Monday, December 28, 2009

New CPA Regulations Are Now In Process!

We are pleased to report that after months of development, revised regulations governing CPAs in Virginia have been submitted into the “fast-track” regulatory process by the Virginia Board of Accountancy (BOA).

The VSCPA has issued official comments to Gov. Tim Kaine on the proposal, but you can read a recap of the regulations here.

In our comment letter, it’s clear we fully support the BOA’s proposal, and we’d like the state government to push these through the regulatory process as quickly as possible. Right now, conflicts between the statutes and regulations are confusing to Virginia CPAs and creating a lot of questions about the current rules for practicing public accounting in the Commonwealth.

We take our responsibility to advocate on your behalf very seriously at the VSCPA. Our leaders and staff want to ensure your needs, as a CPA regulant who must follow Virginia law, are adequately represented and spoken for.

If you have any questions about the regulations and the VSCPA’s role in the process, feel free to contact me at or (804) 612-9423. VSCPA Government Affairs Director Emily Walker can also answer your questions at (804) 612-9424.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A PR Plan: Celebrating Financial Literacy Successes Through Virginia Media

When Gov. Tim Kaine signed into law the new Virginia high school graduation requirement of one credit in economics and personal finance, it was cause for celebration for Virginia CPAs. Here at the VSCPA, it marked a major victory six years in the making; for the past several years, the requirement was so important that it was on the VSCPA's legislative agenda.

We began talking about ways to get this exciting news out to the public. During a recession, we felt it was more important than ever that parents knew their children would be required to learn valuable money management skills before graduating from high school.

We also wanted to get the word out about the tremendous member support we had for this issue. During the Virginia Board of Education's comment period for the new requirement in 2008, 329 comments were submitted — primarily from VSCPA members and members of the
Virginia Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy (a group spearheaded by the VSCPA in 2005). The Virginia CPA community spoke, and the VBOE listened. The VBOE indicated the comments were a key factor in their decision to incorporate the course into graduation requirements.

VSCPA Vice-President of Member & Public Relations Tina Lambert, CAE, was the perfect voice for this issue. She is currently on the Virginia Jump$tart Board of Directors and served as its chair from 2005– 2008.

We sent an opinion/editorial piece written by Tina, "Teaching Virginia's Children Some Cents," to several media outlets, and were thrilled that it was run in the
Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce's e-newsletter, as well as a national e-newsletter from WebCPA.

So when an article in the
Richmond Times-Dispatch on December 10, 2009, "Mandatory Course Raises Concerns," brought some school teachers' and administrators' problems with the requirement to light, we were prepared. We immediately sent a letter to the editor of the Times-Dispatch, e-mails to the article's reporters and editors and requests for space to send in our op/ed. We were excited when the editor upgraded our letter to an op/ed. With a few tweaks to our original commentary, our response to the Times-Dispatch was off and printed December 18.

Ensuring we are an advocate for the financial literacy of all Virginians remains a major priority for the VSCPA, and we will continue to spread this message to the media. It's just one of the ways we advocate for our CPA members and the issues they care about most.

Friday, December 11, 2009

To Be Successful, Make More Mistakes

That sounds a bit counterintuitive, but in a recent article by former CFO, John L. Daly, CPA, CMA, CPIM, about surviving an economic downturn, that’s the advice … and it’s sound. Daly emphasizes the wisdom of small evolutionary changes rather than large revolutionary transformations, and includes an insightful list of characteristics of companies that struggle in economic downturns.

The article is a five-minute read, but I took away a few really good nuggets regarding change, allocation of resources and the proper place for cost-cutting.
Click here to take a look. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

VSCPA Requests Amendment to Bill on Auditors of Broker-Dealers

On November 19, 2009, the VSCPA sent a letter to Sen. Mark R. Warner urging him to offer an amendment to modify the problematic Section 982 of Chairman Chris Dodd’s financial regulatory reform package.

Section 982 would extend the registration and inspection by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) to the auditors of all non-public broker-dealers. The VSCPA believes an expansion of PCAOB authority to register and inspect auditors is absolutely appropriate and necessary to build public confidence and avoid further investor scams, such as the Ponzi scheme notoriously committed by Bernard Madoff.

To achieve this balance, it is important to distinguish between broker-dealers who actually control client funds (clearing and custodial broker-dealers) versus those broker-dealers who never touch investors’ monies (introducing broker-dealers). The VSCPA does not support the language as written. However, if it is modified to expand PCAOB registration and inspection to auditors of clearing and custodial broker-dealers, but not introducing broker-dealers, the VSCPA would endorse its passage.

Read the VSCPA’s full comments for more information.

