Indian Trust Fund Dispute

A $20 million report by the accounting form of Ernst & Young (E&Y) has found that the government owes four plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit $60.94. The multi-million dollar report has done little to settle a contentious seven-year-old trust fund case that alleges the Interior Department has mismanaged the proceeds of leases on Indian lands dating back to the late 1800s. The plaintiffs claim that the Interior Department cannot account for $135 billion belonging to some 500,000 beneficiaries.


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