Unstructured Finance

Essential reading: Higher payroll tax pinches those with the least to spare, and more

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

* Higher payroll tax pinches those with the least to spare. Nelson Schwartz – The New York Times. At street level, the pain from the expiration of a two-percentage-point break in Social Security taxes in 2011 and 2012 is plain to see. Link

* Tax holiday ends, consumer scrimp. Neil Shah – The Wall Street Journal. Surveys show the majority of Americans who are aware of the tax increase say they plan to cut spending, and consumer confidence has wavered. Link

* Obama’s pre-Superbowl attack on carried interest puts PEGCC on offensive. Hillary Canada – The Wall Street Journal. Following a prime-time attack on carried interest by President Barack Obama, the private equity industry’s lobby group appears to be girding up for a fight regarding carried interest. Link

* U.K. runs tax deal past Usain Bolt. Peter Evans – The Wall Street Journal. The U.K. government is hoping to tempt Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt to race again in London this summer after granting a one-off tax exemption that has previously deterred the sprinter from competing in Britain. Link

 * Falling commodities prices hit Australian mining tax. James Glynn and Enda Curran – The Wall Street Journal. Australia’s government said it raised 126 million Australian dollars (US$130 million) over six months from a new tax on mining and resources, far less than expected because of falling commodity prices and the strength of the local currency. Link


Some important tax and accounting events in the week ahead:

 Monday, Feb. 11 – Tuesday, Feb. 12

International Bar Association Taxation Section/Chartered Institute of Taxation European Branch conference on the taxation of offshore income of financial institutions, transfer pricing, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and other topics. London.

Wednesday, Feb. 13

Practicing Law Institute Webcast on FATCA. 1 p.m. ET.

The International Tax Institute seminar on FATCA. 12:15 p.m. – 2 p.m. ET, Grand Hyatt New York. New York.

Wednesday, Feb. 13 – Thursday, Feb. 14

Experts from the U.S. Treasury and Congress, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United Nations, and the tax departments of major global corporations address the Tax Council Policy Institute program on the taxation of intangibles. Washington.

Essential reading: Pharmaceutical makers lower their taxes, and more

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

 * A new Rx for tax bills. Jonathan Rockoff – The Wall Street Journal. Drug makers are taking new steps to lower their taxes significantly, in a boon to their bottom lines. Efforts typically involve shifting revenue overseas where it can be taxed at a lower rate than in the U.S. Link 

* White House and business split over tax. Stephanie Kirchgaessner – The Financial Times. Tensions between the White House and business community have risen after President Barack Obama proposed tax hikes on oil and gas companies, as well as on hedge fund executives, in a short-term fix to avoid $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts. Link  

* An oil tax could be one of the least painful ways to trim the deficit. Brad Plumer – The Washington Post. A tax on oil consumption could be one of the least harmful ways to trim the budget deficit. Link  

Essential reading: Obama repeats call to end tax break for corporate jets, and more

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

* Obama repeats call to end tax break for corporate jets. Bart Jansen – USA Today. President Obama wants to stave off massive federal spending cuts scheduled March 1, but one of his suggestions to close tax breaks on corporate jets has upset that industry and Republican congressional leaders. Link  

* States look to pay repair tab. Kris Maher – The Wall Street Journal. Taxpayers and motorists across the country could be billed for fixes to a fraying infrastructure, as the nation’s governors float ideas to raise revenue for repairs that include boosting gasoline and state sales taxes and tying vehicle-registration fees to mileage. Link

Wall Streeters find life really is greener on the other side

Ex Wall Streeters talk about the better life working at a startup

Here’s a post from UF contributor and intrepid Wall Street reporter Lauren T. LaCapra, who is on assignment:

By Lauren Tara LaCapra

“One last question,” the moderator asked the panel of former Wall Streeters now working for fast-growing tech startups. “Would any of you go back to banking?”

