House Approves Taxpayer Assistance and Simplification Act

The House passed the Taxpayer Assistance and Simplification Act of 2008 by a vote of 238 to 179. The bill repeals the IRS Private Debt Collector program and eliminates special requirements for individuals to keep detailed records of calls made on employer-provided cell phones, stops federal contractors from using foreign subsidiaries to evade Social Security and other employment taxes, along with other provisions.

Supreme Court Unanimous in Two Tax Cases

The Supreme Court has issued unanimous decisions in two tax cases: MeadWestvaco Corp. v. Illinois Department of Revenue, and U.S. v. Clintwood Elkhorn Mining Co. In the MeadWestvaco case, the Supreme Court vacated and remanded the decision of the Illinois appellate court, which had allowed the state of Illinois to tax a capital gain realized by Mead, an Ohio-based subsidiary of MeadWestvaco, when Mead sold its Lexis business division. In the Clintwood case, the court found that taxpayers need to file for refunds of taxes that have been unlawfully assessed within the proper time periods.

IRS Issues Draft Instructions for Form 990

The Internal Revenue Service has released draft instructions for the redesigned Form 990 for tax-exempt organizations and is asking for comments by June 1. The draft Form 990 instructions are on the tax-exempt organizations part of the IRS Web site. Comments on the instructions should be e-mailed to the IRS at Form990Revision@irs.gov.

SEC Bars WorldCom Auditors

Two former Arthur Andersen auditors have settled charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission accusing them of failing to exercise due professional care and skepticism in 2001 audits of WorldCom. Former Andersen audit partners Kenneth M. Avery and Melvin Dick submitted offers of settlement agreeing to be barred from appearing or practicing before the SEC as accountants. Avery will be able to apply to be reinstated in three years and Dick, who was the lead audit partner, in four years.

PCAOB Issues Grant Thornton Report

The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board has issued its annual inspection report on Grant Thornton. The report noted several deficiencies that the firm has been addressing.

Stonefield Appoints Advisory Services Leader

California CPA firm Stonefield Josephson named Sidney P. Blum principal in charge of advisory services. He will head the firm's valuation, litigation, forensic, internal audit, contract compliance and Sarbanes-Oxley 404 services. Blum has more than 20 years of accounting experience, including 12 years at KPMG and Ernst & Young.

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