Saturday, July 30, 2005

Best of blogs--July 27-29

May be adding one or two personal finance blogs and possibly an accounting blog next week.

AAO: A GAO audit of the Securities and Exchange Commission found some flaws in the SECs internal control. [29]

Footnoted: Many juicy tidbits in a Computer Associates proxy, such as a director not up for re-election, a previous CEO foregoing almost a million options and car and driver perks for top executives. [28]

Finance Prof: Starts a series on financial history and trivia from the 1600s. [27]

Financial Rounds: IBM and Motley Fool produce guides to make financial statements easier to understand. [28]

Free Money Finance: Back-to-back posts on the cost of poor financial advice and of smoking. [28]

Roth CPA: Joe Kristan defines the term "fisking" with his smoldering critique of the energy bill (and of home state Senator Grassley (R-IA)). [27]

Tax Prof: 68 Taxpayer Assistance Center (I posted on this earlier in the month) were given a reprieve by IRS Commissioner Mark Everson. [29]

Taxable Talk: Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) contemplates a 25% excise tax on porn websites. [28]

Friday, July 29, 2005

Ways and Means: Simplicity Isn't so Simple

The House Ways and Means Committee held hearings on ways to accomplish President Bush's goal of simplifying the tax code. There was agreement on the value of achieving simplification, but the parties differed on how to accomplish the goal. Republicans tended to favor dramatic changes, such as John Linder's (GA) fair tax proposal, which would move a large share of taxation from an income-tax base to a sales-tax base, similar to the value added tax used in many European countries. Democrats tended to favor incremental improvements; an example of a Democratic proposal was one made by Rahm Emanuel (IL) which would allow non-itemizers to deduct mortgage interest.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

An in-depth look at a charity's estate planning primer

(Post #100) Mission to the World, a Christian charity supporting missionaries, recently sent me a brouchre with a lead article, "Five Core Principles of Estate and Gift Planning". These principles, and my comments on them, follow:

(1) "God is owner of all"--absolutely appropriate Christian theology, and, after allowing for differences in understanding who God is (Abba vs. Yahweh vs. Allah) also appropriate for Jewish or Islamic theology.
The point appears to be twofold: [a] there are limits on what you should assign your estate to, [b] taxes and probate are not the only important estate planning issues. Obviously, non-believers are pretty much leaving the brouchre at this point.

(2) "[Since] God owns all, then the only value of anything is the ability to use it"--basically the argument here is that the material goods that humans call "ours" are effectively leased assets. The author (Bruce Owens, director of partner relations) is clearly a fan of trusts where the principal in time goes to a charity while the owner keeps a life interest. Even if you plan to give sizable amounts of your estate to charity (see point 5) there is more than one way to accomplish such a gift; in fact, I strongly recommend talking to a competent attorney, banker and financial advisor such as a CPA before putting assets into a trust. There ARE good reasons for using trusts as an estate planning device, but the trust must be set up carefully to avoid unexpected hassles or even loss of assets.

(3) "If the only value of anything is the ability to use it, then [in time], the use of money will always exceed its original value"--Mr. Owens refers to the rule of 72, which basically says that principal will double when the discount rate times number of periods equals (approximately) 72. The rule of 72 is an excellent reason to save money, not only (or even primarily) for an estate, but for such reasons as financing a child's college education, preparing for retirement or making a major purchase such as a car or house. He also indicates that paying taxes (or any other form of consumption) takes away the right to use the money in the future. Again, he promotes the charitable trust as a way of avoiding income taxes; again, this IS a legitimate way to avoid taxes if done with care (see point 2)--by no means, however, is this the only way to leave money to charity without paying estate taxes. Even among those willing to donate to charity at death, many will prefer to wait until after death.

