Another Accounting Debacle

As if Enron’s effects on the accounting industry weren’t enough,  Financial Week reported on September 18 that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac inflated their core capital with the use of deferred tax credits.

The article states: “When companies have losses, they are allowed to recognize tax-deferred credits in the year of the loss, even though the reduction in taxes they produce will only be realized in future years in which they have taxable income, and thus a liability they can use the credit to reduce. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac used that method to almost double the amounts they claimed as capital reserves.”

Financial Account Statement 109 provides the methods for computing deferred tax assets and requires that firms consider whether it is more likely than not that the deferred tax asset will be not be realized.  Freddie and Fannie haven’t shown a profit in several years and little prospect of futrue profit against which to use these deferred tax assets.

Quoting Robert Willins, a tax and accounting consultant, the article continues:  “They’re not writing down the tax assets at all,” said Mr. Willens, even though “it’s almost impossible to avoid a write-down when you have a history of cumulative losses. Nevertheless, these guys have been able to avoid it with the concurrence of their auditors.” 

Fannie and Freddie counted these “assets” toward their regulatory capital and were able disguise their lack of liquidity.


And so it goes.

Taxpayers Get a Second Shot at the Tax Rebate

Courtesy of Kiplinger’s Retirement Report, April 2008:

If your 2007 income was too high to qualify for the tax rebates, don’t despair.  Remember, the rebate is really a prepayment of a tax credit created for 2008 returns.  If your 2008 income falls below the phase-out levels–$75,000 on a single return or $150,000 on a joint one– you’ll get your tax benefit when you file your 2008 return next spring.

Should your income exceed the threshold in 2008, and you received the rebate in 2007, not to worry.  In an unusual heads-you-win/tails-the IRS-loses setup, you won’t have to pay the money back.

I want to know if my son will pay me back the $300 that I gave him since he did not qualify to receive the rebate this year as he was still my dependent in 2007?