Friday news briefs...

Herewith, a summary of some of the interesting news items that came across the desk at AccountingWEB this week...

43 percent of CFOs do not want to be promoted to CEO

In a national survey of chief financial officers and senior comptrollers conducted by Grant Thornton LLP, 43 percent of CFOs do not want to be chief executive officer of a company one day. Sixty-one percent feel that their CEO is appropriately compensated.

Would you like to be CEO of a company one day?
Yes 57.01 %
No 42.99 %

Considering total pay and benefits package, do you feel your CEO is:
Overpaid 23.53 %
Appropriately paid 60.63 %
Underpaid 15.84 %

Ernst & Young convenes largest gathering of entrepreneurs in America

Entrepreneurs from across the country and special guests from throughout the world will gather in Palm Springs, California from November 15-18, 2007 for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year 2007 national awards. Now in its 21st year, the awards honor entrepreneurs who have demonstrated excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance, and personal commitment to their businesses and communities.

U.S. privacy groups seek online ad-tracking opt-out

Online privacy activists are lobbying U.S. telecoms regulators to create an internet advertising block list like the National Do Not Call Registry that blocks telemarketing calls.

The Do Not Track list has been proposed by privacy and electronic rights groups the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) to the U.S. consumer protection regulator the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Consumers would be able to sign up to the list so that their online activities would not be monitored by advertisers and used to target adverts to their specific tastes and habits.

News from the week of 10/26/07

Learn to read the signs when interviewing for a new job

Being able to read between the lines can be a great talent, particularly when sizing up a potential employer. Pay attention to what the interviewer says, and doesn't say, and try to determine if your skills will be appreciated and utilized. BusinessWeek recommends that you try deconstructing the interview with a friend, and see if you can make sense of what really was said and implied.

House continues to push for tobacco tax increase to pay for SCHIP

The House voted 265-142 on Thursday to pass the controversial children's health insurance bill (SCHIP) in spite of President Bush's threat to veto the legislation a second time. The bill would increase federal spending to provide health care for all Americans under age 25 with family income levels up to $83,000. Funding for the legislation is to come from a hefty increase in tobacco taxes, raising the tax on a pack of cigarettes from $.39 to $1.00 and the tax on cigars from $.05 per cigar to $3.00 per cigar.

A Heritage Foundation study released in July found that the tax hikes would lead to a reduction in tobacco sales, and thus the healthcare program could not be sufficiently funded. The study found that 9 million new smokers would need to be recruited in the first five years in order to pay for the legislation, with an additional 13.4 million new smokers required in the four years thereafter.

News from the week of 10/19/07

Many CFOs want more accounting firm choices

In a national survey of chief financial officers and senior comptrollers conducted by Grant Thornton LLP, 56 percent think there are too few accounting firms to ensure competition, and 69 percent think more competition in the accounting profession would increase quality of service and decrease price.

However, changing auditors isn't necessarily a change for the best. Fifty-nine percent believe the market reacts negatively to a change in external audit firm.

Slightly more than half (52 percent) of the surveyed CFOs said they think their institutional investors care about their choice of external audit firms.

Marcum & Kliegman LLP donates $25,000 to children's charities

Marcum & Kliegman LLP, Certified Public Accountants and Consultants, has donated $25,000 in proceeds from the 2007 Marcum & Kliegman Workplace Challenge to Long Island Children's Museum and Children's Medical Fund of New York.

This year's Workplace Challenge had more than 6,800 runners from approximately 200 different Long Island companies. Best-selling author, and pro-wrestling legend, Mick Foley served as the special guest celebrity. Killer Joe & the Lido Soul Revue provided music throughout the evening, and In-A-Chord Quartet sang the National Anthem prior to the start of the race. The Marcum & Kliegman Workplace Challenge, a 3.5 mile run/ walk, will return to Jones Beach on July 29, 2008. For information on how your company can participate, contact Mindy Davidson at (516) 349-7649 or visit mkworkplacechallenge.com.

