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Bramwell’s Lunch Beat: Which Has More Words: the US Tax Code or the Bible?

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Mar 12th 2015
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Internal auditors face pressure over results, survey says
A little more than half (55 percent) of North American chief audit executives (CAEs) have been directed to change or ignore results of their investigations, according to a new report from the Institute of Internal Auditors Research Foundation, wrote Vipal Monga of the Wall Street Journal’s CFO Journal. The survey of 500 audit executives found that many of the auditors had been threatened either physically or with being fired, while others suffered cuts in internal audit staff and budgets as part of concerted efforts to neutralize them. The results underscored the extent to which CAEs “encountered some form of political pressure, almost on a daily basis,” said Larry Rittenberg, one of the authors of the report and professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Fact Checker: Ted Cruz’s claim that the IRS tax code has more words than the Bible
During a speech at the International Association of Fire Fighters legislative conference on Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said, “On tax reform, we, right now, have more words in the IRS code than there are in the Bible – not a one of them as good.” Comparing the number of words in the US tax code with the number in the Bible is a common theme among conservatives who fault the tax code for being overly burdensome, wrote Michelle Ye Hee Lee of the Washington Post. Even though the comparison really doesn’t tell you much of anything, Cruz is correct on the comparison of words in both texts. The literally translated King James Version of the Bible contains just over 800,000 words. There are as many as 3.7 million individual words in the IRS tax code. This number came from copying the text of the code, pasting it into a Microsoft Word document, and using the word-count function. It includes everything from page numbers to annotations.

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Senators seek public input on taxes
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and the panel's top Democrat, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), say that individuals, businesses, and outside groups should give their opinion to the tax reform working groups they set up, wrote Bernie Becker of The Hill. Hatch and Wyden have created the tax reform working groups to delve into five separate areas: individual taxes, business taxes, savings and investment, international tax, and community development and infrastructure. “By opening up our bipartisan working groups to public input, we hope to gain a greater understanding of how tax policy affects individuals, businesses, and civic groups across our nation,” Hatch and Wyden said in a joint statement. [Comments will be accepted through April 15. Information on how to submit comments can be found here.]

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US tax system encourages foreign takeovers, Business Roundtable study says
Big businesses are gearing up to make the case for overhauling the US tax system, armed with a new study arguing that it is encouraging foreign takeovers of American firms. The trend could lead to job losses and other harms, according to the study prepared for the Business Roundtable, a group of big-firm CEOs, wrote John D. McKinnon of the Wall Street Journal. On net, the United States lost $179 billion worth of domestic companies through foreign takeovers from 2003 to 2013, in part because of the high US corporate tax rate of 35 percent, the study says. That $179 billion represents the difference between the value of US businesses taken over by foreign firms and the value of foreign firms taken over by US businesses. If the United States had a lower corporate tax rate of 25 percent – in line with the average of other developed countries – American companies would have acquired $590 billion worth of foreign firms instead of losing $179 billion in domestic companies.

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“Hybrid” pensions may need new accounting rules – IASB
The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) said on Thursday it was looking at developing new accounting methods for “hybrid” pensions that do not fit easily into standard categories, wrote Carolyn Cohn of Reuters. Companies around the world are moving away from expensive “defined benefit” or final salary pension schemes, which guarantee an income on retirement, in favor of “defined contribution” schemes that enable employees to build up a pension pot. But many firms are also introducing hybrid pension schemes that do not fit neatly into either category, IASB Chairman Hans Hoogervorst said at a pensions conference. He said the “somewhat binary approach” of existing accounting rules “struggles to deal with this new, infinitely variable pension landscape.” The IASB is researching a pension accounting method that works for all types of schemes, he added.

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