Unstructured Finance

Essential reading: Obama sees leverage in tax fight, and more

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

 * White House counts on G.O.P. to bend on cuts’ effects are felt. Michael Shear – The New York Times. White House strategists say they believe that a constant drip of bad news will emerge in Congressional districts across the country in the weeks ahead, putting Republicans on the defensive for their refusal to raise taxes. Link 

* Dividend recaps set to dwindle in 2013: Moody’s. Maxwell Murphy – The Wall Street Journal. Moody’s Investors Service expects fewer dividend recapitalizations this year compared to 2012, when companies rushed to distribute cash to shareholders ahead of expected tax hikes. Link

 * Poll: Most don’t believe in being a tax cheat. Stephen Ohlemacher – The Washington Post. With tax season in full swing, a newly released poll says an overwhelming majority of adults don’t believe it is ever okay to cheat on their income taxes, with most citing personal integrity as a reason to be truthful. Link

 * N.J. gambles on revenue in online bets. Alexandra Berzon – The Wall Street Journal. New Jersey’s budget relies on $436 million in casino tax revenues next fiscal year, up from $235 million in the revised current budget. That would be a high for casino-related taxes not seen since the 2007 budget year, state records show. Link

* As casinos struggle, New Jersey tries new ways to bet. Kate Zernike – The New York Times. A shimmering $2.6 billion casino resort built with tax incentives announced last week that it was entering bankruptcy less than a year after it opened. Link 

Essential reading: EU financial transactions tax to go global, and more

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

* A new European tax on financial transactions is set to go global. Howard Schneider – The Washington Post. The levy is due to take effect next year and will be a significant money-raiser for the 11 nations that have signed on, bringing in an estimated $45 billion annually. Link 

* Institutions to stay alert to signs of tax fraud. Ben DiPietro – The Wall Street Journal. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network issued an advisory Tuesday reminding financial institutions to look for red flags that may indicate instances of identity theft and tax fraud. Link    

  * Newtown fund receives IRS nonprofit status, is ready to write checks. Matthew Sturdevant – The Hartford Courant. The Newtown Memorial Fund Inc. describes itself as a sustainable fund to provide for the immediate and ongoing needs of people affected by the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The group has raised more than $1 million. Link    

Essential reading: Treasury nominee gets tax questions, and more

U.S. President Barack Obama walks with Jacob Lew in 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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

* Treasury pick tries to cast his history as right for the job. Jessica Silver-Greenberg – The New York Times. Jacob Lew had a $56,000 investment in the Citigroup fund, leading to questions from Republican senators about whether the investment had been put there to dodge taxes. Link 

* Republican Senator open to tax hike for entitlement-cut deal. Janet Hook – The Wall Street Journal. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina Monday diverged from the Republican party line by saying he would be willing to raise $600 billion in new tax revenue if Democrats would accept major entitlement reforms in a big deficit-reduction package. Link 

* New 1099 forms pressure taxpayers to be honest. This year the form 1099b includes new details that affect tax returns and will force some taxpayers, and their tax advisers, to be more accurate. Link    

Essential reading: Republicans rally against taxes, and more

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

* Budget impasse signals a shift in GOP’s focus. Jonathan Weisman and Ashley Parker – The New York Times. Republicans, who last month let taxes rise on incomes over $400,000 to avert broader tax increases and the “fiscal cliff,” are now ready to stand their ground, regardless of the military cuts. Link

* Consumers beat expectations despite higher payroll tax. Tim Mullaney – USA Today. When the payroll tax climbed by nearly a third Jan. 1, Upstate New York car dealer Bill Fox thought he would lose business as workers in a cash-strapped area faced skinnier paychecks. It hasn’t worked out that way. Link 

* Laws give break for land preservation. But hurry. Rachel Emma Silverman – The Wall Street Journal. The new tax legislation signed at the beginning of the year renewed generous federal tax breaks for landowners who permanently preserve scenic, environmentally sensitive or historical properties. Link    

Calendar

Some important tax and accounting events in the week ahead:

Tuesday, Feb. 26

* Board meeting of the Financial Accounting Foundation, overseer of the Financial Accounting Standards Board and the Governmental Accounting Standards Board. 12:30 p.m. ET. Norwalk, Connecticut.

 * The second meeting hosted by the Hamilton Project of the Brookings Institution on the topic of “15 ways to rethink the federal budget.” Includes a session on innovative approaches to tax reform. 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. ET, Capitol Hilton Hotel. Washington.