News from the week of 10/12/07

IRS elaborates on nondeductibility of meal replacements and dietary supplements

The IRS has produced an Information Letter setting out its reasoning for not allowing medical expense itemized deductions for meal replacements and dietary supplements used in weight loss programs. The explanation is that the medical expense deduction does not provide for deductions of personal, living, or family expenses. Food is considered to be a personal item and thus is not deductible. Dietary supplements, while not necessarily food in the common sense, are food replacements, and are thus categorized as food for purposes of the medical deduction.

Accounting firm consolidation sweeps up PIttsburgh firm

Pennsylvania regional accounting firm Parente Randolph LLC is merging with the Pittsburgh office of Terry & Stephenson PC. This marks the sixth transaction involving accounting firms in the Pittsburgh region since the beginning of this year, reflecting a trend toward consolidation among small and regional firms.
While other cities have already undergone this transformation, it's just beginning in Pittsburgh, said Richard Rose, a shareholder and co-chairman of the mergers and acquisitions practice group at Downtown law firm Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC.

Tennessee accounting firms merge

Chattanooga-based accounting and consulting firm Petty & Landis, PC and Lattimore Black Morgan & Cain, PC (LBMC) have agreed to merge their practices effective October 1, 2007.

LBMC, the largest regional firm in Tennessee and the 45th largest firm in the U.S. according to Inside Public Accounting, has offices in Nashville and Knoxville.

News from the week of 10/5/07

House passes mortgage relief legislation

On Thursday, October 4, the House voted 386 to 27 to pass the mortgage relief legislation (H.R. 3648). This legislation would permanently exclude from income debt forgiven as a result of a mortgage foreclosure or renegotiation, would extend, for seven years, the deduction for private mortgage insurance (PMI), and would modify the qualification tests for cooperative housing corporations.

TCPI announces Tax Policy & Practice Symposium

The Tax Council Policy Institute (TCPI) will hold its 9th Annual Tax Policy & Practice Symposium on Feb. 20-21 of 2008 in Washington, D.C. The program is titled: "Future Shock? Impact of U.S. Fiscal Policy on Corporate Taxation in an Increasingly Competitive Global Marketplace."

The symposium is expected to bring together leading professionals and policymakers from government, industry, and academia in panel and discussion forums, to take an in-depth look at critical tax issues facing U.S. businesses today, including the scheduled expiration of more than a trillion dollars of previously enacted tax cuts in 2010, burgeoning entitlement program costs which pose an increasing budget threat, and outmoded tax laws that can make it difficult for businesses to compete globally.

For more details about TCPI’s 9th Annual Tax Policy & Practice Symposium, including registration and exhibitor information, please contact TCPI at 202-822-8062 or symposium@tcpi.org, or visit TCPI’s Web site.

SBA advances women-owned small business contracting

The U.S. Small Business Administration has announced steps to increase federal contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses (WOSB). The agency submitted this week a comprehensive new rule for interagency review and anticipates its publication in coming months.

Meanwhile, SBA has implemented significant new initiatives to increase small business access to government contracts. This summer, it instituted a semi-annual Scorecard, which reports on federal procuring agencies’
progress toward small business contracting goals, including the 5 percent goal for women-owned small businesses.

In addition, there are many resources currently available nationwide to assist WOSBs seek contracts at federal agencies, such as Small Business Development Centers, Women Business Centers, SCORE, Procurement Technical Assistance Centers and the Office of Small Disadvantaged Business Utilization Centers.

News from the week of 9/28/07

Novogradac & Company LLP to host Financing Renewable Energy Conference

Federal and state renewable tax credit programs offer developers and investors tremendous potential and incentive, making it essential to understand these programs, how they operate and how you can benefit.

Join Novogradac & Company LLP at its Renewable Energy Conference in Miami, Fla., November 8-9, 2007 and meet with renewable energy experts in the area of solar and wind who will lead in-depth explorations of the Renewable Energy Tax Credit (RETC) program, discuss the ways it is being used, how to apply it to your projects and what the future holds for the RETC program.

Illinois accounting firms announces merger

Accounting firm Phyllis Malitz & Associates, Ltd. has merged with Silver, Lerner, Schwartz & Fertel. Skokie, IL-based SLSF announced the merger. Michael L. Perlman will continue to serve as managing partner of SLSF, a position he has held since 2003. Phyllis Malitz, CEO and founder of Phyllis Malitz & Associates, has been named an SLSF partner. With the addition of Malitz and her staff members, SLSF is now a 35-person firm.

