Saturday, April 09, 2016

The things we do for money: We're cooking up something very exciting

“A sect or party is an elegant incognito devised to save a man from the vexation of thinking.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, journal entry, June 20, 183 (Fiction v. nonfiction)

“When we are sleeping,/ aeroplanes / carry memories / of the horrors / we have given / our silent consent to ...”

Mr Dastyari was particularly targeted for his poor lack of taste, described by Buzzfeed journalist Mark Di Stefano as “awful”. “We sold out. No one complained. Screw you Mark and your hipster crap. I fill a floor,” Dastyari fired back Labor politicians in DJs mode

Every city has cauldrons of creativity: places where writers and artists congregate to discuss their work, share ideas, collaborate and invariably drink and party. In Paris in the 1880s it was Montmartre; in New York of the '60s it was Greenwich Village and in Sydney of the same time it was Paddo and Kings Cross. In Sydney right now it's the inner west, and specifically Newtown and Marrickville Newtown our creative bohemian city

“If all we are doing as book critics is pretending there is such a thing as objective assessment of literature, we are failing at our jobs.” Copper Nickel 

~ The Recognitions a William Gaddis novel

The author is William N. Goetzmann, and the subtitle is How Finance Made Civilization Possible.  This is a very good general history about the useful role finance has played through the ages. - See more at:
The author is William N. Goetzmann, and the subtitle is How Finance Made Civilization Possible.  This is a very good general history about the useful role finance has played through the ages 

"The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Reflections of a Counterclerk." Law professor Gil Seinfeld has this post at the "First Impressions" site of the Michigan Law Review.

"Coffee juggler can't sue Sheetz over scalding, Pa. court says": Matt Miller of The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania has an article that begins, "Concluding that her own inadvisable juggling act led to her injury, a state appeals court panel has refused to revive a lawsuit by a student who spilled scalding coffee on herself at a Sheetz convenience store."
You can access yesterday's non-precedential ruling of a three-judge panel of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania at this link

“Instead of trying to make a better robot, try to make a better man.”
TaxGrrrl, IRS Commissioner Admits IRS Isn’t A Favorite, Talks Tax Refunds, Budget & Taxpayer Services:
Noting that “the IRS is not anyone’s favorite government institution, and we will not win any popularity contests, especially in an election year,” the Commissioner went on to share that a recent poll indicated that 12% of taxpayers liked Russia’s Vladimir Putin better than the IRS.
A Tax Notes story ($link) about Koskinen’s speech quotes him as saying, “But don’t look for a shot of me on CNN, without a shirt, riding a horse.” I don’t think anyone would actually look for such a thing.

…his work is noiseless, and his hands are mutes
~ Hard Times – For These Times a Charles Dickens novel

Career Corner. That Time an Accounting Firm Recruiter iPants Told ME and Others That My Personality Sucked (Leona May, Going Concern). Reminds me of the time the first guy at the job interview spray-painted an “X” on the back of my jacket.

Hololens Holoportation: Virtual 3D Teleportation in Real-time YouTube

Chris Jones, the whirling dervish theater critic-entertainment reporter for The Chicago Tribune (clone him and you could conceivably pare some newsrooms and improve quality), broke word last night that a "major, star-studded revival of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur's 'The Front Page' — the 1928 play that romanticized Chicago newspapering, celebrated the achievements of 'crummy hobos full of dandruff and bum gin,' and came to define the news business in all its scooped-up, hacks-and-flacks glory — is headed to Broadway this fall."
Stop the presses! ‘The Front Page’ is coming to Broadway

The Fair Work Commission found the Public Service Act gave departments no general right to discipline their employees for political speech outside of working hoursCommission Vice-President Adam Hatcher found the Public Service Actgave departments no general right to discipline their employees for political speech outside of working hours and such powers would be a "gross intrusion into the non-working lives and rights of public servants":  

Centrelink worker Daniel Starr was tracked-down and sacked after he went online to contradict the department's "ridiculous assertions" about Centrelink waiting times, blasted some of his colleagues and wrote that he had no idea what senior DHS managers did with their time The hunt how the public-service tracks down internal critics

This could never happen at East or West Wings of the Lattitude To Stop Whistleblowing, US Intelligence Instructing Staff to Spy on Colleagues Foreign Policy 

