Wake-Up Call

WAKE UP WITH REM: Not. Cool.

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An elusive tax cut for the middle class, opportunity zones, and high-stakes lotteries all take a back seat to an (allegedly) horrible, horrible human being who (allegedly) stole nearly $100K from the Girl Scouts of America and a cancer center. Not. Cool.

CPA Accused of Stealing Over $93,000 from Girl Scouts, Cancer Center. Most accountants are decent people. Embezzlement, fraud, and outright theft do occur, but these instances are statistically infrequent. This Los Angeles CPA has a lot of explaining to do. [Going Concern]

No matter who picks the winning numbers, the IRS is the real winner on Mega Millions and Powerball. With the Mega Millions jackpot at $1.6 billion and Powerball's top prize at $620 million, the tax bill will be hefty even if the winner employs strategies to reduce their taxable income. [CNBC]

 
 

What new tax cut?! Speaking with reporters in Nevada on Saturday, Trump said he was working on a “very major tax cut for middle-income people.” He said the White House and congressional leaders are “studying very deeply, round the clock” to create another tax cut “not for business at all” that will be announced on November 1 or sooner. … It’s not at all clear what Trump is talking about. [Vox]

The facts on taxes in 5 charts: a 2018 midterm report. Taxes, like death, are among the few certainties in life. The staff at Politifact decided to take a graphical look at both the new tax law and the broader landscape of taxation in the United States. Here’s what they found. [Politifact]

 
 

More on the opportunity zone tax break. The Trump administration, trying to accelerate tax-advantaged investment in low-income areas, offered generous definitions and rules Friday in a long-awaited package of regulations. [Wall Street Journal]

 

The Wake-Up Call is The REM Cycle’s biweekly compilation of newsworthy articles pertaining to taxation, accounting, and life in general. Got a hot tip? Email us at REMCycle@rem-co.com.

WAKE UP WITH REM: Tax evasion for fun and profit

 
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Some of the big news of the past week has involved tax evasion, both potential and proven. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

Trump’s taxes and you: Five questions answered. Last week, the New York Times’s report on their special investigation into the Trump family’s wealth and possible tax avoidance was largely buried by the ongoing Kavanaugh investigation. This week, pundits were able to catch their collective breath and dive into the Times report. [The Hill]

Can I write off employee gifts as a tax deduction? Thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the answer is, “probably not…but…maybe?” The central issue here is the value of the gift. If the gift is valued over a certain (surprisingly small) amount, it qualifies as income for the employee. [Influencive]

 
 

Filing taxes on cryptocurrency is still a tricky prospect. The IRS considers virtual currency to be property, treated similarly to stocks. Easy-peasy, right? Think again. Because cryptocurrency is unregulated and standards vary, investors will have to filter their transaction history and differentiate between taxable and non-taxable transactions and activities to determine how much tax is actually due. [CryptoGlobe]

 
 

What would Snooki and JWoww say? On Friday, “The Jersey Shore” star Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino was sentenced to eight months in federal prison for tax evasion. His brother Marc was sentenced to two years in prison for his part in the plot. Together, the brothers conspired with their accountant, Gregg Marks, to avoid paying between $550,000 to $1,500,000 in taxes. We hope there will be hair gel in the prison commissary. [Variety]

The Wake-Up Call is The REM Cycle’s biweekly compilation of newsworthy articles pertaining to taxation, accounting, and life in general. Got a hot tip? Email us at REMCycle@rem-co.com.

WAKE UP WITH REM: Attack of the one-hit wonders

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Today is National One-Hit Wonder Day, and we’re celebrating by kung fu fighting and doing the Safety Dance. But enough tubthumping—we’ve got plenty of tax news to share.

$77 million is missing. Kevin Garnett has filed a federal malpractice lawsuit against an accountant and his firm, alleging they helped a wealth manager steal $77 million from the retired Minnesota Timberwolves and Boston Celtics star. [NBC Sports]

Charitable giving: how to save tax deductions despite new law. A feasible workaround for the new SALT deduction limitation? [Forbes]

Think you know your one-hit wonders? Take the REM Cycle quiz challenge here.

 
 

Dubai Department of Finance launches blockchain-based payment system for UAE government. The new platform, called “Payment Reconciliation and Settlement,” was officially launched Sunday, September 23. It is reportedly geared towards government entities, such as the Dubai Police, Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), Dubai Health Authority (DHA), and others. [Cointelegraph]

 
 

The Wake-Up Call is The REM Cycle’s biweekly compilation of newsworthy articles pertaining to taxation, accounting, and life in general. Got a hot tip? Email us at REMCycle@rem-co.com.

