House Passes New Set Of Tax Breaks For Donations

US House of Representatives
July 21, 2014

U.S. House of Representatives passed a handful of new tax breaks designed to increase charitable donations.

The United States House of Representatives passed an assortment of new tax breaks last Thursday intended to promote charitable donations. In one of the provisions, people over 70 years old would be rewarded for making donations from their individual retirement accounts. Another would allow individuals to claim deductions for donations made after the end of the year and before April 15. The bill also included tax breaks for land owners who donate land for conservation purposes, and business that donate food.

The White House has threatened to veto the bill while citing that its effects would increase the budget deficit. The President has also accused House Republicans of supporting tax breaks that mostly benefit the wealthy.

The bill, now on it’s way to be debated in the Senate, passed with 277 for and 130 against.

Source: ABC News

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Ernst & Young Agrees To $4M Settlement With SEC

EY SEC Settlement
July 14, 2014

Multinational professional services firm Ernst & Young agrees to pay $4 million to settle SEC allegations of auditor independence rule violations.

Big Four audit firm, Ernst & Young LLP, known as EY, agreed Monday to paying $4 million in a settlement with the SEC. EY was accused of inappropriately lobbying congressional staffers on behalf of its clients.

According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, sometime before 2009, EY lobbyists in Washington D.C. asked congressional leaders to insert language into a bill and also asked third parties speak with a U.S. senator – all on the behalf of two audit clients. Accounting firms are supposed avoid these sorts of conflicts of interest with companies they are auditing and the alleged offense violates auditor-independence rules.

In agreeing to the settlement, EY did not admit to or deny the allegations. After the settlement was made, EY stated “We regret these instances that arose many years ago and are pleased to put this matter behind us.” The SEC has not released the names of the companies involved.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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New Jersey Accountant Charged With Stealing $900K

Inspectors General Logo
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

July 11, 2014

Accountant from Toms River, NJ, arrested for allegedly stealing almost $1 million from client tax refunds and Social Security benefits.

Agents from the IRS, Social Security Administration and the Office of the Inspector General arrested Doreen Gentile, age 59, on Monday for allegedly stealing $905,000 from her clients’ tax refunds and Social Security benefits, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman revealed.

The indictment indicates that Gentile was charged with 14 counts of mail fraud, nine counts of forging endorsements on treasury checks, two counts of aggravated identity theft, and two counts of filing false income tax returns. Other than tapping into clients’ federal and state tax refunds, Gentile is accused of not alerting the Social Security Administration about her client’s death in 2005, and accessing the continuing retirement benefits of the deceased through the victim’s bank accounts to purchase clothing and jewelry.

Sources: Toms River Patch, USDOJ OIG

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UNC To Offer Master of Accounting Degree Online

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July 7, 2014

UNC Chapel Hill announced intention to offer Master of Accounting degree online beginning next summer.

The University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School revealed plans on Monday to offer a new 15-week Master of Accounting online degree program.

Unfortunately, the online course will not be any cheaper than the current course offering. The school announced its intention to charge out-of-state students the same tuition for the online program as they do for the residential program – about $57,000.

“Historically, firms have wanted to hire more of our graduates, but space constraints prevented us from increasing the program’s size,” stated dean of the school of business, Douglas A. Shackelford. “Technology now lets us increase access to a UNC education for even more talented people and meet the demand from companies who want to hire them.”

Students who are enrolled in the online program will still have to visit the Chapel Hill campus for orientation, even though the remaining course requirements will be finished online.

