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Bramwell’s Lunch Beat: SEC Member Not Convinced of Dropping GAAP for IFRS

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Mar 27th 2015
Staff Writer and Editor AccountingWEB
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It’s not just you: It’s really taking longer to do your taxes
Tax season is supposed to be over on April 15. But among certain groups – especially the wealthy – filing for an extension until Oct. 15 is now routine, wrote Ben Steverman and Suzanne Woolley of Bloomberg. In 2011, 11 million taxpayers filed for an extension; two years later, 13 million did, an increase of almost 20 percent. At the end of September 2014, more than 25 percent of those who had filed for an extension were still working on their filings. “We're not just procrastinators. It has gotten harder to file on time,” they wrote. In their article, Steverman and Woolley provided three reasons why it’s become more difficult to file taxes on time.

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SEC’s Wells calls for ending debate over dueling accounting rules
US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) member Kara Stein on Thursday called for an end to the long-running debate over whether the United States should switch to global accounting standards, saying alternatives should be explored that incorporate the best of the US rules, wrote Sarah N. Lynch of Reuters. In a speech at the Brooklyn Law School, Stein took aim at a longtime debate over whether the SEC should phase out US GAAP in favor of IFRS, which is used by more than 100 countries. One option being explored at the SEC is whether to permit companies to report their financial statements using both sets of standards. “I am not convinced of a need to abandon US GAAP in favor of IFRS,” Stein said, noting that neither rule set is “perfect” and letting companies provide statements using two rule sets may confuse investors. “To be frank, this debate between dueling standards needs to move on.”

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IRS has headed off a 2015 shutdown, commish says
This news is more than a week old, but it’s still worth noting in case you missed it like I did: Ama Sarfo of Law 360 wrote that IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told House lawmakers on March 18 that the IRS will be able to stay open this entire year, despite fears that the agency’s massive budget woes would necessitate a shutdown. At a hearing before the House Appropriations Committee, Koskinen told lawmakers that the IRS’s hiring freeze and decision to eliminate overtime wages for staff has generated enough savings that the agency can avoid a temporary shutdown as feared. However, he urged the panel to support the IRS, which is currently seeking a $2 billion budget increase for the 2016 fiscal year. “If we get additional funding, particularly in IT, we will become more efficient and we should be able to run the agency with the people we have,” Koskinen said.

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Congressman asks pro sports leagues about their tax-exempt status
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) sent a letter to the NFL and nine other professional sports organizations seeking information about their tax-exempt status, wrote Steve Ginsburg of Reuters. Chaffetz recently introduced legislation to eliminate tax-exempt status for professional leagues with revenues exceeding $10 million. The letters, sent Wednesday night, asked questions such as what the tax liability would be if the organization did not receive the exemption, and if it ever considered voluntarily abandoning it. Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code lists “professional football leagues” as deserving of tax-exempt status, a remnant of legislative wrangling that helped the NFL and its rival, the American Football League, merge in 1966. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the 10-year cost to the taxpayer of the NFL exemption is about $109 million.

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Survey: SMP accountants expect advisory services, tax to drive business
Small- and medium-sized accounting practices (SMPs) around the world are generally optimistic about the year ahead, according to the results of the2014 Global SMP Survey from the International Federation of Accountants. Out of four areas – audit and assurance; accounting, compilation, and other non-assurance/related services; tax; and advisory/consulting services – tax and business advisory were nearly tied in terms of pace of expected growth, with about half of respondents expecting at least moderate growth in each area. In 2013, advisory ranked third out of the four service areas in terms of pace of projected growth, but in 2014, advisory (13 percent) edged out tax (11 percent) as the area most likely to drive substantial revenue increases in the coming year.

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Innovation Is the Key Trait Needed to Rise to the Top, Say CFOs
According to a survey, only 31 percent of CFOs said that innovation is a strength of their employees.

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