Thursday, January 28, 2010

2010 Session Watch

The 2010 Virginia General Assembly session is in full swing, which means we’re busy taking action on any legislation that could potentially affect Virginia CPAs and their abilities to do their jobs — as well as continuing to monitor other bills under consideration.

And we have some great news so far! Our
pass-through entity bill (SB 178) unanimously passed the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday, January 26, with a minor amendment to add an effective date for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2009.

Other important news to report:

Financial literacy
The VSCPA continues to fight for maintaining the Virginia high school graduation requirement in personal finance and economics education. That’s why we’ve opposed any bills that threaten the requirement (which is currently law). We’re thrilled that
one of the bills to repeal the stand-alone course (HB 196) has been amended to delay all of the new graduation requirements by one year due to the Commonwealth’s budget situation. We do not oppose the bill as amended because, while the graduation requirement should not pose major fiscal strain on school systems, we understand the financial impact any new requirement could have.

other immediate threat to the stand-alone course in financial literacy was HB 622, which would have given school districts much more leeway to integrate the course into existing curricula — a move the VSCPA opposed because of the importance of a stand-alone requirement. The House Education Committee has agreed to carry over the bill until next fall, which they will address before the 2011 session starts. At this time, there is no immediate threat to financial literacy education to address during this session.


We are strongly urging lawmakers to address conformity by letting them know that for each day that goes by without conformity, the burdens increase on Virginia’s taxpayers and preparers.
Our bill (SB 179), to implement a more permanent conformity fix, is still under deliberation by the Senate Finance Committee. The regular conformity bills (HB 614 and SB 545) are currently facing opposition from the manufacturing industry, which is taking issue with a new Section 199 exception on the deduction of domestic production activities. We are very closely monitoring these bills and working to minimize the negative impact any delay could have on tax return preparers.


E-filing is here to stay.
The Virginia threshold for e-filing will become 50 returns if the legislation becomes law, and it is sailing through without problems. The Senate has already passed SB 357, and its companion bill in the House, HB 1045, will soon be reported to the House Finance Committee. The threshold for e-filing federal returns recently became 10 returns or more, and Virginia’s legislation has a positive budget impact. Those two factors will make this legislation virtually unstoppable. The VSCPA took a neutral position.

Stay tuned to and for updates on these and other bills we’re monitoring on behalf of Virginia CPAs.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Peer Review Board Meeting Hits Several Hot Topics

It’s cold and rainy in Phoenix today, just like back home in Richmond. Despite the gloomy weather, we’re accomplishing a great deal today at the Peer Review Board meeting.

Here are a few items on the agenda:

  • Increased peer review requirements for A-133 engagements
  • Strategies to increase the pool of future peer reviewers
  • Increasing input on standards and oversight implementation from technical reviewers and administrators
  • Planning for the Peer Review Conference, to be held August 1–3, 2010, in San Antonio, Texas
We’ve been talking a great deal about the second bullet point in Virginia. We currently have about 50 peer reviewers who perform reviews in Virginia, which is a good, strong number. But many of those reviewers perform only one or two reviews each year, which means several reviewers are stretched thin. Not to mention that several of the more active reviewers are nearing retirement. It’s important to ensure we have a healthy pool of strong peer reviewers moving forward to adequately meet the need.

This profession prides itself on strong self-oversight. We have an obligation to keep the Peer Review Program as strong as it is now. I’m glad we’re addressing this important issue, and I look forward to more discussion on this topic today.

Back to the meeting. …

Thursday, January 21, 2010

New Members Had Questions. We Had Answers.

The office is calm now, but it wasn’t so quiet this morning! Every so often, staff at the VSCPA take some time to call members just to check in. This morning, staff called about 600 members who had recently joined to welcome them to the Society and find out how things are going.

We asked our newest members if they had any questions about their VSCPA membership so far. Here are a few of the actual questions we received this morning, along with the answers:

Question: How do I log in to the website (to change my contact information, register for a course, etc.)?
Answer: Click on the “For Members” section of the menu at Your username is your last name, and your password is your member ID number, unless you’ve changed it. Give us a call at (800) 733-8272 if you need a refresher.

Question: I'm not in public accounting. Are there many other members who work in industry?
Answer: There sure are! Right now, CPAs in public accounting make up 42.5 percent of our membership, so the majority of members work in industry, education, government and other fields. No matter what you do, this is a community for you. [By the way, check out the free Business & Industry Virtual Roundtable on February 24 for a great way to connect and share best practices with other industry members.]

Question: Now that I’ve joined, how can I get more involved with the VSCPA?
Answer: [We love this question.] It depends on how and why you’d like to get involved, but here are a few ways to get started:

  • If you feel like volunteering your time, check out our various volunteer opportunities online. While the deadline for some 2010–2011 volunteer opportunities has passed, there are several year-round roles to fill.
  • If you’d like to network, consider joining our quickly-growing social networking sites or visiting your local chapter. Local chapters offer CPE, volunteer opportunities and a great way to connect on the local level. Keep an eye on the “CPE & Networking” section of the site for virtual and in-person networking and CPE events, which also help you connect. Oh, and check out the searchable Membership Directory.
  • Consider writing an article for a VSCPA publication to share your expertise.
  • Check out information on the VSCPA Educational Foundation and CPA PAC of Virginia for ways you can support the CPA profession in Virginia.
  • There are so many other ways to get involved. Let us know if you’d like help brainstorming!
Question: Do you offer any pro bono tax programs I can volunteer for?
Answer: Yes we do, and we’d love your help! Check out all the VSCPA offers on its consumer site,, and contact VSCPA Community Relations Coordinator Tracey Zink at (804) 612-9427 to volunteer for any of the programs listed.