VSCPA Opposes Private Right of Action for Allegations of Aiding and Abetting Under Securities Exchange Act

On November 10, 2009, a Senate discussion draft titled the “Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2009” was released. Section 984 in the draft, to create a new private right of action for allegations of aiding and abetting violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, is of particular concern, which is why the VSCPA is opposed to this language.

According to a letter the VSCPA sent Sen. Mark R. Warner on November 23, 2009, Section 984 will not only permit private rights of action for aiding and abetting under securities laws, but will also lower the current legal standard for conduct in aiding and abetting cases brought by plaintiffs’ attorneys from a standard of “knowingly” committing a violation to mere “reckless” behavior. Because recklessness is not defined, and as a practical matter is a vague standard, this change alone would result in a significant increase in litigation, the VSCPA said. Read the full letter for more information.

The VSCPA urged that Section 984 be stricken from the Restoring American Financial Stability Act, thereby leaving enforcement for aiding and abetting with the SEC, whose focus will be on those parties who engaged in fraudulent conduct rather than exposing a sizeable portion of the economy to expanded liability simply because of their “deep pockets.”

Friday, November 20, 2009

Volunteerism as a Path to Leadership

A recent Journal of Accountancy article, “Teach Young CPAs Well: Partners, CFOs must instill leadership skills to find their successors,” demonstrates how valuable volunteering can be to a young CPA in his or her development into the future leaders of the firm and the profession. Volunteering is a great way to develop leadership skills — not only technical skills, but those “soft” skills like communication which are so valuable in today’s market.

This article also proves very timely to the VSCPA as we are currently offering our members more than 30 volunteer opportunities from which to choose for our 2010–2011 fiscal year. If you’re interested in using your skills to help Virginians, students or your community, please
take a look at our volunteer opportunities here. Active engagement in extracurricular opportunities is a valuable time investment.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Article on Efficient Month-End Closing From John L. Daly

If you deal with the month-end closing process, this is an interesting article from a former CFO, John L. Daly, CPA, MBA, CMA, CPIM. His explanations as to why “fresh” information is important and how most companies attempt to implement quick closing procedures are interesting. Reconciliations seem much more evil after one statistic: “many organizations spend large portions of their costs, perhaps 30%, fixing things not done correctly the first time.”

It’s a relatively short article.
Click here for the full text.

If you’re interested in learning more about shortening your closing times, John will be teaching a four-hour seminar on the subject at the
VSCPA CPE Cluster at Wintergreen. It’s in February, so don’t forget your skis.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

AICPA Files Lawsuit Challenging Application of 'Red Flag' Rules to CPAs

In the latest news surrounding the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) "Red Flags" Rule, the AICPA announced this afternoon that it has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking an injunction barring the FTC from applying the Rule, which would impose onerous and unnecessary requirements on CPAs.

“We do not believe that there is any reasonably foreseeable risk of identity theft when CPA clients are billed for services rendered,” said AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon. “As trusted advisors, CPAs are personally acquainted with their clients and already adhere to strict privacy requirements governing identifying information.”

The AICPA’s complaint, filed by law firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, alleges that the FTC is exceeding its congressionally granted powers under the 2003 law by interpreting its Red Flags Rule to apply to accountants. The AICPA’s complaint alleges that the FTC has acted arbitrarily, capriciously, and contrary to law by failing to articulate a rational connection between the profession of public accounting and identity theft. The FTC failed to explain how the manner in which public accountants bill their clients in the normal course of business constitutes an extension of credit. The FTC further failed to identify any legally supportable basis for applying the rule to accountants.

Due to urging from Congress, the FTC announced Friday, October 30, that it had delayed enforcement of the Rule until June 1, 2010, for financial institutions and creditors subject to enforcement by the FTC.
Read more online at

In related news, HR 3763, which recently passed the House of Representatives, grants only certain sized businesses an exemption Red Flags Rule. One of the professions identified for exemption criteria in this legislation is the accounting profession, but only if a firm has 20 or fewer employees. On November 3, the VSCPA mailed a
letter to Sen. Mark R. Warner stating that the current exemption criteria would provide relief to just a small percentage of accountants and accounting firms from the burden of complying with the Rule. The VSCPA said the exemption should be expanded to all CPA firms.

Also, check out an earlier post on this issue, and read a letter the VSCPA sent to Sen. Jonathan D. Leibowitz on August 5, 2009, detailing several reasons CPAs should be exempt from the Rule.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cloud Control

In our annual communications survey to a random sample of VSCPA members, respondents consistently reveal they want technology-related articles in Disclosures.

So the
November/December issue of Disclosures features a hot tech topic for CPAs — especially those who are small business owners: cloud computing.

