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1. 2014 tax software survey  

BY Paul Bonner
For the second year in a row, the beginning of income tax filing season was delayed. This year, the delay was due to a 16-day partial government shutdown in October 2013 that resulted in a Jan. 31 start date for the IRS to accept electronically filed returns. Other complicating factors included the advent of the net investment income tax, the new 39.6% top tax rate bracket, and the return of the itemized deduction limitation and personal exemption phaseout.Software vendors nonetheless managed to roll out their updated versions on time, and users were generally satisfied with the results

2. Learn from data to improve audits   CPEDirect

BY The AICPA Peer Review Team
To help audit firms develop more-focused remedies for their accounting and auditing practices, the AICPA Peer Review team has been collecting data since December 2012 on Matters for Further Consideration (MFCs). An MFC form is used by peer reviewers to electronically capture “matters” detected during a peer review that are the most granular level of information indicating accounting and auditing deficiencies.The AICPA Peer Review team is using the data to identify problem areas in order to provide firms with tools to increase audit quality.

3. Audit regulators see positive signs   CPEDirect

BY Ken Tysiac
Jay Hanson and Lewis Ferguson bring different perspectives to their duties as board members of the PCAOB. Hanson, a CPA, has personal experience auditing public companies. Ferguson, a lawyer who specialized in securities and corporate governance matters, brings legal expertise and a global perspective enhanced by his work as chairman of the International Forum of Independent Audit Regulators (IFIAR).During a recent conversation with the JofA at the PCAOB offices in Washington, Hanson and Ferguson shared their perspectives on a variety of issues facing the auditing profession.

4. Socially awkward   CPEDirect

BY Theresa F. Henry, CPA, Ph.D., David A. Rosenthal, Ph.D. and Rob R. Weitz, Ph.D.
In November 2013, SEC Chair Mary Jo White questioned whether investors could project a company’s future potential from “unique financial or operational metrics” that may not be an indicator of future profitability. These comments followed Twitter’s initial public offering (IPO), which raised $1.82 billion through the planned sale of 70 million shares at $26 per share.

5. 11 tips to optimize QuickBooks reporting  

BY J. Carlton Collins, CPA
Paraphrasing the Kieso, Weygandt, and Warfield textbook Intermediate Accounting, the point of an accounting system is to summarize voluminous data to produce financial reports that management can use to run the business. Despite the textbook’s position, it seems that many QuickBooks users have missed this message as they appear to use the product for little more than getting money in and out the door (via invoices and checks).

6. ERISA: 40 years later  

BY Rebecca J. Miller, CPA, Robert A. Lavenberg, CPA, J.D. and Ian A. MacKay, CPA, CGMA
Forty years ago, Congress passed landmark legislation to protect workers’ pensions from abuses. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which President Gerald Ford signed into law on Labor Day, Sept. 2, 1974, greatly expanded the federal government’s role in regulating private-sector retirement plans and made the government the guarantor of private pensions by creating the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.

7. Success-based fees and milestone payments   CPEDirect

BY Alistair M. Nevius
When taxpayers incur costs that relate to an acquisition or restructuring, they generally must capitalize any costs incurred to facilitate (i.e., investigate or otherwise pursue) the transaction (Regs. Sec. 1.263(a)-5). When fees paid to service providers are contingent upon the successful closing of a transaction, taxpayers can use a facts-and-circumstances test or a safe harbor to determine what portion of the fees are deemed to “facilitate” that transaction (Rev.

8. Rules for written tax advice finalized  

BY Sally P. Schreiber, J.D.
Circular 230 final regs. make ubiquitous email disclaimer no longer necessary.The IRS issued final regulations under Circular 230, Regulations Governing Practice Before the Internal Revenue Service (31 C.F.R. Part 10), on the rules for practitioners to provide written tax advice and certain other related provisions, adopting the proposed regulations (REG-138367-06) issued in September 2012 with some modifications.The new rules withdraw the covered opinion rules in Circular 230, Section 10.35, which were widely considered unworkable, and replace them with one standard for written tax advice in Circular 230, Section 10.37.

9. Supreme Court sets standard for IRS summons challenges  

BY Sally P. Schreiber, J.D.
A unanimous decision overturns the Eleventh Circuit and harmonizes with other circuits on the threshold for showing an improper summons motive.The U.S. Supreme Court vacated and remanded a decision of the Eleventh Circuit in which the appeals court had held that a bare allegation of improper motive entitles a person objecting to an IRS summons to examine the responsible officials.

10. Madoff account value must be determined at trial  

BY Charles J. Reichert, CPA
The IRS is denied summary judgment on an estate’s valuation of its account in an infamous Ponzi scheme.Whether an account managed by Madoff Investments or its claimed holdings are considered property included in a gross estate and whether a willing buyer or seller of the account could reasonably know or foresee before its collapse that the account was part of a Ponzi scheme are disputed material facts that should be determined at trial, the Tax Court held.
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