(4) "If the use of something is its only value, there will always be an upper limit on what [one] can use"--this point used to make the sale is consistent with St. Paul's teaching in chapter four of Phillippians on contentment, but is getting dangerously close to being pushy. I am not a big spender personally, but do not generally have problems with other people spending more freely so long as it is within their means (and even here, I must realize that some people because of bad fortune (such as unemployment or medical crisis) may need to spend beyond their means, at least in the short run). Giving to charity, whether during life or at death, is worthwhile; having said that, the decision to give should be a personal conviction and not something done because of legal, physical or emotional pressure.

(5) "Everyone with wealth will make a charitable gift"--this may change if the Bush administration succeeds in eliminating the estate tax. His follow-up point that money in an estate will go to one of three places--family or other individuals, government or charity ignores estate administration and payment of debts of the deceased, but is generally true otherwise. Additionally, his point about making informed choices about where money is left, including any charities who are to be beneficiaries, is well made.

It is possible that some who read this will need to establish a will and determine where they want their resources to go upon death. Certainly, those who are married or still living with parents or siblings may want to consider their plans. Also, keep in mind any loved ones who have major financial needs because of chronic medical costs.

American Accounting Association makes free article abstracts available online

The American Acccounting Association (AAA) has available at its website (or you can link through the headline above) abstracts of some of the finest basic research available in accounting. Click on the title of one of the journals (such as Accounting Horizons, Accounting Review or Auditing: A Journal of Practice and Theory), select a journal (or its archive, which in some cases goes back to the 1990s), and click on the Table of Contents/Abstract area. If there is an article that is of special interest, you can either buy access directly or contact AAA about an online subscription. Some examples of abstracts recently made available are "Rounding of Analysts' Forecasts" (Accounting Review), "Factors Associated with U.S. Public Companies' Investment in Internal Auditing" (Accounting Horizons), "Perceptions of a White Collar Crime: Tax Evasion (ATA Journal of Legal Tax Research) and "Global Diversification and Corporate Disclosure" (Journal of International Accounting Research). WARNING: AAA materials, even relatively practitioner-oriented ones such as Auditing: Practice and Theory, are not a light beach read.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

PCAOB Passes New Independence and Material Weakness Rules

The Public Companies Accounting Oversight Board passed two rules at its public meeting yesterday--[1] for auditors to report on the status of previously-disclosed material weaknesses (for voluntary audits only) and [2] restricting some marketing of tax strategies to audit clients under the doctrine of independence (perhaps influenced by KPMG's troubles with the IRS--this generally will not affect routine tax preparation. The PCAOB in its release ( also emphasized the need for pre-approval by the audit comittee of auditor-provided tax services. The rules now go to the SEC, which must approve them before they become enforceable.

Energy bill: Lobbyists' dream?

A package of over $14 million (over $11 million net after some offsets) in tax incentives for almost every conceivable energy source has cleared the Joint Committee on Taxation. The incentives were more than the White House wanted, but Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman considered the overall bill satisfactory. Chances are considered high that the bill will make it through both chambers of Congress.

Best of blogs--July 24-26

Welcome back to blogging: Scott Ott of Scrappleface and, more relevantly, Joe Kristan of Roth CPA Updates.

Footnoted: Provides the rise and fall of Host America as a reminder to read press releases very carefully. [26]

Finance Professor: Breaks into podcasting with a South Carolina interview. [25]

Free Money Finance: Cites the sad story of a compulsive shopper of children's clothes. [26]

PF Blog: Commemorates over 2.5 years of blogging with a contest (including cash prizes!) for best feedback. [26]

Death and Taxes: Describes a battle between realtors and discount brokers in Missouri which resulted in legislation favorable to realtors under dubious circumstances. [25]

Roth CPA: Warning: 5000 S Corporations (2003 and 2004) to receive a very-intense, TCMP-style audit as part of the National Research Program of the IRS. Also mentioned by Tax Guru and Taxable Times. [26]

Tax Prof: Covers the litigation history of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts before the US Tax Court. [25]

Wills, Trusts, etc. Compares nursing rates, finds that Louisiana and Missouri are less expensive than the big-city Northeast. [24]

