Legislation

A&A

Congress Grapples with Stock Option Issue

Is history going to repeat itself? Will Congress move as it did 10 years ago to undercut the authority of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), which is authorized by the Securities and Exchange Commission to set U.S accounting standards?For the second time in a decade, Congress is taking up the mandatory expensing of stock options, a controversial recommendation by FASB, which could be a direct hit to the bottom lines of many U.S. companies who use the options as a form of employee compensation.
A&A

Oxley: Congress Belongs in Stock Option Debate

Stock options. Two little words that pack a big economic punch, so big that Congress is getting more involved in an ongoing debate on how companies should show the options on their financial statements.The term "stock options" refers to the practice of giving employees the option to buy or sell company stock at a fixed price in the future and is at the heart of a battle shaping up that pits Congress against the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), which sets accounting standards for the private sector. Rep.
Tax

The Toll Of Two Taxes: The Regular Individual Income Tax And The AMT

The alternative minimum tax (AMT) is a second income tax system that runs parallel to the regular individual income tax. First enacted in the late 1960’s, the AMT was intended to target a small group of high-income individuals – who had managed to avoid all taxes – to ensure they paid a minimum amount of tax. Changes since the AMT’s original enactment mean that today it reaches into the ranks of the middle class, potentially denying them the benefit of many of the deductions, credits, and lower tax rates available under the regular income tax system.
Technology

Senate Bill Would End Internet Access Taxes

It’s all very confusing. Whether or not you pay taxes on your high-speed Internet connection has everything to do with how you connect — phone line, cable or digital — as well as what state you live in.While each service is comparable in access to the Internet, only telephone data lines are charged access taxes in 18 states, a tax that a bill pending in the Senate would repeal permanently.Sen. George Allen (R-VA), sponsor of the bill, told the New York Times that it is unfair to charge a tax on one form of Internet access but not others.
Tax

Utah and Washington Make Federal Health Coverage Tax Credit Available

This week, Treasury Secretary John Snow applauded Governor Walker and Governor Locke for implementing a state qualified health plan option under the federal Health Coverage Tax Credit Program (HCTC) that will help cover the cost of health insurance premiums for many Utah and Washington residents.The Trade Adjustment Assistance Act President Bush signed into law in 2002 included the new Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC). Recipients can receive the HCTC either in advance, to help pay qualified health plan premiums as they come due, or in a lump sum when they file their federal tax returns.
A&A

As Stock-Option Rule Nears, Opponents Turn up Heat

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) is soon expected to require companies to expense stock options like other forms of compensation, but opponents are fiercely lobbying Congress to block the new rule.The anticipation of FASB action, which could come this week, has "galvanized the effort" said Jeffrey Peck, a lobbyist and consultant to the International Employee Stock Options Coalition.
Tax

Maryland Takes Steps to Close Delaware Tax Loophole

Delaware has long been known as a tax haven for companies that set up holding companies as tax shelters in the state. The Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill this week that would close the loophole that makes it possible for Maryland companies to use the Delaware tax shelter. The Senate passed a similar bill last week, the Baltimore Sun reported.Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.
A&A

Big Four Accounting Firms Express Their Support of the FASB to Congress

On Wednesday, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), along with the other "Big Four" accounting firms sent a joint letter to members of Congress regarding the independence of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB).
Tax

Who Deserves a (Tax) Break Today?

What do adoptive parents, historic barn restorers and food bank supporters have in common? They’re all eligible for tax credits in certain states.Now some New York legislators want to give tax credits to nurses, volunteer firefighters and residents who buy gym memberships. While some say the proposed legislation is a good way to encourage socially responsible behavior, critics say it complicates the tax system and is less honest than simply giving such groups money outright.

