News, notes, and items of interest.


Short takes, notes and items of interest

Citing Syracuse
The Securities and Exchange Commission issued a cease and desist order against Syracuse, New York, for violating the antifraud provisions of federal securities laws in connection with municipal securities the city issued in December 1995 and February 1996. According to the SEC, the city knowingly and recklessly misrepresented its financial condition and described certain summary financial information as audited without disclosing that some of it was derived from financial statements that had been issued with qualified opinions. For more information, see the SEC Web site at and hotlink to the Enforcement Division page.

Baby and Bathwater Out by 2000
Senator Lauch Faircloth (R-N.C.) introduced a bill (S 1555) that would do away with both the current tax code and the Internal Revenue Service by the end of the year 2000. The bill would provide for a private-sector body to oversee the agency until it is dissolved. The bill would create a new tax structure, similar to a flat tax, with a new "low rate for all Americans."

Familiar Face at IFAC
Ronald S. Cohen, former American Institute of CPAs board chairman and partner of Crowe, Chizek and Co. in South Bend, Indiana, has been elected to the governing council of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC). The council determines IFAC's policies and oversees the implementation of the strategies and operations of its task forces and committees. Cohen will serve for a two-and-a-half-year term.

Fast Facts on Benefits
The Employee Benefit Research Institute released some key facts on 1996 employer spending on benefits: Employers spent more than $4.4 trillion in total compensation. Benefits made up more than $786 billion of this. In the 1980s, the average annual growth rate in employer spending on all benefits was 8%. In the 1990s, this rate fell to 4.9%

Go West, Young Accountant
Looking for a place to open a practice or business? Census Bureau figures show rapid growth in the West. Arizona, California, Nevada and Texas are home to 8 of the 10 fastest growing cities with more than 100,000 people. The number-one city is Henderson, Nevada, with 88.4% growth from 1990 to 1996. The largest city on the list, Las Vegas, grew 46% in the same period.


Native American Businesses
According to the Census Bureau, Native American-owned businesses increased 93% between 1987 and 1992. The rate of increase for all U.S. companies during this period was 26%.

A CPA With Heart
Accountants for the Public Interest gave its National Volunteer Achievement Award for Community Service to G. Jerry Chiocca, director in charge of accounting and auditing engagements for government clients at Rachlin Cohen & Holtz, headquartered in Miami, Florida. Chiocca is a member of several local chambers of commerce and an associate member for the Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties League of Cities in Florida.

Companies With a Vision
Controller magazine gave its first annual Vision Awards at the American Institute of CPAs fall National Industry Conference. The awards recognize outstanding achievement in business performance reporting. The winners were Northrup Grumman Corp. Military Aircraft Division ($1 billion + category), Disney's Contemporary Resort ($100 million to $1 billion category) and American Petroleum Institute ($20 million to $100 million category). AICPA President Barry Melancon was one of the judges.

Burning the Midnight Oil
According to an Accountemps survey, 76% of executives polled said they worked more hours than they did five years ago. Only 5% worked fewer hours, 18% worked the same and 1% didn't know or had no answer.

Go Team!
Forget football; the real competitive excitement took place indoors as the University of Denver and the College of William and Mary won the 1997 Arthur Andersen Tax Challenge. Denver won the graduate competition and William and Mary the undergraduate. The Challenge tests students' knowledge of federal tax law and planning skills. The winning teams each received $20,000 in scholarship funds from the Andersen Foundation; the second- and third-place teams received $10,000 and $5,000 in scholarship grants.


©1998 AICPA


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