Saturday, December 22, 2007

Links with Minimal Comment

At least three stories in this week's blogging are definitely worth perusing:

  • Sam Antar in Fortune

  • Snooping IRS Employees

  • Year End Tech News Roundup
  • Three Years of "Twelve Blogs of Christmas," Part 2

    Without hyperlinks this time. Codes used are AC: Accounting blog; PF: Personal Finance blog; TX: Tax Blog

    Analyst's Accounting Observer (AAO), AC
    BSC Trendlines, AC [replaced dormant Vanilla Accounting]
    Consumerism Commentary, PF
    CPA Firm Technology Blog, AC
    Financial Rounds, PF
    Found in the Footnotes, AC
    Free Money Finance, PF
    Frugal for Life, PF
    Mauled Again, TX
    Roth CPA Updates, TX
    Tax Prof, TX
    Taxable Talk, TX

    Big4Guy, AC
    Blueprint for Financial Prosperity, PF
    Death and Taxes, TX
    Don't Mess with Taxes, TX
    Fraud Files, AC
    Gina's Tax Articles, TX
    Mighty Bargain Hunter, PF
    Neil McIntyre, AC
    My Money Forest, PF
    PF Blogs, PF
    Tax Guru, TX
    Tech Gap, AC [replaced dormant Benefit Blog]

    AccMan, AC
    Accounting Onion, AC
    All Financial Matters, PF
    Directors and Officers Diary, AC
    Five Cent Nickel, PF
    My Money Blog, PF
    No Credit Needed, PF
    Tax Info Blog, TX
    Taxalicious, TX
    Wandering Tax Pro, TX
    White Collar Fraud, AC
    Wills, Trusts and Estates Law Prof Blog, TX

    Again, congratulations to all

    Three Years of "Twelve Blogs of Christmas," Part I

    This post will use hyperlink and go by area, a second post will not be hyperlinked and go by year. It is likely that these two posts will be the last two accounting-oriented posts of 2007.

    Accounting Blogs
  • AccMan, 2007

  • AAO, 2005

  • Accounting Onion, 2007

  • Big4Guy, 2006

  • BSG Trendlines, 2005

  • CPA Firm Technology Blog, 2005

  • Directors/Officers Diary, 2007

  • Found in the Footnotes, 2005

  • Fraud Files, 2006

  • Neil McIntyre, 2006

  • Tech Gap, 2006

  • White Collar Fraud, 2007

  • Personal Finance Blogs
  • All Financial Matters, 2007

  • Blueprint for Prosperity, 2006

  • Consumerism Commentary, 2005

  • Financial Rounds, 2005

  • Five Cent Nickel, 2007

  • Free Money Finance, 2005

  • Frugal for Life, 2005

  • Mighty Bargain Hunter, 2006

  • My Money Blog, 2007

  • My Money Forest, 2006

  • No Credit Needed, 2007

  • PF Blogs, 2006

  • Tax Blogs
  • Death and Taxes, 2006

  • Don't Mess with Taxes, 2006

  • Gina's Tax Articles, 2006

  • Mauled Again, 2005

  • Roth CPA Updates, 2005

  • Tax Guru, 2006

  • Tax Info Blog, 2007

  • Tax Prof, 2005

  • Taxable Talk, 2005

  • Taxalicious, 2007

  • Wandering Tax Pro, 2007

  • Wills, Trusts and Estates, 2007

  • Congratulations to all!

    Friday, December 21, 2007

    Future "Twelve Blogs?"

    In the accounting area: some encouraging news--Jeff Moore is back and posting with some regularity at "Solo Accounting Reporter." Jeff, Reed Tinsley (blog of same name), Chris Silvey (Accounting for a Detoured Economist) and Greg Price (From Greg's Head) are the early favorites for 2008--Greg would have been in this year except for an overemphasis on Houston business issues.

    In personal finance: Get Rich Slowly and Wisdom from Wenchypoo's Mental Wastebasket are both worthy of consideration in 2008. The problem in personal finance is not whether good choices are available, but which good blog to choose; many PF blogs have potential.

    In tax, Tax Mama would be in now except for uncertainty about free access--if I get a clear, positive answer on the access question; I might not wait to November/December to put her on the list. Linda Keith's "Good Loan" blog and Milt Baker's "CPA Sense" also have possibilities for 2008.