"Keep Your Head Above the Clouds: Stay on Top of Cloud Computing Trends," veteran Disclosures author Haven Pope, CPA, CFE, explores, in layman's terms, how cloud computing works, and then breaks down the benefits and risks.

Two technical articles provide food for thought for CPAs working in business and industry as well as tax practitioners:
"Cash Is King: Utilize Cost Segregation Studies to Increase Cash Flow," by Dennis Diersen, CPA; and "Just Passin' Through: A Primer on Virginia's Pass-Through Entity Withholding Rules," by Jay Bethard, CPA, J.D., LL.M.

In the hopper:

The January/February issue is in production, and we have two new standing columns that will appear in each 2010 issue. "Today's CPA," to be authored by different VSCPA members, will tackle topics related to getting ahead as a CPA. "Leader's Edge," a column from VSCPA member, speaker and author Brian Kush, CPA, CISA, CITP, will focus on management, leadership and interpersonal skills essential for CPAs.

Feedback or thoughts? Contact me anytime.

Monday, November 2, 2009

FTC Postpones Enforcement of Red Flag Rule to June 1, 2010

Due to urging from Congress, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced late Friday, October 30, that it has delayed enforcement of the “Red Flag” Rule until June 1, 2010, for financial institutions and creditors subject to enforcement by the FTC. Read more online at

Check out an
earlier post on this issue, and read a letter the VSCPA sent to Sen. Jonathan D. Leibowitz on August 5, 2009, detailing several reasons CPAs should be exempt from the Rule.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

AICPA Provides Tax Reform Principles to White House Panel

It’s no secret that the United States income tax system is complicated and unnecessarily cumbersome in many cases. The CPA profession considers these complexities hurdles to economic recovery.

The VSCPA believes changes need to be made, most immediately in the areas of alternative minimum tax (which is projected to impact 30 million middle-class Americans in 2010) and estate and gift tax rules.

On October 16, 2009, American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) President & CEO Barry Melancon testified before the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board (PERAB) at the White House, laying out principles for effective tax reform.

The VSCPA applauds the AICPA’s efforts to improve our federal tax system and promote simplicity and fairness.
In a nutshell, Melancon recommended the administration and Congress simplify and ease the alternative minimum tax (AMT), offering 13 alternative solutions to mitigate complexity and inequity. While the AICPA says outright eliminating the individual AMT is preferable, the Institute recognizes that course of action may not be feasible due to the reality of potential revenue losses.

The AICPA also urged Congress to reform immediately the estate and gift tax rules before 2010, when the estate tax is scheduled to be repealed. Suggestions included increasing the exemption and indexing it for inflation; retaining the full step-up in basis for inherited assets and avoiding the complexities of carryover basis; providing broad-based liquidity relief, rather than targeted relief provisions, and providing portability to a surviving spouse to simplify estate planning and estate administration for married couples.

In its report to policymakers and the public, “Tax Reform Alternatives for the 21st Century,” (PDF) the AICPA provides expert analysis of the issues and fleshes out the abovementioned alternatives for federal tax reform. The AICPA also outlines its recommendations in a recent press release. Stay tuned for updates.

Stephanie R. Peters, CAE, is president & CEO of the Virginia Society of CPAs (VSCPA), the statewide professional association for CPAs. She leads the VSCPA on national and state professional issues, legislative and regulatory oversight, strategic planning, Board of Directors relations, Board resolutions and policies and external relations. She is also a member of the VSCPA Board of Directors and Executive Committee.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Happy 100th anniversary, VSCPA!

It’s official! The VSCPA (originally the Virginia Society of Public Accountants, Incorporated) was chartered by the State Corporation Commission exactly 100 years ago today. Today, we celebrate 100 years of success …and counting!

The Richmond CPA Center will be full of visitors today — members stopping by to join in the celebration. This afternoon, we’re holding the official 100th Anniversary Celebration, so watch our Twitter feed ( and Flickr pages ( for photos.

This occasion is all about members. The VSCPA wouldn’t be where it is today without the dedication of its thousands of members, volunteers and supporters. The organization has enjoyed 100 years of successfully protecting and promoting the CPA profession, only because members of the CPA profession have been so devoted to the organization’s mission. Thank you, VSCPA members, for making the success of your profession a priority! Clearly, it’s paid off, which is why we’re celebrating today.

In addition to today’s shindig, tomorrow the VSCPA's 100th anniversary will be mentioned on The Today Show during Willard Scott's special birthday and anniversary segment! Tune in tomorrow, Wednesday, October 7, at around 8:30 a.m. to catch what Scott has to say about the VSCPA and its loyal members. Visit for a complete list of recognition and attention the VSCPA received throughout its Centennial anniversary year.

