Essential reading: Mall landlords battle tax, Groupon shifts board amid accounting issues, and more

May 2, 2012

A padlock on a closed shop in a Colorado mall REUTERS/Rick Wilking

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

* Mall landlords engage in taxing battle. Kris Hudson and Stu Woo – The Wall Street Journal. U.S. shopping-center owners, smarting from high vacancies partly due to the rise in Internet shopping, are throwing their weight behind federal bills aimed at requiring online retailers to collect sales tax. At the same time, some of the biggest mall owners also are gaining traction in their efforts in individual states to squeeze sales tax out of the world’s largest online retailer— Inc. Seven states have reached pacts with Amazon to collect sales tax, with Nevada and Texas joining the list last week. Five more are in talks on similar deals. Link

* Groupon replaces Schultz, Efrusy on board. Alistair Barr – Reuters. Groupon Inc (GRPN.O) appointed two new directors on Monday and said Starbucks Corp (SBUX.O) Chief Executive Howard Schultz and venture capitalist Kevin Efrusy were leaving the board as the company tries to address criticism of its accounting practices. The world’s largest daily deals company came under renewed fire in March after revising its fourth-quarter financial results and admitting to a “material weakness” in its financial statements, months after its high-profile IPO. Groupon’s audit committee was criticized because some members are busy executives who may not have enough time to devote to fixing the company’s accounting problems. Link

* Japan could face ‘day of reckoning’ if tax plans fail: Moody’s. Rie Ishiguro – Reuters. Japan could face “the day of reckoning” sooner than expected if the government fails to raise the sales tax and investors demand higher returns on government bonds, Moody’s Investors Service said on Wednesday, keeping up the pressure on Tokyo to enact tax reform bills. Facing snowballing debt, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is struggling to preserve party unity and push through a contentious plan to double the 5 percent sales tax by 2015, with opposition parties that control the parliament’s upper house refusing to cooperate. Link

* Paul Hogan finally settles tax case in Australia. Larry Rohter – The New York Times. After eight years, the Australian actor Paul Hogan, best known for his “Crocodile Dundee” movies, has resolved his dispute with the Australian authorities, who said he and his former manager, John Cornell, owed $156 million in unpaid taxes and penalties dating to the 1980s heyday of the film series. At the case’s peak, in 2010, Hogan, who lives in California, was prevented from leaving Australia, where he had gone to attend his mother’s funeral. Link

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