WAKE UP WITH REM: Tesla, blockchain to control use of consumer data, and a wombat who just wants to play

 
 

Annnnnd we’re back, with tax withholding, pot-smoking CEOs, IBM Blockchain, and a fat little wombat who just wants to play.

Millions of taxpayers could wind up owing for 2018. Regular “Wake Up” readers may recall previous articles on this topic. The takeaway? Review your current withholding and make any necessary adjustments as soon as possible. [CBS News]

Tesla’s new Chief Accounting Officer David Morton resigns just weeks after joining the company. Things have been weird lately for the electric vehicle maker. Iconoclastic founder and CEO Elon Musk tweeted plans to take Tesla off the public stock market, only to reverse his plan days later. (The SEC is investigating both announcements.) Musk has a documented history of abusing the prescription drug Ambien and appeared on Joe Rogan’s webcast while smoking what appeared to be a joint. So we kind of get why Morton didn’t want to stick around. [New York Times]

“Should I pay my taxes with a credit card?” Depends on your situation and the type of card you use. [ThePointsGuy.com]

IBM to use blockchain to help consumers control the use of their personal data. In an attempt to help stem the current onslaught of data breaches and cyberattacks, the global technology firm has announced that it is providing the IBM Blockchain Platform to “enable consumers to exercise control over the use of their personal data.” IBM was an early adopter of blockchain as a means of creating an infrastructure for processing millions of transactions per second. [Venture Beat]

This week’s videos

Geni Whitehouse talks about "Leading from Within: The Basset Hound versus The Nun" as part of the TEDxNapaValley "Empowering Leadership at Every Level" event. Geni Whitehouse, CPA.CITP, CSPM is the is the author of "How to Make a Boring Subject Interesting : 52 ways even a nerd can be heard".

During a cool morning shower by a brave ranger, this chubby Wombat (26 kilos!!) is in for either an innocent play or a deadly attack! First time we've ever seen a jumping wombat, anyway!

The Wake-Up Call is The REM Cycle’s biweekly compilation of newsworthy articles pertaining to taxation, accounting, and life in general. Got a hot tip? Email us at REMCycle@rem-co.com.

WAKE UP WITH REM: First African-American female CPA, medical marijuana tax revenue, and budget surpluses

Mary T. Washington Wylie ( source )

Mary T. Washington Wylie (source)

We’re excited to share the news that Mary T. Washington Wylie, America’s first black female CPA, is being publicly honored by the City of Chicago. Also, a heads-up regarding state budget surpluses that don’t get shared with municipalities, tax revenue for medical marijuana, and “blockchain blockchain blockchain.”

Illinois CPA Society honors first African-American female CPA. The City of Chicago and the Illinois CPA Society are honoring Mary T. Washington Wylie (1906 – 2005), the first African-American woman in the U.S. to become a certified public accountant. [Accounting Today]

Cryptocurrency mining at college campuses results in huge electric bills for schools. Bitcoin hijinks are taking place on campus. [CNBC]

“Blockchain blockchain blockchain.” This short talk was given at Crypto 2018 in Santa Barbara, California, which is a conference for mathematicians and computer scientists to discuss new findings in the world of cryptography — the study of how to encrypt and decode data so unwanted parties can't access it. [Business Insider UK]

Show us the money! 39 out of 50 states currently have budget surpluses, often amounting to several billion dollars. All of which is great, but municipal governments aren’t receiving any of the wealth. Local governments are pressured to keep taxes low, but they also need to pay for infrastructure, purchase new police vehicles, and give municipal employees COLA raises. So where’s the funding from the states? [Forbes]

$1.8 million in medical marijuana tax revenue. Montana’s initial 4% tax on marijuana providers’ gross revenues resulted in nearly $2 million in just over a year. [San Francisco Chronicle]

This week's videos

This panel discussion explores the key skills and qualities that professional accountants need to succeed in their career, now and in the future - from first qualifying right through to the boardroom.

Out of coffee? Nooooo!!!

WAKE UP WITH REM: Crypto scammers, lesbian church, and Kenyan basketball

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It’s been an exciting week at the REM Cycle, folks. Raich Ende Malter jumped ahead 13 spots on Inside Public Accounting's IPA 100 and landed smack in the middle of the top ten fastest-growing firms. (Maybe it's because we have such an amazing blog. Just saying.)

