Saturday, June 25, 2011

Dog days of summer? Watch out for these issues that can come with a big bite for financial services

Posted by Diane Sears

It’s that time of year when all the fun sports seasons are over and we’re forced to watch baseball and golf, yawn. At least that two-week stretch of sleepless nights going back and forth between the NBA and NHL playoffs is behind us and I can now turn my full attention back to what’s happening in tax and regulatory issues.

Go Bruins! 
Uh-oh. After last summer’s fascinating 1099 showdown in Congress, this summer promises to be a little sleepy by comparison. But there are still some interesting stories coming out of Washington, the states, and other governments worldwide. We’ll keep you informed, if you promise to let us know when you hear something new that we haven’t spotted.

For now, here are some tidbits to get you thinking:

The “Amazon tax” – Are you watching this issue? One by one, cash-strapped states are trying to figure out how to collect sales tax on purchases made over the Internet. Some of them have decided it’s easier to go after the big retailers, including, than the individuals who sell used books. Amazon, of course, is pushing back with clever tactics of its own. Here are some articles to bring you up to speed:

Amazon pressured on sales tax
eBay leery of 'Amazon tax
Amazon threatened by sales tax issue, J.K. Rowling
Column: State isn't losing revenue in Amazon deal
'Amazon tax' would kill 25,000 CA businesses

Kinder, gentler debt collecting – For a while there, I thought this was “Be Kind to Collection Agents Month.” I was reading all kinds of articles about how debt collectors are people too, and tactics they can use to build deep, meaningful relationships with debtors to lead to better results. Really? Most of the articles involved consumer debt, but I’m wondering whether the same issues and practices apply to my corporate friends in accounts receivable. See what you think:

Perhaps debt collectors aren't scum of the earth?
Debt collectors have feelings, too
Debt collectors' professional association waging campaign to be paid respect
Debt collectors seek new media tactics: e-mail, cell phone and text messages
Targeting demographics in debt collection communication: The Millennials

The “hidden tax” of compliance – There’s an assertion out there that the U.S. government isn’t just spending $3.5 trillion this year – it’s also shelling out an extra $1.75 trillion to enforce federal regulations, and that figure doesn’t appear in the budget. I read a blog that brought this to my attention, and then went back and researched it. Fascinating stuff. What’s your take on this?

The 'hidden tax': Report estimates regulation costs economy $1.75 trillion
Regulation: The hidden tax

“Friending” the IRS on Facebook – The Internal Revenue Service's Return Preparer Office has established a presence on the social media site. I know I, for one, cannot wait to follow the rules they list to communicate with the agency in postings. Honestly. Hello? Where did all my friends go? I’m serious, read this article:

IRS return preparer office goes on Facebook

Hey, look at the time! It’s Friday afternoon and I hear the NHL draft is on TV tonight. We have to take our excitement where we can find it, I suppose. Have a great weekend.

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