Source: Triangle Business Journal

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FBI Alerts Accountants About Phony Wire Transfer Requests

Top Paying States
July 2, 2014

The FBI is alerting accounting department employees about phony wire transfer requests appearing to come from their bosses.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is warning accountants and other accounting professionals in the Denver area about a current scam involving fake emails that appear to come from company executives. These emails request large wire transfers be “coded to” other departments within the company. Dave Joly, spokesperson for the FBI, stated that most of the fraudulent emails have been addressed to company controllers, treasurers or other accounting officers. Sender’s email addresses have been carefully crafted to be uneasily distinguishable from boss’ email addresses. Characters in the address are often inserted or rearranged in order to masquerade as companies’ legitimate domains – for example: vs

Similar events occurred in the Seattle area during December 2013. In those instances, accounting department employees were deceived into wire transferring funds into phony bank accounts, which they’d believed to belong to established supply partners in China. If you suspect that your company may have been a victim of a similar scam, the FBI requests that you file a complaint with their Internet Crime Complaint Center (

Source: Fox News Denver

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Top Paying States for Accountants

Top Paying States
June 23, 2014

Washington D.C. and New York top list of highest paying states for accountants and auditors.

The political and financial capitals of the nation top the list of highest paying states for accountants and auditors. With average salaries north of $87,000 per year and above average employment density – a scientific term for employment per thousand jobs – New York and the DC appear quite attractive for industry professionals.

On a regional basis, the Northeast heads the list as New Jersey, Maryland, and Massachusetts round out the top 5 paying states for accountants and auditors (details below).

State Emloyment Employment
per thousand
mean wage
mean wage
District of Columbia 11,140 16.73 $42.40 $88,200
New York 99,750 11.55 $41.95 $87,260
New Jersey 35,120 9.19 $40.35 $83,930
Maryland 26,950 10.63 $37.32 $78,300
Massachusetts 35,280 10.83 $37.32 $77,630

Before crowning the Northeast as king, it is worth noting that even the highest mean salaries are subject to state and local taxes. Add in the costs of living adjustments and other above average paying states such as Texas (free from state income tax) appear considerably more attractive. As the average industry professional stands to make a cool $72,500, the moral of the story is this: it pays to be an accountant.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Federal Jury Convicts South Carolina Accountant Of Stealing $500K

private plane
(Photo credit: Wikipedia/FlugKerl2)

June 9, 2014

On June 4th, an accountant from South Carolina was found guilty of transporting goods across state lines using stolen money. Joseph Folsom Jr. used money from his deceased client’s estate to purchase cars, lakefront property, and an airplane.

On Wednesday, federal prosecutors successfully convicted Joseph Glenn Folsom Jr., age 61, of four counts of Interstate Transportation of Stolen Money. In 2006, Folsom was hired to form a family limited partnership for an elderly couple in poor health. Folsom, who had named himself as executor of their will, began tapping into the hundreds of thousands of dollars under his control when the couple both passed away in 2007.

After hearing testimony from witnesses for the prosecution, including an FBI agent with experience in accounting, and only one witness for the defense, Folsom himself, the jury took just 45 minutes to find the defendant guilty.

Some of the luxury items he purchased with stolen money comprised of a Corvette sports car, private plane, and lake front real estate. U.S. assistant attorneys had jurisdiction in this case because the money had been stolen in South Carolina and used to purchase items out of state – e.g. classic car auctions in Florida and Georgia.

Of the over $580,000 fleeced by Folsom, about $160,000 has been recovered by relatives of the family through civil suits. Folsom faces up to 10 years in prison at an upcoming sentencing hearing.


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First Ever International Revenue Accounting Standards Take Effect 2017

Verizon Store
(Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons)

May 29, 2014

The American FASB and international IASB have teamed up to overhaul revenue reporting standards, impacting every industry from wireless service providers, to grocery retailers, to vehicle manufacturers. Moreover, the update will mark the first ever international revenue accounting standards.

On May 28, America’s own Financial Accounting Standards Board and the globally associated International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) – responsible for creating accounting regulations in the U.S. and worldwide, respectively – revealed a coordinated plan to simplify the mixture of revenue reporting standards in different nations and for different industries.

The U.S. and international accounting standards boards began collaboration in 2006 on what is now the first standard global revenue recognition ruling ever. Beginning in 2017, the landmark ruling will replace separate conflicting standards for the U.S. and other countries, as well as simplify and establish consistency in the measurement of performance for any company in the world. As a result, capital market investors will soon have increased confidence when comparing the earnings of companies at home with those of companies anywhere on the planet.

