While You Were Out . . . Tax Season Developments Across The Profession

Many of you have been "nose to the grindstone" for the last few months preparing client tax returns. Now that the crunch is over, you've got an opportunity to pick your head up, look around, and see what's been happening around the profession.

Here, AccountingWEB presents some of the highlights of the last few months. All stories can be found in AccountingWEB's NEWS section.

Accounting Reform Continues in Earnest
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The SEC is setting new rules, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board is getting its legs, and there is no shortage of input from the marketplace. Accounting reform efforts in the United States have spread around the world, leaving many international accounting professional bodies at odds with the U.S. plan for reform.

Related articles:

Era of Accounting Self Regulation Comes to an End
European Commission Dashes Hopes For Audit Liability Caps
Voices of Reform: Get Out of Tax, Get Out of Audit, Shape up!
PCAOB Votes to Require Int'l Accounting Firm Registration
Oversight Board to be Funded by Corporations
SEC Sets New Rules For Audit Committees
SEC Softens Auditor Independence Restrictions

Lawsuits Continue
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Angry investors continue to lash out at public accounting firms through a series of high-profile lawsuits. Meanwhile, the IRS is cracking down on abusive tax shelters, and is holding the promoters accountable.

Related Articles:

E&Y Faces $2.2 Billion Swiss Lawsuit
Firms Face More Lawsuits Over Tax Shelters
KPMG is First of Big Four to Face Chinese Court
Deloitte Sued in Ahold Matter
More Prosecutors Set Their Sights on Auditors

FreeFile Program at IRS is a Hit
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President Bush wants 80% of tax returns to be filed electronically by 2007. To this end, the IRS teamed up with 17 different tax service providers to offer free filing to millions of Americans. As of late last week, over 2.5 million taxpayers used the Free File service, and states are starting to offer similar free file options.

Related Articles:

Strong Growth in Computer Returns And Federal/State E-File
Free File Program Proves Popular With Taxpayers
Intuit Expands Free Tax-Filing Program to States
California E-Tax Filing System Irks Software Makers

Practice Management Developments
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Public accounting firms are looking for the right ways to position themselves for the future. New services, new structures and unique approaches continue to appear.

Related Articles:

Forget Braxton, Deloitte Shelves Plans to Segregate Consulting
Crowe Chizek Rebrands and Restructures For Growth
Merger Will Create Largest Regional CPA Firm in Northeast
Second-Tier Accounting Firms Poised to Move Up
CPA Firm Sold to Employees
CPA Firm Jumps on Mortgage Bandwagon
A Bed, A Breakfast, And a 1040

Technology Developments
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Changes continue in the world of technology as well. Security was #1 on the Top Ten Technologies list. TurboTax users fought back when Intuit changed the software trying to curtail piracy issues, and Microsoft continues its push to own the business software marketplace.

Related Articles:

Controversy Over TurboTax 2002
Class Action Filed Against Intuit Over Product Activation
Microsoft Premiers Secure Instant Messaging For Business
Dell Phases Out Floppy Disk Drives
AICPA Announces Top Ten Technologies For 2003

Marketing Developments
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H&R Block found itself in the middle of two heated debates over its advertising methods this season. Accused of promoting ads that are "disparaging to the profession" and of violating taxpayer privacy information, H&R Block defended its actions and stated they have done nothing wrong.

Related articles:

H&R Block’s TV Ads Prompt Sharp Letter From AICPA
Canadian Accountants File Complaint Against H&R Block
H&R Block Accused of Misuse of Consumer Data

State And Local Tax Developments
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When times get tough, and budgets are at record deficits, states and municipalities have gotten very creative in reaching out to collect taxes owed to them.

Related articles:

NYC Goes After Foreign Governments For Back Taxes
More Ingenious Tax Strategies: Kansas Taxes Drug Dealers
Jock Tax: Big Bucks For States, Bigger Headaches For Accountants

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