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Dems Announce Program for Savings Tax Incentives

Democrats tax specialists Rahm Emanuel (IL) and Earl Pomeroy (ND) were joined at a news conference by House luminaries Nancy Pelosi (CA) and Charles Rangel (NY) to promote Democratic plans to encourage savings, particularly by low-income and middle-income workers. Among proposals are automatic enrollment in 401[k] plans, a permanent and refundable credit for saving and automatic deposit of income tax refund checks into personal savings and IRAs. Rep. Emanuel said that these proposals were designed to encourage retirement savings outside of Social Security; it was not clear from the Tax Analysts article whether the Democrats also planned to offer an alternative to private/personal Social Security accounts.

One of the most difficult campaign claims made by Republicans for Democrats to handle has been the charge that Democrats have been more interested in complaining than in proposing solutions to problems. Time will tell whether these tax proposals will resonate with economists and the general public; the fact that the proposals have been made, especially if there is a follow-up alternative to private Social Security accounts, is an important step forward by the Democrats.

Cox up for SEC Head

The Senate has taken up the nomination of Rep. Chris Cox (R-CA) for the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. In addition, two Democratic members are up for consideration, incumbent Roel Campos and new member Annette Nazareth. The Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee want the Democratic nominations tied with Cox. Potential concerns for the Cox nomination could include the fact that he would be regulating former campaign contributors.

Monday, July 25, 2005

PCAOB Has Open Meeting Tomorrow

(Thanks, Financial Executives International). The Public Companies Accounting Board will hold an open meeting in Washington, DC tomorrow. Two major items up for consideration are reporting requirements if a previously reported material weakness in internal control has not been corrected (proposed standards was issued end of March) and rules on auditor independence and tax services--specifically under which circumstances providing tax services may impair auditor independence (present proposal made mid-December last year).

Is life a cabaret, old chum?

No, but maybe it is a carnival (headline borrowed from a 1960s musical selection). I am thrilled to be part of Carnival of Personal Finance #6 at Free Money Finance with "Ladies, Start Your Business (vroom, vroom)" from last Tuesday.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Best of blogs: July 21-23

Very quickly:

AAO: Deloitte and Touche survey finds that options use is declining, in part because of stockholder fears about dilution. [22]

Footnoted: Crime DID pay for the founder of Steve Madden [SHOO] Company. [22]

Death and Taxes: A detailed review of how to set up a guardianship for a minor. [21]

Tax and Business Law Commentary: Lengthy but interesting treatise on why tax law is so complex. [21]

Financial Rounds: An economic analysis of "bullying"--and ways to protect a child from bullies. [23]

Friday, July 22, 2005

IRS provides guidance on lobbying for or against Roberts SC nomination

A well-timed release by the IRS clarifies the eligibility of Section 501[c] and 527 organizations. 501[d], 501[e], 501[f] and 527 groups are relatively unlimited in their activities, though dues money used to suppose or oppose the nomination may be subject to tax. For 501[c] organizations, there is some increase in flexibility since the IRS does not see the nomination as an election campaign, but the standard financial limits on political lobbying continue to apply.

PCAOB Head Speaks to Business Week

William McDonough, chairman of the PCAOB from its inception, talked to Business Week about corporate concerns and auditor anxiety. Among other comments, he said that CEOs were deluding themselves if they thought that the American people felt that there were only a "few bad apples" in executive chairs, that excessive CEO pay is a major concern and some auditors have been excessively cautious in applying Sarbanes-Oxley.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

AGA: Federal accounting getting better

The Association of Goverment Accountants gave certificates of excellence to 11 of 21 submitting federal agencies for achieving a high level of accountability reporting, including clear assessment of performance and a vivid picture of agency finances. Agencies cited were the Departments of: Education, Energy, Interior, Labor and State plus the Federal Aviation Administration, General Accounting Office, General Services Administration, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Patent and Trademark Office and Social Security Administration. The AGA applauded the performance as a valuable contribution to implementing President Bush's Management Agenda.

