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.