And watch your mailbox! Later this month, you’ll receive a commemorative Centennial issue of Disclosures magazine featuring a 16-page timeline illustrating the Society's background, articles highlighting various aspects of VSCPA history, a recap of the year-long anniversary celebration and much more.

Finally, the VSCPA Educational Foundation has launched a Centennial fundraising campaign, with the goal of reaching $250,000 by April 30, 2009. Honor the past by securing the future: Donate to the VSCPA Educational Foundation. All contributions will support the Foundation’s programs, services and scholarships aimed at attracting future CPAs.

The CPA profession in Virginia is 100 years old today! So is your professional association. Way to go!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Exploring Generational Differences in Disclosures

By now you should have received your September/October issue of Disclosures, packed full of information for students and articles on accounting education.

In the cover article,
"Generation Trap," VSCPA member Clare Levison investigates how different generations in the workplace approach issues like advancement, technology and family. She adds a personal touch to the article by including a quick interview with a coworker who has worked at Clare's company for 57 years.

A special shout out to Brian Kush, who's article,
"Passing the CPA Exam: More Than Just a Test," was picked up by AccountingWeb. As of today, more than 2,000 online readers had checked it out!

In the hopper: The VSCPA Editorial Task Force met in late August, and the 2010 Editorial Calendar is in development. You can expect lots of new topics covered in the magazine next year, from environmental sustainability to communication skills.

Feedback or thoughts? Give me shout.

Friday, September 18, 2009

CPA Day of Service Unites Hundreds of CPAs Through Volunteering

Today has been an amazing day. Not only was it the final weekday of Virginia CPA Week, but it was also the first-ever CPA Day of Service. More than 500 CPAs all around Virginia took the time to volunteer for organizations in their communities today. And that number represents just those CPAs who signed up to volunteer. I’m sure the number of volunteers, in reality, was much higher.

This afternoon, I worked alongside the Richmond Chapter of the VSCPA at the Central Virginia Food Bank for a bit. While we were there, The Roseline Group was working in the kitchen down the hall and Yount, Hyde & Barbour dropped off an impressive amount of food their firm has been collecting. The VSCPA staff also donated 169 pounds of food and approximately $500 in cash to the Central Virginia Food Bank this afternoon in honor of CPA Day of Service.
Immediately after, I headed to the
Ronald McDonald House in Richmond, where volunteers from Clifton Gunderson were painting, doing yard work, organizing food supplies and cleaning.

It was a great feeling knowing that CPAs all across Virginia were giving back today through CPA Day of Service. I’m so proud of Virginia CPAs and the firms and companies that supported this volunteer event.

Check out photos from the Day of Service, and be sure to e-mail us your photos so we can add them to the collection! And check out the list of volunteers (that we’re aware of) and the organizations they served.

Thanks again, everyone! I look forward to next year’s event.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Happy Virginia Certified Public Accountants Week!

Yesterday, I spent time promoting the CPA designation in our nation’s capital. In my opinion, it was the perfect way to kick off Virginia CPA Week.

I addressed U.S. Department of Defense employees regarding the importance of seeking a professional designation or certification — with particular emphasis on finance professionals becoming Certified Public Accountants (CPAs).

My message? That CPAs are state-certified professionals who serve the public by providing sound, reliable financial counsel. That those who achieve the CPA designation are held to high standards of ethics, financial and business acumen, and professionalism. That both companies and the public know they can turn to CPAs for sound financial guidance and accurate information. That the CPA designation is both trusted and respected.

Gov. Timothy Kaine included a similar message in his proclamation (PDF) recognizing this week, September 13–19, 2009, as Virginia CPA Week in conjunction with the VSCPA’s Centennial anniversary.

“It is fitting to recognize CPAs’ contributions to the well-being and success of citizens and commerce in the Commonwealth of Virginia and across the nation,” the proclamation states.

CPAs are so highly regarded by employers, clients, investors and the public at large, and they deserve this recognition. I am proud of Virginia CPAs, and I am proud to represent the CPA profession day-to-day.

Happy Virginia CPA Week!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

VSCPA Comments on Proposed Tax Preparer Regulation

The VSCPA has serious concerns regarding potential tax preparer registration. Check out a letter the VSCPA sent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on August 31, 2009, regarding Notice 2009-60, Standards of Conduct for the Tax Return Preparer Community and Increased Taxpayer Compliance.

"The VSCPA is extremely concerned about redundant regulation and enforcement on CPAs who prepare tax returns," the letter says, outlining various requirements CPAs must already meet. "Adding an additional level of registration and regulation would only cause confusion and redundancy."

