Tax & Accounting

Inside the World Economic Forum on Latin America

WEF brainstorm board

It all starts with significant resources.

I’m talking about the World Economic Forum (WEF) itself, as an international institution, as well as those it brings together so famously. Besides its annual global forum in Davos, Switzerland, the WEF also hosts regional agendas, such as the current forum on Latin America this year taking place in Panama City, Panama.

Here, alongside Thomson Reuters colleagues from Colombia, Peru, and Argentina, there are executives from companies like AGCO, Bombardier, Banco Itaú, Nestlé and Visa; a governmental  presence with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and various trade ministers; international thinkers such as Moisés Naím (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace); and heads of regional and international organizations, such as the Secretary-General for the Organization for American States.

Topics of this year’s forum – infrastructure, foreign trade, human capital and talent, preparing for growth, the role of government, and transparency – all aim to support the motto of the forum: Committed to Improving the State of the World. (more…)

IRS says Bitcoin is property, not currency

The IRS issued its hotly anticipated guidance on bitcoin last week, explaining that it will tax the digital money as property, not currency. In a notice posted on IRS.gov, the agency wrote:

“For federal tax purposes, virtual currency is treated as property. General tax principles applicable to property transactions apply to transactions using virtual currency.”

The decision brings to an end – for now – months of speculation on whether virtual currencies would be treated like a capital asset, such as a stock or commodity, subject to capital gains taxes (up to 24%) or as a fiat currency, such as dollars, euros and yen, for which gains are taxed like income (up to 43%).

So, what’s this all mean to you?  If you’re one of the early adopter retailers who took a bitcoin payment in exchange for goods or services, you’ll have to report the fair market value of that bitcoin on the date the payment was received. If you’re a bitcoin trader who bought into the bitcoin goldrush during the early days of the digital currency, you’ll be subject to capital gains, as if the bitcoin were a stock or a bond. And, if you’re a bitcoin miner … your treasure chest now constitutes gross income. (more…)

Uganda’s land resurgence – graphic of the day

Can a cutting edge pilot project restore trust and transparency to Uganda’s land management? With a plan that focuses on decentralizing services and increasing accountability, Uganda is betting a modernized approach will cure its land disarray. Today, Uganda is recognizing the crucial role land tenure plays in transitioning to a modern society with improved living standards and a skilled work force. Secure land management is an important step in everything from reducing poverty to stimulating the economy. Check out the infographic after the jump and read the full story here

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Tobias Lee: The kickboxing CMO

toby NAAAP

Imagine this: a professional career that begins with kickboxing in Asia, followed by several years in major product and marketing roles at tech companies like Toshiba, Dell and Trend Micro, and currently focused on making tax and accounting sexy.

If you’re scratching your head right now, thinking those jobs have very little to do with one another, that’s because you haven’t met the Chief Marketing Officer of our Tax and Accounting business, Toby Lee.

As CMO, Toby oversees the global marketing strategy for Tax & Accounting, including branding, creative services, demand generation, public relations, customer excellence and online marketing.

Despite coming from perhaps a nontraditional pedigree, Toby’s accomplishments and diverse set of experiences all add up to make for a passionate, effective and brilliant leader, whose approachability and drive for success positively affect those with whom he comes in contact.

Marketing transformation (more…)

Can tax policy create cars millennials will love?

Until recently, one of the darker clouds looming over the auto industry was the persistent belief that members of Generation Y, also known as millennials, didn’t care much for cars. Hard as that may be to believe for the gear-headed Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers among us, the generation born roughly between 1977 and the mid-1990s has historically shown little interest in car ownership.

A 2013 University of Michigan Transportation Institute study supported that notion when it found that Baby Boomers were 15 times more likely to purchase a new vehicle than those in Gen Y. A Detroit Free Press survey went even further with the data to find that, among the great many millennials who did not even have a driver’s license, the most common reasons given were: too busy (37%), the cost of car ownership (32%) and the ease with which they could bum a ride with someone else (31%).

Now, a new study from Deloitte suggests that the millennial generation may not be so anti-car after all. Just don’t expect them to start lining up for the SUVs and sports cars that were the objects of their parents’ desires. The newest generation of drivers does want to own a car and three quarters of them plan to lease or buy one in the next five years. But, more than half of them would choose an alternative powertrain, such as hybrid electric (27%), plug-in hybrid (8%), battery-powered hybrid (7%), compressed natural gas (7%), diesel (6%) or fuel cell (4%). (more…)

The real cost of the R&D tax credit expiration

The R&D tax credit expired at the end of 2013 … again. It was the ninth time this has happened since the credit was first enacted in 1981. Although Congress is widely expected to renew it, uncertainty around the timing and length of that renewal is posing big challenges for tax and finance departments.

As in years past, the expiration of the credit has sparked a litany of commentary about the inability of the U.S. government to pass a law. Some have argued that the lapse in the credit will hurt U.S. job creation. Others have used it as a political pawn to deflate President Obama’s State of the Union proclamation that: “We know that the nation that goes all-in on innovation today will win the global economy tomorrow.”

While these knee-jerk reactions are to be expected, they don’t get to the heart of the matter. The real issue here is: How, exactly, does the expiration of the R&D tax credit (temporary or not) affect businesses that invest heavily in R&D?

We have a unique perspective on this because our software is used by these businesses’ tax departments to calculate their various tax exposures around the world. Based on our conversations with these clients and our own software updates to accommodate the lapse of the R&D credit, the real challenge posed by this situation is accurate forecasting.

Consider the standard month-end workflow for a large corporate tax department. Whether the company is following GAAP or IFRS accounting standards, it would be expected to accrue its monthly results based on expected earnings and tax rate for the next 12 months. (more…)

Keep to the code

open source

By Brian Hale, Thomson Reuters

Over the last couple of decades, open source code has grown increasingly popular among technology and development professionals. Open source is code that is available to the general public for use and/or modification.

GitHub is the preeminent online repository of open source code. This code community enables developers to provide feedback, contribute enhancements, fork the code to create new projects, or simply use something from GitHub’s enormous selection (over 10 million repositories as of December 2013).

While our Tax & Accounting business has consumed open source code from GitHub and similar sources for years, they just recently published their first open source code on GitHub. (more…)

Will tax incentives make Austin the video game capital of the world?

Austin from Auditorium Shores (Photo credit: Robert Hensley)

Did you ever wonder how Hollywood (the industry) came to be located in Hollywood (the city)? It wasn’t just the weather. Though the temperate climate did help early movie makers shoot outside year-round, the real reason for the westward migration of the film industry in the early 1900s was to escape a tax of sorts. (more…)

Quirky sales tax laws

REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won

Earlier today, our Tax & Accounting business revealed a variety of quirky sales tax changes passed or implemented in 2013: (more…)

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