End of the AMT as we presently know it?

The President's tax reform panel recommended the abolishment of the present alternative minimum tax for individuals. The panel uniformly believed that the tax as presently construed affected too many taxpayers, especially middle-income taxpayers. More controversial were the issues of how to pay for the revenue loss of eliminating the AMT, whether an alternative approach should be put into play for very high income taxpayers and whether the corporate income tax should be eliminated.

Raising Minimum Payments on Credit Cards

Mellody Hobson of ABC reports that increased monthly payments have already begun on Bank of America with Citigroup, Discover and MBNA soon to follow. Ms. Hobson believes, and I agree, that this increase may in many cases be a GOOD thing by both speeding up repayment (thus reducing interest charges) and by taking away a false sense of security regarding ability to handle debt. Ms. Hobson, as usual, also has other good pointers, such as reading terms of credit card use carefully, paying off credit card debt with the highest interest rate first and limiting the number of credit cards held.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Best of blogs: July 17-20

Very summarized this time:

AAO: Continential Airlines corrects lease accounting errors. [20]

CPA Tech: Tips to improve understandability of internal control documentation. [20]

Finance Professor: Cites Shyam Sunder's latest paper, which whistfully states that present accounting relies too much on rules and not enough on accounting norms. [18]

Free Money Finance: Introduces the Star Money Article awards for good personal finance items in other blogs. [20]

Death and Taxes: Use care if you want to use arbritration in trust disputes. [19]

Mauled Again: A law student's unpleasant first experience with tax withholding. [18]

Tax Prof: The Tax Foundation opposes a Fat Tax. [17]

Wills, Trusts, etc. : Humorous ancedote on who you DON'T want as guardian. [17]

Dog Days

As a dog owner, I am not sure canines deserve this reputation, but we have reached mid-summer and forecasts for northern Middle Tennessee call for highs in the low 90s and lows in the low 70s for awhile. Excepting blizzards, icestorms and violent thunderstorms, this probably is my least favorite weather. Nevertheless, there is nothing unusual about July weather like this even as far north as eastern Iowa or southern Michigan.

In other news, I have a very hectic schedule for the rest of July. Blogging will continue, but at a lighter pace; I may not blog some days at all and may miss some good stories even on days when I blog.

What do I want to work for?

Business Week quotes Jeri Sedlar and Rick Miners, who suggest 17 questions to ask yourself when looking to change jobs or get re-employed. Some of the questions will look familiar to readers of What Color is Your Parachute or 48 Days to the Job You Love (by Nashville's Dan Miller); nevertheless, a thought-provoking article and set of questions.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Members of Congress Attempt to Slow Closing of Taxpayer Assistance Centers

About 70 members of Congress recently contacted IRS Commissioner Mark Everson and asked that IRS not close some taxpayer assistance centers (TACs) until more study could be done on the impact on taxpayer compliance. IRS taxpayer Nina Olson (recently praised in Tick Marks) also supported deferring the closures. The closures were plan of a cost-cutting move by President Bush.

I have to side (somewhat uncharacteristically) with the Congresspeople on this one. In general, cost control in federal spending is a good thing. Traditionally, however, a study is made before closing military bases; if anything, given the confusing nature of present tax law, closing a TAC should get at least as much scrutiny as closing a military base.

Ladies: Start Your Business (vroom, vroom)!!

(Title inspired by Danica Patrick's recent Indianapolis 500 performance) Women's Business Centers, such as the Center for Women and Enterprise in Providence, RI, have allowed women, many of whom come from households of modest means, to get a new business started. These centers first started in the late 1980s and are now available in 33 states and the District of Columbia. They provide considerable help with the paperwork often associated with the start of a new business and often are willing to aid even after the business has somewhat made a start. Funding comes from both government (particularly Small Business Administration) and private sources.