Another concern? The VSCPA believes that creating a registration requirement for all tax preparers could give the public the impression that all tax preparers possess the same level of expertise and knowledge as CPAs, adding to an already existing misconception that all accountants are CPAs.

Instead of adding a separate set of procedures and oversight, the VSCPA suggested that the IRS expand its existing procedures and regulations to include unlicensed preparers.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Sneak Peek: September/October Disclosures

The September/October issue of Disclosures is on its way to VSCPA members' mailboxes. We've got a great lineup in this special themed issue focusing on accounting education!
  • VSCPA member Phil Umansky, CPA, a professor at Virginia Union University, takes a close look at the trends in educating students about International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), including examples of how a few Virginia colleges and universities are tackling the issue.
  • Brian Kush, CPA, a VSCPA member and speaker, provides his perspective on the CPA Exam. He says it's more than just a test; it's a life learning experience. His article provides food-for-thought for associate and student members sitting for the Exam, but also offers an opportunity for seasoned CPAs to look back on their own Exam experiences.
  • Student members will get great resources just for them in their own special section detailing VSCPA student member benefits, scholarship info and more. The Student Section runs in the September/October issue every other year.

There's even more for readers, including a look at the issues that separate generations in the workplace and a special good-bye to VSCPA member Howard Anderson, CPA.

So take a look at this packed fall issue, and send me a note or give me a call with your feedback!

Red Flags Raised on Red Flag Rules

In the ongoing debate regarding "Red Flag Rules," which are designed to prevent identity theft, several industries seem to be concerned about the undue burden these rules might inflict — including CPAs.

By the nature of their profession, CPAs adhere to strict privacy requirements regarding client confidentiality. That's just one of the many reasons the VSCPA, AICPA and several state CPA societies around the country have requested that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) exempt CPAs and CPA firms from its Final Rule Relating to Identity Theft Red Flags and Address Discrepancies Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003.

On August 5, 2009, the VSCPA sent a letter to Sen. Jonathan D. Leibowitz detailing several reasons CPAs should be exempt from the red flags rules.

CPAs are not the only ones who are concerned.

This past Thursday, the American Bar Association announced it has filed suit against the FTC. In its complaint, the ABA says the Rule "imposes significant burdens upon lawyers, particularly sole practitioners and those practicing in small firms, who comprise the majority of the lawyers in the United States."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Soup Kitchens, Shelters and Schools...Oh My!

What do Antioch Academy Preschool, Fairfax County Library and the Warrenton Food Coalition have in common? They are all getting some CPA love on Friday, September 18, 2009 — CPA Day of Service.

Momentum is growing for this inaugural event, which unites CPAs across the Commonwealth in volunteering for organizations of their choice. As of this afternoon, more than 200 CPAs had signed up to give back, and we know there are several others out there who are participating and haven't told us yet.

Not only are CPAs signing up to give back (both individually and in groups), but they are also sharing some great stories about their connections to these organizations. Whether their children are involved in a nonprofit extracurricular program or they got their favorite four-legged friend from a particular shelter, it seems Day of Service volunteers are giving back to organizations that mean something to them — to specific missions.

Check out the
volunteer page to see who's volunteering in your area and for what organizations, and don't forget to let us know if you're participating so we can accurately measure the collective impact the profession will make on CPA Day of Service!

Friday, August 14, 2009

IFRS for Small and Medium-sized Entities (SMEs)

On July 9, 2009, the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) issued an International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) designed for use by small and medium-sized entities (SMEs), which are estimated to represent more than 95 percent of all companies. Read more about the release of IFRS for SMEs.

John L. Daly, CPA, summarizes the key provisions in a recent article:

"The good news is that IFRS for SMEs is relatively short. Presented on an odd-sized 6”x 9¾” paper with a tiny 8.5-point font, the full text runs only 231 pages. This compares to some 2,500 pages for full IFRS and 25,000 pages for U.S. GAAP. IFRS for SMEs is not some severely scaled-down standard designed for third world countries, but a comprehensive principles-based standard. Other good news is that most of the standards discussed in IFRS for SMEs will seem familiar and common sense to U.S. accountants. There will be few unfamiliar terms."

Read Daly's full article

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

David Walker Addresses State CPA Society Staff

Last week at the 2009 American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and CPA/SEA Interchange Conference, I had the pleasure of hearing the Honorable David M. Walker, former U.S. comptroller general, speak about the desperate need for increased fiscal responsibility in the United States. Currently, Mr. Walker serves as president and CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the mission of which is “bringing Americans together to find sensible, sustainable solutions that transcend age, party lines and ideological divides in order to achieve real results.” During his address, he spoke about five key challenges that must be addressed sooner, not later: national economic responsibility, entitlement reform, health care reform, tax reform and personal financial responsibility. I can see CPAs playing a significant role in finding solutions to these challenges.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Give Back Through CPA Day of Service: September 18, 2009

As part of our Centennial anniversary celebration, the VSCPA is sponsoring CPA Day of Service on Friday, September 18, 2009, to unite the CPA profession in giving back.