These new requirements will drastically alter how and when revenue is reported in innumerable industries. For example, car makers who include maintenance service with the purchase of new cars currently account for full purchase prices together with maintenance at the time of purchase. Under the new rules, revenues for vehicles are recognized upfront, and revenues for future maintenance services are separately assigned and not recognized until the time service is performed.

Conversely, wireless service providers who offer free or discounted mobile phones to customers who sign service contracts currently account for revenue month-to-month as clients make payments, without any regard for the cost of the free or discounted mobile device. Beginning in 2017, however, the customer’s overall expected revenue from monthly payments is accounted for with the purchase of the mobile phone, permitting wireless service providers to sooner recognize that revenue.

The general focus of the new approach to revenue recognition is when a customer takes control of the product or service, rather than when the customer makes a payment.

Meanwhile, critics have asserted that it will likely raise costs for all businesses as they direct attention to revamping their products and customer contracts in order to comply with or adapt to the new rules.


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Madison Square Garden Hasn’t Paid Property Taxes Since 1982

(Photo credit: nyr3188/Wikipedia)

May 22, 2014

Due to a 1982 tax exemption, The Madison Square Garden Company has not paid property taxes for over 32 years – adding up to an estimated savings of $350,000,000 so far. State legislators are making an effort to repeal the exemption.

“The World’s Most Famous Arena” hasn’t been home to a championship tenant for 20 years – but its owners have been doing quite well though. Because of an exemption granted in the early 1980s, an arduous time for the City of New York, no property taxes have been paid for either the Garden’s land or buildings since 1982. Furthermore, the exemption apparently doesn’t have an expiration date.

Edward I. Koch, mayer of New York City at the time, intended for the exemption to last only ten years, but the language in the legislation has been interpreted so that the tax break is indefinite as long as the Knicks and Rangers hosted home games at the Garden for the ten first years. As a result, MSG has saved about $350 million on property taxes. As land value in Manhattan continues to rise and improvements to the building continue to be made, the deal only gets better for the owners, and worse for the city.

Such taxes breaks, unlimited in size and infinite in time, are truly rare amongst any industry worldwide. City Councilman Corey Johnson, representing the arena’s home district, put forth a resolution requesting that the State Assembly overturn the decades old deal and committee will consider a bill to end the exemption next week.

In the mean time, millions in campaign donations from MSG’s owners are buying influence in Albany, and legions of lobbyists are manning their battle stations. Although no one was sent to testify on the arena’s behalf before the City Council last week while debates regarding the matter were ongoing, a written statement was submitted by the owners’ representatives. “It remains patently unfair to single out one company when other entities receive significant public subsidies.”

Sources: The New York Times

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TIGTA Report: Alimony Tax Gap $1.7B

(Photo credit: Jasen Miller/Wikipedia)

May 20, 2014

A new report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that nearly half of alimony deductions either have incorrect or no corresponding reported alimony income at all – costing the Treasury $1.7 billion over 5 years.

The rules seem clear enough to understand: pay alimony to your former spouse and deduct that amount from income, former spouse then claims the same amount as income, and accountants everywhere revel in the resulting state of balance sheet equilibrium. Although, a new report by TIGTA might prompt some involuntary twitching amongst the more passionate accountants out there.

The report indicats that in 2010, 47% of tax returns with alimony deductions had either incorrect corresponding reported income or none at all, costing the Treasury about $1.7 billion over the last five years. Additionally, 14% of recipients did not file tax returns at all – although the alimony amount itself was enough to need to file a tax return ($9,350 in 2010). Moreover, line 31b of Form 1040 requires that the payer of alimony indicate the taxpayer identification number or social security number of the recipient and this number was either invalid or left blank 2% of the time.

The Internal Revenue Service currently doesn’t audit tax returns with improper alimony reporting unless deductions exceed a certain amount. In the mean time, TIGTA has recommended the IRS to alert taxpayers of alimony errors by sending out warning letters called “soft notices.” These warning letters have had past success in stopping taxpayers from making the same mistakes on subsequent tax returns.

Sources: Forbes,

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