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Bramwell’s Lunch Beat: SEC Appoints Wesley Bricker as Deputy Chief Accountant

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May 14th 2015
Staff Writer and Editor AccountingWEB
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Toshiba to restate profits because of accounting irregularities
Toshiba Corp. said on Wednesday it expected to reduce its reported operating profit by at least 50 billion yen ($419 million) for fiscal 2011 through fiscal 2013 because it needs to fix accounting irregularities at three units of the company, wrote Takashi Mochizuki of the Wall Street Journal. A special task force looking at the issue found that the three units underestimated the cost of some infrastructure projects, Toshiba said. The maker of power systems, computers, semiconductors, and industrial machinery said the review was continuing and the 50 billion-yen figure could be revised later. Toshiba said on Wednesday it has also found cases where expenses may not have been recorded in the proper period and accounting for the value of inventory may not have been appropriate.

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SEC names Wesley Bricker as deputy chief accountant
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Thursday appointed Wesley Bricker as a deputy chief accountant overseeing the accounting group in the agency’s Office of the Chief Accountant. A separate news release earlier this morning had announced that current deputy chief accountant Daniel Murdock, who joined the SEC in 2013, was leaving the agency at the end of May to return to the private sector. Bricker, who has more than 15 years of experience in public accounting, joins the SEC from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) LLP, where he is a partner responsible for clients in the banking, capital markets, financial technology, and investment management sectors. He served as a professional accounting fellow in the SEC Office of the Chief Accountant from 2009 to 2011, returning to PwC in 2011. The office advises the commission on accounting and auditing matters and works closely with private-sector accounting bodies, such as the Financial Accounting Standards Board.

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Millennials flock to 401(k) plans
Tom Anderson of CNBC wrote that 64 percent more employees between the ages of 18 and 34 started contributing to 401(k) plans last year compared to 2013, according to a new Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysis of the 2.5 million people participating in the retirement plans the company administers. The increase helped boost overall participation to nearly 80 percent among American workers with access to plans, up 2 percent from the previous year. Some of the growth might be explained by improvements in the economy and job market. “Millennials are feeling a little more stable post-financial crisis,” said Steve Ulian, head of institutional business development for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Research has found participation rates jump overall after companies adopt auto-enrollment programs. Bank of America Merrill Lynch found that 64 percent of clients offered retirement plans in 2014 that not only had automatic-enrollment features but automatic annual contribution increases as well, a 25 percent jump from 2013.

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Column: Let the taxman die
In an op-ed piece in the USA Today, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, wrote the best way forward on tax reform is to do away with the current US tax code. “Under our plan the current tax code would expire on Dec. 31, 2019. Between now and then there would be a presidential election and a mid-term congressional election. That provides plenty of time to debate and agree upon a new and reformed tax structure that would kick in with the New Year on Jan. 1, 2020,” they wrote. “This approach will allow us, as a nation, to collectively decide what the new tax system should look like. There are many competing alternatives but having a set date to end the current tax code will drive the issue and the debate to the top of the national agenda.”

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Hatch blasts IRS for retaining law firm
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) blasted the IRS on Wednesday for bringing in an outside law firm to help with an audit, accusing the agency of breaking long-established tax law with the move, wrote Bernie Becker of The Hill. Hatch said the IRS's use of Quinn Emanuel flew in the face of requirements that only Treasury officers take part in audits and other tax investigations. Quinn Emanuel reportedly got a $2.2 million contract to help the IRS audit a corporate taxpayer. “Turning over inherently government functions such as the conduct of an examination to private contractors not only jeopardizes the rights of taxpayers, but also confuses the examination process and changes the well-regulated relationship between revenue examiners and private taxpayers,” Hatch wrote to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. In his letter, Hatch asks the IRS to immediately stop using outside firms and to explain why it started retaining that sort of help in the first place.

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