You’re safe for nine more months! Sine die in Annapolis

Midnight in Annapolis and the gavel came down with the words, "Mr. Speaker, in anticipation of there being no special sessions, we adjourn. Sine die!"

Mark Twain would have said, "Your life, liberty and happiness are now safe for the next nine months until they meet again."

This was a much different sine die than last year, as the General Assembly ended without the passage of a budget and the risk of sales tax on tax preparation services looming over us as we went through not one but two special sessions (budget and gambling).

The 188 legislators in Maryland's General Assembly heard 2,610 bills in the 90-day session. The MACPA monitored and testified on 21 bills.

Overall, CPAs in Maryland had a good session -- most notably passing the reauthorization of the Maryland State Board of Public Accountancy through the year 2024. Sales taxes on accounting and tax services were not introduced this year after being soundly defeated last year. Finally, comparative fault was not introduced as it is currently awaiting a decision in the Maryland Court of Appeals.

Other highlights incuded the defeat of the combined reporting bill due to compliance complexity (HB 1246, "Business Relief and Tax Fairness Act"), anti-non-compete legislation (SB 51, "Employment Contracts - Noncompetition Covenant"), and mandatory sick leave (HB 735, Maryland Earned Sick and Safe Leave Act).

Our MACPA State Tax Committee testified on several bills, including recoupling of depreciation and estate tax bills (simplification) as well as bills that would increase the interest paid on tax refunds.

We also obtained clarification on the "PI," or private investigator issue raised by the Journal of Accountancy. Actively licensed CPAs are exempt from the licensing requirements if the work is in the normal scope of their practice (i.e. fraud and forensics). 

In this video update, I shared some of the highlights from our legislative advocacy for the past decade: 

On a positive note, The Veterans Full Employment Act (HB 225) passed unanimously, granting temporary licensing authority to the DLLR to accommodate returning veterans and trailing spouses. 

Here is my Storify recap of sine die last night. 

Bad bills defeated:

  • Sales tax on accounting and tax services (defeated several times)
  • Maryland corporate accountability (SOX and 404 for private companies and non-profits)
  • Debt counseling registration by CPAs
  • Comparative fault (several times)
  • Elimination of audit requirements for Maryland cemeteries

Of course, we helped pass lots of good bills for Maryland CPAs. Good bills passed:

  • Separate funding for the State Board
  • Experience requirement to make Maryland CPAs compatible with UAA (Uniform Accountancy Act)
  • Ethics requirement for CPE
  • Mandatory peer review and practice quality
  • Exemption for CPAs from Maryland (and federal) tax preparer regulation 
  • Practice mobility
  • AG opinion allowing CPAs to use Social Security numbers for tax services
  • 120/150 CPA exam legislation
  • Restricted audits, reviews, and compilations to CPAs and added safe harbor for compilations
  • State Board of Public Accountancy reauthorization

What is the value of this advocacy? Priceless.

That is why we need your continued support of our advocacy efforts:

  1. Membership: Strength in numbers (Join, Member-Get-a-member, 100 percent firm membership).
  2. Participation: CPA Day in Annapolis (Jan. 15, 2014).
  3. Funding: Support our PAC to help us build relationships.

We count on your support to help us protect your hard-earned CPA license.

The question is: If not you, who? If not now, when?

Here is a recap from the Maryland Chamber of Commerce on the 2013 Session for Business