Short takes, notes and items of interest

Take It to the Limit
¤ In 1999, the Social Security wage base will rise from $68,400 to $72,600. The amount that can be earned before benefits are cut has been increased to $15,500 for those age 65 to 69 and to $9,600 for those under 65. The cost of living adjustment is 1.3%.

World Champions
¤ IFAC has published a collection of what it considers to be the best financial and management accounting articles of 1998 from a variety of sources. Number one on the list is Beyond BudgetingBreaking Through the Barrier to the Third Wave, which argues for a change in the management accounting model now that the world has passed from the industrial to the information age. The collection can be downloaded from or ordered by calling IFAC at 212-286-9344.

Software Revenue Recognition a Done Deal
¤ FASB gave a green light to AcSEC to issue an SOP, Modification of SOP 97-2 , Software Revenue Recognition, With Respect to Certain Transactions , with a few changes. The new statement covers vendor-specific objective evidence of the fair value of the various elements in a multiple-element arrangement. (For details, see 97-2 May Be Modified , JofA, Oct.98, page 13.)

Auditors Around the World
¤ IFAC has issued an exposure draft of a proposed International Standard on Auditing, External Confirmations . The standard would provide guidance on when and how to use confirmations in an audit and would require the auditor to decide whether using confirmations in an engagement is the best way to gather audit evidence. The ED can be downloaded from or ordered by calling IFAC at 212-286-9344. Comments are due by March 31.

The White House Boosts E-Commerce
¤ President Clinton said his administration would continue to promote secure online transactions for consumers and emphasized his belief that the Internet should be a free-trade zone with minimal taxation and regulation.

IASC Down the Road
¤ Comments are invited on Shaping IASC for the Future , a proposed change to the organizations structure. Should IASC form partnerships with national standard setters? Should the board be expanded to include representatives from more countries? Should the current advisory council be replaced by a board of trustees? The IASC is trying to answer these and other questions. Copies of the discussion paper are available online at . Comments are due by April 30.


The IRS Gives Money, Too
¤ Its hard to believe, but nearly 100,000 people are owed an average of $690 each. Their refund checks came back to the IRS as undeliverable. Taxpayers who are owed refunds but havent received them should call the IRS at 800-829-1040. They can avoid this problem in the future by filling out Form 8822, Change of Address .

The Fed Gets Serious
¤ In mid-December, Zia New Mexico Bank found itself with a 10-day deadline to appoint a manager to supervise its Y2K readiness and a 30-day deadline to present a written plan for coping with Y2K risks. The Federal Reserve threatened to close the bank if it couldnt meet these deadlines. Meanwhile, the nations central bank plans to have extra cash on hand as 1999 winds up so it can quickly resupply banks facing large withdrawals from customers nervous about possible Y2K glitches.

The Big Board Stays in the Big Apple
¤ New York City has tentatively offered the New York Stock Exchange $600 million to remain in the city and not relocate to the other side of the Hudson River. The NYSE has been a fixture of lower Manhattan since 1817, and has been in its current building since 1903. It now plans to move into new, larger quarters, also in lower Manhattan, in the next few years. However, some are wondering if online trading may eventually eliminate the need for a physical trading floor altogether.

Soft Dollars, Hard Rules
¤ The SEC has issued a report on soft dollar practices among broker-dealers, investment advisers and mutual funds. Soft dollars are the money a broker-dealer receives from commissions and uses to pay for research, for example. The SEC requires advisers to make disclosures, but the new report says these disclosures may not have been detailed enough and recommends new policies. The whole report is available at .

Extra! Extra!
¤ More people than ever are going online to get the latest news. A recent survey of consumers revealed that 12% log on for breaking news, as opposed to 9% who rely on radio and 2% who turn to newspapers.


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