NEWS HIGHLIGHTS FOR TUESDAY - 9.20.16

By:
Maya Lindsay
Published Date:
Sep 20, 2016

NYSSCPA Members in the News

James Bowers (Syracuse)
Albion native honored for charity work
The Daily News
An Albion native is being honored for his work in helping save two charities in Onondaga County. James Bowers, a certified public account, was chosen to receive the 2016 Urbach CPA Community Builders Award. The award is named after the late Michael Urbach, a CPA and former state Commissioner of Tax and Finance. Urbach served on a number of charities. The award is annually given to members of New York State Society of CPAs who made “outstanding contributions” while serving on boards of directors of charities.

Other Accounting and Financial News Stories

IRS Failed to Alert Victims of Employment-Related Identity Theft
AccountingWEB
More than a million taxpayers who were victims of employment-related identity theft from February 2011 to December 2015 were identified by the IRS, yet the agency failed to notify those victims, according to a recent report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). The report, Processes are Not Sufficient to Assist Victims of Employment-Related Identity Theft, indicates that the IRS also has failed to establish a method for alerting the Social Security Administration (SSA) of earnings not associated with identity theft victims.

Should Wells Fargo Bankers Give Back Their Pay?
Wall Street Journal
When lawmakers confront Wells Fargo & Co.’s top executive over sales practices Tuesday, they will zoom in on one topic that could have broad implications for the financial industry: whether banks should do more to take back executive pay tied to profits derived from illicit actions. Gearing up for a congressional hearing, five Democratic senators last week pressed the bank to "claw back" some pay in a compensation package promised to a departing Wells Fargo executive.

SEC Charges EY with Violating Audit Independence Rules amid Romantic Entanglement with Client
Accounting Today
Ernst & Young agreed to pay $9.3 million to settle charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission that two EY audit partners became too close to audit clients, including one who had a romantic relationship with the client. The firm and partners violated rules that ensure auditing firms maintain their objectivity and impartiality, according to the SEC. SEC investigators found the senior partner on an engagement team auditing a New York-based public company struck up an improperly close friendship with the company’s CFO.

E.U., Accused of Bias Against U.S. Companies, Opens Tax Inquiry Into French Utility
New York Times
European Union regulators stand accused of unfairly targeting American companies in a series of inquiries. So with the region’s antitrust chief visiting the United States this week, the bloc’s officials said on Monday that they were investigating whether a French company signed a sweetheart tax deal with Luxembourg. The inquiry into the French utility Engie is at an early stage and officials gave no estimates of the amount of taxes the company potentially owed.

CFOs Seek Finance Professionals With Mix of Hard and Soft Skills
Yahoo Sports
Are you a natural number cruncher, or are you more at ease talking shop with colleagues across your company? Today's accounting and finance professionals need to be comfortable with both, a recent survey from Robert Half Finance & Accounting found. When it comes to a favourite though, more CFOs prioritize technical skills. Forty-three per cent of CFOs interviewed said they give equal weight to both specialized and nontechnical, or soft skills, when evaluating candidates for either staff-level or upper-level accounting and finance positions.

Multinational Tax Avoidance Crackdown Goes Far Beyond Apple
Wall Street Journal
Forget Apple’s $14.5 billion spat with the European Commission over historic Irish taxes. An international reform project is targeting up to $240 billion a year it says slips through loopholes between countries’ tax codes—a problem sometimes dubbed “double non-taxation.” Led by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the initiative is called “Base Erosion and Profit Shifting,” or BEPS, after the kind of corporate-tax practice it seeks to subdue.

AICPA Proposes Criteria for Cybersecurity Risk Management
Accounting Today
The Assurance Services Executive Committee of American Institute of CPAs has released two sets of criteria on cybersecurity for public comment, which the institute hopes will start to lay the groundwork for a new set of assurance services. The first exposure draft, “Proposed Description Criteria for Management’s Description of an Entity’s Cybersecurity Risk Management Program,” is intended for use by management in designing and describing cybersecurity risk management programs and by public accounting firms to report on management’s description.

Sector Switch Trips Up An ETF
Wall Street Journal
The rollout of the first new sector for the S&P 500 since the turn of the century hit a snag on Monday. Roughly 1,200 trades of the Guggenheim S&P 500 Equal Weight Financials exchange-traded fund were canceled Monday morning, according to FactSet, as prices didn’t accurately reflect adjustments made for the new real-estate sector. Stock-exchange operators can cancel trades when they are clearly out of line with market prices at the time of execution.

PwC U.S. Tax Leader Roy Weathers Plans Changes
Accounting Today
Roy Weathers recently stepped into the role of tax leader of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ U.S. firm, where he plans to increase diversity and technology use. Weathers moved from his role as tax leader of the New York metropolitan area to tax leader for the entire country. Before that, he was chief diversity officer of the U.S. firm. He has also worked as tax partner at PwC, specializing in providing tax services for financial institutions such as banks.

Webcast Series Focuses On Strategies To Grow Accounting Firms
CPA Practice Advisor
Growing an accounting practice is no easy feat, that's why the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) have partnered to bring the practice growth arena's major players together for a new five-part webinar series which kicks off on Sept. 21, 2016.

Art of Accounting: 'CPA Firm Grows Prosperous by Heeding Its Own Advice'
Accounting Today
The Wall Street Journal published an article with that title in their May 18, 1981 issue about my firm, and this column describes some of what we did. The article began by stating there were about 28,000 CPA firms in the U.S., with about 19,000 being sole practitioners, and many others with just two or three CPAs.

Tax Expert Publishes Article Explaining IRS Child Credit
Digital Journal
Frank Ellis, one of the most popular federal tax credits expert, publishes an article on how to get the most money out of the IRS Child Tax Credit. The parent or legal guardian of a dependent minor age can take a child tax credit for a child 17 years or younger. This tax credit can earn the guardian a reasonable amount of money at the end of the fiscal year. The maximum credit allowed per a child is $1,000.

IRS Extends Relief for Frozen Defined Benefit Plans
Bloomberg BNA
Frozen defined benefit pension plans have another year of relief from the tax code’s nondiscrimination requirements, the IRS announced. The Internal Revenue Service plans to finalize rules that would apply primarily to closed defined benefit plans—plans that are still in operation but closed to new entrants, or apply a new kind of benefit formula to new entrants—and provide relief from nondiscrimination testing requirements if several conditions are met.

Markets Tighten Ahead of Fed
Wall Street Journal
While Federal Reserve officials have been wrestling with whether to tighten monetary policy in recent weeks, the financial markets may have already done much of the work for them. Stock and bond prices have slumped and the dollar has strengthened. Since Labor Day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen 1.95%, while the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note has climbed 0.08 percentage point to 1.698% and the WSJ Dollar Index has risen 0.95%.

Banks Are Now Too Scared to Even Make Money
Wall Street Journal
In early 2009 my bank gave me money for free. The post-Lehman fall in interest rates meant I could earn more from a deposit at the troubled bank then I had to pay them on my mortgage. Such risk-free profits don’t come around very often, and are usually a sign that the financial system isn’t working properly. If $10 bills are left lying around in markets, they get picked up pretty quickly.

Is the IRS Targeting Small Businesses? Yep, Says One Expert
Small Business Trends
The “random” audits of small businesses and their owners’ tax returns by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to find unreported income has left the small business taxpaying community feeling like they are being picked on and unduly forced to go “through the wringer.” That is according to Donald T. Williamson, a professor of taxation at American University’s Kogod School of Business, Washington, D.C., who says the growing number of IRS audits seem to disproportionately target small business taxpayers.

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