If you are a woman oriented toward being your own boss or, for that matter, a man with a wife or love interest who has a desire to run her own business, you may want to check with a local Chamber of Commerce to see if there is a Women's Business Center in your town or nearby.

Keylogging: A New Threat to Computer Identity

ABC's Betsy Clark reports that keylogging is a growing concern in the realm of identity theft, in part because it is not easy to detect. This spyware is estimated to be responsible for about one third of online crimes. Ms. Clark does provide common-sense ways to reduce risk, including not opening spam and running a weekly scan with an antivirus program.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Supply of and Demand for Environmentally Friendly MBA Courses Rising

A number of graduate programs, including Colorado, Cornell, George Washington and Yale are offering "sustainable growth" courses in their MBA program. Most of these emphasize businesses with little or no pollution impact or ways to reduce environmental damage in present businesses; some also address Third World economic development issues.

I anticipate that environmental accounting, if not already to this point, will be a major growth area within the discipline during the next 10 to 20 years and that larger schools should consider environmental accounting course offerings in either an MA (Acct) or as part of a 150 hour CPA preparation program (this also suggests that tenured financial accounting faculty may have a textbook publishing opportunity here).

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Best of Blogs: July 14-16

Key development during the period: A welcome return to blogging by Real Life Accounting.

Footnoted found that Leucadia's top two executives received TEN-year contracts. [15]

Real Life Accounting covered the recording of credit card use for business purposes. [16]

Financial Rounds had a very good article on new identity theft techniques, including pharming, keystroke catching and gas station "siphoning" (my term). The poster also listed self-protecting techniques. [14]

Free Money Finance encouraged readers to use cash and ask for discounts from list price, especially on big-ticket items. [15]

PF Blog covered ways to avoid common mistakes of judgment. [15]

Mauled Again reviewed an IRS publication (publicly available but with paperwork required) on 75 years of IRS Criminal Investigation History and found it a worthy read. [15]

Tax and Business Law Commentary ripped a Ninth Circuit reversal of the Tax Court on Harrison and Sons vs. Commissioner.

Tax Guru pondered why the extension of 1041s and 1065s were July 15, 1040s will be August 15 and 1120Ss will be September 15 (arguably, equally amazing is that none of those dates fall on Saturday or Sunday). [15]

Tax Prof reviewed a report from the Americans for Prosperity Foundation grading state governments on fiscal and tax restraint. [15]

Friday, July 15, 2005

Bad Norwegian News for Beleaguered KPMG

International accounting firm KPMG, which has already taken a beating from the IRS, now faces a $100 million fine from an Oslo court. The decision asserted that KPMG performed a negligent audit on Finance Credit, a collection which owed $200 million to eight banks when it went bankrupt. KPMG, citing criminal fraud on the part of Finance Credit management, felt the verdict was overly harsh and plans to appeal.

Ways and Means: Social Security Waits Until Autumn

Ways and Means Chairman William Thomas (R-CA) says that social security legislation would be deferred until fall. He cited efforts on the Central American Free Trade Agreement as the primary cause of the delay. Jim McCrery (R-LA) says that the Social Security subcommittee will be ready by fall and he plans to bring forth some form of personal saving option for Social Security dollars.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Notes from IIA Annual Convention

The IIA Website has notes from its recently completion convention available. Noteworthy was Phil Livingston's call for independence, initiative and integrity in the performance of internal auditing.

AICPA Literacy Campaign Wins National Award

The American Institute of CPAs won one of six Summit awards for their Financial Literacy campaign. The award honors innovative community-based programs. The awarding body, the American Society of Association Executives, were particularly pleased with the website used in the campaign ( The award will be presented at a Washington, DC dinner on September 27.

NOTE: As in many of my post, a key link can be found by pressing on the title. The AICPA press release linked in the title requires Adobe Acrobat.

