YOU PROBABLY NOTICED

Tax season started, though as we went to press it appeared that Congress wasn't aware of it, since it had yet to do anything about the payroll tax deduction, or the host of extenders awaiting a thumbs-up or -down.

The Internal Revenue Service, on the other hand, showed that it was definitely aware of it, giving tax-exempt organizations with January and February filing due dates an extension until March 20, 2012, because the part of its e-filing system that handles TEOs' returns will be offline for the first two months of the year. It also reportedly backed away from plans to heavily penalize U.S. citizens and dual citizens living in Canada who haven't paid their taxes.

On the preparer registration front, the service released a Candidate Information Bulletin to let those who will need to take the Registered Tax Return Preparer Test know what to expect on test day. The bulletin and additional test materials are available in the Tax Pros section of the IRS Web site.

It also released the standards for companies to become approved providers of continuing education in Revenue Procedure 2012-12. Certain preparers will eventually be required to get 15 hours of CE a year to keep their PTINs up to date.

Finally, looking forward, the IRS released Notice 2012-01 with the standard mileage rates for 2012: 55.5 cents per mile for business miles driven, 23 cents for medical or moving purposes, and 14 cents in service of charitable organizations. (For more tax season news and strategies, see the Spotlight on page 6, and our Tax Season Kickoff Special Report starting on page 13.)

 

REGULATION GOES ON ...

... though not always on the timetable you might have expected: The Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it would delay its eagerly anticipated decision for a few more months on whether or not to incorporate International Financial Reporting Standards into the U.S. financial reporting system. SEC Chief Accountant James Kroeker said in a speech that his staff will "take a measure of a few additional months" to finish.

The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board cautioned auditors to beware of the risks of material misstatements in the financial statements they audit in today's volatile economic environment. Separately, the board struck a deal with Dutch regulators to carry out joint inspections of auditing firms.

The Financial Accounting Standards Board and the International Accounting Standards Board issued common disclosure requirements to help investors better understand the impact of offsetting, or netting, on a company's financial position. The boards also made tentative decisions in the areas of leasing and the impairment of financial instruments such as bank loans.

The Governmental Accounting Standards Board proposed that state and local governments should include five-year projections of their cash inflows and outflows, and financial obligations, to supplement their financial statements. Comments on the proposals are due by March 16, 2012.

 

BUSY FIRMS

As expected, the end of 2011 saw a flurry of mergers between firms of all sizes, including, as we went to press, the expansion of New Jersey-based Top 100 Firm WithumSmith+Brown across the Hudson through the acquisition of New York City-based EisnerLubin. The merger adds 50 people, including nine partners, and approximately $11.6 million in revenue. The deal was facilitated by Whitman Business Advisors, starting with a lunch meeting about a year ago. (For more on the many other end-of-the-year mergers, see our expanded M&A Watch, page 31.)

KPMG International reported a total of $22.7 billion in global revenue for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2011, representing a 10.1 percent increase in annual revenues in U.S. dollar terms, or 6.2 percent in terms of local currencies. KPMG claimed strong growth across all geographic regions, particularly in the firm's priority high-growth markets. India grew 25 percent and Brazil 22 percent in terms of the local currency.

BDO International reported that the worldwide revenue of its network of accounting firms increased 7.36 percent for the year ended Sept. 30, 2011, to $5.67 billion, mainly due to growth in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The Middle East region was the fastest-growing part of the world for BDO, with an increase in combined fee income of 31 percent, followed by growth of 21 percent in the Asia Pacific region.

CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business, launched a new partner program for value-added resellers to offer CCH indirect tax software integrated with most mid-market ERP systems.

The American Institute of CPAs signed a memorandum of understanding with two major Brazilian accounting organizations to lay the groundwork for offering the CPA Exam in South America next year.

Accounting Today is in the final stages of collecting data for its annual Top 100 Firms and Regional Leaders listings. If your firm should be considered for either list and you haven't heard from us, contact us at AcToday@SourceMedia.com.

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