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Bramwell's Lunch Beat: Audit Committee Overload, Tax Extenders, FAF SVP Remembered

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Dec 15th 2015
Staff Writer and Editor AccountingWEB
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Boards face recruiting challenges
As the responsibilities of audit committees continue to mount, boards may be finding it more challenging to find candidates with the talent, skills, and time to fulfill the increasingly critical role, wrote Richard Teitelbaum and Kimberly S. Johnson of CFO Journal. Since the implementation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002, audit committees are now involved in such issues as whistleblowing, legal compliance, and cybersecurity. “We wind up loading almost everything onto the audit committee,” said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a management professor at the Yale School of Management. This is helping to make it more difficult to find qualified candidates for audit committees. The supply of qualified individuals is shrinking, as the requirements for the job have grown apace. Since audit committee workloads have risen, candidates are increasingly loathe to commit to serving on multiple boards as they have in the past.

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Negotiators near deal on year-end spending, tax package
Kelsey Snell of the Washington Post wrote that congressional negotiators on Monday neared a bipartisan deal on a year-end spending and tax package that would increase domestic and military funding, lift the ban on crude-oil exports, and extend several tax breaks for businesses and individuals. If the agreement is completed by Tuesday morning, the House could vote on Thursday on two separate bills. One would contain the tax break package, which could extend some provisions permanently, and language lifting the 40-year ban on crude-oil exports. The second would be a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill funding the government for the remainder of fiscal 2016. Splitting up the votes this way would allow House leaders to pass the tax package with mostly Republican votes and the spending deal with a large amount of Democratic votes. If both pass, they would be rolled into one bill that the Senate would consider.

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Seven states to lose millions from Internet tax ban
Mario Trujillo of The Hill wrote that at least seven states are expected to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue when a permanent tax ban on Internet access closes off a loophole they have relied upon for more than a decade. A temporary ban that prevents states and local governments from taxing the monthly bills that customers pay for Internet service has been around since 1998. But a handful of states have been able to get around that because of a grandfather clause that allows any tax in place before 1998 to continue. But the temporary ban is soon expected to become permanent, and it will also cut off the grandfathered clause after 2020. “Even though there is a four-year lapse, you are grandfathering this, and my own state of Texas will lose $358 million,” Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) said on Dec. 11, before the House overwhelmingly passed a deal that included the permanent ban.

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FAF remembers senior vice president Robert Stewart
Robert Stewart, senior vice president of public affairs for the Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF), passed away on Dec. 12. “In his four years with the FAF, Robert established a public affairs program that successfully promoted a greater understanding of, and appreciation for, the work of our standard-setting boards among the public and our many stakeholder audiences,” FAF President and CEO Teresa Polley said in a statement. “He established valued relationships with regulators, government leaders, the media, and others with an interest in what we do. Professionally, Robert will be remembered for his many accomplishments and commitment to excellence. Personally, his colleagues will remember him for his energy, enthusiasm, compassion, humor, and friendship. Robert will be missed by everyone who had the privilege of knowing and working with him. Our thoughts and prayers are with Robert's wife, Debbie, and their two sons, John and James.”

[On a personal note, I only talked to Robert a handful of times, but he was always generous with his time, extremely helpful and insightful, and he had a great sense of humor. He will be missed, and I want to offer my condolences to his family, colleagues, and friends.]

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Quick Links:

  • How accounting can help build a sustainable economy (Harvard Business Review)
  • Chinese water accounting is slippery when wet (Wall Street Journal)
  • Q&A: What is the ‘Cadillac tax' and why is it in trouble? (Wall Street Journal)
  • Don't crash the ‘Cadillac tax,' GOP (Weekly Standard)
  • Obamacare ‘Cadillac tax' provision is the one thing everyone in Congress can agree should be delayed (Daily Kos)
  • Heritage Action opposes ‘Cadillac tax' delay (The Hill)
  • Critics assail FAA ‘drone tax' (The Hill)
  • Clinton's ambitious plan: Make US-based corporations pay their taxes (Washington Post)
  • The bipartisan case for a carbon tax (US News and World Report)
  • Should governments tax unhealthy foods and drinks? (TaxVox)
  • How profit sharing sent Captain Ahab in search of Moby Dick (Tax Analysts)
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