BUSY REGULATORS

The Financial Accounting Foundation has established a working group to study accounting standards for non-public companies, following the January report of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Standard-Setting for Private Companies. The group will seek input from stakeholders on the issue, and on the recommendations in the panel's report, through roundtable meetings, surveys, and meetings with advisory and constituent groups and others. One of the crucial questions will be whether to create a new standard-setting board for private company standards.

 

In the meantime, International Accounting Standards Board Chairman Sir David Tweedie made the case for U.S. adoption of IFRS in a speech before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, noting, among other things, that the relative decline of U.S. capital markets makes having a single global standard in the country's economic interest, and that the impending completion of the convergence agenda of the U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board and the IASB offers a unique window of opportunity for adoption.

 

The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board announced a series of forums across the country to discuss small-business audits. Agendas and time and location details for the forums - which will start later this month in Boston, and continue on to New York, Las Vegas, Chicago, Seattle, Dallas, and St. Petersburg, Fla. - are available at www.pcaobus.org.

The board also issued a research note urging caution in the audits of companies with operations outside the U.S., particularly those from China that have accessed U.S. capital markets through reverse mergers.

 

The Securities and Exchange Commission officially adopted the 2011 U.S. GAAP Financial Reporting Taxonomy for XBRL, an update of the 2009 taxonomy.

 

THE END IS NEAR

As tax season moved into its final phase, the Internal Revenue Service released its 2010 IRS Data Book, revealing, among other things, that the service collected $2.3 trillion in revenue, and processed 230 million returns, with more than 116 million returns filed electronically, and over 70 percent of individual returns.

The service also released details of its 2011 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative for taxpayers with undisclosed offshore accounts, in English and eight foreign languages, including Chinese, Farsi, German, Hindi, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese. (For more on the disclosure initiative, see page 14.)

And it agreed with a report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration that it should increase its examinations of individual tax returns that report losses from rental real estate activity.

 

IN OTHER NEWS

The American Institute of CPAs and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants announced that they have teamed up to work on creating an international credential for management accounting.

 

According to a quarterly survey by the AICPA and the University of North Carolina, CPAs feel better about the economy than at any time since the third quarter of 2007, with 48 percent expressing optimism, up from 28 percent in the last quarter of 2010. And 57 percent were optimistic or very optimistic about the prospects of their own firms.

 

Cash-strapped professional services firm LECG announced plans to transfer a number of practices to other consulting and accounting firms, including WeiserMazars and Grant Thornton. (See M&A Watch, page 28.)

 

Three international accounting associations - Polaris International, Fidunion and IGAF Worldwide - announced their plan to merge this spring, bringing together 385 member firms in 88 countries with annual revenues of over $1.82 billion. The new organization, which will be called IGAF Polaris, includes several Top 100 firms.

 

A Texas jury awarded $1.3 million to two former partners of Houston accounting firm MaloneBailey over its failure to pay amounts owing to them after their separation from the firm, which rejected the verdict and vowed to appeal.

 

Thomson Reuters re-aligned the management reporting lines at a number of its business units, with the result that Roy Martin, who had been CEO of its Tax & Accounting business since 2005, has left the company, and Brian Peccarelli has been named president of the unit.

 

Details of the first administration of the CPA Exam abroad were released: It will be offered in August in Japan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates.

 

A survey of more than 300 chief auditexecutives by Grant Thornton found that 88 percent do not believe that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act should be repealed, though half said that the shifting regulatory landscape poses the greatest threat to their company. The research also found that among those who believe SOX should be repealed, the cost of compliance is the main reason for doing so.

 

TOP 100 UPDATE

CBIZ and Mayer Hoffman McCann reported their final 2010 revenue after our Top 100 Firms report went to press; the firms, which operate in an alternative practice structure, earned $590.60 million, better than our estimate of $575.30, but still down a little over 1 percent from the previous year.

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