Unstructured Finance

Essential reading: Corporate taxes come up for review, and more

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

* The corporate tax game. Graham Bowley – The New York Times
. Despite the widespread support, the campaign for a tax reform overhaul is exposing deep fault lines within the business world that suggest it may fall apart. Link

* Senate considering bill to ban tax scofflaw contractors. Tom Vanden Brook – The USA Today. The Senate is considering a bill the House unanimously passed last month that would prevent contractors with tax debts from doing business with the federal government. Link

* California tax revenue yields multibillion-dollar surplus. Chris Megerian – The Los Angeles Times. California has been flooded with revenue this tax season and is on track to finish the fiscal year with a surplus of billions of dollars, according to officials. Link

* British lobbying group condemns a proposed European financial transaction tax. Stephen Castle – The New York Times. A European tax on financial transactions would fall disproportionately on London firms, a business lobbying group said Thursday, highlighting growing tensions between Britain and its continental allies over banking regulation. Link

* Apple’s move keeps profit out of reach of taxes. Floyd Norris – The New York Times opinion. Apple has been a pioneer in tactics to avoid paying taxes to Uncle Sam. To distribute the cash to its owners would force it to pay taxes. So it borrows instead to buy back shares and increase its stock dividend. Link

The sultans of swing

Although most investors have been pleased with the steadily rising U.S stock market over the past six months, funds that profit when markets are convulsing are licking their wounds.

With market stress at multi-year lows, volatility hedge funds returned just 1.16 percent in the first quarter, compared with 3.7 percent for the broader hedge fund group.

Some of the volatility specialists are doing better than others by capitalizing on major market moves in Japan, for example. And some are doing better simply because they are ‘short’ volatility funds – they tend to perform better when markets are calmer. But those funds are now few and far between.

Essential reading: State Republicans divided on tax cuts, and more

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal speaks after the National Governors Association meeting in Washington, February 25, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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

* Governors, GOP allies clash over tax cuts. Mark Peters and Neil King – The Wall Street Journal. Republican lawmakers in several states are blunting plans by GOP governors to reduce or eliminate income taxes, putting the legislators at odds with figures many in the party see as leading voices on reshaping government. Link

* FATCA treaties held up in U.S. Senate. Ben DiPietro – The Wall Street Journal. The U.S. Senate is unable to ratify three Foreign Tax Account Compliance Act treaties because of a hold by Senator Rand Paul, and if the delays continue much longer they could complicate implementation of the law, which is due to take effect in January. Link

Essential reading: U.S. tax receipts may slow borrowing, and more

Welcome to the top tax and accounting headlines.

 * Rising tax receipts spark bets on reduced U.S. Treasury sales. Min Zeng – The Wall Street Journal. A surge in tax receipts has reduced the U.S. government’s borrowing needs, fueling speculation that a reduction of sales in notes could be coming for the first time since 2010. Link 

* To satisfy its investors, cash-rich Apple borrows money. Peter Lattman and Peter Eavis – The New York Times. By raising cheap debt for the shareholder payout, Apple also avoids a potentially big tax hit. Link 

* Ebay boss expects ‘uproar’ from small business over online tax. Tom Gara – The Wall Street Journal. eBay CEO John Donohoe believes small online sellers — who make up the majority of its customers — will face crippling costs complying with the proposed law, and wants them to be exempted from the new system. Link

Essential reading: FATCA hurts Americans abroad, and more

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

 * Americans living abroad say U.S. tax laws punishing them. Margaret Collins and Richard Rubin – Bloomberg news. Complexity has increased for Americans abroad with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, enacted in 2010 to combat tax evasion by US taxpayers with assets offshore. Link    

* It takes 2 votes, but Minnesota Senate approves $1.8 billion tax bill. Baird Helgeson and Jennifer Brooks – The Star Tribune. The Minnesota Senate approved $1.8 billion in tax increases on a second try Monday, but only after salvaging the measure amid an embarrassing political defeat for Democratic leaders. Link    

* France’s Hollande plans tax changes to woo investment. William Horobin and Sam Schechner – The Wall Street Journal. French President François Hollande called a broad sweep of business leaders at the Elysee Palace Monday to offer them a break on the capital gains tax and pitch new proposals for encouraging entrepreneurship in a country desperate for growth. Link    


Some important tax and accounting events in the week ahead:

Monday, April 29 – Friday, May 3

* Tax Executives Institute federal taxation course. East Lansing, Michigan.