Rana Foroohar’s new book, Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business, addresses what Paul Ryan conveniently left out.
From the lips of Paul Ryan, Chief Spokesman of Blame-the-Poor politics, came a curious mea culpa just last week. Oops! He should not have referred to hard-working Americans trying to feed their families as “takers” (Mitt Romney gained attention for similar remarks in 2012, but his running mate Ryan had already been on the makers/takers theme for years). Ryan further admitted that when it comes to economic distress, he didn’t really know what he was talking about.
“There was a time when I would talk about a difference between ‘makers’ and ‘takers’ in our country, referring to people who accepted government benefits,” said the speaker. “But as I spent more time listening, and really learning the root causes of poverty, I realized I was wrong.”
The good news is that the giant imbalance of power between finance and the real economy can be fixed, and we know a lot about how to do it. The bad news is that as long as the financiers have the power, they will do everything in their power to stop sensible and entirely doable reforms.

Unfinished paintings

“We know where you live” continued: U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez’s “persuader rule” exposes lawyers and other professionals to intimidation, creates legal minefield for employers expressing opinion [The Hill, earlier]

How to use research evidence to improve your work
Nesta, 26/1/16. Evidence can help you make better decisions.
The Using Research Evidence guide has been designed to help you improve the way you work by using evidence effectively.  

One of the enduring myths is that lawyers and judged so not have a sense of humour Judge:: "would the witness please cease masticating." Counsel to client: "Take your hands out of your pockets..."

Who are the free traders?

Research shows that about a quarter of the world’s wealthiest entrepreneurs dropped out of university or high school before going on to join the financial elite, a greater proportion than those who achieved masters degrees.
Here is the Murad Ahmed FT piece.  Only about five percent of these super-billionaires have achieved a doctorate.

The broad forces currently shaping our financial system – and why that makes the topic of culture in financial services such an important one for us to be collectively considering.
The Importance of Culture

Would you rather have an unfair boss some of the time or all of the time? A new study finds that employees are less stressed and have more job satisfaction when their bosses are always unfair than when their boss is unpredictable The worst kind of boss is not the one who’s always a jerk

Confidence is on the rise as accountants look to the future :: key take outs from the Commbank accounting market pulse
Count. The business landscape is changing faster than ever before — so what does this mean for accountants in the years ahead?

The uber-rich are earning moore and moore  (sic)

The Arab roots of Sicilian food

Victoria gives behavioural insights a nudge, cross-agency mandate
The Mandarin, 23/3/16. Victoria is consolidating its currently scattered behavioural insights skills base by setting up a new nudge unit within DPC — and it’s hiring! The unit will support agencies with co-ordination and strategic oversight across government.

The allegationd of a secret bikie law deals

Robert Wood, Payroll Tax Violators Get Penalties Or Jail, And IRS Is Watching. “The IRS is especially vigorous in going after payroll taxes.”

Survey: Some Americans would prefer an IRS tattoo to paying taxes
NBC As tax season ramps up, a new survey shows that some Americans would rather scrub the toilets at Chipotle than hand over a portion of their salary to the Internal Revenue Service. 27 percent of people would rather get an IRS tattoo than pay taxes.
2016 WalletHub Tax Survey  

Lawyers in hot coffee suits still pushing “unreasonably high holding temperature” theories [Nick Farr, Abnormal Use, earlier]

"The majority opinion is needless, wrong, and raises serious constitutional concerns with the separation of powers." So writes Ninth Circuit Judge Jay S. Bybee in an opinion "concurring in the judgment but vigorously disagreeing with everything else" issued today. The majority on this three-judge panel ruled today that the Ninth Circuit's Bankruptcy Appellate Panel lacks authority to issue writs of mandamus under the All Writs Act.

Nerdwallet   As the filing deadline nears for 2015 income taxes, a new national survey found that among financial lies considered, concealing income from the IRS is one of the most acceptable.

Risk Sensing: The (evolving) state of the art
Deloitte, 2016. Risk Sensing—using human insights and advanced analytics capabilities to identify, analyze, and monitor emerging risks—has become a key component of many organizations’ arsenals for managing risk. In fact, 81% of respondents to a recent survey say their companies leverage risk sensing tools, but do those capabilities go far enough to mitigate risks?

CNN, The Top 1% Haven't Recovered Yet, Either

“Would people ignore the stacks, bump into them, see them as pile of rubbish? He has no idea what the immediate reactions have been, because he doesn’t stick around.