Moving toward an estate tax bill

Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) says that he and counterpart Max Baucus (D-MT) have the framework of a long-term bill for the estate tax and are now trying to tie down details to get the bill through the Senate Finance Committee and, if possible, make it filibuster-proof. The bill will not eliminate the tax, as President Bush wants; but will reduce rates and tie a probably-increased unified credit (or equivalent exemption) to inflation. Additionally, the step-up basis provision and extended payment period for some taxpayers will be kept.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

IRS Promises Deferred Compensation Guidance Soon

William Schmidt of the IRS announced that additional guidance on deferred compensation plans under Section 409A would likely be out before the end of the summer. A group of six permissable distribution events is under consideration and should be of the guidance. Also being looked at--guidance on the Notice 2005-1 performance bonus exemption .

Best of blogs, July 11-13

A slow period for many bloggers, and then some tax bloggers ventured into politics. Dan Shaviro of Start Making Sense fired some portside broadsides at Bush, Rove, etc. over l'affaire Plame (sorry, I've been watching the Tour de France) while righty Kerry Kersttetler has been ripping the estate tax and big government in general at Tax Guru. Other bloggers have been less normative however--

Footnoted pointed out that Paradyne executives made out much better than other employees when Paradyne was acquired by Zhone. [12]

Finance Prof covered ground this blog covered two weeks and took a critical look at interest-only loans. [12]

Financial Rounds "commemorated" the return of Nigerian e-mail scams. [12]

Death and Taxes considered the issue of when friendship might become undue influence in a will. [13]

Mauled Again mused over the IRS award of a data entry contract to Choicepoint, a business which had already had problems with data security. [11]

TaxProf wondered why a Florida theme park with a $30 entrance fee qualified for a religious exemption from property tax. [13]

Taxable Talk celebrated the elimination of a Tax Court secrecy rule for certain decisions. [12]

Wills, Trusts, etc. pointed out that a CBO study found that the number of farmers subject to estate tax went down 82%. [11]

Revenge of the Laffer curve?

The Bush administration claims that the FY 2005 budget will be about $333 billion, about $80 closer to balanced than the year before, while the Congressional Budget Office says the deficit could go below $325 million. Better than expected tax collections is being given most of the credit for the improved picture.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Software to handle SOX

A variety of software makers, including upstarts Virsa and Oversight Technology and more established Approva and Precision Consulting, have designed software to help businesses cope with the requirements of Sarbanes-Oxley. SAP is working with Virsa; Oracle may come in with a future takeover bid. Precision Consulting does have contracts with Ernst and Young and KPMG.

Monday, July 11, 2005

The IRS Taxpayer Advocate Speaks Out

Nina Olson calls on the IRS to focus as much on taxpayer service as tax compliance in a recent report to Congress. Ms. Olson's goals for the upcoming year are: [1] Private Debt Collection, [2] Collection Due Process,
[3] Offers in Compromise and [4]Research on Taxpayer Service. She also focused on three provisions from the IRS Restructing and Reform Act of 1998: [1] taxpayer service should be taxpayer-centered, [2] IRS employees should be measured on a balanced scorecard rather than collection results, [3] IRS should balance tax compliance goals with respecting taxpayer rights and providing quality tax service.

Bravo, Ms. Olson! Oh, that all civil servants (including legislators) were as diligent in carrying out their duties and respecting taxpayer desires as you are!

Update: In her July 8 issue, Eva Rosenburg (Tax Mama, issue 316, see link at right) wants to make sure that enforcement remains an IRS priority.

Why can't the 1040 be simpler?

A July 8 Tax Analyst roundtable discussion on tax simplification found that simplification frequently lost out to competing interests in tax legislation. Among explanations given for inability to simplify were provisions which had good intentions but could have been better written; the power of Washington lobbyists and Congressional egos (really--that might be a problem?).

Preparing financially for a hurricane

Ms. Hobson has some good advice for storm-prone homeowners. In this case, areas as far inland as Goldsboro, NC or Laurel, MS; perhaps even Columbus, GA or Montgomery, AL should take note.

