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Bramwell’s Lunch Beat: US Tax-Disclosure Program Gets the Pope’s Blessing

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Jun 11th 2015
Staff Writer and Editor AccountingWEB
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McGladrey adopts RSM as global brand name
Chicago-based audit, tax, and consulting services firm McGladrey LLP announced on Thursday it will adopt RSM as a common brand name, uniting with fellow firms of its global network RSM International. The brand will officially launch on Oct. 26, when RSM International firms will adopt the unified global brand name, the power of being understood® brand positioning, and a new logo. “Our clients are an essential part of the global economy, and a unified global brand reinforces our focus on being the first-choice advisor to middle-market business leaders by providing consistent global services, regardless of borders,” said Joe Adams, McGladrey managing partner and CEO. All RSM International firms will remain independent legal entities, but will uniformly carry the RSM brand name. McGladrey will change its legal name to RSM US LLP.

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Vatican to share tax info with US in new transparency step
The Vatican formally committed on Wednesday to share the tax information of US citizens with the United States in the latest move to crack down on tax cheats, the Associated Press reported. Vatican and US officials signed an agreement in which the Holy See committed to comply with a 2010 US law, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), designed to encourage – some say force – foreign financial institutions to share information about American account-holders with US tax authorities. For the Vatican, the agreement is to some degree symbolic since only about 1 percent of the 15,181 account-holders at the Vatican bank are US citizens – or about 150 people. So far, some 62 countries have signed FATCA agreements with the United States, while 50 others have “agreements in substance.”

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Ex-controller testifies he altered Dewey accounting records
Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP’s former controller told a jury on Wednesday that the law firm’s accounting department scrambled to avoid trouble with its banks by making the firm’s income appear higher than it was, wrote Sara Randazzo of the Wall Street Journal. In January 2009, with just days to find a way to boost 2008 income by $25 million, members of the department used fraudulent adjustments to get the numbers where they wanted them, former controller Thomas Mullikin said during the third week of a criminal trial of Dewey’s three top leaders, accused of conspiring to defraud the firm’s banks and creditors. Mullikin is the first of seven cooperating witnesses to take the stand for the Manhattan district attorney’s office in what is expected to be a six-month-long trial. He has pleaded guilty to a scheme to defraud in the first degree, and prosecutors will recommend he receive five months in a Manhattan detention center.

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Bill filed to eliminate the gas tax
A bill filed by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) would gradually eliminate the gas tax that is used to pay for federal transportation projects, wrote Keith Laing of The Hill. The measure, which has been dubbed the Transportation Empowerment Act, would lower the gas tax that currently pays for most federal transportation projects from 18.4 cents per gallon to 3.7 cents in five years. During the same time period, the bill would transfer authority over federal highways and transit programs to states and replace current congressional appropriations with block grants. The concept, commonly referred to by transportation observers as “devolution,” is popular with staunch conservatives who argue that development of road and transit infrastructure should be left up to states. Opponents of the proposal to eliminate the federal gas tax typically argue that the federal government is best suited to handle transportation infrastructure that runs between states, like highways.

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US rejects court ruling on constitutionality of SEC in-house judges
The US government is rejecting a recent ruling by a federal judge which found that the US Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) procedures for bringing charges against defendants in its in-house court may violate the Constitution, wrote Sarah N. Lynch of Reuters. In a letter made public on Wednesday evening, the US Justice Department's civil division, writing on the SEC's behalf, declared the June 8 decision by an Atlanta-based federal judge to be “wrongly decided” and riddled with flaws. The letter marks the first time the US government has formally responded to a decision made on Monday by US District Judge Leigh Martin May in a case involving Charles Hill, a real-estate developer. The SEC is pursuing civil insider-trading charges against Hill through its own in-house administrative court, instead of through a federal court. Hill is challenging the legal venue, amid concerns it may violate his rights.

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