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Bramwell's Lunch Beat: New FAF Chairman, REIT Spinoffs, Jeb’s Tax Plan

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Dec 9th 2015
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Charles Noski elected chairman of the FAF board
Charles Noski, a retired vice chairman of Bank of America Corp., was elected on Dec. 8 as chairman of the Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF) Board of Trustees. Noski, who also served as executive vice president and CFO at Bank of America, will begin an initial three-year term on Jan. 1, 2016. He succeeds Jeffrey Diermeier, whose term ends on Dec. 31. The FAF is the parent organization of the Financial Accounting Standards Board and the Governmental Accounting Standards Board. The FAF also announced the appointment of five new trustees, each to a five-year term beginning on Jan. 1. Noski currently serves as a member of the board of directors and chair of the audit committees of Avon Products Inc. and Microsoft Corp., and as a director of The Priceline Group Inc. and the National Association of Corporate Directors. He is also a former chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Council.

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Tax bill targets REIT spinoffs
House Republicans are trying to curtail a popular technique that lets companies spin off their property holdings into real-estate investment trusts (REITs), a trend promoted by activist investors, wrote Richard Rubin and Liz Hoffman of the Wall Street Journal. The surprise move came as part of a 175-page, year-end catchall tax bill released late Monday that could pass the House this week. The new rule, which would raise $4.3 billion for the government over the next decade, would apply to all deals closing on or after Dec. 7, no matter when President Obama signs the bill. The bill from House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) would prevent companies that aren't REITs from spinning off REITs. It would also prevent spun-off companies from converting into REITs for 10 years. The REIT proposal is part of a larger plan to revive dozens of expired tax breaks and extend them through 2016.

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Hopes rise for major tax package
Alexander Bolton and Naomi Jagoda of The Hill wrote that congressional leaders and senior White House officials are scrambling to put together a major tax deal, with the talks showing new signs of life after faltering over the weekend. Negotiations ramped up Monday evening on a deal that could balloon to $800 billion. Both sides are expressing optimism, though buy-in from the White House is still needed. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Congress would finish work on either a two-year tax package or a more robust tax package. “I lean toward the latter, and I hope we can achieve that,” he said. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the senior Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, painted an optimistic picture during a private meeting of Senate Democrats on Tuesday. “I think it went through a trough this weekend, and then, maybe, early yesterday afternoon a bit of a breakthrough,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA).

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Jeb Bush's tax plan would cause $8.1 trillion budget hole, analysis finds
A new analysis of Jeb Bush's plan to cut most Americans' tax bills would end up blowing a moon-sized deficit hole into the federal budget with the shortfall reaching $8.1 trillion in the first 10 years, wrote Patricia Cohen of the New York Times. Although Bush has promised to slash government spending to make up for the lost revenue, the analysis, released on Tuesday by the Tax Policy Center, concludes that cuts of such magnitude could only be accomplished through sizable – and unpopular – reductions in Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare benefits. Without such “politically infeasible” cuts, the staggering debt would swamp any positive effects that lower tax rates and other features might otherwise have on savings, work, and investment. The glowing promise that the tax cuts would spur so much growth as to make up for any losses is the stuff that dreams are made of, the report concludes.

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Quick Links:

  • Accounting firms should get rid of managers (Going Concern)
  • Tax package absurdity has corporate tax deserters vs. working parents (The Hill)
  • Nancy Pelosi drives hard bargain with Paul Ryan on spending, taxes (Wall Street Journal)
  • Abandoned Yahoo spinoff a sign that tax is fading as a deal driver (New York Times)
  • Taxes, mergers and mini-tenders (Bloomberg View)
  • H&R Block sees growth potential in Affordable Care Act and taxes (Kansas City Star)
  • Average Obamacare tax will hit $969 in 2016 (Time)
  • New Clinton plan aims to stop corporate tax inversions, might not go far enough (ThinkProgress)
  • A comparison of Tax Policy Center and Tax Foundation analyses of Jeb Bush's tax plan (Tax Foundation)
  • What are real estate provisions doing in the latest tax extenders bill? (Tax Foundation)
  • More private tax collectors – a monumentally bad idea (Tax Analysts)
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