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Bramwell’s Lunch Beat: New Year, New Accounting Firm Mergers and Acquisitions

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Jan 6th 2015
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New IRS rules on dark money likely won’t be ready before 2016 election
The IRS says it won't come out with new proposed rules for so-called dark money groups until late spring at the earliest, increasing the likelihood that no changes will take effect before the 2016 elections, wrote Theodoric Meyer of ProPublica. The IRS issued a draft version of the rules for dark money groups – social welfare nonprofits that can engage in politics, but do not have to disclose their donors – more than a year ago, but withdrew them for revisions after receiving intense criticism from both ends of the political spectrum.

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Kennedy and Coe merges with Matson Isom, changes name
Accounting firms Kennedy and Coe and Matson Isom have merged and will now be known as K·Coe Isom, wrote Daniel McCoy of the Wichita Business Journal. The merger gives the combined entity annual revenues of $56.3 million and a total of about 360 people, including its office – formerly that of Kennedy and Coe – in Wichita, Kansas. It now has 17 offices across the United States and ranks approximately 60th in terms of size nationwide.

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Big accounting firm enters Philadelphia market via acquisition
Philadelphia-based Elko & Associates confirmed on Monday that it agreed to be acquired by Milwaukee-based Wipfli LLP, one of the 25 largest accounting firms in the country, wrote Jeff Blumenthal of the Philadelphia Business Journal. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Eighty-one Elko employees, including 12 partners, will join Wipfli. Elko was founded in 1960 and provides accounting, audit, tax, and business consulting services and is a member of the PKF North America affiliation of accounting firms. After the acquisition, Wipfli will have approximately 1,300 associates, 160 partners, and 24 office locations.

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Montana-based Galusha, Higgins & Galusha PC joins Wipfli LLP
Wipfli had a busy day yesterday. In addition to its acquisition of Elko & Associates, Wipfli also announced the acquisition of Helena, Montana-based accounting firm Galusha, Higgins & Galusha PC (GHG) on Monday. As part of this combination, 137 GHG professionals, including 22 partners, have joined Wipfli. Founded in 1919, GHG is the largest, privately owned accounting firm in northern Idaho and Montana, according to a press release. The firm has six full-service offices located in Montana; a full-service office in Idaho Falls, Idaho; multiple-day offices strategically located throughout Montana; and two specialized offices.

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Legal weed brings tax boost, but it’s modest
Legal marijuana is bringing in tax money to Colorado and Washington, but in the mix of multimillion budgets, the drug is a small boost, not a tsunami of cash, wrote Kristen Wyatt of the Associated Press. Much of the drug's tax production has been used to pay for all the new regulation the drug requires – from a new state agency in Colorado to oversee the industry, to additional fire and building inspectors for local governments to make sure the new pot-growing facilities don't pose a safety risk. But no one knows how the opening of new recreational markets will drain sales from Colorado and Washington. Oregon voters have approved retail pot sales beginning in 2016; Alaska has approved sales but it's not clear when they'll begin. And the biggest market in the West – California – is expected to consider recreational pot legalization in 2016.

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Liberal group pans dynamic scoring
Proposed new congressional budget rules would only cloud the impact of broad tax and budget changes, a liberal group said on Monday, wrote Bernie Becker of The Hill. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said the GOP’s push to switch to so-called “dynamic” scoring would give lawmakers less information about the effects of budget proposals, and would also allow Republicans to minimize the consequences of their policies. GOP lawmakers say dynamic scoring, which estimates that cutting taxes can spur economic growth, is more accurate than the current projections used by the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation.

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Minnesota investment board won’t support Medtronic-Covidien deal
The Minnesota State Board of Investment, a small but symbolically important investor in Medtronic and Covidien, will not support their planned $43 billion combination when shareholders vote on Tuesday, wrote Jeanne Whalen of the Wall Street Journal. The board is a minor shareholder in Medtronic, which is based in Minneapolis, and in Covidien, which is based in Dublin, Ireland. Analysts still expect shareholders in the two medical device makers to approve the deal. Medtronic will use the acquisition to reincorporate in Dublin, a so-called tax inversion that will lower its tax burden. The board will abstain from the shareholder votes, after its four-person proxy committee came to a 2-2 deadlock on the deal during a meeting last Friday.

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Intuit: Small business employment, pay, and revenue continue growing
Intuit Inc. on Tuesday released its monthly Small Business Employment and Revenue Indexes, which found that US small businesses added 30,000 new jobs in December 2014, an increase of 0.14 percent from November, making for more than 860,000 jobs added since March 2010. In addition, small business employees saw a 0.15 percent increase in monthly compensation, with average monthly pay reaching $2,782, up $4 from November. Also, revenues per small business increased by 0.03 percent in November, roughly 3.5 percent when annualized.

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