Firm clients will benefit from the breadth of talent, depth of knowledge, and extensive network of professional relationships each organization brings to the combined entity. In addition, the merger will enhance SLSF’s ability to serve its current clients, build new relationships and hire talented employees.

News from the week of 9/21/07

Jackson Hewitt named one of America's 100 fastest growing companies

As it gears up for the 2008 tax season, Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc. has been named one of America's fastest growing companies by Fortune magazine. Jackson Hewitt came in at #95 in the widely-read annual ranking, which appears in the September 17, 2007 issue of the publication. Jackson Hewitt provides full service individual federal and state income tax preparation and is the only tax preparation service named to the 2007 Fortune 100 Fastest-Growing Companies rankings. The rankings are based on a number of factors, including: a company's revenue growth rate; its earnings per share growth rate; and the three-year annualized total return to investors for the period ended June 30, 2007. In compiling this list, Fortune considers American businesses that have been publicly traded for at least three years and that have revenue and market capitalization of at least $50 million.

Crowe Chizek named to Microsoft Dynamics Inner Circle

Crowe Chizek and Company LLC has been named to the Microsoft Dynamics Inner Circle, an honor awarded to firms at the top echelon of the Microsoft Dynamics global network of value-added reselling partners.

Membership in this elite group recognizes organizations whose commitment to customers is reflected in their constant dedication to achieving high levels of customer satisfaction, active pursuit of product and technological advancement, and impressive sales performance.

Alpern Rosenthal merges with West Palm Beach CPA firm

Pittsburgy, PA-based Alpern Rosenthal, one of the country's largest certified public accounting and business advisory firms, announced that it has merged with the accounting firm, Cass, Levy & Leone, which has offices in West Palm Beach and Stuart, FL. Alpern Rosenthal's name will remain the same and the Florida firm will initially be known as Cass, Levy & Leone, an Alpern Rosenthal Company. This is the first office Alpern Rosenthal will have outside of its downtown Pittsburgh headquarters.

With the merger, Alpern Rosenthal will now have more than 240 employees. Cass, Levy & Leone, which was founded in 1982, has 30 employees. All employees of Alpern Rosenthal and Cass, Levy & Leone will be retained as part of the merged firm.

The merger strengthens Alpern Rosenthal's capabilities in several areas where both firms have significant expertise such as business valuation/litigation support, construction, medical, real estate and financial services. In addition, Cass Levy & Leone adds new niche expertise to Alpern Rosenthal including the hospitality industry and family office services.

PCAOB board member Kayla Gillan to step down

Kayla Gillan, a founding Board Member of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, has announced that she will leave the Board by the end of January 2008.

Gillan leaves a lasting impact upon the Board. She spearheaded the Board's small business program, called Forum on Auditing in the Small Business Environment. Board members and key staff travel around the country to meet representatives from smaller auditing firms and directors and executives from smaller public companies. Since the inception of the small business forums in late 2004, more than 2,000 members of the small business community have attended the forums.

News from the week of 9/14/07

Deloitte & Touche tops list of BusinessWeek's annual 'Best Places to Launch a Career'

Accounting firms dominate BusinessWeek's second annual ranking of the "Best Places to Launch a Career": Deloitte & Touche is No. 1, followed by PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young. The last of the Big Four, KPMG, moved up four spots to No. 11. BusinessWeek's "Best Places to Launch a Career" ranking is in the September 24, 2007 issue, on newsstands September 17th.

BusinessWeek's "Best Places to Launch a Career" ranking is based on three extensive surveys: of career services directors at U.S. colleges, the employers they identify as the best for new graduates, and college students themselves. This year BusinessWeek was able to examine the records of many more companies, which allowed us to expand the list of employers from 55 to 95 and broaden our view of the corporate landscape. Several newcomers, including PWC, IBM, and Microsoft, eclipsed last year's favorites. Walt Disney had been No. 1; this year it fell to No. 7. Last year's No. 2, Lockheed Martin, slipped to No. 9.