Tuesday, April 30

* D.C. Bar Association session on the taxation of financial derivatives. 12 noon – 1:30 p.m., D.C. Bar Conference Center. Washington.

Tuesday, April 30 – Thursday, May 2

* Experts from the Internal Revenue Service, the Treasury Department and private industry address the Practicing Law Institute conference on tax planning for domestic and foreign partnerships. Chicago, New York, San Francisco and by webcast.

Wednesday, May 1

* Financial Accounting Standards Board meeting on EITF accounting issues. 8:30 a.m., FASB offices. Norwalk, Connecticut.

Essential reading: Republicans pursue tax reform, and more

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

* GOP moves away from entitlements and toward tax reform in budget deal. Lori Montgomery – The Washington Post. With another fight over the national debt brewing this summer, congressional Republicans are de-emphasizing their demand for politically painful cuts to retirement programs and focusing on a more popular prize: a thorough rewrite of the U.S. tax code. Link  

* Push to require online sales tax divides the GOP. Jonathan Weisman – The New York Times. Legislation that would force Internet retailers to collect sales taxes from their customers has put antitax and small-government activists like Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform and the Heritage Foundation in an unusual position: they’re losing. Link   

* Hybrid drivers may save on gas but new tax gotchya. Jayne O’Donnell – USA Today. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, signed a new law last month that lowers the gas tax for everyone, but slaps a $64-per-year fee on hybrid and electric car owners. Link    

Essential reading: Obama talks budget with Republicans, and more

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

* Obama officials hold early budget talks with Republicans. Jackie Calmes – The New York Times.  The meeting on Thursday was an early step in a long process, with an end goal of both raising tax revenues and curbing the growth of spending for Medicare and other entitlement benefit programs. Link

* U.S. official: Transfer pricing enforcement should precede new rules. Emily Chasan – The Wall Street Journal. Governments should focus on enforcing laws already the books that govern the way large multinational companies move profits between high and low tax countries before writing new legislation, a U.S. Treasury tax official said Thursday. Link

* Carbon tax on the table in the Senate. Stephen Stromberg – The Washington Post. On Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee released a package of ideas that would involve reforming the tax code for infrastructure, energy and natural resources. Link

Essential reading: UK’s Cameron fights tax evasion, and more

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

 * UK premier David Cameron presses EU on tax evaders. Vanessa Houlder and George Parker – The Financial Times. David Cameron on Wednesday urged European leaders to be in the vanguard of a global effort to crack down on aggressive tax avoidance and evasion, as he tries to build momentum before the G8 summit in Northern Ireland in June. Link    

* States push to get the most out of marijuana taxes. Dan Frosch – The New York Times. If marijuana is legalized and properly regulated, its proponents have long said, it could generate millions of dollars in state tax revenue. But how the drug should be taxed has proved to be a thorny question. Link    

* Housing industry defends US tax breaks. James Politi – The Financial Times. The US housing industry will warn lawmakers not to curb the tax deduction on mortgage interest as they grapple with ways to reform the US tax code and reduce America’s budget deficits. Link    

Essential reading: Congress looks at REIT tax exemption, and more

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

* Congress looks at REIT tax exemption. A.D. Pruitt – The Wall Street Journal. A powerful congressional committee is examining the tax exemption that real-estate investment trusts have enjoyed for decades as part of its comprehensive review of the tax code. Link    

* Backers and opponents of online sales tax ramp up lobbying. John McKinnon – The Wall Street Journal. Both sides in the online sales tax debate were ramping up lobbying efforts and forming new alliances Tuesday in hopes of swaying a coming Senate vote on a bill that would effectively end tax-free Internet shopping in most states. Link 

* IRS issued billions in improper refunds, report says. Josh Hicks – The Washington Post. The Internal Revenue Service issued more than $11 billion in improper payments through its Earned Income Tax Credit program last year, according to an inspector general’s report released this week. Link