    Odds and Ends as the Year Closes

    [1] Thanks for all who read this blog and bloggers who link here. I appreciate your support. 30,000 views is in sight; I am psyched!

    [2] Happy 14th to our English Springer Spaniel, Treasure, this past Sunday. Unfortunately, it is probably his last; he is pretty frail these days.

    [3] I just got an article published in New Accountant which encourages accounting students to consider developing an accounting blog. Note: cover is on New Accountant webpage, article on pages 16-19 of the periodical. I am happy with the overall article, but apologize to Tech Gap and From Greg's Head; these bloggers were overlooked on podcasting because of shortcomings on my part.

    [4] Between Christmas, family and travel; I expect to do little or no blogging next week. Barring dramatic accounting developments, my review of the "Twelve Blogs of Christmas" is likely to be my last post of 2007.

    [5] Do look for new links with one or two blogs moving to new URLs, a few new blogs and the reinstatement of at least a couple of previously-linked blogs. Along this line--it is encouraging to see active blogging by Jeff Moore (Solo Accountant) and Brian Tankersley (CPA Firm Technology Blog) and some posts by Chris Silvey (Accounting for a Detoured Economist) this month.

    Thursday, December 20, 2007

    Yum, Yum! Taxalicious Finishes the 2007 "Twelve Blogs of Christmas"

  • Delayed Tax Refunds

  • Tax humor site Taxalicious is the fourth and final tax site on the "Twelve Blogs." Like many humorists, the operators of the site also have a serious side--two of their serious posts are "Loans and the Credit Crunch" (see link in title) and a story detailing the pain caused by Congressional delay in passing a tax bill (see earlier post today as well as link above). Two other noteworthy features: Taxalicious uses video more than any accounting blogs that I am aware of and the blog made a noble, if short-lived, effort to host a tax blogger community at "Tax Blogger."

    Congratulations to Taxilicious on making the "Twelve Blogs" in their first year. Next week, I will point out some blogs which almost were included and probably finish posting for the year by doing a review of three years of the "Twelve Blogs of Christmas."

    House FINALLY passes AMT fix

    The House voted 352-64 to attach a one-year patch on the Alternative Minimum Tax. A number of Democrats, including Ways and Means chair Charles Rangel, were bitterly disappointed that "paygo" rules had to be suspended and that tax offsets were not included. Still at question is whether the IRS will be able to adjust its forms for the start of tax season; early refunds could be at risk of deferral.

    While the patch was required; both Senate and House, Democrats and Republicans MUST find a way to develop a long-term solution. To keep the original intent, setting a level closer to $225,000 single, $300,000 MFJ and $150,000 MFS makes sense. To pay for this--how about a novel idea--a 1-3% decrease in discretionary SPENDING.

    Wednesday, December 19, 2007

    It's Certainly Easier to Serve God When You Aren't Serving the Government Beast

    TaxProf points out a postcard on e-Bay which might be appropriate for your favorite Christian or Jewish tax preparer. A little levity before tax season never hurts.

    "Where There's a Will, There's A Way:" "Wills, Trusts and Estates" Wills Its Way into the "Twelve Blogs of Christmas"

  • Dog Death Planning in WSJ

  • Texas Tech law professor Gerry Beyer becomes the fourth law academic (Paul Caron--TaxProf, James Maule--Mauled Again, Joel Scheonmeyer--Death and Taxes) to be selected for the "Twelve Blogs of Christmas." While estate planning is a weighty issue, Dr. Beyer is not adverse to posting some lighter side material. Two example posts relate to Dannielynn Smith and whether Anna accidentally disinherited her (see link in title) and Estate Planning for Pets (see link above).

    Congratulations to Dr. Beyer, estate tax issues are challenging and it is good to have several bloggers on that topic. The final of the "Twelve Blogs" will be coming soon.

    Accounting for Middle Earth: Jackson and New Line Cinema Bury the Hobbit Hatchet

    "Lord of the Kings" director Peter Jackson and distributor New Line Cinema have settled their legal dispute related to Jackson's compensation for the "Lord of the Rings" movie series. Additionally, Jackson has agreed to produce two additional movies for New Line, one of which will be based on Tolkien's "The Hobbit." A judge had previously rejected New Line's motion to dismiss and required keeping of e-mails related to the suit.

