NEWS HIGHLIGHTS FOR THURSDAY - 9.22.16

By:
Maya Lindsay
Published Date:
Sep 22, 2016

Accounting and Financial News Stories

Accounting Group Steps Up Cyber “Impersonation” Focus
Wall Street Journal
he American Institute of CPAs this week unveiled three measures aimed at advancing the battle for cybersecurity. The accounting industry group on Wednesday published a fraud report designed to better equip accountants to fight off “executive impersonation” cyberattacks. The scam involves an email sent from an executive to a subordinate asking for a wire transfer or payment to a new bank.

Fed faces a credibility problem
CNN Money
Federal Reserve leaders are facing renewed criticism about their credibility. Often, a few top officials speak publicly in favor of increasing interest rates. Then days later, another one of them talks down a rate hike. These conflicting messages from the Fed's top leadership continue to hurt public confidence in the Fed, experts say.

Wolters Kluwer Releases CCH ProSystem fx for Small Firms
Accounting Today
Wolters Kluwer has released CCH ProSystem fx for Small Firms, a new suite of solutions tailored to small practices. The CCH ProSystem fx suite is a software solution for tax, accounting and workflow processes. Small firms can select the new solution in one of three packages, each based on the number of returns they process: Solution 150, Solution 300 or Solution 500.

Fed, With 3 Officials in Dissent, Stands Firm on Interest Rates While Noting Improving Economy
New York Times
A divided Federal Reserve, struggling to decide how soon to prune its economic stimulus campaign, said on Wednesday that it would wait at least a little longer.The Fed left its benchmark interest rate unchanged after a two-day meeting of its policy-making committee, although most of its officials said they expected to raise rates by the end of the year.

IRS Chief Koskinen Calls Impeachment ‘Improper’ at Hearing
Bloomberg Politics
Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen expressed regret Wednesday that the agency failed to preserve all the information congressional investigators sought in a 2014 probe of the agency, but told federal lawmakers it would be “improper” to impeach him. During a 3 1/2-hour hearing dominated by partisan exchanges -- with Democrats aiming barbs at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump -- Koskinen, 77, sought to persuade members of the House Judiciary Committee to stave off an impeachment drive by the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus.

Stocks Rally on Hopes for Growth
Wall Street Journal
Stocks rose around the world, reflecting investors’ relief that central banks across the globe held course. U.S. stocks climbed, the dollar weakened and government-bond yields slipped after the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged, as expected, Wednesday. The Bank of Japan unveiled new measures to stoke inflation earlier in the day.

IRS Extends Nondiscrimination Relief for Closed DBs
PLANSPONSOR
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is extending the temporary nondiscrimination relief for closed defined benefit (DB) plans by making that relief available for plan years beginning before 2018, if certain conditions are satisfied. In December 2013, the IRS released Notice 2014-5, which permitted certain employers that sponsor closed DB plans and also sponsor a defined contribution (DC) plan to demonstrate the aggregated plans comply with the nondiscrimination requirements of Internal Revenue Code Section 401(a)(4) on the basis of equivalent benefits, even if the aggregated plans do not satisfy the current conditions for individual testing on that basis.

Why Strategic Plans Fail
Accounting Today
We’re all familiar with the adage “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” and nothing could be truer of strategic planning. In fact, strategic plans, like New Year’s resolutions, often don’t go anywhere at all.  Always well-intentioned, they begin with energy and commitment, culminating in a large glossy report or fancy PowerPoint deck.

New IRS Rule Opens Tax Saving Strategy To Art Collectors
Forbes
Art and collectibles are subject to a 28% long-term federal capital gains rate, compared to a top rate of 20% for stocks and other investments assets.  Add on the 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax and state and local income taxes, and a New York City collector can end up paying up to 44% on gains; a California collector could pay up to 45%.

IRS and Treasury Department Seek Input on How Plan Sponsors Can Avoid Plan Document Problems
JD Supra Business Advisor
On September 16, 2016, the IRS and the Department of the Treasury requested public comment on ways the IRS and Treasury “can improve compliance…by making it easier for plan sponsors to satisfy requirements for qualified plan documents” in the wake of the determination letter program changes (Announcement 2016-32). In June, the Internal Revenue Service announced significant reductions to the determination letter program including the end of the five-year remedial amendment cycle (Revenue Procedure 2016-37).

Central Bank Tools Are Losing Their Edge
Wall Street Journal
Central banks have shown the will to hit their growth and inflation targets. But do they have the way? That question is more pointed after the Bank of Japan on Wednesday announced two new central bank firsts. It now wants inflation not just to meet its 2% target, but to overshoot it. And it will now target not just short-term interest rates, but long-term government bond yields.

Thomson Reuters and EY Partner for Tax Alerts
CPA Practice Advisor
Thomson Reuters and EY have created a joint initiative to bring EY Tax Alerts to Thomson Reuters Checkpoint, providing corporate tax professionals, tax preparers, accountants and tax attorneys with access to a valuable resource for tax news and research. EY Tax Alerts provide timely updates and authoritative insights from Ernst & Young LLP’s National Tax Department, focusing on the most important developments from the IRS, Treasury, Congress, the courts, states, and international rulemaking bodies such as the OECD.

OECD Says Governments Cut Taxes to Boost Growth in 2015
Wall Street Journal
Governments stopped raising taxes in an effort to narrow budget deficits in 2015 and switched to targeted tax cuts designed to support economic growth, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Thursday. The change in emphasis is another sign that governments in developed economies are moving away from the budget policies that characterized the years following the 2008 financial crisis, and were known by their many critics as “austerity” measures.

Tax Strategy
Accounting Today
When initiating an overall year-end tax strategy for any given year, surveying what’s new for the year has always been considered a good first step. This is particularly true for 2016 year-end tax planning at this time, when forecasting into 2017 remains more speculative until after Election Day. With that in mind, this month’s column takes a look back at some of the new opportunities and restrictions that have developed over the course of the past year — with an eye toward what can be done before year’s end as a result.

Shark Tank Brings Accounting to Main Stream
Bloomberg BNA
Shark Tank, one of the most popular business-related shows on television, is loaded with accounting standard setting topics.  Episodes actually cover a gamut of them: financial statement presentation, revenue recognition, inventory disclosures, equity investments, business combinations -- and a slew of other financial reporting issues like valuations. In fact, the show appears to showcase how accounting really works, how deals are done, how companies are valued.

PwC Aims to Shatter the Accountant Stereotype
Accounting Today
PricewaterhouseCoopers wants to show the life of an accountant and auditor isn’t so boring after all, with a new YouTube video. The video is part of the #AuditorProud campaign that the Center for Audit Quality is promoting Thursday through a Twitter hashtag (see Second annual '#AuditorProud' campaign to attract young candidates on Sept. 22). The goal is to recruit more young people to join the profession.

Trading Halts Could Last Longer in Extreme-Volatility Events
Wall Street Journal
U.S. stock exchanges have proposed to overhaul the way trading resumes after a halt caused by wild price swings, advancing a new system that could reduce the number of trading pauses but lengthen how long they last. The revisions are designed to respond to problems exposed by a market rout on Aug. 24, 2015, when safeguards intended to limit extreme volatility were blamed for exacerbating the market turmoil.

Think a 401(k) Is Not a Sexy Benefit? Competition May Change That
New York Times
When a company starts up, a retirement plan is usually the last item on the laundry list. Many employers want to offer one, but uncertainty over costs and a time-consuming setup process deter many. That could explain why only about 14 percent of small businesses have employer-provided plans, according to data from the Government Accountability Office.

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