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Bramwell’s Lunch Beat: SEC Official Urges Muni Issuers to Adhere to GASB Standards

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Mar 11th 2015
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Senators bring back online sales tax bill
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Mike Enzi (R-WY), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) rolled out the Marketplace Fairness Act on Tuesday, which would give states more power to collect sales taxes from businesses that don't have a physical location within their borders, wrote Bernie Becker of The Hill. Supporters both on and off Capitol Hill say the measure would correct an unfair advantage that online retailers have over brick-and-mortar shops. States are currently barred from collecting sales taxes from out-of-state retailers due to a 1992 US Supreme Court decision, though Justice Anthony Kennedy suggested last week that the court should revisit that opinion. The Senate passed a substantially similar version of the Marketplace Fairness Act in May 2013, but top House Republicans opposed the measure.

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SEC official eyes accounting mandate for municipal issuers
Issuers of municipal bonds should be required to adhere to certain accounting standards to enhance transparency in the $3.7 trillion US muni market, US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) member Daniel Gallagher said on Tuesday, wrote Karen Pierog of Reuters. Gallagher said that a little more than two-thirds of the nation's 30,000 biggest state and local government bond issuers incorporate practices recommended by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB). He added that the 20,000 remaining smaller issuers probably have a lower rate of compliance. “We need a legislative fix to mandate the use of GASB standards for municipal issuers, whether it is a grant of authority to the commission to recognize GASB standards as they do the (Financial Accounting Standards Board's), or as a condition placed on the bonds’ (tax) exempt status,” Gallagher said.

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GOP senators seek to block tax credit for immigrants
Senate Republicans on Tuesday released legislation to bar immigrants protected from deportation from receiving a tax credit, opening up a new line of attack on President Obama's executive actions last year, wrote Bernie Becker of The Hill. The measure from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) would stop unauthorized immigrants from claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit for previous years they worked in the United States. Ten other GOP senators, including Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) and five other Senate Finance Committee members, joined on to Grassley's bill. “This tax credit is meant to help the working poor get into the workforce. It isn’t meant to benefit individuals who aren’t authorized to work in the United States,” Grassley said. “The tax code shouldn’t reward those who broke our immigration laws.”

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This year’s tax season really is the worst
Tax season isn’t supposed to be fun, wrote Ben Steverman of Bloomberg, but if your civic duty feels extra unpleasant this year, you're not imagining things. In his article, Steverman provided four reasons – including Obamacare and tax fraud – why this tax season really is the worst.

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American Realty Capital names Rufrano CEO, alters board
American Realty Capital Properties (ARCP) Inc., the real estate investment trust whose senior leadership resigned after an accounting scandal, named Glenn Rufrano as its CEO and said two directors will leave, wrote Brian Louis of Bloomberg. Rufrano, the former CEO of brokerage Cushman & Wakefield Inc., will assume the role on April 1. He succeeds William Stanley, who had been interim CEO since December and will remain as interim chairman. ARCP executives, including Chairman Nicholas Schorsch and CEO David Kay, resigned last year after disclosures of accounting errors that were intentionally concealed. ARCP has been facing pressure from shareholders, including Corvex Management, to overhaul its board. ARCP said on Tuesday that two board members, Leslie Michelson and Edward Rendell, plan to step down.

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