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Jun 5, 2013

IRS puts two employees on leave for taking conference gifts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Internal Revenue Service, already battling political scandal and accusations of lavish spending, has put two employees on administrative leave for accepting gifts of food and other items at an agency conference, according to two congressional staff members briefed on the matter.

Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said in a statement: “There was clearly inappropriate behavior involved in this situation, and immediate action is needed.”

Jun 5, 2013
via Tax Break

Essential reading: Calculating Apple’s true U.S. tax rate, and more

Welcome to the top tax and accounting headlines.

 * Calculating Apple’s true U.S. tax rate. Victor Fleischer – The New York Times. One lesson from the Senate hearing about Apple’s offshore tax planning is that figuring out what a multinational company actually pays in taxes is harder than it should be. Link    

* Conservatives’ top five grievances against the IRS. Juliet Eilperin – The Washington Post. The House Ways and Means Committee hearing Tuesday has offered leaders of conservative groups a chance to detail their biggest grievances against the Internal Revenue Service. Link   

Jun 4, 2013

Blocked treaties a concern ahead of tax evasion law -US Treasury

WASHINGTON, June 4 (Reuters) – A lone Republican lawmaker
blocking Senate votes on several tax treaties is a concern, but
won’t stop a new anti-tax evasion law from taking effect in
2014, a U.S. Treasury Department official said on Tuesday.

Republican Senator Rand Paul’s hold on the treaties “is a
concern” isolated to “a few agreements” with foreign
governments, said Jesse Eggert, associate international tax
counsel at Treasury, at a conference.

Jun 4, 2013
via Tax Break

Essential reading: IRS scandal prompts hope for tax reform, and more

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Welcome to the top tax and accounting headlines from Reuters and other sources.

* Some Republicans see IRS troubles as means to a big goal: tax overhaul. Jonathan Weisman – The New York Times. For Congressman Dave Camp, spotlighting the tax-collecting agency — and stoking voter antipathy for it — are ways to build momentum for his plan to rewrite and simplify the entire tax code, a goal he has set for the end of the year. Link 

 * New business group ACT pushes tax overhaul. John McKinnon – The Wall Street Journal. A group of 42 U.S. companies is announcing a potentially powerful new coalition on Tuesday to push for a comprehensive tax overhaul. The group – representing a broad cross-section of both multinational and domestic-focused big businesses – could give a boost to the slow-moving effort on Capitol Hill. Link    

Jun 3, 2013

Insight: IRS has long history of burying non-profits in paperwork

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Internal Revenue Service staff have a long history of discouraging applications for tax-exempt status from controversial groups by burying them in complicated questionnaires, according to former IRS officials. Among other reasons, they said, the tactic was sometimes used to persuade groups to drop their applications so the IRS could avoid making a ruling.

This approach – allegedly used in the recent IRS targeting of Tea Party and other conservative groups – has been around for decades, the officials said, citing lengthy questionnaires sent to applicants including religious and gay-rights organizations and a children’s summer camp group that promotes atheist thinking.

Jun 3, 2013

IRS has long history of burying non-profits in paperwork

WASHINGTON, June 3 (Reuters) – Internal Revenue Service
staff have a long history of discouraging applications for
tax-exempt status from controversial groups by burying them in
complicated questionnaires, according to former IRS officials.
Among other reasons, they said, the tactic was sometimes used to
persuade groups to drop their applications so the IRS could
avoid making a ruling.

This approach – allegedly used in the recent IRS targeting
of Tea Party and other conservative groups – has been around for
decades, the officials said, citing lengthy questionnaires sent
to applicants including religious and gay-rights organizations
and a children’s summer camp group that promotes atheist
thinking.

Jun 3, 2013
via Tax Break

Essential reading: Republican donors drew IRS scrutiny, and more

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Welcome to the top tax and accounting headlines.

 * Donors to Republican group drew IRS scrutiny. John McKinnon – The Wall Street Journal. At the same time the Internal Revenue Service was targeting tea-party groups, the tax agency took the unusual step of trying to impose gift taxes on donors to a prominent conservative advocacy group formed in 2007 to build support for President George W. Bush’s Iraq troop surge. Link    

 * IRS training videos spoof ‘Star Trek,’ Gilligan’s Island’ and ‘Cupid Shuffle.’ Ed O’Keefe – The Washington Post. The Internal Revenue Service is acknowledging that the agency spent tens of millions of dollars in recent years on conferences for thousands of its employees. Link    

Jun 2, 2013

Republican lawmaker says IRS targeting likely led by Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Republican U.S. congressman investigating the Internal Revenue Service’s scrutiny of conservative groups said on Sunday the targeting was likely directed from Washington, a claim quickly rejected by a top Congressional Democrat involved in the probe.

In a move that could jeopardize the bipartisan co-operation that so far has characterized Congress’s IRS investigations, Darrell Issa, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said on CNN that interviews his staff conducted last week with Cincinnati IRS employees indicate these employees were being “directly ordered” from Washington to target Tea Party groups.

May 31, 2013
via Tax Break

Essential reading: EU’s trading tax takes slow road, and more

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A banner featuring a Euro coin at the European Commission headquarters building in Brussels. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Welcome to the top tax and accounting headlines.

 * EU’s trading tax takes slow road. Tom Fairless – The Wall Street Journal. Deep disagreements among 11 European Union states that have pledged to introduce a tax on financial transactions mean the proposal faces delays and could be significantly scaled back, EU diplomats involved in the discussions said on Thursday. Link    

May 30, 2013
via Tax Break

Essential reading: Evidence that tax breaks favor the rich, and more

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Welcome to the top tax and accounting headlines.

* Richest 20 percent get half the overall savings from U.S. tax breaks, CBO says. Lori Montgomery – The Washington Post. The 10 largest breaks in the U.S. tax code will save taxpayers more than $900 billion this year, with just over half the benefits flowing to the richest 20 percent of households, congressional budget analysts said Wednesday. Link 

* Swiss bow to pressure for more bank data. Laura Saunders and John Letzing – The Wall Street Journal. The U.S. government won a victory against tax cheats with offshore bank accounts after Swiss officials agreed Wednesday to let banks release information on the overall holdings of their American clients. Link