Trends

Tax

Why Taxpayers Don’t Claim EITC

Complex steps for claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit and a lack of awareness about the benefit are the most common reasons why taxpayers fail to claim it, according to H&R Block.H&R Block, which prepared one of every four tax returns claiming the EITC in 2006, helped more than 5 million taxpayers claim nearly $10 billion in EITC benefits last year. Still, the IRS estimates that nearly a quarter of those who qualify don't claim the valuable credit, leaving as much as $1 billion unclaimed.The EITC offsets income taxes as a work incentive for low-income Americans.

Amy Welch Named "AccountingWEB's CPA Society Employee of the Year" for 2006

Amy Welch, Director of Communications for the Oklahoma Society of Certified Public Accountants (OSCPA), has been named "AccountingWEB's CPA Society Employee of the Year" for 2006. Amy has worked with us proactively and sees the value for OSCPA members in doing so. Recently she suggested that we write about the tax gap and in the midst of the ice storm that paralyzed her state, enlisted Oklahoma CPA experts to speak with us. Their contributions brought unusual depth and perspective to the story.Amy confesses to loving her job and being a PR geek.
A&A

Experts Predict Bad Year Ahead for Cyber-crime, Cyber-terrorism

According to information released by Risk Bloggers, security and risk management experts around the world predict information security events will occur in 2007, with sophisticated criminal groups increasingly exploiting technology to keep one step ahead of consumer and corporate defenses, resulting in unprecedented losses.Some key vulnerabilities cited were large groups of zombie computers organized into Botnets, web server security holes and uncontrolled mobile devices, such as portable storage and smart phones.

Opposition to Wal-Mart’s Bank is Gaining Strength

Almost three-quarters of bankers (70 percent) say that their business would be hurt if Wal-Mart is allowed to enter the financial services industry, according to Grant Thornton’s 14th Annual Survey of Bank Executives. “When it comes to competition, the majority of bankers see Wal-Mart as a menace,” says John Ziegelbauer, Grant Thornton’s national managing partner of the financial institutions practice.

Bipartisan Support in New York for SOX 404 Reform

Governor Eliot Spitzer, the Democratic governor of New York who as the state’s attorney general prosecuted Wall Street firms and other companies for corporate securities fraud and earned more than $3.5 billion in penalties and settlements for the state, according to the New York Post, has joined Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Democratic Senator Charles Schumer in calling for reform of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. At a news conference in New York the three men announced support for reforms recommended in a study report released by McKinsey & Co.

Federal Managers Slow to Adopt Telework Policy

Nearly half of federal managers, or 47-percent, believe their agencies do not support telecommuting, despite a governmentwide policy adopted by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and support from the administration and Congress, according to a new study by the Federal Managers Association (FMA) and Telework Exchange. Only 35-percent of managers surveyed believe their agencies support telework, and nearly half do not support the policy.

What’s Behind the Tax Gap?

Of all the numbers cited by Nina Olson, the Taxpayer Advocate in her analysis of the Tax Gap as part of her annual report to Congress, one stands out – the $2,200 “surtax” that individuals pay to subsidize noncompliance by others. Preliminary figures suggest that noncompliance for 2005 will approach $290 billion.

How Big a Problem Is the AMT?

How much taxpayers are suffering from the burden of the alternative minimum tax (AMT) depends on who you are talking to. Four members of the Oklahoma Society of CPA’s spoke with AccountingWeb.com about the AMT recently from the perspectives of their own practices. All agreed with Nina Olson, Taxpayer Advocate, that the AMT’s complexity was a burden to taxpayers, but no one suggested that the tax be repealed. Kent L. West was concerned about the growing numbers of their clients who were affected, but Basker Johnson saw the AMT affecting his clients only under special circumstances. J.

AICPA Publishes Generally Accepted Privacy Policies for Use by Business and CPAs

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) have announced the recent release of Generally Accepted Privacy Principles (GAPP) – a Global Privacy Framework. The new GAPP is available in two versions, one for business and management and the other for CPAs in public practice that provide consulting and attestation services.

