Legislative / Regulatory

Day 70 of session – Tax Preparers Legislation

Dsc07399 Pictured at left is the official "MACPA Trolley" that shuttles people from the Navy stadium parking to State Circle and the Maryland legislative buildings. This is our fifth year sponsoring a trolley with a banner that says:

Your doctor is certified.

Your lawyer is certified.

Shouldn't your accountant be certified?

The purpose is to educate the legislators and the public about the difference between unlicensed accountants and Certified Public Accountants. Did you know that we are now in our 108th year of being regulated and licensed by the great state of Maryland? You would be surprised by how may people do not know the difference. That is also the subject of today's post.

We are here testifying FWA - Favorable With Amendments to HB 1447 Maryland Individual Tax Preparers Act. This is the House version of the bill we testified on last week in the Senate (see our prior post). We testified today on our five amendments covering the following:

  1. What is covered by "tax registration"? - we believe all tax preparers should be included in this registration
  2. Who should be exempt? - we need all CPAs (licensed from any state) and our staff to be exempt from this. Since CPAs are required by law (COMAR B) and by our Professional Code of Conduct to take responsibility for our work and the work of our subordinates or employees.
  3. Examination? - we believe that the examination should come from a reputable, independent regulatory authority, like the US Treasury IRS Special Enrolled Agent Exam Part 1. One group proposed the ACAT exam (can you guess who?), which is nothing more than Surgent CPE with no rigors of a real exam or independent regulatory authority - this simply would do nothing to protect the public and would just line the pockets of deceptive tax education providers - see my prior post for this background (last paragraph) and the post covering the misinformation by a group wanting to sell tax CPE.
  4. Disclosures - We believe the public should be made aware of the qualifications of the tax preparer and that the person is not a CPA, Tax Attorney, or Enrolled Agent.
  5. Public Awareness - like our financial literacy initiative to make the public aware of the key questions to ask their tax preparers, this law can be most effective only if the public is made aware of it.

The interesting thing about being part of the process is that sometimes things are what they appear and we have to stay active and involved to protect the Status of other key legislative priorities:

SB 817 Tax Preparers - voted out of Senate Committee with our necessary amendments

HB 1296 Mobility - voted out of the Business Regulation Subcommittee, next step full committee

HB 664 / SB 444 Corporate Tax Reporting - Hearings were held last week and Comptroller and Maryland Chamber continue to work on these.

And for those of you wondering, the Smith Island Cake bill passed the Senate 44-1 yesterday!