Job Wages

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Case 3-34 (45 minutes)

1.Shaving 5% off the estimated direct labor-hours in the predetermined overhead rate will result in an artificially high overhead rate, which is likely to result in overapplied overhead for the year. The cumulative effect of overapplying the overhead throughout the year is all recognized in December when the balance in the Manufacturing Overhead account is closed out to Cost of Goods Sold. If the balance were closed out every month or every quarter, this effect would be dissipated over the course of the year.

2.This question may generate lively debate. Where should Cristin Madsen’s loyalties lie? Is she working for the general manager of the division or for the corporate controller? Is there anything wrong with the “Christmas bonus”? How far should Cristin go in bucking her boss on a new job?

While individuals can certainly disagree about what Cristin should do, some of the facts are indisputable. First, the practice of understating direct labor-hours results in artificially inflating the overhead rate. This has the effect of inflating the cost of goods sold figures in all months prior to December and overstating the costs of inventories. In December, the adjustment for overapplied overhead provides a big boost to net operating income. Therefore, the practice results in distortions in the pattern of net operating income over the year. In addition, since all of the adjustment is taken to Cost of Goods Sold, inventories are still overstated at year-end. This means that retained earnings is also overstated.

While Cristin is in an extremely difficult position, her responsibilities under the IMA’s Statement of Ethical Professional Practice seem to be clear. The Credibility standard states that management accountants have a responsibility to “disclose all relevant information that could reasonably be expected to influence an intended user’s understanding of the reports, analyses, or recommendations.” Cristin should...
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