I am really excited about this opportunity for CPAs across the Commonwealth to make a collective difference in their communities. I encourage all Virginia CPAs and CPA firms to participate in CPA Day of Service. Whether as a department, a firm or individually, please take some time to give back. Volunteer during the day, on your lunch break or in the evening. Just volunteer.

I will be out in the community on CPA Day of Service, supporting the CPA profession and giving my time, and I hope to see many, many VSCPA members and CPA firms doing the same.

The CPA profession, as a whole, has a lot to be thankful for. Recent research from Sageworks, Inc., lists accounting firms among seven sectors in the country still thriving, even during the economic downturn. And CPAs are still among the most respected professionals across the board. What better way to celebrate the industry’s success — and the 100-year history of the CPA profession in Virginia — than by giving back to the individuals and businesses in our communities that have helped the profession thrive?

Please sign up today at and tell us how you plan to get involved. You’ll get a free CPA Day of Service T-shirt for letting us know your plans before August 20.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

VSCPA Member Named Among CFOs of the Year

Last night, the VSCPA was proud to sponsor the Fourth Annual Virginia Business Virginia CFO of the Year Awards. With nearly half of the VSCPA membership working in business and industry, it is essential that we support corporate finance professionals through programs and services like this prestigious event. Five individuals from nonprofit, private and public companies were recognized as the evening’s award winners. Eighteen VSCPA members were among those nominated, and Andrea M. Kilmer, CPA and VSCPA member, won in the small private company category. Chair of the VSCPA Board of Directors Jamie Walker and Chair-Elect Brad Jones also attended the ceremony, which had a record crowd of more than 350 attendees, and was held at The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond.

As we all know, the past year has been tough for all businesses in Virginia, and the CFOs have been on the front lines in dealing with and working through the economic crisis. Last night was a rare opportunity to recognize the talents of our financial leaders and thank them for the expertise and professionalism they bring to our companies and communities in Virginia.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tax Preparer Registration Probably Not the Right Answer

Early this month, Internal Revenue Commissioner Doug Shulman announced that the IRS plans to introduce various recommendations to ensure tax preparers adhere to high ethical standards. Right now, the buzz is on a potential recommendation to implement a tax preparer registration program.

This is certainly not a new issue. For years, IRS National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson has been advocating for a registration program for unlicensed tax return preparers, and various bills to this tune have been introduced over the years.

I’m all for tax preparers adhering to high ethical standards — that’s why our members in tax adhere to the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct and Statements on Standards for Tax Services. But I’m skeptical that the current proposal to regulate unlicensed tax practitioners is the way to go.

The IRS already has authority to regulate tax return preparers through the penalty authority under current law, and I am concerned that implementing a registration system could potentially overburden tax practitioners.

Shulman indicated he is committed to gathering feedback from tax practitioners and other stakeholders throughout the process of creating a formal recommendation, and state CPA societies and the AICPA are actively monitoring this issue.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Top Five Strategies for the Next Three Years

During the VSCPA Centennial Celebration Cruise, I updated members the VSCPA's accomplishments in representing the profession over the past year and agenda for continuing to tackle various issues affecting the profession and the Society. As part of that presentation, I detailed the VSCPA's new slate of top strategies, which the 2008–2009 VSCPA Board of Directors established for the next three years, and I thought I'd share those on the blog as well. Leaders and staff will tackle these over the next three years to help make a positive impact for the CPA profession in Virginia and strengthen the association as a whole:

  • Address the unique opportunities and challenges in our geographic areas.
    Demographic and membership research reveals the Northern Virginia area has a large, untapped market for membership recruitment and CPE, as well as unique geographic challenges. Faced with competition from bordering state societies and other related organizations, asserting the VSCPA brand by targeting efforts in Northern Virginia will benefit the entire organization. At the same time, attention to other geographical challenges may be addressed.
  • Serve as the premier provider of education to CPAs and other accounting professionals in a challenging and changing environment.
    Training on current topics and information in a variety of educational formats can help our members and others in the CPA community fulfill their continuing education requirements and respond to clients and employers on timely issues.
  • Be a resource of unbiased information on Virginia business, finance and economy.
    The public and members can look to the VSCPA to provide truthful, relevant information on business, finance and economic matters affecting Virginia. Whether it’s conducting surveys on the opinions of Virginia CPAs, offering consumer workshops on financial literacy or serving as a resource to Virginia legislators, the integrity and specialized knowledge of the CPA will promote the designation and the VSCPA brand.
  • Provide a membership dues and category structure to promote a healthy pipeline of members.
    Offering more flexible and relevant options for entry into the VSCPA will encourage potential and new CPAs to experience the value of VSCPA membership — thus promoting a lifetime affinity with the organization.
  • Offer an initiative for students and young professionals that supports aspiring and new CPAs.
    The VSCPA’s success relies on a steady stream of candidates entering the CPA profession. From college through a young professional’s career, the VSCPA can make an impact by promoting accounting education and CPA careers, providing leadership training and networking and emphasizing the VSCPA as the “home” for Virginia CPAs.