You don't even need a ticket (or wristband)

The weekly Carnival of the Capitalists has arrived again on Monday. There is also a new Carnival of Personal Finance; I may link to it in a future post.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Best of blogs--July 7-9

AAO cites an audit failure which allowed $340,000 to be stolen from a Native American casino in Minnesota. [8]

Financial Rounds marvels at a million-dollar mobile home in Malibu, CA (presumably no trailer park trash there). [6]

Free Money Finance window-shops a blog covering luxury goods. [8]

Death and Taxes covers the probate of the estate of a murder victim. [7]

In Taxing Times, Trish Mc Intyre criticizes Congress for proposing inclusion of a non-refundable payment for Offers in Compromise. [8]

Roth CPA Updates notes that Royal Oak Charcoal owners have sued KPMG for "smoking" them out of $188 million through dubious tax shelters (pun intended). [8]

Start Making Sense decries the astonishingly high effective tax rates on the working poor as government benefits are phased out. [7]

TaxProf mentions that a 1942 tax proposal is similar to a progressive consumption tax suggested by Professor Edward McCaffery to the President's tax reform commission. [9]

Wills, Trusts and Estates addresses Michael Allen's law article regarding procedural issues for end-of-life cases. [8]

Friday, July 08, 2005

PCAOB Schedules Small Business Conference

The PCAOB has set a conference for Orlando, FL on August 4 and 5 (humidity alert) to help comparatively small CPA firms with PCAOB clients or accounting firms with comparatively small publicly-traded companies better understand the impact of PCAOB in these situations. PCAOB board member Kayla Gillan will be the featured speaker. PCAOB also plans a Massachusetts conference in the future.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Public meeting of President's Tax Reform Panel July 20

After a period of closed sessions, the Tax Reform Panel will meet in Washington, DC in public July 20. No site was given for the meeting.

Doing rental cars right

Kelli Green of Smart Money has some good ideas to help control the cost of rental cars. The "exit strategy" is particularly worth noting.

You'll never walk alone

Though the Rodgers and Hammerstein showtune is most connected with Liverpool in the UK, it fits well as an emblem of solidarity and sympathy for those Londoners killed in public transit bombings today. Was Al-Queda involved? Time will tell.

Pre-retirement check-up

ABC News financial analyst Mellody Hobson has some good advice for those looking at retirement. Most notably, she counsels an inventory of assets available to cover retirement expenses. One criticism; however, the starting of Social Security at 62/1 may make sense for those in bad health in their 60s.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Accounting: Still a Hot Job?

A Christian Science Monitor article linked by ABC News listed accounting along with electrical and petroleum engineering, health care professions, systems design and software security and publishing, building trades--such as plumbing and employment services as being among the most in-demand jobs at present. As an example of accounting growth, Ernst and Young plans to hire 9000 new accountants, a 35% increase and hire 1900 new interns.

The Delicate Art of Addressing Ethics/Conduct in the Workplace

ABC interviewed Dr. Lee Roy Beach, a top decision researcher, about bringing up the thorny topic of ethics in a workplace setting. Dr. Beach said that conduct was less likely to cause defensiveness than ethics and summarized unethical behavior as abusing opportunities to pursue unjustified gain.

Best of the Blogs: July 2-5

AAO finds Sears Holdings and Stewart Enterprises better late than never for expensing items previously capitalized, thus improving matching of revenues and expenses. (6)

Financial Rounds points to as a place where you can participate in futures trading on the projected Supreme Court nominee. (3)

Free Market Finance (hereafter FMF) argues that a family can save 20% or more by eschewing credit cards and going to a cash-only approach. (5)

Death and Taxes starts a multipart series on how to evaluate real estate for investment. (4, 5)

Roth CPA Updates asserts that some big CPA firms have gone paranoid on Treasury 230 regulations on tax opinions (5).