We’ve got a great news roundup for you today—a “lesbian-centered” church was recently granted tax-exempt status (which upset all sorts of people), tax choices that might pan out better in the long run, and an interview with a cryptocurrency scammer. Also, videos on why open office plans are a bad idea (and how to fix them) and the transcript of a breakup call.

Will your tax preparer need to be licensed next year? Senator Rob Portman (R–OH) has proposed the Protecting Taxpayers Act (S. 3278), a bill intended to allow the IRS to “regulate paid tax return preparers in a balanced way.” Of course, we strongly recommend that you hire a CPA firm to do your taxes for you, even if it's not us (but we are pretty awesome—see below). [Forbes]

 
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100% bonus depreciation? Yes—no—wait, what? The thing about the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is that you should “NEVER complete your research after merely looking at the Code.” Here’s why. [Forbes]

A “controversial religious order” is granted tax-exempt status by the IRS. We’re not entirely sure we can print the church’s name, but you’ll see it in the linked article. Controversy or no, the IRS is not mandated to make determinations of a religious organization’s moral worth. [Going Concern]

3 tax breaks that may be better in the long run. In some cases, it’s all about planning ahead. [New York Times]

Accountants upset Ulinzi Warriors… in basketball. Okay, our headline may be misleading, but we just couldn’t help ourselves. We’re excited that an accounting school’s basketball team is on top of the Men’s Kenya Basketball Federation Premier League. Go, KCA-U! [The Daily Nation]

Ethereum giveaway scammer claims to rake in $50-$100K per day. We’re going to guess this guy does not feel obligated to report this income. [Bitcoinstacks.com]

This week's videos

“Proof that open office layouts don’t work.” The basic logic behind the open office is that tearing down physical barriers inspires communication and collective creativity. But does it really?

Phil Hanley presents a dramatic reading of his recent breakup phone call.

The Wake-Up Call is The REM Cycle’s biweekly compilation of newsworthy articles pertaining to taxation, accounting, and life in general. Got a hot tip? Email us at REMCycle@rem-co.com.

WAKE UP WITH REM: Soda tax, tax reform, a reformed form, and marijuana tax

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We can't think of a clever opening paragraph this week. If you can think of one, leave it in the comments below.

Soda taxes again. Several states, including California, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Mississippi, Arizona, and Michigan, are either considering or have already adopted food and/or soda taxes. But what happens when individual municipalities have their own food taxes? [Reason.com]

Tax Reform 2.0. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, released a two-page outline of a plan to reform the nation’s most recent tax reform. The idea is nothing new — for instance, several states have already drafted legislation to mitigate the SALT deduction cap — but it will be interesting to see Brady’s finished plan. [Bloomberg]

ICYMI: Facebook stock drops by more than the worth of the entire global cheese market. John Oliver hopes that this will inspire the return of MySpace. (Strong language warning.) [YouTube]

At last! The new, improved(?) W-4. You know that annoying form you fill out every once in a while? The one where you fill in zeroes and ones, etc., to calculate the number of withholding allowances you can claim? The IRS has revamped it, and you’ll find a few surprises. [Forbes]

New Jersey budgets $20M in medicinal marijuana revenue for FY 2019. But based on tax data from previous years, this would mean handing out more than twice the number of existing cannabis prescriptions. Unless Willie Nelson moves to the Garden State, experts warn that’s not going to happen. [NJ.com]

This week's videos

The Wake-Up Call is The REM Cycle’s biweekly compilation of newsworthy articles pertaining to taxation, accounting, and life in general. Got a hot tip? Email us at REMCycle@rem-co.com.

WAKE UP WITH REM: Trade secrets, co-working, and SALT lawsuits

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Taxes don’t take the summer off! Trade secrets, 529 plans, and co-working spaces are this week’s topics. We’ve also got videos for you: develop professionally by learning how to hack networking like a champ, and join us in our bemusement at a state witness who claims not to know what a photocopier is.

Another lawsuit to preserve the SALT deduction. Tuesday, the states of New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Maryland joined to sue the federal government, seeking to void the $10,000 cap on federal deductions for state and local taxes. [Reuters]

Be careful when filing that 10-K. A recent study indicates that companies who disclose the existence of trade secrets in their 10-K reports—not the secrets themselves, but the existence of the trade secrets—increase their risk of a cyber-attack by 30%. [Accounting Today]

 

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: What if all the advice we've heard about networking is wrong?

