* Block, HSBC to Settle RAL Lawsuit: H&R Block and HSBC Taxpayer Financial Services Inc. reached a tentative agreement to settle a 1998 Chicago class-action lawsuit related to refund anticipation loans.
Block said that the settlement, if approved, would end all RAL-related class-action litigation against it. The 1998 suit alleges that Block received referral fees from the issuing bank and misled customers about finance charges on the controversial RALs, which provide access to fast cash by providing loans against a taxpayer's anticipated refund amount.
The proposed settlement, filed in an Illinois District Court, would cover all refund anticipation loans that were funded by various lenders through H&R Block, as well as many RALs funded by Beneficial National Bank, Household Bank f.s.b., and various lenders with which HSBC Taxpayer Financial Services had agreements through other tax preparers from 1987 through the end of the 2005 tax season. The settlement class would include more than 28 million consumers.
The proposed settlement provides for $110 million in cash and $250 million in H&R Block tax preparation coupons to be distributed to all class members. It would also require H&R Block to continue to use a six-step disclosure process outlining all tax filing options and costs and the time required to receive refunds with each option for RAL clients at Block offices.
The settlement must be approved by District Judge Elaine Bucklo. Bucklo refused to approve a $25 million cash settlement agreement in the case back in 2003.
* STF's Ter Bush Joins LexisNexis: STF Services Corp. president Charles F. Ter Bush has left the Syracuse, N.Y.-based tax forms company to join LexisNexis as vice president for the tax and accounting market segment.
In his new role, Ter Bush will provide expertise on tax and accounting product and content development for LexisNexis Group, and will help drive market strategy.
Prior to joining STF, a subsidiary of the Bureau of National Affairs, as vice president in 2002, Ter Bush worked for over 10 years at tax and research software giant CCH Inc. in a variety of roles, including strategic planning manager and director of marketing for the CCH Federal and State Tax Group. He also practiced tax accounting with Arthur Andersen.
* IRS Simplifies Change to Alternate Book Value Method: The newly issued Revenue Procedure 2005-28 makes it easier for some taxpayers to adopt a simpler method of allocating and apportioning interest expenses in determining their net U.S. and foreign-source income for foreign tax credit purposes.
Taxpayers generally may elect to measure assets for purposes of apportioning interest expense between U.S. and foreign sources under the tax book value method or the fair market value method. Temporary and proposed regulations issued in March 2004 provide taxpayers with an elective alternative approach, the alternative tax book value method, which permits a taxpayer to determine the basis of its U.S. and foreign assets for interest allocation purposes without incurring the disparities that may arise under the regular tax book value method.
Taxpayers must obtain Internal Revenue Service consent to change to a different method. Rev. Proc. 2005-28 provides temporary rules granting taxpayers automatic consent. The revenue procedure authorizes taxpayers to switch from the fair market value method to the alternative tax book value method during the first two years in which the alternative tax book value election can be made.
* IRS to Host Forums for Tax Professionals: The first of six three-day Internal Revenue Service Nationwide Tax Forums begins June 28. Among the topics covered are like-kind exchanges, estate and trust planning, identity theft, retirement plans for small businesses, alternative minimum tax and recent tax law changes. Tax professionals are invited to bring unresolved cases or questions to IRS representatives for on-site resolution. In addition, IRS staff will be on hand to help attendees complete the IRS e-file application and register for e-Services products.
The locations and dates for the tax forums are: San Francisco, June 28-30; Houston, July 12-14; Atlanta, July 26-28; New York City, Aug. 9-11; Las Vegas, Aug. 23-25; and Chicago, Aug. 30-Sept. 1. The fees for the 2005 forums are $119 per person per city for pre-registration and $259 for late registration.
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