Representatives from AICPA

Hammer Awards Highlight Profession

T he Vice-Presidents National Performance Review Awards—commonly called the Hammer Awards—honor those who help "build a government that works better and costs less." Recently, three such awards were presented to representatives from the AICPA employee benefits taxation committee for their help in drafting regulations for the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

Nell Hennessy, Deputy Executive Director and Chief Negotiator for the PBGC, presented these awards at the AICPA Employee Benefit Plans Conference to Gary Cvach, a former member of the employee benefit taxation committee and partner in the KPMG Peat Marwick National Tax Practice; Lisa Germano, past chairwoman of the employee benefits taxation committee and president and chief executive officer of the Actuarial Benefits and Design Co.; and Lisa Winton, AICPA staff aide to the employee benefits taxation committee. These three recipients worked for six months on a PBGC committee with representatives from other organizations to develop proposed regulations relating to reporting requirements. By participating in this negotiated rulemaking strategy, the committee helped ensure the draft regulations were very close to the final ones.

The awards are known as the Hammer Awards to commemorate Vice-President Al Gore smashing an ashtray that cost the government $700—symbolizing the elimination of government waste.

Sherlock Holmes, CPA

A ccountants work as auditors, tax advisers, controllers and government officials. Some also work as novelists. Three recent mystery novels highlight the exciting, dangerous world of accounting—and educate the reader, too.

Murder in Tahoe (Casino Style) is written by David Hannuksela, a CPA who was a controller for several hotel/casinos in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, where the novel takes place. As readers try to solve a murder mystery, they get a behind-the-scenes view of a casino and are treated to the details of the special financial controls required by gambling operations. For example, bags of coins from slot machines are actually weighed before the coins themselves are counted, as an extra control. To order, write to Mystery Book Publishers, P.O. Box 1806, Bothell, Washington 98041-1806. The price is $8.95.

The Rose Engagement is published by Kent Information Services, better known for its accounting publications. Authors Richard E. Brown, a former legislative state auditor of Kansas, and Beverly A. Brown, who has held several accounting positions in industry, bring their knowledge to bear in a story about an audit of the White House. Auditor Paul Sandler finds that "audit tests reveal exceptions that could indicate widespread illegal acts" according to the jacket copy. The book has a foreword by Thomas P. Kelley, CPA, who was group vice-president—professional, at the American Institute of CPAs. To order, call Kent at 800-834-1996. The price is $12.

D. Larry Crumbley, professor of accounting at Louisiana State University, has added title number eight to a series of mysteries designed to teach his students as they entertain. Nonprofit Sleuths , by Crumbley, Gary Giroux and Bob Myers, mixes "murder, audits, dreams, GAAP, roller coasters, scuba diving and unrestricted funds" according to promotional copy. Crumbleys mysteries generally revolve around forensic accounting issues. To order, call Dame Publications at 713-995-1000. The price is $21.95. For more information on Crumbleys books, visit his Web site:


Year-end tax planning and what’s new for 2016

Practitioners need to consider several tax planning opportunities to review with their clients before the end of the year. This report offers strategies for individuals and businesses, as well as recent federal tax law changes affecting this year’s tax returns.


News quiz: Retirement planning, tax practice, and fraud risk

Recent reports focused on a survey that gauges the worries about retirement among CPA financial planners’ clients, a suit that affects tax practitioners, and a guide that offers advice on fraud risk. See how much you know with this short quiz.


Bolster your data defenses

As you weather the dog days of summer, it’s a good time to make sure your cybersecurity structure can stand up to the heat of external and internal threats. Here are six steps to help shore up your systems.