CEO Survey Shows Continuing Improvements in Corporate Governance Practices

The Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs of 150 leading U.S. companies, today released its secondannual survey of corporate governance practices among its members.The new results show strong progress from the solid findings in the initial CEO corporate governance survey last July.
Tax

IRS Gives Investors the Benefit of Pending Technical Corrections on Qualified Dividends

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service have agreed to make certain provisions of the Tax Technical Corrections Act of 2003 related to dividend income available to taxpayers in advance of its passage.
A&A

Tough Senate Bill Would End Three Mutual Fund Practices

Three U.S. senators on Monday unveiled the Mutual Fund Reform Act of 2004 (MFRA), which would ban three questionable, but legal, practices that bill sponsors say hurt investors and create conflicts of interest.The bill, sponsored by Sens. Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill., Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, is considered the toughest to date on the $7.4 trillion mutual fund industry, United Press International reported.The bill says: "Three practices — soft dollar arrangements, revenue sharing, and directed brokerage — ought not clutter any mutual fund prospectus.
Tax

The President's Savings Proposals: Tax-Free Savings and Retirement Security

The President’s Savings Proposals:Tax-Free Savings and Retirement SecurityOpportunities for all AmericansThis week the Treasury Department announced that the President’s FY 2005 Budget includes the following savings initiatives: Retirement Savings Accounts, Lifetime Savings Accounts, Employer Retirement Savings Accounts, and Individual Development Accounts.The first proposal would create two consolidated savings accounts: Retirement Savings Accounts (RSAs) and Lifetime Savings Accounts (

Whistle-Blower Wins Protection Under Sarbanes-Oxley

An administrative law judge has ordered that a former CFO be rehired, with back pay, in a decision that is considered one of the first related to whistle-blower protections promised by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.The case did not play out on Wall Street or in tony corporate boardrooms, but in Floyd, Virginia, home to 432 residents and the headquarters of Cardinal Bankshares Corp.The whistle-blower, David Welch, was fired as chief financial officer of Cardinal Bankshares Corp.
Technology

Congress, Wireless Industry Working on Cell Phone Directory

Who hasn’t been in desperate need of someone’s cell phone number and cursed the lack of cell phone directory assistance? The wireless industry and Congress are debating the logistics and expect to soon have a directory available.Congress is focusing its attention on privacy issues with legislation pending that would require cell phone users to "opt in" to the directory and would prevent the industry from collecting the "unlisted" charges people pay to keep their land line numbers private.
A&A

Spitzer Suit Tests Validity of New Federal Banking Rules

In an effort to test the laws governing whether federally chartered banks fall under state consumer protection regulations, New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer filed suit on Friday on behalf of a bank customer.The Bush administration has championed laws that keep federally chartered banks insulated from state consumer laws, a stand that many Democrats and most of the state attorneys general take issue with.The new rules were issued on Jan.
Technology

California Tax Preparers Gear Up for Mandatory E-Filing

A new law in California has some tax preparers scrambling to ensure they can file every state tax return electronically this year. The law requires all tax preparers who filed more than 100 state returns for the 2002 tax year to submit all their work for this tax season by computer. Taxpayers can opt out of the program if they choose.The California Society of CPAs says that reaction to the new law has been mixed. One CPA, Donna Flanders of Modesto, told the Modesto Bell that e-filing is "the wave of the future" that cuts down on paperwork.
Community News

Are Your Employees Responsible For Spam? Is Your Organization Liable?

Hackers, spammers and those bent on using the Internet to exploit others are making inroads in their efforts to overwhelm PC users with unwanted e-mail including pornographic images.Experts are concerned about a new trend of relaying spam through unsuspecting computers left logged on to broadband connections, which are used as a conduit to forward thousands of messages to others without leaving a trace behind.

Audit Fees Go Uncollected by The PCAOB

According to Reuters, William McDonough, chairman of The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, told reporters at The Economic Club of Washington’s Winter Luncheon Meeting on Wednesday that hundreds of public companies still owe the Board dues. "Those companies that have not paid cannot get a clean opinion from their auditor," said McDonough.

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