Bramwell's Lunch Beat: IRS Gives a 'Shout Out' to Qualified Preparers

Dec 19th 2014
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Round-Up of Tax Breaks for the New Year
Will they or won't they? Every day there's been talk on what Congress is doing to approve and when. As the year draws to a close, CNN has summarized the major tax breaks for 2014. Among the provisions are tax-free IRA withdrawals for charity, tax-free savings for people with disabilities, deductions for teachers' expenses, and equal treatment of commuting costs. Particularly useful for those in financial trouble is the income exclusion for forgiven mortgage debt. That is, the IRS will let you exclude forgiven debt from your income so those who are likely already in dire straits will not have a huge income tax bill on top of everything.

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IRS Gives a Shout Out to Qualified Preparers
Earlier this week the IRS updated its "Choosing a Tax Professional" page. It noted that "anyone can be a paid tax return preparer as long as they have an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) and they sign and enter it on all returns they prepare.  However, tax return preparers have differing levels of skills, education and expertise." It follows with a link to a list of seven professional organizations it is calling "IRS partners." The AICPA and National Association of Enrolled Agents are two of them.

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It's 'Cut the Clutter' Time at the IASB
According to the Wall Street Journal",unnecessary and repetitive disclosures are mucking up corporate financial disclosure, and the International Accounting Standards Board wants to cut the clutter." The article said that the board has announced amendments to its guidelines to help clear things up. It's part of an effort, in which it's joined by the SEC and FASB, to make financial statements easier to read, according to the WSJ. The article further noted that in a survey last year, the IASB found that both investors and analysts wanted clearer statements that didn't force readers to pore aver reams of disclosures.

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Luxembourg Yields on Tax Secrets
The tiny grand duchy has backed down and has agreed to turn over a list of the hundreds of tax deals its has signed with large businesses all over the world, according to the Financial Times. Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said Luxembourg would comply with the Europeans Commission's demands, following the European Union's decision to request information from all member states. According to the FT, Luxembourg's tax deals with more than 400 global businesses were revealed in a leak earlier this year, which showed that some companies were paying less than 1 percent tax by "funneling" money through Luxembourg.

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FASB Completes Its GAAP Taxonomy
The FASB has issued a release announcing the availability of the 2015 GAAP Financial Reporting Taxonomy pending final acceptance by the SEC, according to a statement issued earlier this week. It describes the taxonomy as a "list of computer-readable tags in XBRL that allows companies to tag precisely the thousands of pieces of financial data that are included in typical long-form financial statements and related footnote disclosures." The purpose of the tags, the release says, is to enable computers to process data for easy access by users.

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