Tax and B-Law Commentary points out that the elimination of post offices is a logical consequence of the growth of e-mail (5).

Tax Prof says that the New York Times is endorsing an effort by some Senators to make Internet sales subject to sales tax if state governments improve their collection process. (5)

Taxable Talk provides a warning: if you are evading taxes; think twice before you get a divorce. (4)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Charmaine Yoest is liveblogging (from a politically conservative perspective, linked by Power Line) the G8 economic conference in Scotland. Along with the conference, she is covering to some degree the activities of the many celebrities (most notably Bono, who has earned the right to his coverage by dedicated advocacy of help for AIDS victims in Africa) present at the conference.

Buzzword update

For those wanting to get an MBA or wanting to look good while interviewing MBAs. Terms like "ball park" and "nerd" have been around for a while; but "cold call" (B-school usage) and "quant jock" are new to me.

Slow blog

Blogging is likely to be down somewhat during the next two weeks. My wife is making a big push for the Tennessee Bar Exam and will be on our home computer extensively.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Best of the Blogs: June 25-July 1

The weekly Saturday feature. Two comments however--[1] special emphasis on the blogs newly linked; [2] with the increasing number of blogs linked, I probably will go to two summaries per week: Saturday and either Tuesday or Wednesday at least for a while.

AAO: Delphi starts to clean up past inventory and warranty accounting sins

CPA Tech: A review of Microsoft Streets and Trips as a GPS surrogate.

Death and Taxes: Using powers of attorney (for your realtor) at real estate closings.

Financial Rounds: Celebrates decimalization coming to option markets.

Free Money: Gives common-sense tactics to reduce cooling costs.

Mauled Again: Looks at whether a sole proprietorship may be treated as a C corporation for tax purposes.

Start Making Sense: Dan Shaviro's take on possible findings of the Tax Reform Commission.

Roth CPA Updates: An inmate at an South Carolina prison bilks the US Government out of $3.5 million.

Tax and B-Law Commentary: Stuart Levine fisks (criticizes) the American Family Business Institute.

Taxable Talk: Reminiscing about the days of the Big Eight accounting firms in view of KPMG's troubles.

Wills and Trusts: California Supreme Court upholds inheritance rights of domestic partners.

Friday, July 01, 2005

July Calendar

This may need to be updated later:

10-13: AGA 54th Annual Professional Development Conference, Orlando
10-13: IIA International Conference, Chicago
18-19: AICPA Small Business Practitioners Tax Forum, Baltimore
21-22: AICPA Staffing Forum, Chicago

Putting on SOX When Not Required

Smart Pros notes that about 30% of faster-growing private companies have adopted Sarbanes-Oxley guidelines even though SOX guidelines are not required for these companies. The most common rationales are that Sarbanes-Oxley is a form of "best practices" and a way to avoid future legal problems. Private companies adopting SOX tend to be larger, technology-oriented and in the service sector.

Business Combinations--the First Joint FASB--IASB Exposure Draft

The FASB and IASB (International Accounting Standards Board) issued their first ever joint exposure draft today, with the topic being business combinations. IASB and FASB, in addition to the FEI (Financial Executives Institute) link above, should have plenty of additional detail. Unquestionably, many in the financial world have wanted more standardization in accounting standards among major commercial nations; this certainly seems to be a step toward the standardization goal.

Extending Present Tax Cuts?

The Senate Finance Committee considered a number of tax cuts scheduled to expire in the next few years. One provision getting special attention was the 15% top rate for dividends and capital gains. Proponents of the reduced gains rate cited mitigation of double taxation and improved stock market results; opponents argued that tax relief for savings should primarily go to retirement accounts for working-class Americans.

Best personal finance blogs

Karyn McCormick and Amey Stone, co-editors of the Business Week blog Wellspent, list some of their preferred blogs for personal investors. Several of these, such as PF Blog and Footnoted, are linked at right.

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