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The Daily

NEWS HIGHLIGHTS FOR THURSDAY - 11.3.16

By:
Maya Lindsay
Published Date:
Nov 3, 2016

Accounting and Financial News Stories

Workflow Checklist: Is Your Firm Ready for Tax Season?
CPA Practice Advisor
Tax season promises increased workload which tests the resolve of even the best-run firms. Call it ironic or perhaps even not fair; client expectations are at their highest at the time of year when your firm is saddled with maximum workload. Client satisfaction often hinges on the firm’s ability to operate and deliver tax returns efficiently, making workflow a top priority. Workflow is a firm function that needs to be continuously reviewed and improved.

Wall St. Closes Lower on Political Uncertainty
New York Times
Stocks on Wall Street retreated for a seventh consecutive day on Wednesday, the market’s longest decline in five years, as worries about the United States presidential election continued to weigh on investors. A steep decline in oil prices also shook investor confidence. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 77.46 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,959.64. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index lost 13.78 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,097.94, and the Nasdaq composite fell 48.01 points, or 0.9 percent, to 5,105.57.

Did ADP Just Create Lower Expectations for Payrolls by the Labor Department on Friday?
24/7 Wall St.
Friday’s Employment Situation report from the U.S. Department of Labor is perhaps one of the most widely followed economic reports of them all. It is also one of the last formal reports that people will see before the presidential election. Also every month, two days prior to the Labor Department report, is the ADP National Employment Report that is used as a directional bias for the Labor Department release.

IASB Plans Overhaul of Financial Definitions
Wall Street Journal
The International Accounting Standards Board, or IASB, which sets reporting standards in more than 120 countries, said Wednesday it would look at providing new definitions of common financial terms such as earnings before interest and taxes, or EBIT. The new definitions will be introduced over the next five years, in order to provide sufficient time for suggestions and comment from market participants.

IRS Announces 2017 Retirement Plan Dollar Limits
JD Supra Business Advisor
The IRS recently announced cost-of-living adjustments for 2017 in Notice 2016-62. The key dollar limits, along with last year’s limits, are noted below. (Table included in link.)

Fed Signals It’s on Track to Raise Interest Rates in December
New York Times
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday continued its slow march toward higher interest rates, signaling that it remains on track to raise its benchmark interest in December for the first time this year but holding off on an increase this month. After a two-day meeting of its policy-making committee, the Fed delivered the expected news that it would not adjust rates during the final days of a contentious presidential election.

SEC Probing Wells Fargo Around Sales-Practice Disclosures
Wall Street Journal
The Securities and Exchange Commission is probing whether Wells Fargo & Co. violated rules around investor disclosures and other matters relating to its recent sales tactics scandal, people familiar with the matter said. The SEC sent requests for information to the bank asking for documents in recent weeks, following three Democratic senators’ calls in late September for the SEC to investigate whether Wells Fargo misled investors and violated whistleblower protections while allegedly engaged in illegal sales practices, one of these people said.

Is Being a Real Estate Agent Sufficient to Show Material Participation under the Passive Activity Loss Rules?
JD Supra Business Advisor
In the recently decided case of Gragg v. United States, 118 AFTR 2d 2016-5091 (9th Cir. 2016), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that a taxpayer’s activities as a real estate professional were insufficient to show material participation for purposes of her claimed losses from rental real estate. The taxpayers, a husband and wife, owned a number of rental real estate properties that generated losses. The IRS determined that the taxpayers could not use these losses to offset other income because the taxpayers’ rental real estate activity was passive.

Keep Up with Technology
Accounting Today
The conventional wisdom says that Millennials are very tech-savvy, which means they’ll know when the software and hardware you provide them aren’t up to snuff. The trick is to avoid turning your firm into a time machine, experts warn: If young employees feel like coming to work means entering a time machine that takes them back to a time with older, more primitive technology, they won’t appreciate it.

De Blasio to nix workfare program by end of the year
New York Post
Workfare, the strict requirement instituted by the Giuliani administration requiring city welfare recipients to work to get benefits, will be eliminated by the de Blasio administration by the end of the year. The Work Experience Program was launched in the mid-1990s and was once the largest such program in the nation, with 32,165 people enrolled in 1999 at its peak. Mayor de Blasio and Human Resources Administration Commissioner Steve Banks announced in late 2014 that the program was inflexible and had a checkered recĀ­ord in placing participants in permanent jobs.