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The Daily

NEWS HIGHLIGHTS FOR FRIDAY - 3.18.16

By:
Maya Lindsay
Published Date:
Mar 18, 2016

Accounting and Financial News Stories

AICPA and H&R Block Feud Over Ad Campaign
Accounting Today
The American Institute of CPAs is crying foul over an ad by H&R Block suggesting that many CPAs don’t know how to prepare tax returns, but Block is promising to increase its competition with CPAs. The radio spot and video for the Block Advisors service said its advisors have an average of 15 years of experience. “Speaking of expertise, did you know many CPAs don’t even specialize in preparing tax returns? Think about that,” said the video, which was reported on by the Going Concern blog.

IRS Proposal Targets Accrual of Enhanced Executive Benefits Under Qualified Plans
The National Law Review
The IRS’s proposed closed plan regulations included a proposal unrelated to closed plans that could limit plan sponsors’ ability to offer enhanced executive benefits under their qualified retirement plans. This would occur in arrangements often called qualified supplemental executive retirement plans (QSERPs). The IRS announcement proposes that the new limitation take effect for plan years beginning on or after the rule’s publication in final form.

Measures Taxpayers Should Take to Help Curb Identity Theft
AccountingWEB
As the focus on eradicating identity theft and tax return fraud escalates, accountants and tax preparers should be ready to answer more questions about their professional history and how clients’ information is protected. An online press conference by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) on March 16 made clear that taxpayers need to be much more diligent in thwarting identity theft – and not just in protecting their personal information.

Big Bank Stocks Are Cheap. The Fed Hasn’t Changed That
Wall Street Journal
Bank stocks are again in a bit of a funk. Investors should cheer up. At these prices many of the biggest U.S. banks look like real bargains. The already-slammed shares of major banks wobbled anew after the Federal Reserve on Wednesday revealed a slower expected pace of rate increases. By holding rates lower for longer, the Fed suppresses bank interest margins.

Treasury Launches Counteroffensive against IRS Phone Scammers
Accounting Today
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration is pursuing fraudsters posing as IRS agents who call to harass taxpayers about fictitious tax debts, calling them back to warn them about their criminal activity and getting the phone company to shut them down. TIGTA said Thursday it has gone on counteroffensive against the scammers, but is warning taxpayers to stay vigilant against them this tax season.

Unemployment Claims Rise; Job Openings Hit Six-Month High
New York Times
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose from a five-month low last week, but it remained below a level associated with a strengthening labor market. Other data on Thursday showed that factory activity in the mid-Atlantic region expanded in March for the first time in seven months, the latest sign of stability in the distressed manufacturing industry. In addition, job openings hit a six-month high in January, and a gauge of future economic activity increased in February after two straight months of declines.

How to Get First Clients for Your Accounting Firm
AccountingWEB
Congratulations! You've taken the leap and started your own accounting firm. Now comes the fun part: finding all of those great new clients to fill your calendar and keep you operating in the black. Here are some tips that will help you get those all important first clients through your door. Before you go out and begin randomly approaching potential clients, you may want to create a more systemized approach. It will keep you from duplicating your efforts or missing obvious things.

Dow turns positive for year: Erases 2,000-point plunge
CNN Money
The Dow turned positive for the year on Thursday, erasing a scary start to the year that at one point had the index down as much as 1,974 points in just the first three weeks of 2016. The remarkable rebound has been driven by a spike in oil prices and fading fears of a possible recession in the U.S. Oil has returned to $40 a barrel and the U.S. economy continues to grow, despite the global slowdown. But just a few weeks ago the markets were in full meltdown mode, with many predicting the bull market was on its death bed.

Tangled Web: How Businesses Are Navigating States' Varied Tax Regimes; A Bloomberg BNA Q&A With Dan Effron, Partner-in-Charge of Grassi & Co. SALT Practice
Bloomberg BNA
Dan Effron, CPA and partner-in-charge of Grassi & Co.’s State and Local Tax (SALT) practice, recently sat down with Bloomberg BNA's Jennifer McLoughlin to discuss states’ adoption of varying regimes to capture more tax revenue from out-of-state businesses and how businesses are wading through the new landscape of tax schemes. He describes the difficulties he confronts with his job in an evolving market: helping “business owners who are struggling to keep up with the tax laws” as they evolve in states “looking for new sources of revenue to fill the coffers.”