Let me begin by saying that our thoughts, prayers, and support are with those who died, were injured, were traumatized, and continue to be traumatized by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. The death, destruction, and widespread impact are very difficult for most to comprehend.
As a journalist, I have received numerous e-mails since the hurricane hit. For example, I am getting a steady supply from the IRS and the AICPA. The IRS releases explain tax relief that is being provided to the victims of Katrina, permitted delays in filing of returns and payment of tax, as well as expanded ways to make charitable donations to aid the victims. AICPA efforts are even more impressive.
I have gone to both the IRS Web site and the AICPA, and there is a multitude of readily accessible information to assist a visitor the moment that they enter the site. For example, at the AICPA site, there is information on charities and extensive information on how CPAs can help. There are also disaster recover resources, including helping handling disaster-related business losses; a list of disaster recovery and business continuity Web site links, an updated AICPA Tax Section's Disaster Area Practice Guide, a disaster response checklist for CFOs and controllers, and information on hard drive recoveries.
Contrast that to the SEC, which provides a hyperlink to a simple press release in the headlines section to the side on the SEC's home page. It isn't even the first headline, as the more prominent one is "Donald Nicolaisen, SEC Chief Accountant, Leaves Commission."
But the Web site of the Financial Accounting Standards Board, as I write this column, is the most disturbing. There is no mention of the hurricane, and this is the case even though there are published reports that FASB is considering classifying the effects of Hurricane Katrina as "ordinary events" for financial reporting purposes.
FASB obviously doesn't understand its role here and the service that it can provide. I look at the effects as extraordinary in every way, including for financial reporting purposes. The sad story is, anyone who goes to the FASB Web site would find the appearance that Katrina is such an "ordinary event" that FASB couldn't seem fit to mention or provide assistance to those who came to its home page for help.
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