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Bramwell’s Lunch Beat: Regulator ‘Encouraged’ By Audit Firm Improvements

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Jun 8th 2015
Staff Writer and Editor AccountingWEB
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The Broncos have a ‘fart tax,’ and Von Miller says he’s paid it the most
NFL players can be fined for any number of reasons, such as being late to team meetings, illegal touchdown celebrations, or wearing the wrong socks. But we now know that the Denver Broncos also fines its players for farting, courtesy of its star pass-rusher, Von Miller, wrote Des Bieler of the Washington Post. Miller says the team has a fine system in place for flatulence, and he thinks he’s been fined the most. “Sometimes you’ve just got to step away from the burgers and stuff,” Miller told the Broncos’ website in April. Instead, his meals have been bolstered with a lot of “broccoli or green beans,” usually raw.

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PCAOB: Big firms getting better grades on internal-control audits
Emily Chasan of the Wall Street Journal’s CFO Journal wrote that the largest public accounting firms made significant improvements in their audits of corporate internal controls this year, according to the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). Audits of internal controls have been a sticking point with regulators over the past few years. But the larger firms have “shown some real improvements in the [inspection] findings,” said Helen Munter, director of the PCAOB Division of Registration and Inspections. She said the improvements came as audit firms increased guidance and training for internal-control audits, and demanded more proof from companies that internal controls were working. “I am very encouraged by what I saw at certain firms in our 2014 inspections,” Munter said. “I think we will begin to see some real improvements in performance and in efficiency coming out of last year into this year and next.”

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House to vote to extend Internet tax ban
The House is expected this week to approve a proposal that would extend a law that bans state and local taxes on Internet access, wrote Mario Trujillo of The Hill. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has scheduled a Tuesday vote on the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act, which was introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and has 188 co-sponsors. The bill will be considered under suspension of rules and is largely noncontroversial. A similar proposal was passed last Congress by voice vote, but it got sidetracked in the Senate. The original ban has been around since 1998, has been extended a number of times since then, and is scheduled to sunset again. Lawmakers have looked to extend it for the long term. The proposal also bars discriminatory taxes on e-commerce. A similar proposal in the Senate has 49 co-sponsors.

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GOP wants more info on IRS ‘special project team’
Two senior GOP lawmakers are demanding more answers from the IRS about a “special project team” devoted to responding to information requests about ex-agency official Lois Lerner, wrote Bernie Becker of The Hill. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) said they wanted to know how and why the separate response team got set up, and more specifics about its duties. Mary Howard, the IRS official in charge of freedom of information requests, discussed the “special project team” at a House Oversight hearing last week on the government's response to those requests. Howard's comments sparked the ire of Republicans, who were already unhappy that they were forced to subpoena her to testify. They also come more than two years after Lerner first kicked off the IRS controversy by apologizing for the agency's treatment of conservative groups.

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US tax informant dodged prison, now seeks $22 million reward
Richard Rubin of Bloomberg wrote that a businessman caught in a money-laundering sting helped the US prosecute a foreign business – and now he’s seeking $22.2 million from the government as a reward. The US Tax Court ruled June 2 in favor of the informant, allowing his claim to proceed after the IRS earlier denied it. Details about the unidentified informant mirror those in a separate case involving Stefan Seuss, a German living in Florida who was indicted in 2009 in Philadelphia after agreeing to help an undercover agent hide profits from a pirated-CD business. He pleaded guilty in 2010, and his indictment says he was “associated” with Wegelin & Co. The Swiss bank pleaded guilty in 2013 to helping Americans hide $1.2 billion in assets from the IRS. The informant seeking the reward was from Florida and was indicted in 2009 as part of a conspiracy to launder funds from the sale of pirated CDs. The informant pleaded guilty in 2010 and agreed to cooperate with the US government.

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IRS technical guidance roundup (week of June 1)
The IRS issued the following technical guidance last week:

Revenue Procedure 2015-33 clarifies several items in Rev. Proc. 2015-13, 2015-13 I.R.B. 419, regarding certain procedures for changing a method of accounting. Specifically, this revenue procedure (1) modifies the transition rules under Section 15.02(1)(a)(ii) of Rev. Proc. 2015-13 to provide additional time to file Forms 3115 under Rev. Proc. 2011-14, 2011-4 I.R.B. 330; (2) clarifies when the automatic change procedures do not apply if the taxpayer engages, within the requested year of change, in a transaction to which § 381(a) applies; (3) clarifies the meaning of “three-month window” under Section 8.02(1)(a)(ii) of Rev. Proc. 2015-13 for a taxpayer with a 52-53 week taxable year; and (4) discusses a clarification to the applicable Ogden, UT, address provided in Section 9.05 of Rev. Proc. 2015-1, 2015-1 I.R.B. 1.

Revenue Ruling 2015-12 provides the rates for interest on tax overpayments and underpayments for the calendar quarter beginning on July 1. The interest rates will be 3 percent for overpayments (2 percent in the case of a corporation), 3 percent for underpayments, 0 and one-half percent for the portion of a corporate overpayment exceeding 10,000, and 5 percent for large corporate underpayments. This quarterly determination is required by Section 6621 of the Internal Revenue Code.

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With Apologies to Dear Amy: Tax Advice for Couples with Marital Problems – Part 2
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FASB Proposal Aims to Make Accounting for Business Combinations Less Complex
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