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The big four

December 2017



AICPA disappointed by tax reform bill

American Institute of CPAs President and Chief Executive Officer Barry Melancon expressed disappointment following passage by Congress of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, saying the bill doesn’t give accounting firms the same favourable tax treatment provided to other pass-through entities. “The AICPA is very disappointed by lawmakers’ decision to exclude CPAs from the measure’s treatment of pass-through entities,” said Melancon in a statement on 20 December. “Congress should have provided parity for pass- throughs, regardless of their line of business, in order to achieve a fairer, simpler, and more competitive tax code.” 


CFOs cut out Excel

Finance chiefs are looking to reduce how much their teams use Microsoft Excel for financial planning, analysis and reporting, according a report by The Wall Street Journal last month, highlighting that the spreadsheet software hasn’t kept up with the demands of today's corporate finance units. Companies, such as Adobe, are switching to new, cloud-based technologies from Anaplan, Workiva, Adaptive Insights and their competitors, which connects with existing accounting and enterprise resource management systems and let accountants analyse and report data on one unified platform. 


Doors “shut” for low-income applicants

Research in the United Kingdom found applicants from lower- income backgrounds are less likely to be hired by accounting firms, the Financial Times reported this month. The first in-depth study of how socio-economic diversity affects hiring in the profession also found that candidates for trainee positions who were educated at independent schools had a one in 14 chance of being hired, compared with one in 17 of state school-educated candidates. “I can guarantee there might be some very bright people who do not have the right grades and the doors remain shut [to them],” Paul Eagland, Managing Partner of BDO, told the FT, adding that firms were working to address these issues. 


Probe against IKEA’s tax evasion launched

The European Commission launched an investigation into Swedish furniture retailer IKEA this month as part of a four-year crackdown on tax evasion practices applied by multinational companies in the European Union. The retailer’s Dutch tax arrangements allegedly helped it avoid €1 billion in EU taxes from 2009 to 2014, according to a report published in February 2016 by the European Green Party in the European Parliament. The report, which was given to Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for Competition, said the company created a complex corporate structure across the Nether- lands, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein, through which the group took advantage of special tax schemes.