FASB Will Discuss Delay of FIN 48

Delaying the effective date of FASB Interpretation No. 48, “Accounting for Uncertainty in Income Taxes” (FIN 48), an interpretation of FAS 109, is on the agenda of the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s (FASB) regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, January 17. The Board has received over 300 letters on Fin 48 since it was it was issued last July, many requesting that the effective date, December 16, 2006 for companies with fiscal years beginning on that date or later, be delayed for one year, the New York Times reports. In a December 12, 2006 letter to FASB, David L.

Congress Targets Faulty Oil-Drilling Leases Worth Billions in Royalties

When Congress revisits energy legislation next week beginning with a U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, a priority will be to examine the Interior Department's oil and gas royalties program, the panel's new chairman Sen. Jeff Bingaman, (D-N.M.), said Tuesday, according to dowjones.com.
Community News

Five Accounting Firms Named to Fortune’s List of 100 Best Companies to Work For

Ernst & Young, one of the Big Four accounting firms, and Plante & Moran, a regional firm with headquarters in Southfield, Michigan were the highest-ranked accounting firms in Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list which appears in the January 22nd issue of the magazine and at Fortune.com. Ernst & Young ranked 25th followed closely by Plante & Moran at 32. The other three Big Four firms also made the list with PricewaterhouseCoopers ranked No. 58, Deloitte & Touche No 78 and KPMG No.

Navigating the New “Kiddie Tax” Rules

When Congress passed legislation in May that extended the so-called Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) patch for one more year, the law included a provision that eliminated the “Kiddie Tax” break for dependent children between the ages of 14 and 18 who have investment income over $1,700. All dependent children under age 18 are now required to be taxed at their parents’ rate on unearned income of $1,700 or more retroactive to January 1, 2006.
Tax

States Must Confront Huge Retiree Obligations

Soaring health care costs and low investment returns in pension funds are forcing state and local governments to make drastic changes to retiree health care benefits and to lengthen vesting periods for new workers. As of December 15, the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB), requires government entities to record Other Post-employment Benefits (OPEB) as accrued liabilities under statements 43 and 45.
A&A

Small Businesses Have More Credit Card Debt

A newly released report by the Small Business Administration (SBA) finds that small businesses have acquired more outstanding debt. Most of it was credit card debt. From June 2004 to June 2005, both the number and dollar amounts of small business loans rose 25 percent. All commercial lending institutions accounted for the numbers, not just SBA loans and the increase in business debt was especially prevalent in the smallest businesses, under $100,000.
Tax

What Gives with Giving?

America is a generous country and during the holiday season even more people think about giving to charity. A study from Network for Good, who process online charitable donations of over one million non-profit groups, reports on the over $100 million donated to 20,000 groups through the site since November 2001. Findings show that: The average age of online donors is 38 Offline donors tend to be over 60 years old The most generous online donors are from New York, Connecticut and

Two Federal Budget Deficit Estimates; Two Accounting Methods

According to the Financial Report of the United States Government for the year ending September 30, 2006, which was released by the Treasury Department (DoT) on Friday, the federal budget deficit totaled $449.5 billion, nearly 81 percent higher than the $247.7 billion in the President’s annual budget report published two months ago.
A&A

SEC Proposes Risk-Based Analysis of Financial Controls

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted unanimously on Wednesday to allow public companies subject to the requirements of Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) to evaluate the design of only those financial controls that might carry the risk of having a material impact on financial statements.
Community News

Accounting Firms Receive Tax Breaks, Incentive Grants to Relocate

Accounting firms that are considering moving from their existing locations are getting a lot of help from local governments who want to retain or attract professional firms to their communities. Whitinger Properties, a long established accounting firm in Muncie, Indiana, received $120,890 in tax breaks this week from the Muncie City Council on a new $2.3 million office building in Ontario Place, the StarPress.com reports.

Consumers Don’t Expect to Get What They Want This Christmas

Nearly a quarter of all consumers don’t think they will get what they want for the holidays this year, according to the 21st Annual Holiday Survey of retail and shopping trends commissioned by Deloitte & Touche USA LLP. Anyone among the 24 percent of survey participants indicating they will wait until the last minute to shop, will probably be grateful for the lists provided or hints dropped by 69 percent of respondents.

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