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Bramwell’s Lunch Beat: Senate Puts Medical Device Tax Repeal on Fast Track

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Jun 23rd 2015
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CFOs attempt to rally risk busters
Facing worries ranging from cybersecurity threats to new financial regulations, many finance chiefs are trying to build up their company's first line of defense: teams of internal auditors, wrote Emily Chasan of the Wall Street Journal's CFO Journal. The job of internal auditor has become “a very key role,” said Dan Fairfax, CFO of Brocade Communications Systems Inc., which last year completed a six-month search for a new internal audit chief. However, companies are facing the most severe internal auditor shortage in more than a decade, said Richard Chambers, chief executive of the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA). The number of job openings for internal auditors posted with the IIA has more than doubled from a year earlier, while the number of résumés posted by job seekers is down 42 percent.

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McConnell to fast-track Obamacare tax repeal
Jordain Carney of The Hill wrote that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is readying the Senate to take up a repeal of the Obamacare tax on medical devices. The Republican leader started the fast-track process on Monday evening on a House-passed bill, which will allow the legislation to skip the committee process and instead go directly to the Senate floor. The House approved the bill last week by a 280-140 vote, with 46 Democrats voting in favor of the repeal. The 2.3 percent tax on medical devices has drawn criticism from some members of both parties who say it stifles innovation. Democrats in the Senate, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), have previously supported repealing the tax in recent years. The bill, however, faces a likely veto threat from the White House because it does not replace the $25 billion in funding for Obamacare over the next decade.

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IRS advisory panel calls for mandatory electronic filing of Form 990s
An IRS advisory panel on June 17 pressed the agency to require nonprofits to file financial data electronically and called for the creation of a committee to simplify the Form 990, wrote Alex Daniels of the Chronicle of Philanthropy. To buttress their case, members of the Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities presented IRS officials with the results of a survey of 468 nonprofits that found that less than 2 percent of the organizations that file 990s each year by mail view mandatory electronic filing as a burden. Tamera Ripperda, director of the IRS Exempt Organizations office, told the panel that because large nonprofits are required to file electronically and the 990-N used by the smallest charities always filed that way, “we're missing out on a lot of digitized data in the middle.” In brief remarks to the panel, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said he would consider the recommendations, but he singled out changes to the 990 as a potential drain on IRS staff time and resources.

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Congress eyes $2 trillion funding pot
US multinational corporations have stashed nearly $2 trillion offshore, money both Republicans and Democrats would like to tap for revenue and cash that even some companies wouldn't mind paying a reduced tax rate on, wrote Bernie Becker of The Hill. Democrats and some Republicans are interested in using the money that would come from revamping the international tax system to shore up the nation's roads. But other GOP lawmakers aren't sold on devoting the money to infrastructure, fearing it would cut into revenue that could be used to lower corporate tax rates, one of the major goals of tax reform. “You can't spend those dollars twice,” said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), a senior Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee. However, there are signs that the idea of pairing a slimmer tax reform package with infrastructure spending is gaining traction, less than six weeks before the next deadline for the Highway Trust Fund.

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Supreme Court turns down Ford in $470 million tax dispute
The US Supreme Court on Monday rejected Ford Motor Co.'s attempt to claim $470 million in a tax dispute with the IRS, wrote Lawrence Hurley of Reuters. The justices left intact an October 2014 ruling by the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals in favor of the government. Ford had been credited for overpaying certain taxes dating back to 1983, but the company argued that its overpayments were essentially a loan to the IRS that should have accrued interest.

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FASB, IASB to propose clarifications to principal vs. agent considerations
The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) voted on Monday to seek public comment on proposed changes to the converged revenue recognition standard that would give financial statement preparers additional guidance on the principal versus agent analysis, wrote Ken Tysiac of the Journal of Accountancy. Among the potential amendments is to clarify the thought process to be applied when assessing whether an entity is a principal or an agent by specifying the unit of account and more clearly linking the identification of that specified good or service to the guidance in the revenue recognition standard on identifying performance obligations (Step 2 of the revenue model). The boards voted to have the FASB and IASB staffs draft exposure drafts to seek public comment on these proposed clarifications.

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