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Bramwell’s Lunch Beat: Top GOP Senator Says Gas Tax Hike Still on the Table

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Jan 5th 2015
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Tesco to announce supplier contract revamp, job cuts
According to the Sunday Times, British supermarket chain Tesco will announce drastic changes to supplier contracts and job cuts on Thursday to help rebuild its reputation after an accounting scandal and four profit warnings last year, wrote Karolin Schaps of Reuters. CEO Dave Lewis is set to revamp supplier contracts by focusing on sales volumes, with higher sales leading to cuts in supplier prices, the newspaper said. Lewis is also expected to announce deep job cuts at Tesco's headquarters and regional offices. Incorrectly booking payments from suppliers was at the center of Tesco's 2014 accounting debacle that led to a 263 million-pound overstatement in profits.

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GOP senator leaves wiggle room on gas tax
Sen. Jim Thune (R-SD) signaled on Sunday that Republicans might be open to negotiating increasing the gas tax in order to pay for the highway infrastructure spending bill that expires in May, wrote Kevin Cirilli of The Hill. In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Thune said that while he is opposed to increasing the gas tax, lawmakers will need to “keep all options” available when they return to Washington this week. “I don't think we take anything off the table at this point,” said Thune, who will chair the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) had proposed cutting other taxes while raising the gas tax user fee by 12 cents a gallon.

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Former Obama adviser calls for tax on carbon emissions
A former top economic adviser to President Obama said the historically low oil prices of recent months make a compelling case for a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, wrote Timothy Cama of The Hill. Larry Summers, now a Harvard University professor and its past president, said declining prices of oil and other energy sources mean the case for a carbon tax “has become overwhelming.” “The core of the case for taxation is the recognition that those who use carbon-based fuels or products do not bear all the costs of their actions,” he said. “Carbon emissions exacerbate global climate change.”

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Tax reform: Could it happen?
Bernie Becker of The Hill examined the areas of agreement between top Republicans and President Obama on tax reform and the challenges they still face in making changes to the code. “This much is true: Both President Obama and top Republicans are saying the right things about tax reform right now. Whether that means that the two sides will make the progress in 2015 necessary to overhaul the tax code before Obama leaves office is another question entirely,” Becker wrote.

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2015 – the year ahead in tax policy
Politico tax reporters Rachael Bade, Kelsey Snell, and Brian Faler took a look at some of the hot tax topics for the year ahead. Their list includes inversions, corporate tax reform, tax extenders, Obamacare, and the Internet sales tax, among others.

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IRS technical guidance roundup (week of Dec. 29, 2014)
The IRS issued the following technical guidance last week:

Announcement 2015-2 provides a simplified VCAP process for issuers of qualified 501(c)(3) bonds, as defined in the announcement, to request a closing agreement in situations in which the borrower of the proceeds of the bonds received prospective reinstatement, as defined in the announcement, after its tax-exempt status was automatically revoked under section 6033(j)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code.

A Republican ruse to make tax cuts look good
In an op-ed piece for the New York Times, Edward D. Kleinbard, a law professor at the University of Southern California and a former chief of staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, wrote that a proposed change from so-called static scoring to “dynamic” scoring to determine the impact of tax cuts on federal revenue “could have significant, negative consequences for enacting sustainable, long-term fiscal policies.” He wrote that dynamic scoring models “are political statements” and “show the biggest economic effects by assuming that tax cuts are financed by unspecified future spending cuts.”

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Munger’s Daily Journal to restate financial results
Daily Journal Corp., the publisher that counts billionaire Charles Munger as chairman, said it will restate some financial results after hiring a new auditor this year, wrote Zachary Tracer of Bloomberg. A tax issue tied to the acquisition of New Dawn Technologies Inc. will alter results for the quarter ended June 30, Los Angeles-based Daily Journal said in a filing on Dec. 30, 2014. Daily Journal replaced its auditor, Ernst & Young LLP, with BDO USA LLP in July 2014.

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SEC staffers try to untangle business unit accounting issues
If remarks by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are any indication of the complexities, the entanglement of business units can be difficult to explain to investors, wrote Tammy Whitehouse of Compliance Week. At a recent national accounting conference on regulatory issues, SEC staff members offered lots of advice on how companies can better explain to investors the intricacies of joint ventures, spinoffs, pushdown accounting, and segment reporting in their financial statements.

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