Pension ‘savings’ in transportation bill may be costly [Washington Post]

The transportation bill that Congress passed this summer is financed, in part, with a budget gimmick: Lawmakers changed the funding rules for corporate pension plans. These changes help the federal budget in the short term by reducing the tax deductions that corporations take for contributing to these plans — thereby reportedly increasing their taxable income.

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Mandatory audit rotation risks outweigh benefits [Economia]

Since the financial crisis, mandatory rotation of audit firms has been a subject of debate on both sides of the Atlantic.

Last year, the European Union proposed requiring auditors to rotate every six years (or every nine years if the company has two auditors).

In February, the lower house of the Dutch parliament voted to require automatic rotation every eight years. The U.S. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) held hearings in March on the same subject.

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Search for auditors; don’t rotate [Pensions & Investments]

In March, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board held hearings about whether to require public companies to change — or “rotate” — their external auditor periodically. Meanwhile, the European Union is proposing to require mandatory rotation every six or 12 years, and the lower house of the Dutch Parliament recently voted to require auditor rotation every eight years.

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Public-pension pitfalls: What municipal budget troubles mean for bond investors [Washington Post]

Government workers’ pensions may sound like an obscure topic, but it’s front and center in some of the most rancorous of today’s political discussions. Retirement benefits for public workers are at the heart of the conflict between state and local governments and the unions representing their workers — and how that conflict gets resolved will affect investors in the municipal bonds issued by those states and cities. Let’s take a look at the looming public pension crisis, its effect on municipal finance and how accounting reform might help.

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Smoothing Corporate Pension Plan Discount Rates

There’s a controversial cost-offset provision in the highway bill currently being debated in the Senate; it would effectively allow corporations to make smaller contributions to their pension plans. And since a smaller contribution means a smaller tax write-off, tax revenue would increase by $7 billion over ten years. Although the bill itself is certainly not headed for an easy passage, this provision has raised some interesting—and complex—issues related to pension accounting.

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