Alvarez & Marsal Taxand Expands R&D Tax Credit Expertise

Alvarez & Marsal Taxand, an affiliate of New York-based Alvarez & Marsal, acquired Houston-based TRCG Advisors, effective Dec. 31, 2017. Tomas Nally and Andrew Murrell join A&M Taxand as managing directors.

Founded in 2009, TRCG Advisors has provided small and mid-market companies assistance with planning and claiming tax credits and incentives, namely federal and state research and development tax credits, cost segregation studies, 179D projects and specialized tax incentive projects.

“TRCG Advisors’ joining A&M Taxand is a complete win-win for our clients,” says Ernie Perez, managing director and global practice leader of Alvarez & Marsal Taxand. “Their professionals enhance our existing R&D tax credit expertise, a knowledge base we’ve been looking to expand to better serve our clients. The result is a strong strategic partnership that supports our commitment to meeting clients’ evolving needs.”

“The combination of A&M Taxand’s vast talent and resources in specialized tax services, along with our experienced and dedicated team, will greatly benefit and add value for our clients and stakeholders,” says Nally.

DFK Canada Welcomes New Member Firm

DFK Canada welcomed Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based Buckberger Baerg & Partners, which was established in 2014 by eight partners.

“Since launching the firm, vice-president of the Americas region Paul Panabaker has been extremely generous and helped us make connections before we even became members and has also been kind enough to let us join the last conference, so it is clear that DFK is really willing to help us on our journey. Being part of the global organization will be a huge benefit to our clients and there is a lot of expertise we can draw upon,” says Ashley Buckberger, partner.

“Buckberger Baerg & Partners is in its infancy and it will be excellent to help the firm grow,” says DFK Canada president Andrew Logan. “Saskatchewan is a province where there is a lot of economic activity and I am excited to see the firm develop and expand. I think they will be a good fit for DFK Canada.”

Leone McDonnell & Roberts Admits Brown as Partner

Shauna Brown

Shauna Brown

Wolfeboro, N.J.-based Leone McDonnell & Roberts admitted Shauna Brown to partner.

Brown has been with Leone McDonnell & Roberts since 2006. As vice president and partner, she brings a depth of knowledge and experience to the firm, specifically in the areas of audit and review services and tax planning and preparation.

“Shauna is a tremendous asset to our clients,” says Jack Callahan, president and MP. “A testament to our firm’s core values, Shauna is committed, dedicated and focused on delivering a high level of personalized service to our clients.”

Rosen Sapperstein & Friedlander Moves Headquarters

Owings Mills, Md.-based Rosen Sapperstein & Friedlander (FY16 net revenue of $11.2 million) has moved its headquarters to Towson, Md., according to The Baltimore Sun. The new office will house more than 50 employees and has room for future expansion.

“Our goal in designing the new space was to create a collaborative work environment that promotes open dialogue and creativity, thereby allowing us to service current and future clients even better than before,” says Jeffrey Rosen, a partner at RS&F.

RS&F offers consulting, tax, audit, business valuation and accounting services to middle-market businesses and high-net-worth families, primarily along the East Coast.

H&R Block Enters Exclusive Partnership with Walmart

H&R Block will be the new, exclusive DIY desktop tax software provider available at Walmart stores nationwide, and sold directly by Walmart on walmart.com.

“At H&R Block, we give our clients the flexibility to prepare their taxes however they want, which includes offering them the products they want where they shop,” says Heather Watts, senior vice president and general manager of digital at H&R Block. “Walmart shoppers expect to get the best value possible, and in this partnership with Walmart, H&R Block desktop software is committed to meeting customers’ tax prep needs.”

Among the key product enhancements for this year’s desktop software products is the addition of “drag and drop,” which imports tax information from any source, including last year’s tax return from other tax prep services.

In addition to the maximum refund, 100% accuracy and 100% satisfaction guarantees that come standard for all H&R Block DIY tax software clients, these are among the other benefits that make H&R Block products the best value in desktop tax software:

  • Free in-person audit representation from an H&R Block tax professional
  • Unlimited free tax advice via live chat
  • Up to five federal returns can be filed for free

“In addition to better prices, the value H&R Block can offer Walmart shoppers with our support features, such as free in-person audit representation and unlimited free tax advice, is among the many reasons we are so pleased to expand our partnership with Walmart this year,” Watts says.

Calif. Accountancy Board Recommends License Suspension

Irvine, Calif.-based Hagen Streiff Newton & Oshiro (HSNO) is facing a critical report by the California Board of Accountancy for its audits of spending and contracts at Great Park in Irvine, the Voice of OC reported.

