Friday, July 24, 2009

Interior Department Called to Calculate Away on Indian Land Trusts

The D.C. Appeals Court reversed a District Court ruling and required the Interior Department to come up with a more complete calculation of Indian land royalties from previous treaties. District Judge James Robertson had estimated the back royalties to be $455 million but Appeals Judge David Sentelle said that the District ruling let off the Interior too easily--though even Sentelle emphasized getting the "low-hanging fruit" rather than seeking the "theoretically perfect." About half a million Native Americans are affected.

Best to learn from the mistakes of the past and make sure that covenants between the Federal Government and other parties are clearly and fully communicated. Could this case be germane if a push by African-Americans to provide "reparations" for past slavery gains momentum? Possibly so.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Welcome back, Neil Mc Intyre!

Canadian blogger Neil Mc Intyre resumed his suspended Canadian accounting blog several months ago with early concentration on technology and IFRS issues. Welcome back!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Financial Reporting Complexity: Can It Be Reduced?

The Global Accounting Alliance, a group of accounting standard-setting bodies from throughout the world, recently met in New York to discuss complexity in financial reporting. They found some agreement on the desirably of simplifying financial reporting but not much agreement on how to accomplish the goal. Among the concerns expressed with simplifying were disapproval by financial analysts if a long-standing item is removed from the report and the feeling by some U. S. CPAs that complex rules provided some degree of protection against client resistance to auditor adjustments. The SEC's Wayne Carnall said that the agency was studying about 240 comment letters on adopting IFRS and that no decision had been made yet.

The above refrain should sound familiar to tax professionals reading the above; every year, there are complaints about tax complexity and only rarely if ever does simplicity actually occur. Perhaps I'm too cynical, but don't expect simplification until a decision is finally made on adopting IFRS.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

[W]Rangling More from the Rich: Rep. Rangel's Plan to Fund Health Care

Charles Rangel (D-NY) has proposed additional surtaxes on wealthy Americans (defined as those earning over $280,000 ($350K if MFJ)). Surtax rates would be 1% at 280/350; 2% at 400/500 and 3% at $800,000/$1 million. Rangel estimates that the surtax would over one-half trillion, 2/3rds more than the controversial taxing of health insurance coverage paid by employers. Rangel was invited to meet at the White House and further explain his proposal over the weekend, but Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) suggested that he planned a different strategy.

Surtaxes tend to have a short shelf-life; past uses include taxation for the Vietnam War and the "windfall oil profits tax." The obvious selling point of Rangel's proposal is that it takes the apparent burden of healthcare funding off the middle class. Potential disadvantages: extra taxes on the wealthy tend to be passed on to public by higher prices, lower wages, less hiring, etc. and the tax structure (rate points for unmarried taxpayers are at 80% for MFJs) provides some opportunity for Republicans to catagorize the surtax as "anti-marriage."

Thursday, July 02, 2009

A Dozen (maybe a Baker's Dozen) of New Blog Links

Added about 12-14 new blogs to the blog roll today; most were accounting but three were tax blogs. Most were from three sources: Cherry, Bekaert and Holland CPA firm in Virginia, Somerset CPAs in Indiana and Monica Lawver in Ohio. Topics ranged from farm to faith-based accounting and from government contracting to international tax. Thanks again to Michelle Golden for her impressive blog list in Golden Practices. Enjoy a new blog today!

Note: As mentioned earlier, my father-in-law passed away this morning. This will probably be my last post until at least the middle of next week.

Off Topic: July Starts with a Bang (even without firecrackers)

Several pieces of personal news: yesterday, the State of Tennessee confered tenure on me at Austin Peay; unfortunately, that good news was soon tempered as Bill Sharp, my wife's father, took ill with pneumonia yesterday and died this morning. Bill was a self-educated man who successfully helped support and raise four children and who enjoyed a variety of interests, such as paper money and coins, antique postcards, travel and contract bridge. He will be missed by friends and family.

FASB Codifies (Not Coddles) Financial Accouting Standards

The Financial Accounting Standards Board announced the Codification of nongovernmental financial accounting standards effective September 15. The codification supercedes all FASB pronouncements and literature not included in the codification will be considered nonauthorative. The Codification is subdivided into about 90 topics and the topics are designed to have a consistent structure within the Codification. Access to the Codification will cost $850 for full access by accounting firms and other interested organizations and $150 for academic organizations. Free access with limited scope (called the Basic View) will be available as well. Additionally, academic users will receive a free trial period through August 31. Tick Marks will link to the Codification access page at right.

It will be interesting to see what the FASB has done and how FASB incorporates IFRS (if at all) in the Codification. I hope at some point that the FASB considers a reduced price for smaller not-for-profit organizations similar to the discounted academic price.

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