Essential reading: California workers to shoulder more pension costs, and more

September 13, 2012

California Governor Jerry Brown announces the Public Employee Pension Reform Act of 2012, August 28, 2012. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

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

 * California workers to shoulder more pension costs. Vauhini Vara – The Wall Street Journal. California will begin overhauling pensions for government workers in January, after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law Wednesday to boost current employees’ contributions and cut benefits for future workers. The new law mandates that, beginning in January, people who start working for California and many of its cities will face higher retirement ages and smaller pensions when they retire. Link  

* Obama ad hits Romney on tax cuts. David Jackson – USA Today. President Obama’s latest television ad attacks Mitt Romney over his proposed $5 trillion tax cut, saying it will wind up actually raising taxes on the middle class. The ad also makes reference to Romney’s refusal to release more than two years of tax returns. Link  

* Informer sparked New York probe. Reed Albergotti and Laura Saunders – The Wall Street Journal. New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s probe of tax practices at private-equity firms is based on information from a whistleblower, according to a person familiar with the matter. The ongoing probe is examining whether partners at private-equity firms changed management fees into investment income to delay tax payment and pay less. Link  

* Debate over ‘fiscal cliff’ weighs on growth. Phil Izzo – The Wall Street Journal. Dithering in Washington over the “fiscal cliff” of automatic tax increases and spending cuts set for year-end is already hindering economic growth, according to economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal. The economists put the odds at less than 20 percent that a standoff would trigger all the spending reductions and expiration of tax cuts. Link

* Sometimes, it takes a thief to catch one. Peter Henning – The New York Times. The question of Bradley Birkenfeld is whether there may be a perverse incentive for people to first help others violate the law in the hopes of later garnering a fat check. The eye-popping reward may be a lure for others to search high and low for fraud, and perhaps even help commit a crime for the sake of the potential reward. Link

* Mayor Bloomberg: Low taxes aren’t the most important priority for businesses. Suzy Khimm – The Washington Post. If Washington really wants to help businesses, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says that politicians need to stop obsessing so much over tax rates. When it comes to improving the business climate, “Usually the pundits think of this as lowering taxes,” Bloomberg said in a Wednesday speech in downtown D.C. “But taxes are just one element of the environment — and usually not the most important.” Link

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