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Bramwell’s Lunch Beat: It’s Tax Day, So How About Some Freebies?

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Apr 15th 2015
Staff Writer and Editor AccountingWEB
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White House threatens estate tax repeal veto
The Obama administration threatened to veto the House GOP plan to repeal the estate tax this week, calling the proposal a handout to the richest of the rich, wrote Bernie Becker of The Hill. Repealing the estate tax, the administration said, would “shift a greater share of the tax burden onto working Americans at a time when the top 1 percent already holds more than 40 percent of the nation's wealth, and wealth disparities have risen to levels not seen since the 1930s.” The House GOP measure would cost $270 billion over a decade. The White House noted that the recent House GOP budget relied on estate tax revenues. The legislation is unlikely to make it to President Obama's desk – a nonbinding repeal vote got the vote of 54 senators last month.

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15* Tax Day freebies and discounts (free shredding included)
Suzanne Woolley of Bloomberg compiled a list of free food, shoe sweepstakes, travel deals, and other promotions that can be found on April 15. Here are a few examples, according to the article:

Gift card. Pizza Hut is celebrating Tax Day with its first-ever “Pizza Return.” To become eligible to win a Pizza Hut gift card ranging from $10 to $50, customers fill out a form at pizzareturn.com. On it, they must note whether they are “married ordering separately” and list dependents, which can include “degenerate friends” and “my 4:00 a.m. self.” Entries have to be printed, mailed in, and postmarked no later than April 18. A random drawing will be done around April 21.

Free meal. Boston Market is offering a buy one, get one free deal on April 15 at its 450 restaurants nationwide. Buy one individual meal (a main, two classic sides, and cornbread) for $10.99 and get the next one free. No coupon needed.

Shredding. Office Depot will let customers bring in as much as 2 pounds of documents to shred; the offer, which requires printing a coupon or showing one to a clerk on your smartphone, lasts until April 25. If 2 pounds isn’t enough, Staples has a deal for up to 5 pounds of free shredding that runs until May 2.

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Ryan, Hatch seek help in surmounting tax-overhaul obstacle
The top Republican tax writers in Congress are looking for help as they try to surmount one of the biggest barriers to revamping the tax code: the millions of businesses that pay taxes through their owners’ individual returns, wrote Richard Rubin of Bloomberg. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) sent a letter to business groups on Monday, looking for ways they can revise the tax code for those businesses without cutting individual rates. They want a response by May 31, and the deadline signals the narrow time frame for major tax changes to be made before presidential campaigning begins. The biggest obstacle is how to address what are known as pass-through businesses. They receive most of the same tax breaks that corporations do though they are subject to the rates for individuals that President Obama and Democrats don’t want to lower.

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Price of selling GE Capital? Tax breaks
In cutting loose its banking business, General Electric Co. (GE) isn’t just shedding a profitable lending operation. It’s also losing a rich source of tax breaks, wrote Ted Mann of the Wall Street Journal. GE has long used the financial operations of GE Capital to hold down its overall tax rate, a strategy that has allowed the conglomerate to pay taxes at a lower rate than its peers. But the company will lose access to some of those tax efficiencies as it sells off the bulk of GE Capital’s business over the next two years. An early hit will come from the decision to repatriate $36 billion in GE Capital profit that it had been sheltering overseas – a move that will bring a $6 billion tax bill – but the full impact will be broader. GE says its effective tax rate could rise to 20 percent or more in the future, roughly double last year’s rate of a little more than 10 percent. That rate would put the company in line with other industrial businesses and would be likely to hold relatively steady, according to analysts.

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Swiss banks strong-arm clients in US tax-evasion endgame
Swiss banks, for decades the bastions of secrecy, are preaching the virtue of transparency to their US clients as they try to head off billions of dollars in potential fines for helping Americans evade taxes, wrote Giles Broom and David Voreacos of Bloomberg. Faced with the threat of penalties that could bankrupt some of them, almost 100 of the country’s banks are calling thousands of US clients in an 11th-hour push to get them to disclose any offshore accounts they may be hiding. Customers are being asked to prove they have paid any taxes due, according to a dozen lawyers for banks or their customers. Some have even had their accounts partially blocked to force them to comply, according to the Swiss banking ombudsman. As the US government’s largest crackdown on offshore tax evasion enters its final stretch, the banks are trying to reduce any fines they face. Under the amnesty program, if banks can’t show clients paid any taxes owed, the government will assume they didn’t – and fines will be larger.

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IFRS Foundation publishes updated guide to IFRS use
The IFRS Foundation, which is responsible for the governance and oversight of the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), has published the 2015 edition of IFRS as Global Standards: a Pocket Guide. Written by former IASB member Paul Pacter, the guide provides a summary of the use of IFRS in 138 countries around the world, representing more than 97 percent of the world’s gross domestic product. The Pocket Guide is an updated version of the guide published in 2014 and adds information on an additional eight jurisdictions. The summaries are condensed versions of the full Jurisdiction Profiles and provide a snapshot of where and how IFRS is used globally. In addition to the Jurisdiction Profile summaries, the Pocket Guide also summarizes what IFRS is, the benefits of global accounting standards, the history of the development of IFRS, the standard-setting process, the requirements of current IFRS, and links to further information resources.

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