 

Is it time to let your office lease run out? As co-working gradually becomes the norm for startups and smaller companies (and is growing in popularity among established businesses), CPA firms are beginning to ask whether permanent offices are really necessary. [CPA Insider]

How will the new tax law affect education-related tax breaks? Answer: Mostly, it won’t. But in certain cases, 529 plans are now eligible to take advantage of federal income tax-free withdrawals of up to $10,000 per year (yay!) …unless your state imposes state income tax on these distributions (boo!). [MarketWatch]

 

What is a photocopier? “I don’t understand the question.”

 

The Wake-Up Call is The REM Cycle’s biweekly compilation of newsworthy articles pertaining to taxation, accounting, and life in general. Got a hot tip? Email us at REMCycle@rem-co.com.

WAKE UP WITH REM: Fizzy beverages, the Nancy Drews of accounting, and a tax “surprise”

The Northeast is experiencing an unrelenting heat wave. Why not stay cool with some tax and accounting news from around the world?

Arkansas lawmaker “surprised” at his arrest for not filing or paying state taxes since 2003. What’s that you say? It’s illegal not to file or pay taxes for 15 years? Who’d have thunk? He’ll probably be surprised to learn he owes $260,000 in back taxes, too. [WREG.com]

Bottoms up! Following intensive lobbying from beverage companies like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, California governor Jerry Brown signed a bill banning local taxation of sugary sodas. Many cities in the state are “looking toward taxes to discourage people from drinking beverages linked to obesity.” [ABC News]

 
 

Move over, Nancy Drew—the forensic accountants are in town. Forensic accountants are the unsung heroes of Singapore. Here’s why. [Business Times]

SPOILER ALERT. Accounting Today has published its summer reading list for 2018. The headline claims it’s “summer reading for accountants,” but take our word for it – there’s a lot of good stuff for just about any adult on this list. (Where’s the spoiler, you ask? Fine: It was all a dream. Happy?) [Accounting Today]

 

50 people try to make scrambled eggs. This video has the entire REM Cycle staff scratching their heads and wondering how some of these people even made it to adulthood.

 

The Wake-Up Call is The REM Cycle’s biweekly compilation of newsworthy articles pertaining to taxation, accounting, and life in general. Got a hot tip? Email us at REMCycle@rem-co.com.

WAKE UP WITH REM: Attack of the bobbleheads

 
 

It’s been a weird week, folks. Professional skateboarder Tony Hawk gave the keynote speech at an AICPA event. A tax prep titan could tumble, thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. And the Ohio State Supreme Court is hearing arguments about bobbleheads, because why not.

To bobble, or not to bobble? The Cincinnati Reds give out free bobblehead figures of players to ticket buyers at certain games. The state of Ohio wants to tax the bobbleheads. The Cincinnati Reds, on the other hand, do not feel they should pay sales tax on the freebie bobbleheads. Now the Ohio Supreme Court is hearing arguments regarding the taxation of bobbleheads. And we’re making a big deal about it, because we just love typing the word “bobbleheads.” [Cincinnati Enquirer]

 

How to save the world (or at least yourself) from bad meetings. An epidemic of bad, inefficient, overcrowded meetings is plaguing the world's businesses - and making workers miserable. David Grady has some ideas on how to stop it.

 

H&R Block stocks plummet, due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. While Trump’s tax reform slashed corporate taxes from 35% to 21%, not every corporation is celebrating. Due to vastly simplified filing requirements for individuals, tax prep service H&R Block will be working on far fewer complex returns. As the company charges its clients based on the complexity of their returns, analysts predict disappointing consequences for the coming year. [Bloomberg]

[Sorry, we have to say it again – Bobbleheads.]

Skateboarders and accountants: a match made in heaven. Wednesday, professional skateboarder Tony Hawk gave the keynote speech at the AICPA’s Engage event in Las Vegas. You may be surprised to learn that Mr. Hawk is an astute entrepreneur, having started several successful companies (and some not-so-successful companies). He credits his accountant with keeping him on track. [Accounting Today]

New way to pay alimony: The tax advantages of alimony will only apply for couples divorcing prior to December 31, 2018. Expect negotiating IRAs to pick up the slack. [CNBC]

 

In an attempt to make up for the bobblehead overload, here are 10 songs you’ve heard and don’t know the name of.

 

Wake Up With REM is The REM Cycle’s biweekly compilation of newsworthy articles pertaining to taxation, accounting, and life in general. Got a hot tip? Email us at REMCycle@rem-co.com.