Former Mayor Larry Agran, whose political career was damaged by the Great Park audits, said, “For heaven’s sakes, if you can’t trust auditors to be honest and straightforward, then who can the public trust?” The Voice of OC is a nonprofit news organization that covers Orange County’s local governments.

The firm said in a statement that it “strongly disagrees with the State Board’s Accusation, as they appropriately completed the engagements with the city of Irvine in accordance with professional standards.”

Mayor Pro Tem Christina Shea defended the audits and said one of the contractors on the project filed the complaint with the Board of Accountancy.

“It’s just another political operation to justify what they did at the Great Park,” Shea told Voice of OC. “I think they’re just doing everything they can to exonerate themselves … we stand behind our audit, the city does and I do.”

The city spent over $1.4 million on the audits that examined why more than $250 million was spent to develop 88 of the Great Park’s 1,300 acres. The firm reviewed spending and Great Park development contracts awarded between July 2005 and the end of 2012.

The state auditor, Elaine Howle, also criticized spending on the park. She cited poor governance from the city, saying a city subcommittee failed to enforce auditing standards and that city officials failed to enforce the industry standards to ensure an impartial analysis.

The accountancy board report says HSNO violated numerous public accounting standards and recommended HSNO reimburse the state for the cost of the investigation and pay an administrative penalty. It’s also recommended HSNO and its lead accountant in the audits have their accounting licenses revoked, suspended or restricted.

PwC Hit with Two-Year Audit Ban

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has banned PwC (FY16 gross revenue of $14.3 billion) from auditing listed companies in the country for two years, after it failed to spot a $1.7 billion fraud at the now defunct Satyam Computer Services, according to CNN.

SEBI claims PwC auditors failed to uncover irregularities in the account of Satyam, which was one of India’s leading software providers.

These irregularities were revealed in 2009 by Ramalinga Raju, the company’s chairman. He admitted to inflating Satyam’s profits with “fictitious” assets, non-existent cash and misreporting of debts the company was owed. He was sentenced to seven years in jail along with nine co-conspirators in 2015.

SEBI believes that PwC overlooked “several red flags…. which were all too obvious for any reasonable professional auditor to miss.”

SEBI also ordered the accounting firm to relinquish “wrongful gains” of around 130 million rupees ($2 million), plus 12% interest per year for the past eight years.

“The SEBI order relates to a fraud that took place nearly a decade ago in which we played no part and had no knowledge of,” says PwC.

BDO Names First Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer

Patricia Gonsalves

Patricia Gonsalves

BDO Canada has named Patricia Gonsalves as its first chief inclusion and diversity officer (CIDO).

Gonsalves will lead the firm’s inclusion and diversity (I&D) activities. This includes establishing a national I&D advisory council and raising awareness within the firm. She will also represent BDO’s I&D leadership in the market and build relationships with established organizations that promote inclusion and diversity.

“This role will help our firm cultivate a work environment that encourages and supports inclusion and diversity. Inclusion and diversity are about giving value to every one of us, no matter what our differences are,” says Gonsalves. “I look forward to planning and implementing initiatives that work towards enhancing our firm’s success by coming together and sharing our unique perspectives.”

Gonsalves has more than 20 years of professional experience in public accounting and will continue her client work as a quality assurance partner in the greater Toronto area, as well as act as the firm’s CIDO.

“BDO is committed to creating an environment where every person has opportunities to participate and succeed. The firm’s talent experience is designed to position our people for firm, professional and personal success,” says Sean McConkey, BDO’s national human resources leader. “With proven passion and great skill, we are confident Patricia will support the success of our people by encouraging diverse voices and empowering us all to champion inclusion and diversity at BDO.”

South Carolina Firms Merge

Effective Jan. 1, Columbia, S.C.-based The Hobbs Group acquired Durant Schraibman & Lindsay, also of Columbia. The combined firm will have 35 staff providing attestation, tax and consulting services.

The Hobbs Group provides attestation services to a wide variety of businesses including employee benefit plans, state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, construction companies, real estate developers, manufacturing companies and hospitality related ventures.

In addition to attestation services, the firm has a tax practice focused on small businesses and their owners including professional practices, tax-exempt entities as well as individuals seeking professional guidance on income tax compliance and planning issues.

Hochschild Bloom & Company Names Williams as MP

Michael Williams

Michael Williams

Chesterfield, Mo.-based Hochschild Bloom & Company (FY16 net revenue of $4.5 million) named Michael Williams as MP.

Williams joined the firm in 1987 and was admitted as partner in 1998. He has experience with organizations including service industries, manufacturing, construction, and government and nonprofit agencies, which includes consulting projects and federal audits. His client responsibilities consist of all aspects of accounting, auditing, tax and consulting services.

He has played a key leadership role in the accounting and auditing practice. He succeeds Robert Offerman, who has been MP at the firm since 1999.