Senate confirmed on April 3 a second term for SEC Chairman
Arthur Levitt. If he completes this five-year term, he will be
the longest serving chairman in SEC history. Levitt has been a
champion of investor-friendly initiatives, including plain
English prospectuses for investors and more transparent
disclosure by public companies. His current term ends June 5.
¤ According to Grant Thornton,
more states are aggressively pursuing unclaimed property. Most
companies hold some amount of unclaimed property, such as
uncashed checks, credit vouchers and unredeemed coupons.
States have the right (known as escheat ) to
transfer custody of such property from the holder to the state
until the rightful owner claims it. Depending on the state,
penalties, interest and administrative fees will be levied
against companies that do not report unclaimed property to the
state. According to Grant Thorntons Elizabeth Burton,
companies should develop a concise policy for the treatment of
unclaimed property and file current reports in the states in
which they do business.
None of Your Business
¤ A recent appellate
court decision may prevent the IRS from gaining access to
documents prepared in anticipation of a lawsuit. The Sequa
Corp. hired Arthur Andersen to advise it on the tax
consequences of merging two of its subsidiaries. The IRS
requested Andersens accounting memorandum. Sequa refused to
give it up, claiming the document was protected under the
work-product doctrine of Federal Rule of Procedure 26(b)(3).
The Second Circuit Court sided with Sequa ( U.S.
v. Adlman , CA-2, 2-13-98).
The Leaders of the Pack
¤ The Public
Accounting Report (PAR) has come out with its annual
list of the top 100 public accounting firms for 1997. The
majority of firms on the list grew in revenues between 1996
and 1997. Arthur Andersen continues to lead with more than
$4.5 billion in U.S. net revenue, a 16.86% increase over the
previous year. Anyone interested in a copy of the report
should call PAR at 800-926-7926.
FASB Looks at Mortgages
¤ On April 10, the FASB released an ED,
Accounting for Mortgage-Backed Securities and Certain Other
Interests Retained after the Securitization of Mortgage
Loans Held for Sale by a Mortgage Banking Enterprise ,
to change the way mortgage banking entities account for
certain securities. Despite the long title, the statement is
relatively short and had only a 45-day comment period (as
opposed to the usual 60 or more days), which ended on May 26.
The statement, which would amend Statement no. 65,
Accounting for Certain Mortgage Banking Activities ,
would become effective on issuance.
George Washington Rules!
¤ The George
Washigton University School of Business and Public Management
invited students from 20 top business schools to participate
in an MBA case competition concentrating on not-for-profit
organizations (NPO's). Each school conducted a case analysis
and prepared recommendations for organizational strategies.
The home team won this year's competition, which focused on
the Habitat for Humanity International. Funded by the KMPG
Peat Marwick Foundation, the competition is the only one in
the United States focusing on NPO's.
NPO Accountant to Head NASBA
¤ The NASBA
nominating committee selected Dennis P. Spackman, CPA, as
1998-99 vice-chairman. The holder of that position is in line
for the organizations chairmanship in the following year.
Spackman is chief accountant of the Mormon Church and a past
chairman of the Utah Board of Accountancy.
When CPA Isnt Enough
¤ For the student who
wants to add PhD to his or her CPA, the Deloitte & Touche
Foundation grants 10 doctoral students $20,000 each over a
two-year period. The foundation has sponsored these awards
since 1956. Students interested in applying for one of the
1999 fellowships should write to the Deloitte & Touche
Foundation, 10 Westport Road, Wilton, Connecticut 06897, or
contact their schools accounting departments.
Accounting Pioneer Dies
¤ Marianne Burge,
64, the first woman partner at Price Waterhouse (in 1973),
died in New York in February. An authority on international
tax issues, Burge wrote on that topic for the Journal of
Accountancy . In 1993, she retired as managing partner
of the firms international tax services practice.