One by one the five panelists, some of whom work for hot shops like FourSquare and Spotify, each shook their heads: “No…no…no.”

Essential reading: Waiting on the phone for the IRS, and more

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

 * Tactics for getting the IRS on the phone. Ann Carrns – The New York Times. Millions of people call the IRS each year. Last tax season, the average wait time to speak to a live representative was 17 minutes, up from 12 minutes in 2011, the Government Accountability Office found. Link

 * James Tobin’s big idea is back, again. David Cottle – The Wall Street Journal. The European Commission wants to press ahead with an EU-wide tax on secondary-market bond, equity and derivatives transactions, which it called for in 2011. However, at present it seems that only 11 out of 17 euro-zone countries intend to apply the tax. Link 

 * Accountant-advisers tackle tax-time crunch. Thomas Coyle – The Wall Street Journal. For the growing ranks of those who also offer investment and financial planning, it poses a special challenge: While you’re scrambling to keep up with the demands of tax-filing season – typically putting in late nights and weekends – how do you meet your clients’ other needs? Link

Essential reading: Democrats target corporate tax breaks, and more

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

 * Democrats target corporate tax breaks. James Politi – The Financial Times. Senate Democrats want to slash corporate tax breaks in search of new revenue, as an alternative to $1.2 trillion in impending across-the-board spending cuts, digging in against Republicans who are opposed to higher taxes and stoking calls for a revival of bipartisan deficit talks. Link

 * ‘Tobin tax’ push causes dismay. Chris Flood – The Financial Times. The European Commission appears determined to press ahead with a Europe-wide financial transaction tax in spite of warnings that it threatens the existence of Europe’s 1 trillion euro ($1.37 trillion) money market funds industry. Link 

 * Accounting group hits back at politicians. Adam Jones – The Financial Times. Politicians are unfairly demonising accountants over tax avoidance, according to the head of the UK’s leading accounting institute. The hit back comes after tax experts from the four biggest accounting firms were accused of undermining “the public good” in parliament last week. Link

Essential reading: Early payouts of dividends, bonuses spur a windfall, and more

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

 * Early payouts of dividends, bonuses spur a windfall. Josh Mitchell – The Wall Street Journal. Many Americans got a happy financial surprise at the end of last year, as companies pulled forward payouts of dividends and bonuses to beat anticipated January tax increases. Link  

* Exelon to take $270 million charge in tax dispute. Julie Wernau – The Chicago Tribune. The IRS is claiming that ComEd used a financial arrangement called sale-in, lease-out (SILO) in which a tax-exempt entity sells an asset to a private company and leases the asset back, a tax shelter mechanism the IRS decided in 2005 is abusive. Link  

Pay close attention to the timings in JPMorgan’s internal report

By late January last year, not even the London Whale himself thought the massive derivatives bets that eventually cost the bank $6.2 billion were such a good idea.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that Bruno Iksil, the credit trader nicknamed ‘the London Whale’ for the outsized positions he took in the small market for the CDX Index, warned his bosses a year ago that the size of his desk’s positions had gotten “scary.”

JPMorgan admitted as much in the internal report it released to the public on Jan. 16, but kept Iksil’s name out of emails quoted in the report, supposedly to protect UK privacy laws. The Journal got confirmation that Iksil was indeed the author of the emails, and that he made a presentation expressing his worries to the bank’s chief investment officer, Ina Drew, on Feb. 3, 2012.


Some important tax and accounting events in the week ahead:

Tuesday, Feb. 5

* National taxpayer advocate Nina Olson joins a panel on 100 years of the federal income tax. Noon – 1:30 p.m. ET, the Urban Institute. Washington.

* D.C. Bar taxation section lunch program on the taxation of financial products. Noon – 1:30 p.m. ET, D.C. Bar Conference Center. Washington.

 Wednesday, Feb. 6

* American Bar Association section of taxation webinar on intragroup spinoffs, liquidations and reorganizations. 1 – 2:30 p.m. ET.