New VSCPA Chair Send Important Message During 100th Annual Meeting

The VSCPA Centennial Celebration Cruise was a blast, and a great opportunity to commemorate our 100-year history. Onboard, members really enjoyed reminiscing, and it was great to hear their stories illustrating how the profession and the VSCPA have evolved over the years.

But I think our new VSCPA Chair of the Board, Jamie Walker, CPA, said it best in his address during the 100th Annual Meeting: “While we take this opportunity to celebrate the past, we also need to look to the future. Members are the lifeblood of the organization, and they will get most value from VSCPA through volunteerism — from being involved in local chapter, statewide initiatives as well as AICPA.”

As this year’s chair, Jamie plans to concentrate on getting members involved and encouraging everyone to volunteer. He wants to “raise the bar in active member participation in Society activities as well as outreach to members.”

As we move forward into our next 100 years, we need members who are as passionate and involved as those in the past in order to leave a new legacy and make a true impact for the profession.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Day 2 of VSCPA Centennial Celebration Cruise

We have officially set sail on the VSCPA Centennial Celebration Cruise and are en route to Bermuda! It’s been a wonderful celebration so far. Each attendee received a complimentary bottle of wine as they arrived to begin celebrating the VSCPA’s 100th anniversary in style. At the opening reception last night, members and guests kicked off the festivities with live entertainment and wonderful food and cocktails.

Members are gaining CPE hours as we cruise today — we started off with a great tax session with Don Farmer, and we’re continuing this afternoon with an accounting and auditing update with Walter Haig.

Tomorrow we dock in Bermuda for two days to enjoy the island.More updates soon! Until then, check out info on the VSCPA's Centennial anniversary.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Another Attempt to Ban Tax Strategy Patents

Is the tax patent saga almost over? We have renewed hope that it’s coming to a close, and we have Virginia legislators to thank for staying on top of this aggravating issue!

On May 21, Reps. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) and Bob Goodlatte, (R-Va.) introduced HR 2584, legislation that would prohibit patents on tax planning methods.

Although previous versions of the bill have died in Congress, the VSCPA and CPA profession continue to lobby for a ban on the issuance of such patents.My fingers are crossed that the legislation will pass, ending a three-year struggle to squelch this practice.

Currently, 77 tax strategy patents have been approved and there are 129 pending. These strategies apply to common areas of tax planning, including charitable contributions, estate and gift taxes, pension plans and deferred compensation.

The VSCPA doesn’t think it’s fair for taxpayers to essentially pay extra for various tax planning methods — or for tax practitioners to be prohibited from making smart tax savings choices for their clients, for that matter. These strategy patents are bad public policy.

A step in the right direction, Boucher introduced HR 2365 in 2007, which effectively rendered such tax patents unenforceable. But the current legislation would take the issue one step further, prohibiting the patents from being issued in the first place.

Last Congress, language to prohibit tax strategy patents was passed by the House as part of the Patent Reform Act of 2007. A bill containing similar language on tax strategy patent prohibition, S 2369, was introduced in the U.S. Senate last Congress by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking minority member of the Finance Committee. But the bill never made it onto the Senate floor.

The AICPA and VSCPA have both lobbied for a solution to this issue since 2006. In fact, this topic was high on the agenda during our
Congressional representative visits during the recent AICPA Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C.
The VSCPA hopes Congress will pass a permanent solution to the issue this year. Stay tuned to for the latest news on tax strategy patents.

Check out past action from the VSCPA regarding tax strategies patents:

urges senators to co-sponsor tax patent legislation; VSCPA sends letter to Sens. Warner and Webb
  • VSCPA urges senators to co-sponsor tax patent legislation; VSCPA sends letter to Sens. Warner and Webb
  • VSCPA urges congressmen to stand strong against tax patents; VSCPA sends letter to Reps. Boucher and Goodlatte
  • 2006:
    • VSCPA sends
    letter to AICPA and other state CPA societies

    BOA Reduces Credit Requirement to Sit for CPA Exam in Virginia

    Last summer, the Virginia Board of Accountancy (BOA) announced its intention to reduce the number of credit hours required to sit for the CPA Exam in Virginia. This week, the reduction became a reality.