    "Lord of the Rings" fans will doubtlessly be thrilled by this decision. The case illustrates the significance of accounting in ways that most people would not see as connected to accounting.

    Tuesday, December 18, 2007

    Santa Loves a Fellow Wanderer: The "Wandering Tax Pro" Becomes the Tenth "Twelfth Blog"

  • Some Suggested Tax Code Changes

  • Long-time New Jersey tax preparer Robert Flach is the newest awardee of the "Twelve Blogs of Christmas." Robert publishes his blog from mid-April to early January and his "What's the Buzz" column--included at least weekly, is a good review of tax posts. Two recent posts are "Dear Congress," a letter critical of Congress's penchant for patching rather than fixing the alternative minimum tax and "Some More Stuff to Think About," a set of suggested changes to the Internal Revenue Code.

    Congratulations to Mr. Flach! May he and the other tax preparer bloggers have a Merry Christmas season and a successful (and not overly stressful) tax season.

    Restricted Free Blog Access and the "Twelve Blogs of Christmas"

    As of today, blogs which require paid subscriptions or have other restrictions are ineligible for "Twelve Blogs of Christmas." Two exceptions to the general rule, [1] a blog which previously was awarded "12 Blog" status and goes to restricted/paid access status will not be taken off so long as they maintain a significant level of posts at a public domain or free area (such as AAO or Footnoted), (2) requiring registration is acceptable (though not encouraged) as long as registration is free. Additionally, as of today, failure to post for three months or failure to post more than twice in six months (in the absence of medical or other explained circumstances) will put a previously-named blog at risk of being removed.

    Monday, December 17, 2007

    The "Twelve Blogs" Finds Ryan Ellis Providing the "Tax Info"

  • First Year Married

  • First year blogger Ryan Ellis, who started blogging this year as the "Tax Playa" but later converted his blog name to the "Tax Info Blog" becomes the first of the 2007 tax bloggers awardees of the "Twelve Blogs of Christmas." Like other tax bloggers such as Gina's Tax Articles, the Tax Guru and the Wandering Tax Pro, the "Tax Info Blog" uses a question/answer format to address specific tax questions received from clients and the general public. Because of the specificity of tax advice mentioned, Ryan is wise to include an explicit Treasury Circular 230 disclaimer on his blog. Two recently covered topics were passive losses (see link in title) and the tax consequences of marriage (see link above).

    Congratulations to Ryan who is off to a fine start! Unlike accounting and personal finance, tax will not be in alphabetical order and I am not yet certain who the other awardees will be yet.

    Thursday, December 13, 2007

    "No Credit Needed" Becomes the Eighth of the "Twelve Blogs of Christmas"

  • Stay Away from the Mall

  • The final personal finance member of the "Twelve Blogs" was closely contested between the alphabetically final two nominees with No Credit Needed being the choice. NCN is yet another member of the "Money Blog Network" and is among the bloggers who also podcasts. NCN is a parent (probably dad) in his/her 30s with two kids living in Georgia. Two recent posts are "$10 a day Can Add Up to $3/4 Million," (linked in title) which I guess qualifies as an update of Ben Franklin's "a penny saved is a penny earned" and "...Stay Away from the Mall," part of a 33[!] part series which warns of the seductive nature of mall consumption.

    Congratulations to NCN on your multiple personal finance activities. Tax blogs start next week.

    Wednesday, December 12, 2007

    Seven-up: "My Money Blog" Finds Its Way into the "Twelve Blogs"

  • Why Save?

  • "My Money Blog," written by an anonymous West Coast married man in his twenties, concentrates on big decisions that will help reach family financial goals while considering the day-to-day decisions that seem insignificant but cumulatively have real impact on long term success. In a sense, MMB is "think globally, act locally" for personal finance. Recent posts include "Credit Card Foreign Transaction Fee Refund: $25+" (directly salient to my wife and I) and "What Are We Saving for, Anyway..."--particularly good for indicating INCORRECT goals.

    Congratulations to the author; continued success in accomplishing your financial goals. I finish the personal finance area next; taxes are coming soon.

