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lunch beat

Bramwell's Lunch Beat: Accounting Fraud, Tax Whistleblower, Bush Tax Plan

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Sep 9th 2015
Staff Writer and Editor AccountingWEB
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Bankrate agrees to pay $15 million to settle accounting fraud charges
Bankrate Inc. agreed to pay $15 million in a settlement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of allegations of accounting fraud that resulted in the personal-finance information company restating its second-quarter earnings for 2012, wrote Tess Stynes of the Wall Street Journal. According to the SEC, Bankrate's then-CFO Edward DiMaria, then-accounting director Matthew Gamsey, and then-vice president of finance Hyunjin Lerner allegedly fabricated revenue and avoided booking certain expenses to meet Wall Street analysts' estimates for Bankrate's adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. The company agreed to the settlement without admitting or denying the SEC's findings. Lerner agreed to pay more than $180,000 to settle the charges without admitting or denying the SEC's findings.

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Blowing the whistle on tax cheats
The IRS awarded $11.6 million to a whistleblower last week, and experts say the agency could make as many as 10 more large payouts in coming weeks to people who have reported massive tax cheating, wrote Laura Saunders of the Wall Street Journal. This year's number could equal or exceed the total of 11 large awards made between late 2006, when Congress expanded the tax whistleblower program to allow the bigger payouts, and the end of fiscal 2014. Under this program, whistleblowers who report cases involving $2 million or more of unpaid taxes are eligible for awards of as much as 30 percent of what the IRS recovers. (A program for cases involving less than $2 million of unpaid taxes generally issues awards of as much as 15 percent.) The IRS is expected to make the large awards by Sept. 30, when the government's fiscal year ends. The whistleblower who received last week's award chose to remain anonymous.

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Bush tax plan takes swipe at Wall Street
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush proposes scrapping a tax break prized by Wall Street, as part of a new plan that would sharply lower tax rates for both individuals and businesses, wrote Bernie Becker of The Hill. Bush calls for dropping the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. Also under the framework Bush outlined in an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal, the top individual rate would drop to 28 percent, where it stood after the last successful overhaul of the tax code nearly three decades ago. Like GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, Bush has also proposed to roll back the so-called carried interest incentive. “The tax code is a labyrinth littered with thousands of special-interest giveaways, subsidies, and other breaks written to favor Washington insiders,” Bush wrote. “The code is rigged with multiple carve-outs for favored industries.”

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Watchdog: IRS used Obamacare database before ready
Bernie Becker also wrote for The Hill that the IRS began using an Obamacare database before it had worked out all the security kinks, according to a new report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). TIGTA found that the IRS had not completed all the necessary testing for the Coverage Data Repository (CDR) before the 2015 tax-filing season started. The CDR is supposed to store a range of key data for the Affordable Care Act, including household income and insurance coverage. But as of November 2014, the inspector general found that the IRS had only received information for the database from three states. Also, the IRS didn't implement its plan to audit the database, which could have put taxpayer records more at risk, the inspector general said.

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Quick Links

  • Treasury prods firms to fight tax provision (The Hill)
  • Warren Buffett backs Trump on taxes (The Hill)
  • Warren: I agree with Trump on taxes (The Hill)
  • Workplace clinics gain steam despite tax implications (CFO Journal)
  • ‘Cadillac' health tax fight heats up (Wall Street Journal)
  • California cocktail tax would spike end-of-season mix (Sacramento Bee)
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