    Whereas candidates used to need 150 hours to sit for the Exam in Virginia, they may now sit with
    120 semester hours. However, candidates still need 150 hours to apply for a CPA license in the Commonwealth. The VSCPA highly recommends that all prospective CPAs attain 150 hours of education so they may obtain licenses pending passage of the CPA Exam.Gov. Tim Kaine signed emergency regulations, putting the new rule in effect as of May 14, 2009.

    Read a full article on this topic at

    If you need additional help, contact VSCPA Government Affairs Director
    Emily Walker at (804) 612-9428, contact the BOA directly at (804) 367-8505 or visit the BOA website at

    Monday, May 4, 2009

    CPA Inauguration Celebrated New Licensees; Profession's 100-Year History in Virginia

    Last week, on April 23, we held the 4th CPA Inauguration — an event co-sponsored by the VSCPA and the Virginia Board of Accountancy to honor new CPA licensees in Virginia. Held at The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, we recognized more than 70 new licensees, and celebrated their achievement with more than 240 family and friends.

    We also had the pleasure of awarding life membership to 10 members who have been members of the VSCPA for 40 years. We heard great stories of their hard work, determination and lessons learned over the years. Among the life members was Ms. Joan Aaron, one of the few female life members we have. Stay tuned for a podcast of their remarks.

    We also took a moment to celebrate the VSCPA's Centennial anniversary, as well as 100 years of an organized CPA profession in Virginia.

    We congratulate all of the new licensees on their great achievement and welcome them to the VSCPA. And we recognize and thank the life members for their many years of service to the CPA profession.Check out more photos from the event on the VSCPA's Flickr page.

    Update From AICPA Council Meeting

    AICPA Council is meeting in Washington, D.C., right now, focusing on legislative issues affecting the profession and visits with U.S. senators and representatives. The issues CPAs will be communicating in personal visits to legislators include:

    • Financial services industry regulation
    • Turning to CPAs as the trusted advisors during the economic crisis
    • Tax strategy patents
    • Mobile workforce
    CPAs are asking federal legislators to use the CPA profession as a resource when considering new regulation of the financial service industry. The AICPA’s position is to add reasonable regulation of certain entities, such as hedge funds, and to consider thresholds and custodial relationships.

    Virginia Rep. Rick Boucher (D-9th) has agreed to introduce a bill again this session to prohibit patents on tax strategies. The House passed a similar bill last session, but it never made it through the Senate. The AICPA is advocating a swift passage of the new bill this year.

    The mobile workforce issue relates to the ability of an individual to temporarily work across state lines without needing to file an income tax return in that state. The legislation, supported by the AICPA, would establish a national standard for withholding state income taxes for nonresident workers. Currently, 41 states tax out-of-state workers’ wages, but the rules are not consistent from state to state.

    Finally, CPAs are going to Capitol Hill to advocate the CPA profession as the nation’s most trusted advisors during this time of economic distress. CPAs are promoting the profession in the eyes of lawmakers as professionals who can help educate the public and find solutions to the nation’s economic problems.

    Friday, May 1, 2009

    Article on Efficient Month-End Closing From John L. Daly

    I’m thrilled to officially launch our new blog,, as part of the Virginia Society of CPAs’ (VSCPA) initiative to employ social media and web technologies to keep members connected and informed.

    We chose the name “CPA Café” because we hope this blog will serve as a forum for Virginia CPAs to openly and casually discuss current issues affecting the workplace and the CPA profession.

    I am also excited to use this blog as a means to update Virginia CPAs on the news and information I hear as I travel around the state and the nation, gathering insights from practitioners, regulators, educators, state CPA societies, the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and other key players.

    We have guest bloggers lined up to visit the Café and offer their thoughts on several issues as well, from international standards and technology to recruiting top talent and work/life balance.

    Additionally, consider this blog a forum to voice your personal opinions and ideas and to introduce new topics we may not be covering. Visit the blog to stay current on top issues and learn what’s on your colleagues’ minds, but feel free to actively participate as well. Submit comments on the issues that are important to you in order to generate meaningful dialog with your peers — or submit a post yourself. (To submit a blog post, simply e-mail it to Blog guidelines and etiquette are posted in the menu to the left.)

    I look forward to sharing my experiences and ideas with you. But I look forward to hearing your thoughts and responses even more. Welcome to the CPA Café! Let’s get the conversation started.