Bramwell's Lunch Beat: Miller Energy Charged with Accounting Fraud by SEC
SEC charges Miller Energy with accounting fraud
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Thursday charged Miller Energy Resources Inc. and two executives with accounting fraud for overstating the value of Alaskan oil and gas properties it bought in 2009 by more than $400 million, wrote Jonathan Stempel of Reuters. In charging Miller, former CFO Paul Boyd, and current COO David Hall, the SEC said the inflated value helped the company transform itself from a penny stock into a New York Stock Exchange-listed company valued in 2013 at $393 million. Carlton Vogt, who oversaw an independent audit of Miller's financial statements while working at the now-defunct Sherb & Co., was also charged by the SEC for engaging in alleged improper professional conduct. The SEC wants Miller, Boyd, and Hall to pay civil fines and give up improper gains. It also wants officer and director bans against Boyd and Hall, and to bar Boyd and Vogt from public company accounting.
IRS: Scammers using more sophisticated methods
Scam artists are using increasingly sophisticated methods to trick taxpayers into believing they're from the IRS, the agency said on Thursday. According to an article by Bernie Becker of The Hill, scammers' new tricks include changing a taxpayer's caller identification, making it appear that they're actually calling from the IRS or an agency like the Department of Motor Vehicles. Other methods include faking IRS letterhead and giving out actual agency addresses for taxpayers to mail a receipt for payments provided by debit card. The agency added in its new warning that the common thread among all the scammers' methods is attempting to capitalize on taxpayers' fears through threats and other tactics.
McConnell rules out linking highway bill to overseas tax reform
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Thursday ruled out using revenue from taxing US companies' foreign profits to pay for a multiyear highway bill, something Senate Democrats have discussed with House Republicans, wrote Alexander Bolton of The Hill. McConnell said any revenue collected from moving to a âterritorialâ tax system should not be used to pay for transportation projects. âTwo separate issues,â he said. âThere's been a lot of focus on going to a territorial system. I might well be enthusiastic about that, but I view it as a totally separate track unrelated to the highway issue.â House Republicans, led by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), want to negotiate with the White House on tax reform to pay for a long-term highway bill. The House passed a three-month highway bill in July, which the Senate then approved, to give those talks more breathing room.
Senate bill would nearly double the gas tax
Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) is introducing legislation that would nearly double the 18.4-cents-per-gallon federal gas tax to help pay for road and transit projects around the nation, wrote Keith Laing of The Hill. Carper's bill would increase the gas tax by 4 cents per year for the next four years, resulting in a 16-cents-per-gallon increase by 2020. The legislation would offer tax credits to offset the impact of the gas tax hikes on drivers, according to Carper's office. He said the failure of Congress to pass a long-term transportation bill this summer showed it is time to raise the gas tax, which has not been increased since 1993. âAt a time when gas prices are some of the lowest we've seen in recent memory, we should be willing to make the hard choice to raise the federal gas tax,â Carper said. Under Carper's legislation, drivers would ultimately pay 34 cents per gallon in federal gas taxes, in addition to state taxes.
Cleveland to appeal jock tax ruling to US Supreme Court
The city of Cleveland intends to ask the US Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of its âjock taxâ on visiting professional athletes, according to a court motion filed on Wednesday, Jeremy Pelzer wrote for Cleveland.com. Cleveland asked the Ohio Supreme Court to stay its ruling in April overturning the tax method until it can petition the nation's highest court. Once it appeals, the US Supreme Court will then decide whether to hear the case. Lawsuits filed by former NFL players Jeff Saturday and Hunter Hillenmeyer took issue with how the city calculates municipal income tax on out-of-town athletes based on the number of games athletes play annually. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled the city must instead assess tax based on the number of days each visiting player works in a year, the method used by the seven other cities with a jock tax.
NC appeals court rules in favor of Raleigh businessman in income tax dispute
Amanda Hoyle of the Triangle Business Journal wrote that the North Carolina Court of Appeals on Tuesday handed down its decision in a historic income tax dispute that's been dragging on for more than eight years between the state Department of Revenue and former Raleigh businessman Steve Fowler and his wife, Beth. The three-judge panel affirmed an earlier trial court decision, ruling in favor of the Fowlers, noting that the state had acted beyond its legal authority in charging the couple more than $10 million in unpaid income taxes, gift taxes, penalties, and fees in 2006 and 2007. The couple had signed a contract to sell their Raleigh land-grading business, Fowler Contracting, to a private equity firm for $106 million. The Fowlers moved from Raleigh to a home in Naples, Florida, in January 2006. Florida does not charge its residents an income tax, and if the couple could prove they had moved their domicile before the business sale was finalized, they could avoid paying millions in additional taxes and fees.
Swap dealers eye relief in SEC policy curbing bank penalty scope
The SEC on Wednesday proposed a way for banks to shield their derivatives businesses from disruption triggered by enforcement actions, wrote David Michaels of Bloomberg. The SEC voted 3-2 to issue a policy that outlines how banks can avoid collateral damage for their derivatives businesses when unrelated units or employees face sanctions. The granting of penalty waivers, once a routine job handled by SEC staff lawyers, has become a flash point in the past year. Under the policy, SEC commissioners would vote on individual waivers sought by financial firms. Companies would have six months to persuade the SEC to give them a waiver, and if they didn't get it during that time period, they would be denied the exemption. Without a waiver from the SEC, swap dealers would have to restructure their derivatives businesses, even if the misconduct didn't stem from swaps activity or occurred in a market outside the SEC's oversight.