Robert Wood, IRS Admits Audit Chance Is Small — And Dropping Like A Rock. They’re busy with other things.

Tax Roundup, 4/5/16: Don’t claim personal expenses as business deductions. Especially if you are a Tax Court judge.

April 5th, 2016 by Joe Kristan
Judge not, that ye be not judged. A recently-retired Tax Court judge has tax troubles of her own. From a Department of Justice Press Release:
U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger for the District of Minnesota today announced a federal indictment charging Diane L. Kroupa, 60, and her husband, Robert E. Fackler, 62, with conspiring with each other to evade assessment of taxes.  Each defendant is charged with conspiracy, tax evasion, making and subscribing false tax returns and obstruction of an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audit.  The defendants are expected to appear later this week in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Judge Kroupa did the Des Moines Tax Court session in her last years on the job. Among her cases wasa blown ESOP case out of Rockwell, Iowa. I recall attorneys saying she ran a tight, no-nonsense session.
The indictment isn’t yet up this morning on the U.S. District Court of Minnesota website (Update – now it is: Kroupa-Fackler indictment), so all I have to go on is the press release (all emphasis mine):
Kroupa was appointed to the U.S. Tax Court on June 13, 2003, for a term of 15 years, but she retired on June 16, 2014.  During the same period, Fackler was a self-employed lobbyist and political consultant who owned and operated a business known as Grassroots Consulting.  From 2004 to 2013, Kroupa and Fackler owned a home in Minnesota.  From 2007 to 2013, they also leased a second residence in Maryland.
According to the indictment and documents filed in court, as part of the conspiracy to defraud the United States, Kroupa and Fackler fraudulently claimed personal expenses as Grassroots Consulting business deductions.  They fraudulently claimed the following personal expenses as deductible business expenses: rent and utilities for the Maryland home; utilities, upkeep and renovation expenses of the Minnesota home; pilates classes; spa and massage fees; jewelry and personal clothing; wine club fees; Chinese language tutoring; music lessons; personal computers; and expenses for vacations to Alaska, Australia, the Bahamas, China, England, Greece, Hawaii, Mexico and Thailand.
In recent centuries the IRS has figured out that people like to pretend that personal expenses are business expenses, so they can deduct them. The standard IRS audit programs for businesses include procedures to detect personal expenses. It will be interesting to see if there really is a business purpose for the pilates classes.
According to the indictment and documents filed in court, Kroupa and Fackler made a series of other false claims on their tax returns, includingfailing to report approximately $44,520 that Kroupa received from a 2010 land sale in South Dakota.  The defendants falsely claimed financial insolvency to avoid paying tax on $33,031 on cancellation of indebtedness income.
There are two red flags right there. Most land sales are reported on a 1099, and the computers tend to notice if you fail to report them. And a claim for an insolvency exemption when the taxpayers both have good jobs seems likely to add a few points to your probability of getting examined.
I always have assumed that Tax Court judges, like IRS employees, get audited every year. That would tend to keep you inside the lines. I may have assumed improperly.
The Justice Department still has to prove its charges. But regardless of the outcome, here’s a return filing tip: don’t deduct personal expenses through your business. Not even if the nice lady in the pilates class says it works. It can lead to things like Justice Department press releases.
This is another of our irregular series of 2016 filing season tips, running through the April 18 filing deadline.
Other coverage:
Jack Townsend, Former US Tax Court Judge Kroupa Indicted. “Kroupa resigned from her judgeship somewhat unexpectedly in June 2014.”
TaxProf, Former Tax Court Judge and Husband Indicted For Tax Evasion
Robert Wood, Former U.S. Tax Court Judge Kroupa Indicted For Tax Evasion, Conspiracy, Obstruction
Leslie Book, Former Tax Court Judge Kroupa Indicted
Raw Story, Former federal judge busted for $400,000 tax fraud scheme Former tax court judge, husband indicted on fraud charges

Facebook Groups Act as Weapons Bazaars for Militias New York Times 

One of the jihadists who blew themselves up in Islamic State attacks in Brussels on March 22 briefly worked as a cleaner at the European Parliament several years ago, “He held a summer holiday job cleaning at the Parliament for one month in 2009 and one month in 2010. Those were the only instances he worked at the Parliament,” the EU body said in a statement.