Center for Audit Quality announces appointment of public board members

The Center for Audit Quality (CAQ) has announced its first public board members: Harvey J. Goldschmid, former U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission commissioner; Michele J. Hooper, co-founder of The Directors' Council; and Lynn S. Paine, professor of business administration at the Harvard School of Business.

The Center for Audit Quality is made up of approximately 800 public accounting firms and led by a Governing Board that comprises leaders from the public company auditing firms, the American Institute of CPAs and the investor and issuer communities.

The CAQ Governing Board also consists of Barry C. Melancon, President and CEO, AICPA; Jack Weisbaum, CEO, BDO Seidman LLP; Charles M. Allen, CEO, Crowe Chizek and Company LLP; Barry Salzberg, CEO, Deloitte & Touche USA LLP; James S. Turley, Chairman and CEO, Ernst & Young LLP; Ed Nusbaum, CEO and Executive Partner, Grant Thornton LLP; Tim P. Flynn, Chairman and CEO, KPMG LLP; Dave Scudder, Managing Partner, McGladrey & Pullen LLP; and Dennis M. Nally, Chairman and Senior Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

Reznick Group strengthens presence in Southeast U.S.

Reznick Group, P.C., a national leader in accounting, tax and business advisory services, has announced that Tidwell DeWitt LLC, a leading Southeast-regional accounting and business consulting firm, will be integrated into its practice. A letter of intent has been signed and the transaction is expected to close on or about October 1, 2007.

The combination of practices strengthens Reznick Group's presence in the southeastern United States by expanding the firm's Atlanta office and establishing a new Alabama office. A total of approximately 50 new professionals, including seven Tidwell DeWitt principals, will be joining Reznick Group. Combined, Reznick Group will have 10 offices nationwide, and approximately 1,450 professionals, including 100 principals. Reznick Group's revenue was $188 million for the 12-month period ending May 31, 2007.

News from the week of 9/7/07

Business 2.0 ceases publication…

Time Inc.’s Business 2.0, one of the most prominent business titles launched during the dot-com boom, will cease publication following the October issue. Reports said Time Inc. turned down offers from Mansueto Ventures, which owns Inc. and Fast Company, to acquire the Business 2.0 brand and its circulation list of 600,000 subscribers and opted to fold the title altogether.

Business 2.0 launched in 1998 and was initially published by U.K.-based Future Network, which sold the magazine to Time Inc. in 2001 for a reported $68 million. One of the high-flying business books of the late 1990s, its ad page growth was regularly in the double digits. But its fortunes fell when the Internet market bottomed out earlier this decade and ad pages started to plummet.

IASB proposes additional guidance on hedge accounting

The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) has published for public comment an exposure draft of proposed amendments to IAS 39 Financial Instruments: Recognition and Measurement. The amendments are intended to clarify what can be designated as a hedged item in a hedge accounting relationship.

The exposure draft specifies the risks that qualify for designation as hedged risks when an entity hedges its exposure to a financial instrument. In addition it clarifies when an entity may designate a portion of the cash flows of a financial instrument as a hedged item.

The exposure draft of proposed amendments to IAS 39 - Exposures Qualifying for Hedge Accounting is available for eIFRS subscribers and will be freely available on the Website from 17 September. It is open for comment until 11 January 2008.

Two GM models certified as qualified hybrids

The Internal Revenue Service has acknowledged the certification by General Motors Corp. that two of its Model Year 2008 vehicles meet the requirements of the Alternative Motor Vehicle Credit as qualified hybrid motor vehicles. The credit amount for the certified 2008 model year hybrid vehicles are

  • Chevrolet Malibu hybrid — $1,300

  • Saturn Aura hybrid — $1,300

    Original purchasers of these vehicles may claim the full amount of the allowable credit up to the end of the first calendar quarter after the quarter in which the manufacturer records its sale of the 60,000th vehicle. For the second and third calendar quarters after the quarter in which the 60,000th vehicle is sold, taxpayers may claim 50 percent of the credit. For the fourth and fifth calendar quarters, taxpayers may claim 25 percent of the credit. No credit is allowed after the fifth quarter.