    Intuit Claims Ready for Tax Season

    Tax software giant Intuit (TurboTax) claimed that the delayed AMT patch will not be a significant hinderance--at worst, revenue may be deferred to the April rather than January quarter according to Senior VP Brad Smith. Smith said that its professional software (LaCrete and Pro Series) was nearly ready to go to tax preparers and that it would continue free access to the Federal Turbo Tax as a loss leader for state and electronic filing products.

    I'm sure that Smith's announcement is comforting to many tax preparers, albeit the preparers would like more testing and installation time. Otherwise, we can only hope that Congress and the President can hammer out an AMT patch soon.

    Tuesday, December 11, 2007

    PCOAB to Deloitte: Fork Over $1 Million for a Bad 2003 Audit

    The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board has reached agreement with Deloitte Touche on a $1,000,000 fine and changes in audit procedures in regard to its 2003 audit of Ligand Pharmaceuticals. Additionally, former audit partner James Fazio has accepted a ban (minimum of two years) from association with a PCAOB-registered CPA firm. The PCAOB found that Fazio failed to adjust the audit for future product returns, even in the face of evidence indicating increased risk. As a result, the audit had an insufficient level of due professional care. Additionally, the PCAOB asserted that Deloitte failed to heed warnings that Mr. Fazio may be unqualified to head public company audits.

    A sobering reminder to all in auditing--do not accept engagements if there is any material possibility that personnel would be unqualified. Also, even if the firm culture is not accepting of whistle-blowing, there has to be some mechanism in place to take seriously concerns raised about the abilities of top management.

    "Five Cent Nickel" Gets the "Twelve Blogs of Christmas" Halfway Home

  • Fiscally Wise Ways to End the Year

  • Like many personal finance blogs, "Five Cent Nickel" provides advice on making money and other household assets earn their keep. "Nickel" provides an interesting reading list on "Eleven Great Books" (see link in title) and has five financially shrewd December ideas in "[Five] Year End Money Moves." Like many other "Twelve Blogs" awardees in personal finance, "Five Cent Nickel" is part of the powerhouse "Money Blog Network."

    Congratulations to Nickel and may your money-saving advice continue to come forth. Watch for another personal finance blog to be cited soon.

    Monday, December 10, 2007

    "Twelve Blogs" Seeks to Get a Handle on "All Financial Matters"

  • Affordable Mortgage

  • JLP of "All Things Financial" starts the personal finance segment of the "Twelve Blogs of Christmas" with a hard-hitting call to disciplined spending. His "Barack Obama's 'Answer'..." (link in title) skewers the Democratic candidate's proposal to extend relief to subprime borrowers (JLP links to a separate post critical of Bush's plan as well) while the "How Much Mortgage Can You Afford" article (link above) provides a useful calculator to keep housebuyers from overextending themselves. "All Financial Matters" is also part of the mighty "Money Blog Network."

    Congratulations to JLP on his successful blog. Another personal finance blog will be added to the "Twelve Blogs of Christmas" soon.

    Friday, December 07, 2007

    Gilded Guilt: "Twelve Blogs" Goes Behind the Magnifying Glass with "White Collar Fraud"

  • Internal Auditor Independence

  • I'm not sure that Sam Antar will agree with this analogy, but Sam seems to me to be the Charles Colson of accounting--an apparently successful executive who got caught in wrongdoing and sent to jail. In the legal process, the convict turns from past error and his life changes. Sam's message, though preached with as much conviction as Colson, is much less otherworldly--in the business world; don't trust and verify, just verify (see link to expanded discussion in title). His present emphasis on Overstock requires looking back to his earlier more general statements on fraud, the accounting profession and the importance of trustworthy financial information to the capitalist system. One such post is the above link to internal auditor independence and the importance of keeping the top executives of a company from compromising the effectiveness of internal audit.

    Congratulations to Sam; keep up the good work of emphasizing the importance of honest financial reporting and the need for auditors and audit committees to have bulldog/bloodhound tenacity in pursuit of truthfulness. Next week, Tick Marks moves to the personal finance arena to select four more blogs for the 2007 "Twelve Blogs of Christams."

