Legislative / Regulatory

Numbers count at hearing on mobility bill

Dsc07348 We just finished our hearing on the CPA mobility bill, House Bill 1296, before the House Economic Matters Committee.

Your letters are already starting to make an impact. More than 100 letters have hit the committee -- 23 from sole practitioners and small firms, 45 from mid-size firms and 38 from large, multi-state CPA firms.

In addition, we let the committee know that our professional issues updates / town hall meetings reached more than 1,000 of our members who took the time to understand the issues and provide us feedback. This issue of mobility was ranked as your No. 1 issue.

Dsc07341_3 Pictured at left are seven MACPA members who gave up their day to testify (plus me) -- Wes Johnson, Tom Hood, Art Flach, Chris Rosenthal, Harry Ballman, Les Mostow, Lisa Cines and Mark Edward. In addition to representing a broad cross-section of the entire CPA profession from sole practitioner to mid-size firm to large multi-state CPA firm, they also represented former chairmen of Maryland State Board of Accountancy (Wes and Les), a past chair of NASBA (Wes), a past chair of the Greater Washington Society of CPAs (Harry) and a member of the AICPA Board of Directors (Lisa). It was truly an "A" team.

The bill was introduced by the sponsor, Del. Brian Feldman, who did an amazing job of articulating the issues CPAs face and why this legislation is needed. He talked about the quid pro quo with other states, which is the key benefit we need as Maryland CPAs. It truly is about uniformity and mobility.

The opponents to the bill testified first. The DLLR testified against the bill primarily due to "no notification" and claims of revenue losses. The DLLR offered amendments to put back the notification and fee provisions, making the bill worthless.

The surprise was opposition by the Maryland Society of Accountants, which claiming it represents "all" small practitioners and blurs the lines between licensed CPAs and their unlicensed accounting members; they see no reason for this legislation. Both Del. Feldman and our testimony refuted their claims. We have almost 2,000 small firms and sole practitioners as our members, which is significantly more than all of the MSA's "CPA" members. When you factor in our members who are also members of the MSA, they have fewer than 800 stand-alone CPA members. Numbers count: We represent all CPAs and only CPAs -- 10,000 versus 800.

Hmmm ... why is that? Are they trying to keep a major obstacle for small CPAs who have to compete against unlicensed accountants by preventing the quid pro quo reciprocity that this legislation provides? By making CPAs continue to have to file for licenses in the 32 states that require CPAs to file for licenses -- even if just electronically filing a tax return? When they were questioned about how they arrived at their position, they had no response.

Keep your letters coming. If you know any members of the Economic Matters Committee, tell them the hearing is over and ask if we can count on their vote.