Weiser merges in Leslie Sufrin & Co.

Weiser LLP has merged in nearby Leslie Sufrin and Co. PC, a boutique accounting, audit, tax and consulting firm that specializes in servicing publishing, media, information and communication businesses.

New York-based LS&Co. will operate as a separate division of Weiser, headed by founder Les Sufrin. Also joining Weiser as partners are Roy Anderson, Jerry Brockett, Richard Faltin, Barbara Israel, Monica Ranniger and Charles Tropiano.

LS&Co. also has a significant practice providing merger and acquisition work to private equity groups and their portfolio companies. They also serve companies in financial services, manufacturing, distribution, and international services.

Weiser serves clients in industries that include financial services, manufacturing, distribution, real estate, apparel, life sciences, health care, not-for-profit, and textile rental. The firm also has prominent international tax and forensic accounting practices. The firm ranked No. 27 on Accounting Today's 2005 Top 100 Firms list with revenue of $69 million.

IRS board worried over TAC cuts

The IRS Oversight Board at its recent meeting raised concerns over the agency's plan to close some of its Taxpayer Assistance Centers this fall.

As part of cost-cutting measures, the Internal Revenue Service said in May that it would forge ahead with plans to close 68 of the 400 centers, which provide walk-in service for taxpayers on tax law, tax return preparation and account inquiry resolution via face-to-face meetings with IRS employees.

"The board raised concerns about options that would lower the IRS's own aspirations to provide meaningful services to all taxpayers who must deal with an extremely complex tax system," said board chairman Raymond T. Wagner Jr. "For the past few years, we've seen dramatic, positive changes in the services the IRS provides taxpayers. We must ensure those gains are not lost."

Upon announcing the move in May, IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson said that the walk-in sites are the IRS's most costly service vehicle. "We're being asked to create efficiencies and be responsible with taxpayers' dollars. Using objective criteria, we're creating these efficiencies where they'll have the least impact on good service," Everson had said, adding, "We find taxpayers prefer to use our toll-free phone lines, where their questions can be routed to subject matter experts."

In its March IRS budget report, the board noted its concern over "shifting resources away from customer service ... and imposing a one-size-fits-all approach to customer service." The board's recommended budget doesn't close any walk-in sites.

HealthSouth in $100M deal with SEC

HealthSouth Corp. will pay $100 million to settle charges brought against it by the Securities and Exchange Commission alleging that it cooked its books by more than $2 billion over several years. In a March 2003 civil action, the SEC charged the health care services provider with violating securities laws by overstating its earnings by at least $1.4 billion in order to meet Wall Street earnings expectations. That number eventually grew to $2.7 billion.

Without admitting or denying the SEC's allegations, HealthSouth agreed to be barred from future violations of the securities laws and to retain consultants to review its policies and practices in the areas of governance, internal controls and accounting. As part of the settlement, the company also agreed to continue to cooperate with the SEC and the Department of Justice in their respective ongoing investigations, to provide training and education to certain officers, and to create, staff and maintain the position of inspector general with the authority to hire a staff of at least five people.

HealthSouth will pay the SEC $100 million in five installments over a two-year period. The money will be used to establish an investor fund.

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