Wednesday, Feb. 27 – Friday, March 1

* International Fiscal Association meetings covering FATCA and financial transactions taxes, cross-border transactions and other topics. Waldorf Astoria Hotel. New York.

Essential reading: Payroll tax’s return hits retailers, and more

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

* Payroll tax whacks spending. Shelly Banjo and Annie Gasparro – The Wall Street Journal. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on Thursday joined a parade of retailers, restaurants and consumer-goods companies worried about the economic impact of the recently restored federal payroll tax that has left Americans with less money to spend. Link 

* Obama defends ending corporate jet tax break. David Jackson – USA Today. President Obama has long called for ending tax breaks on corporate jets, and found himself defending that position in an interview Wednesday with a television station from Wichita, Kansas – an area where private planes are built. Link

* Why the debate over tax revenue isn’t over. Sean Sullivan – The Washington Post. A poll showed Americans split down the middle on the question of where taxes fit into the question of deficit reduction, with 48 percent saying a mixture of tax increases and spending cuts, while 49 percent said only spending cuts should be used. Link

Essential reading: Sequester talks grow harsh, and more

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

* Rhetoric turns harsh as budget cuts loom. Janet Hook – The Wall Street Journal. Republicans didn’t question Mr. Obama’s assertion that the spending cuts would have a dire effect. They said the plan to avert them should include only spending cuts, not tax increases. Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster, said that the public is viewing the impasse with disgust, but that the president may bear more of the blame for failing to lead the way to a compromise. Link

* Tax executives: Congress won’t revamp business taxes in 2013. John McKinnon – The Wall Street Journal. The survey of 163 tax executives by law firm Miller & Chevalier and the National Foreign Trade Council shows that only a few think that a tax overhaul will be enacted in 2013. Last year, 31 percent of respondents believed Congress would pass a tax revamp in 2013. Link

* Tax tip: Figuring out your stock’s cost basis. Jeff Reeves – USA Today. The tax man is eager to get his share after you cash out an investment win. And unless you want to irritate the Internal Revenue Service, it’s important to accurately report profits each year to the penny. Link

The dollars keep rolling in for foreclosed home funds

By Matthew Goldstein

Today, The Wall Street Journal reports that foreign investors have caught the gold rush mentality that surrounds the market for foreclosed homes in the U.S. But domestic-based firms are still doing quite well themselves in raising big dollars to buy-up foreclosed homes with an eye to renting them out before eventually selling them.

A foreclosed home fund managed by Tom Barrack’s Colony Capital recently disclosed in a regulatory filing that it had raised $536.7 million from 54 “accredited” investors. The fund relied on JPMorgan Chase’s wealth management team to do some of the selling.

Colony, along with private equity giant Blackstone Group and Malibu, Calif. based American Homes 4 Rent, have emerged as the three biggest buyers of foreclosed homes over the past year. Blackstone has spent well over $1 billion on buying up roughly 16,000 homes, and American Homes, backed by $600 million from the Alaska Permanent Fund, isn’t far behind.

Essential reading: Simpson, Bowles revive deficit plan, and more


Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, co-chairmen of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, testify on Capitol Hill, Nov. 1, 2011.

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

* Simpson and Bowles to offer up new deficit fix. Damian Paletta – The Wall Street Journal. Deficit hawks Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles on Tuesday will propose a detailed plan for rewriting the tax code and implementing deep new spending cuts, hoping to offer a path to compromise for Democrats and Republicans, according to an outline of the plan. Link

* Facebook tax refund sparks outrage, but company did pay taxes. Salvador Rodriguez – The Los Angeles Times. A recent report saying Facebook will receive $429 million in tax refunds has sparked outrage on the Web, given that the company made more than $1 billion in profits in 2012. Link

Jim Chanos and the bears come out of hibernation

By Matthew Goldstein 

The year is young, but so far its been a rough one for bearish stock investors with the S&P 500 is up 7.25% The surge in equity prices has left  a lot of short sellers–traders who bet on a stock sliding in value–with glum looks on their faces. And it’s with that bullish backdrop that several dozen of Jim Chanos’ closest friends gather in Miami for the noted short seller’s annual meeting of the bears.

The gathering of 40 or so people from Wednesday through Friday is a chance for Chanos and other like minded investors to kick around their best short ideas. A year ago, there was a lot of talk about shorting companies in the natural gas space.

The annual event at a resort in West South Beach is one where the invited guests are sworn to secrecy. That’s why there’s almost never any press coverage of the event, and even less coverage of the short ideas presented by Chanos & Co.

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