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The Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, ending months of speculation and creating significant business opportunities for accountants. 

 

The Office of the Chief Accountant of the Securities and Exchange Commission published its final staff report on the Work Plan for International Financial Reporting Standards. The report weighed the pros and cons of adopting IFRS in the U.S. (with the cons coming out slightly ahead), but offered no final recommendations, and came hedged in warnings that its release in no way indicated that the SEC has made any decision. The International Accounting Standards Board responded with some dismay.

 

The SEC named Paul Beswick acting chief accountant in the Office of the Chief Accountant, succeeding James Kroeker, who left in late July. As deputy chief accountant, Beswick worked closely with Kroeker in preparing the Work Plan for IFRS, and is credited with coining the word "condorsement."

 

Top 100 Firms Plante Moran and Blackman Kallick have merged, creating a 2,000-person firm with 22 offices in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio, and three offices internationally. Combined revenue for the firms in 2011 was approximately $375 million. The combined firm will be known as Plante Moran in about six months.

 

The Financial Accounting Standards Board said that it is taking a different approach than the International Accounting Standards Board in the impairment of financial instruments after a joint meeting in late July that ended in outspoken disagreement. At the conclusion of the meeting, IASB Chairman Hans Hoogervorst told FASB Chairman Leslie Seidman that he was worried the entire effort might unravel after three years of work and three separate attempts to get the standards right. 

 

The International Accounting Standards Board issued a request for information seeking suggestions on what amendments need to be made to IFRS for Small and Medium-sized Entities. The deadline for responses is Nov. 30, 2012.

 

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 marked its 10th anniversary. 

 

Public companies saw a 5 percent increase in the fees they paid to external auditors last year, while private companies reported a 7 percent rise, according to an annual survey. 

 

STICKS, CARROTS

The Internal Revenue Service started sending out warning letters to paid tax preparers who failed to submit Form 8867 checklists with tax returns that claim the Earned Income Tax Credit. The IRS added that penalties will be assessed for 2012 returns that lack Form 8867. The IRS is offering an online EITC Due Diligence Training Module to help avoid the penalties. The IRS began requiring tax preparers to file a due diligence checklist with all claims for the EITC at the beginning of this year, to discourage fraudulent claims.

On a kinder, gentler note, the service announced that victims of Tropical Storm Debby might qualify for relief from certain deadlines, which have been postponed until Aug. 22, 2012. It also provided information on how the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act will be administered; announced that renewal of the qualified intermediary agreement for QIs whose renewal is expiring Dec. 31, 2012, has been extended under Notice 2011-53 until Dec. 31, 2013; and released new guidance on tip income in Revenue Ruling 2012-18, and on transfers of intangible property abroad in Notice 2012-39.

 

National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson has identified the priority issues the Taxpayer Advocate Service will focus on during the upcoming fiscal year in the first of her two annual reports to Congress. Among her concerns: the taxpayer impact of expired and expiring tax provisions; the rise in tax fraud and tax-related identity theft; and attempts to limit her office's formal input on issues that affect taxpayer rights and taxpayer burdens. 

 

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration released a number of reports. One suggested that the IRS project to assess tax preparers by visiting them in person had been correctly implemented, but its effectiveness remains to be determined. While preparers generally had a positive view of the visits, 70 percent of respondents to a TIGTA survey said they would not change the way they prepared returns as a result of the visit. Another report said that the IRS needs to improve the testing of its Customer Account Data Engine, while a third said that the IRS did not always comply with statutory requirements when seizing taxpayer property -- though it did not identify any instances in which taxpayers were adversely affected by the violations.

 

The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board held a daylong meeting to gauge reaction to its proposal for mandatory audit firm rotation, in which many of the comments seemed more supportive of the concept.

Separately, the PCAOB entered into an agreement with the Spanish audit firm regulator to allow joint inspections to begin this year for firms in Spain and the U.S.

 

The Governmental Accounting Standards Board approved two new standards: Statement No. 67, Financial Reporting for Pension Plans, revises existing guidance for the financial reports of most pension plans, while Statement No. 68, Accounting and Financial Reporting for Pensions, revises and establishes new financial reporting requirements for most governments that provide their employees with pension benefits.

 

IN OTHER NEWS

Top Six firm McGladrey LLP is relocating its corporate office from Bloomington, Minn., to Chicago, making it the biggest CPA firm there. It plans to add 300 to 500 employees to its new headquarters over the next five years.

 

The Maryland Association of CPAs launched a new Center for Transparency, Performance, Management and Accountability using XBRL, a collaborative community for exploring new ways to use structured financial data.

 

Accounting firm association IGAF Polarisis now PrimeGlobal, announcing a new name, identity and Web site.

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