    Thursday, December 06, 2007

    All Aboard the D & O as the "Twelve Blogs" Roll on

  • Fraud Detection and Expectations

  • Ohio Attorney Kevin Lecroix keeps the accounting and financial world up-to-date on legal developments in the financial arena with "The Directors and Officers Diary." Kevin's most recent post (see link in title) noted that while subprime was getting the media attention, legal action on unconsumated buyouts was a important legal trend during the second half of 2007. More important and very sobering, at least to auditors, was his Fraud Detection (link above) post. A stunning five of eight chief executive officers surveyed (221 in total) by Grant Thornton felt that they COULD successfully mislead their auditors with INTENTIONALLY falsified statements. Moreover, 83% (five of six) CFOs felt that it was not possible to catch all corporate fraud. While this is no surprise to accountants, user expectations (reasonable, at least to a point) are much greater leading to the question--will the future bring GREATER legal liability for accountants in regard to fraud or alternately diminish the demand for independent audits?

    Congratulations to Kevin on keeping the financial community up to date on legal developments. The final accounting blog in the "Twelve Blogs" will be coming soon.

    Tuesday, December 04, 2007

    Time to Converge, Say Global Accounting Leaders

    A survey of 143 accounting industry leaders recently given by the International Federation of Accountants indicated that 89% believed that convergance of national accounting standards with International Financial Reporting Standards was very important. AICPA Chairman Barry Melancon asserted that the findings demonstrated the necessity of convergence in an increasingly global marketplace. Other survey findings included significant accountant shortages in North America and the Asia-Pacific region and auditor liability is still a significant concern.

    Even taking into account that the IFA survey might have selection bias, 89% seeing a great need for accounting convergence is not a trivial finding. Whether the politics of convergence in the U. S. is viable, however, may be a different matter--many accountants, already facing learning XBRL and other changes, may resist significant change from present U. S. GAAP.

    To Add Zest, Twelve Blogs Tries "The Accounting Onion"

  • Big Bath for GM, Citi and Merrill Lynch

  • Former accounting faculty Thomas Selling introduced the Accounting Onion this summer and the Onion, though not as humorous as its political counterpart, has provided valuable commentary on financial accounting and auditing issues. Recent posts include taking the FASB and SEC to task for the SFAS 157 and "fair value" accounting (see link in title) and the return of "big bath accounting" to large corporation financial statements (see link above).

    Congratulations to Thomas for getting off to a great start. Watch for the third blog of the "Twelve Blogs" soon.

    Monday, December 03, 2007

    Time to Get This (Year-end) Party Started with a Little AccMan Fever

  • Europe's Subprime Headaches

  • "Twelve Blogs of Christmas" takes its first trip to the Eastern Hemisphere (which is more than its author has done) and salutes Dennis Howlett of the United Kingdom and AccMan. Two recent articles deal with financial struggles of Sage, Ltd. in the U.S. market (the continued success of Peachtree has been tarnished by shortfalls in a health care venture) and a discussion of problems of European bankers with sub-prime loans (sound familiar). Congratulations and continued success to the AccMan.

    Saturday, December 01, 2007

    A Lot Late or a Little Early--Tech Gap Stands in for Benefits Blog in the "Twelve Blogs of Christmas"

  • Scan and Organize

  • Sadly, the fine pension/postretirement blog "Benefits Blog" slowed down near the end of 2006 and had its last post in mid-January, 2007. Thankfully, there a number of accounting blogs worthy to take the place of honor in the 2006 "Twelve Blogs of Christmas" roster. One such blog, nominated but not chosen last year, is "Tech Gap" by Gregory LaFollette. Like Brian Tankersley of "CPA Firm Technology Blog," Greg emphasizes the impact of technology on the practice of public accounting. Two November posts are "Targets Attacks Aim at the Financial Sector," which describes a malicious attachment to an e-mail presumptively from the Better Business Bureau (linked in the title) and "Scan and Organize/Scan and Populate Field Draws a New Entrant" (linked above); software by Copanion called Gruntworx which becomes the sixth competitor in the arena of organizing source documents for tax preparation/tax compliance purposes. I should also note that Greg is one of the first bloggers to embrace podcasting (don't look for me to join him in the near future).

    Congratulations to Greg on a fine blog. More accounting blogs will receive 2007 "Twelve Blogs of Christmas" status during the week ahead.

    My blog is worth $7,903.56.
    How much is your blog worth?