    Crowe Chizek to combine practice with Florida firm

    Crowe Chizek and Company LLC has announced that it intends to combine practices with Lakeland and Tampa, Florida-based Carter, Belcourt & Atkinson, P.A. (CBA). The two firms have signed a nonbinding letter of intent to combine practices. Discussions are taking place with plans calling for a combination agreement to be signed in the coming months. CBA is one of central Florida's largest locally owned certified public accounting and consulting firms, with offices located in Lakeland and Tampa.

    News from the week of 8/31/07

    IRS picks new members of leadership team

    The Internal Revenue Service has announced the selection of four people to key leadership posts across the tax agency. In the Wage and Investment Division, Richard E. Byrd, Jr., will become Commissioner, and Pamela G. Watson will become Deputy Commissioner following the January 2008 retirement of current Commissioner Richard Morgante.
    In the Large and Mid-Size Business Division, Frank Y. Ng will take over as Commissioner following the October retirement of current Commissioner Deborah M. Nolan.
    Taking over as Chief Information Officer will be Art Gonzalez, currently the Deputy CIO. He replaces Richard Spires, who becomes IRS Deputy Commissioner for Operations Support in September.

    Grant Thornton expands into the San Diego market

    Grant Thornton LLP, the fastest growing national accounting firm over the last five years, has opened a new office in San Diego. The new Del Mar office will provide a fresh option for San Diego-based companies in life sciences, technology, government contracting, and other industries seeking audit, tax, and business advisory services, as well as forensic accounting, investigative services, transfer pricing and international tax. Grant Thornton LLP has 52 offices in the U.S. and through Grant Thornton International member firms, serves clients in more than 500 offices in over 100 countries. The new office is part of the firm's strategic growth plan for the Southern California region.

    Michael J. Mard named to FASB Valuation Resource Group

    Michael J. Mard, CPA/ABV, ASA, is one of nine valuation experts named to FASB's Valuation Resource Group (VRG), whose purpose is to provide input to FASB's Board and staff on valuation procedures impacting financial reporting. According to FASB, the new VRG will provide input on potential clarifying guidance on issues relating to the application of fair value information required or permitted under generally accepted accounting procedures.

    News from the week of 8/24/07

    NTEU president speaks out on needs of IRS employees

    Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents, among others, IRS employees, has stated that, "If it is going to meet its workforce requirements in the face of potentially large looming retirements, the Internal Revenue Service must do a much better job of addressing the needs of its employees, including a focus on their low morale caused, in part, by the agency’s efforts to contract out their work, the leader of the union representing IRS employees." Kelley has been a vocal advocate of ending the program to privatize collection of back taxes. President Kelley made these comments in the wake of a report from the independent IRS Oversight Board suggesting that the agency will lose through retirement some 4,000 IRS employees a year over the next four years.

    Intuit releases fourth quarter results

    Software manufacturer Intuit, maker of popular products including QuickBooks, Quicken, and TurboTax, has announced its fourth quarter (July 31, 2007) and fiscal 2007 results. Revenue increased 17 percent from fiscal 2006, GAAP operating income from continuing operations was up 13 percent from fiscal 2006, GAAP net income was up 6 percent from fiscal 2006, non-GAAP operating income was up 17 percent from fiscal 2006, and non-GAAP diluted earnings per share of $1.43 was up 18 percent from fiscal 2006. The Intuit press release provides a more detailed breakdown of revenue by area as well as information about a webcast of the financial results.

    CPA executives want to help mold public policy

    The results of a recent survey conducted by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) indicate that corporate America wants to play a leadership role in national policy issues such as healthcare, Social Security and the environment. "CPAs make important decisions that help shape our economy," said Ken Witt, AICPA Technical Manager, Business, Industry and Government. "It is not surprising that professionals committed to serving the public interest believe companies and their executives should play a role in public policy issues." Of the remaining survey respondents, 37 percent feel their companies should be involved in policy issues that relate to their strategic objectives. Only a small minority (7 percent) said companies and their executives should focus solely on providing returns to their shareholders. The complete survey results are available on the AICPA Financial Management Center Web site.

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