Bramwell's Lunch Beat: Dewey Deal, Trump’s Tax Pledge, Belgium's Illegal Tax Break

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Deal means no fraud retrial for ex-chairman of Dewey & LeBoeuf
Steven Davis, the former chairman of Dewey & LeBoeuf, will not face another criminal trial over allegations of accounting fraud at the once mighty New York law firm, but he will remain in legal limbo for the next five years, wrote Matthew Goldstein of the New York Times. In a deal with Manhattan prosecutors that was formally approved on Jan. 8, Davis agreed not to practice law in New York for five years as part of a deferred-prosecution agreement. The agreement had been in the works for several weeks and was discussed in open court last month. Negotiations began soon after a six-month trial of Davis and two co-defendants ended in a hung jury in October 2015 after the panel deadlocked on dozens of charges. Prosecutors remain committed to retrying Davis's co-defendants – ex-Dewey executive director Stephen DiCarmine and ex-CFO Joel Sanders – after both men rejected plea deals. A new trial is tentatively scheduled for September.

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‘Tax Wall Street,' Trump pledges after worst market week since 2011
Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump pledged to “tax Wall Street” as he sought to use a severe stock market selloff to plant new seeds of fear among voters during a campaign rally on Jan. 9 in Ottumwa, Iowa, wrote John McCormick of Bloomberg. “There's a bubble,” Trump told his audience in southeastern Iowa, noting the nation's high level of debt. “You see the stock market is starting to, you know, see what's going on. It's starting to have some very bad weeks and some very bad numbers.” Trump said his financial experience was right for such troubled times. â€œI'm really good at that stuff,” he said in Iowa. “I know Wall Street. I know the people on Wall Street. We're going to have the greatest negotiators of the world, but at the same time I'm not going to let Wall Street get away with murder. Wall Street has caused tremendous problems for us. We're going to tax Wall Street.”

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Setback for online sales tax effort
Naomi Jagoda of The Hill wrote that lawmakers and industry groups that support online sales tax legislation are hopeful they can get it passed despite a setback in Congress. Advocates for the sales tax measure had wanted to link it to a ban on taxing Internet access. But lawmakers instead crafted a conference report for a customs bill that would extend the ban on Internet access taxes indefinitely – but do nothing on the sales tax issue. Supporters want the Senate to strip the access tax language from the conference report, but the effort appears to face an uphill climb – conference reports generally cannot be changed on the floor. A senator could raise a point of order that the Internet access tax ban is not germane, which, if successful, would send the report back to the House without the moratorium. A point of order can be waived with 60 votes. An aide to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said last month the senator has the votes to defeat such an effort.

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EU orders Belgium to recover unpaid taxes from 35 firms
Around 35 multinationals, including brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, will be required to pay around €700 million ($764.50 million) in additional taxes in Belgium after European Union (EU) regulators ruled they had benefited from an illegal tax break, wrote Tom Fairless of the Wall Street Journal. The decision by the European Commission, the bloc's top antitrust regulator, is the latest step in a high-profile inquiry into alleged unfair tax deals that has already ensnared at least four US multinationals, including Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc., McDonald's Corp., and Starbucks Corp. The commission said on Monday that a Belgian tax-discount plan available only to certain multinational groups “represents a very serious distortion of competition within the EU's single market,” and ordered Belgium to recover the unpaid taxes. EU antitrust chief Margethe Vestager said the scheme had given “carte blanche to double nontaxation” of certain multinationals.

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IRS technical guidance roundup (week of Jan. 4)
The IRS issued the following technical guidance last week:

Announcement 2016-03 provides notice that the IRS will not impose penalties under Section 6721 or 6722 on eligible educational institutions required to file Forms 1098-T, Tuition Statement, for the 2015 calendar year, solely because they fail to include a student's correct taxpayer identification number on Form 1098-T.

Notice 2016-03 provides that the US Treasury Department and the IRS will issue guidance with respect to Cycle A elections made by controlled groups and affiliated service groups; expiration dates on determination letters issued prior to Jan. 4, 2016; and the extension of the deadline for certain employers to adopt a defined contribution pre-approved plan and apply, if permissible, for a determination letter with the current six-year cycle.

Quick Links:

  • Powerball take-home depends highly on taxes where you live (Associated Press)
  • Untangling an accounting tool and an ancient Incan mystery (New York Times)
  • How do you tax bitcoin? (Slate)
  • The great Clinton-Sanders tax divide (The Atlantic)
  • The Ben Carson flat tax: A prescription for a pro-growth tax system (Daily Caller)
  • The broader tax base under Ben Carson's tax plan (Tax Foundation)
  • What to expect from the BEPS project in 2016 (Tax Foundation)
  • Businesses love Texas, except this one tax that holds the state back (Tax Foundation)
  • A $400 million Maryland tax cut seems huge – but doesn't go very far (Washington Post)
  • Emanuel wants $6 million tobacco tax for school programs (Chicago Sun-Times)
  • Mexico's soda tax success (Bloomberg View)
  • Spain's Princess Cristina stands trial on tax fraud charges (Reuters)

About Jason Bramwell

Jason Bramwell

Jason Bramwell is a staff writer and editor for AccountingWEB. He has nearly 20 years of experience in print and online media as a journalist and editor.

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