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Bramwell's Lunch Beat: SASB Releases New Standards for Consumption Sector

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Jun 30th 2015
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SASB issues sustainability accounting standards for consumption industries
The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) on Tuesday issued provisional sustainability accounting standards for seven industries in the consumption sector. These standards will help companies manage and disclose sustainability issues that are likely to have a material impact on a company. The seven industries include:

  • Agricultural products
  • Meat, poultry, and dairy
  • Processed foods
  • Nonalcoholic beverages
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Tobacco
  • Household and personal products

Example disclosure topics include food safety, labeling and marketing integrity, climate change adaptation, and supply-chain management. The standards average six topics per industry, and 71 percent of metrics are quantitative, the SASB said.

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Orrin Hatch gives Obama a thumbs down on tax reform
In an interview with the Washington Post, while Congress is on its Fourth of July recess, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) talked about why he thinks President Obama isn't serious about tax reform. When asked whether tax reform will happen this year, Hatch said: “Let me put it this way, it took three years to do the ‘86 bill and they had a much less comprehensive tax code than we have now. We think we can do it in a shorter period, but it is going to take tremendous presidential leadership, and I'm not sure that this president is that involved. He wants to do business tax reform first; Congressman [Paul] Ryan and I have said if you'll submit a detailed and well-thought-out plan, we'll see what we can do. We've said that for the last several months, and we haven't seen anything.”

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Six states increasing gas taxes on July 1
Six states are scheduled to increase their gas taxes on July 1 to help pay for transportation projects, according to Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), wrote Keith Laing of The Hill. The groups said on Monday that drivers in Idaho, Georgia, Maryland, Rhode Island, Nebraska, and Vermont will be charged more at the pump beginning on Wednesday as a result of laws taking effect at the start of the states' new fiscal year. A seventh state, California, is decreasing its gas tax by 6 cents. The states are increasing their gas taxes by a range of 0.35 cents to 7 cents per gallon. The additional money will be collected on top of an 18.4-cent-per-gallon federal gas tax charged to all drivers in the United States to fill the federal government's transportation funding coffers.  Lawmakers in Washington face a July 31 deadline to pass federal transportation funding before it expires, and they are struggling to come up with a way to pay for an extension.

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SEC allows tweets for startups raising money
In a “Compliance and Disclosure Interpretation” issued by staff of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last week, a startup will be allowed to post a Twitter message about its stock or debt offering to gauge interest among potential investors, wrote Ellen Rosen of Bloomberg. The SEC announcement continues the agency's trend of warming up to social media, which began two years ago when it approved the use of posts on Facebook and Twitter to communicate corporate announcements, such as earnings. The SEC's latest endorsement of social media applies only to companies looking to raise as much as $50 million a year. Under new small business fundraising rules approved in March, companies raising as much as $50 million in capital will be required to make fewer disclosures. The previous threshold was $5 million.

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Watchdog blames IRS incompetence for lost Tea Party emails
Investigators are blaming two IRS workers at a computer center in West Virginia for erasing thousands of emails related to the tax agency's Tea Party scandal, impeding congressional investigations into the treatment of conservative political groups, wrote Stephen Ohlemacher of the Associated Press. The workers might be incompetent, a lead investigator with the office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration told lawmakers during a June 25 hearing, but there is no evidence they were part of a criminal conspiracy to destroy evidence. Two “lower-graded” employees at the IRS center in Martinsburg, West Virginia, erased 422 computer backup tapes that contained as many as 24,000 emails to and from former IRS official Lois Lerner, who is a central figure in the Tea Party scandal. The tapes were erased in March 2014, months after congressional investigators requested all of Lerner's emails. Investigator Timothy Camus said the workers did not fully understand an IRS directive not to destroy email backup tapes.

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IRS technical guidance roundup (week of June 22)
The IRS issued the following technical guidance last week:

Notice 2015-46 clarifies how a charitable hospital organization may comply with the requirement in the final regulations under Section 501(r) published on Dec. 31, 2014, that a hospital facility include a list of providers in its financial assistance policy. This notice affects charitable hospital organizations.

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