The board of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) approves changes to independence rules in the group’s code of ethics. The revised provisions lay out a conceptual framework that addresses factors threatening auditor independence as well as steps auditors can take to preserve their integrity. The new rules apply to assurance reports issued on or after December 31, 2004, but IFAC encourages earlier application. ( )

The International Accounting Standards Board announces two exposure drafts. One, from the trustees of the IASC foundation, proposes changes related to its standing interpretations committee, and the other recommends revisions in the preface to international financial reporting standards. Comments are due by February 15. ( ; )

IFAC issues a proposed information technology (IT) outsourcing guideline for senior executives and their advisers, including accountants. It shows how organizations can use IT subcontracting to manage their assets more effectively. Comments are due by February 28. ( )

Five new International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSASs) from IFAC address leases, events after the reporting date, disclosure and presentation of financial instruments, investment property and property, plant and equipment. At the same time, IFAC releases an exposure draft—ED 22, Definition of a Segment: Amendment to the Definition Proposed in ED 17, Segment Reporting—on which comments are due by February 28. ( )


Amid ongoing turbulence in the equity and debt markets, Paul F. Roye, director of the SEC’s investment management division, warns investment companies—also known as mutual funds—against laying off essential compliance personnel to cut costs. U.S. mutual funds’ combined assets climbed 3.1% to $6.6 trillion at the beginning of October, says the Investment Company Institute, a trade group. But while the gain surprisingly took place in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, it did little to reverse the extended downward trend during which total fund assets dropped by 5% from December 2000. ( ; )


The U.S. Senate signs into law an extension through November 1, 2003, of the Internet Tax Freedom Act’s moratorium on state or local taxation of electronic commerce. The temporary ban does not affect Internet taxes in place before October 1, 1998. ( )


International corporate and securities legal expert Alan L. Beller becomes director of the SEC’s division of corporation finance, where he will lead efforts to enhance corporate disclosure and improve the efficiency of the registration process for securities issuers. He also will serve as senior counselor to the commission, a newly created position through which the SEC hopes to make maximum use of his diverse experience. ( )

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) says on April 3 it will present “Internal Auditing and Outsourcing”—the last of three telephone seminars on auditing for bankers, auditors, examiners and consultants. Tape recordings of the earlier seminars, “Risk Assessment and Internal Controls” and “Work Papers and Audit Committee Reporting,” are available, as this one ultimately will be. Interested parties can obtain more information from the OCC at its Web site ( ) or by phone (800-775-7654).

Steven A. Kandarian, a former investment banker, becomes executive director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. ( )

The Treasury’s Office of Thrift Supervision gets a new director, James E. Gilleran, a former banking regulator. ( )


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.