Legislative / Regulatory

Lots of work left to do on final day of General Assembly

Dsc01870_2 We have two bills that will be coming down to the wire today, and both have to do with licensing and regulation: House Bill 1296, "CPAs - Out-of-State Practice Privilege" (a.k.a. mobility) and Senate Bill 817, "Maryland Tax Preparer Act." Each bill is in the opposite chamber in the respective committees on its way to a vote. The bills need to be voted out of committee and then onto the floor for a frenzied vote before session ends at midnight.

The mobility bill has required the most intense grassroots efforts in our history as we encountered tough opposition by the Maryland Society of Accountants. Claiming to represent CPAs, they argued that small practices do not file out-of-state tax returns and therefore do not need the "quid pro quo" that comes with this legislation.

It is funny how that has not been the case in the 18 states that have enacted this legislation, or in what we were told by more than 1,000 members who took part in town hall meetings across the state, or in the fact that our Local Practitioners Committee, representing our more than 1,900 sole practitioners and small firms, wrote a letter in support of this bill. The good news is that our members are telling our representatives why this is important to CPAs and our voice is being heard. We will continue to fight for this to the end.

On the tax preparer side, we are watching closely to make sure all of our critical amendments stay in this bill. (See our prior post for all of the details.) Here again, the MSA came out fully supporting the original bill, which would have required CPAs and all of their staff to register (pay a fee) and be subject to this new regulatory body, take CPE, etc., in addition to the oversight by the State Board of Public Accountancy. This makes our job harder, as this group causes confusion with legislators when they say they represent CPAs.

Can you tell I am frustrated? It bothers me how a group can just claim to "represent" CPAs and then proceed to work actively against their interests.

However, once you see our members in action during CPA Day, in testimony, and in key contacts and letters, the difference becomes crystal clear. I guess that is why we are the place "where winners meet."

Several members have said we should "take the gloves off" in dealing with the accountants and let CPAs know what their real agenda is. What do you think?