Ethics: Accounting for Revenues and Expenses. Equipment Group produces excavating equipment for contractors. Equipment Group is working on the annual financial statements for its shareholders, who are expecting profits of $200,000,000 for the year ending December 31. The controller (Jeff) and CFO (Kathy) will receive bonuses totaling 50 percent of their salaries if company profits exceed $200,000,000. Sarah is a staff accountant who works for the controller. One week before the end of the fiscal year, a customer decides to delay a significant purchase of equipment until March of the next year. As a result, Equipment Group’s profits will decrease by $2,000,000 to $198,000,000 for the year.
Jeff, the controller, approaches Sarah and asks her to think of a way to increase profits by $2,500,000. He suggests looking at sales occurring in early January and perhaps moving them up to December. He also hints that some December expenses could be pushed back and recorded in January.
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a. Is there a problem with the controller’s request? Explain your answer.
b. How should Sarah handle this situation? There are many possible steps, as described in the IMA’s Statement of Ethical Professional Practice shown in Figure 1.2 “IMA Statement of Ethical Professional Practice”.
c. What are the potential consequences for Sarah if she agrees to do what Jeff suggests?