Question: What career resources can the VSCPA offer me?
Answer: The VSCPA offers several resources to help you land a great position. Browse the online Career Center for job openings, and sign up for the LinkedIn group to receive news on available positions. Also, we know the down economy has been tough for many members. Check out the VSCPA’s Economic Resource Center for a list of resources and articles to help you weather the downturn.

Question: Can you help me pass the CPA Exam?
Answer: Perhaps indirectly. We offer our members deep discounts on CPA Exam prep, among other goods and services. Study hard!

Question: Do you have any resources to help me get through tax season?
Answer: We sure do!
  • Lean on your fellow members in tax this season and benefit from their collective expertise by signing up for the VSCPA Taxation E-mail Listserve. This listserve is an incredibly popular resource year-round.
  • The VSCPA hosts an online referral database, CPA Referral Online. Fill out this sign-up form to make sure you’re listed.
  • Stay tuned to VSCPA communications for tax headlines throughout tax season.
This just scratches the surface of how you can leverage your VSCPA membership. Want to know more? There’s a virtual New Member Orientation Wednesday, March 24, 2010, from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. We’ll walk you through accessing your membership benefits online and connecting with other VSCPA members across the Commonwealth.

Whether you’re a new or veteran member, don’t hesitate to call us any time to ask a question, inquire about a resource, or leave feedback. The Member Services Hotline is (800) 733-8272.

Welcome, new members, and thanks for the great questions!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Today Is CPA Day at the Virginia General Assembly

It’s CPA Day at the Virginia General Assembly, and VSCPA members and staff are busy visiting with legislators this morning. Members are introducing themselves and offering their assistance throughout the 2010 session, as well as discussing several important issues, including:
  • SB 179 — Income tax laws; conformity to Internal Revenue Code
    Advances conformity with federal income tax laws to December 31, 2009, for taxable year 2009 and to December 31, 2010, for taxable year 2010, with three additional exceptions.

    The VSCPA supports this bill and is encouraging legislators to take early action to avoid major problems for tax preparers.

  • HB 196 — Economics education and financial literacy; repeals requirement for instruction in certain schools
    Repeals the requirement for economics education and financial literacy instruction in middle and high schools.
  • HB 622 — Economics education and financial literacy; requires implementation through relevant Standards of Learning (SOL) programs, such as career and technical programs
    Allows local school boards to implement Virginia Board of Education (VBOA) objectives for economics education and financial literacy through other educational programs that meet VBOE objectives.

    The VSCPA opposes any legislation that jeopardizes Virginia’s new stand-alone course in personal finance as a requirement for high school graduation.

  • SB 178 — Pass-through entities; penalties
    Revises the failure to file an information return and the failure to remit withholding tax penalties on pass-through entities.

    The VSCPA supports this legislation because it makes penalty provisions of pass-thru entity returns consistent with those of other types of returns.

Monday, January 18, 2010

New Podcast Series: VSCPA CEO Update

This is a busy time for CPAs, with tax season and General Assembly session upon us and several issues cropping up that could potentially impact CPAs nationwide.

Through our ongoing commitment to keeping members informed through traditional and emerging communication vehicles and technologies, we have launched a new monthly podcast series for the new year — the VSCPA CEO Update.

Each month, I’ll record a brief podcast detailing the top issues impacting CPAs here in Virginia and nationwide, including the VSCPA’s involvement in those issues. So even during a busy time of year, you can stay up-to-date on professional news during your commute or whenever you have time to listen.

Download the
first podcast now for the details you need to know about the following current issues:

  • Virginia Board of Accountancy (BOA) fast-track regulatory package
  • Top issues on the agenda for tomorrow’s CPA Day at the General Assembly
  • Financial literacy
  • Virginia General Assembly session news affecting CPAs
  • National news, including tax preparer registration and private company financial reporting
  • And more

I’m really excited about this new podcast series. Please check back monthly for each new installment, and feel free to leave feedback on the series. As always, I’m interested to hear what you think. Happy listening!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

MAP Breakfasts Gather Leaders to Discuss Top Issues Impacting CPA Firms

More than 30 CPA firm leaders are gathered at the Richmond CPA Center this morning to discuss top issues affecting firms. It’s this year’s second Virginia Society of CPAs (VSCPA) Management of an Accounting Practice (MAP) Breakfast, the first of which was held yesterday morning in Northern Virginia.

On the agenda? The results of the latest American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) Private Companies Practice Section (PCPS) CPA Firm Top Issues Survey.

The discussion has been great this week. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Staffing has been the dominant issue for many firms over the last decade, but for the first time in several years, staffing isn’t the number one issue in the PCPS CPA Firm Top Issues Survey. For sole practitioners, tax complexity isn’t the number one issue, as it has been in recent years. Although results varied based on firm size in the last survey, conducted in 2007, the 2009 survey now has the same top issue for all size firms — client retention. No doubt the economy has something to do with this result. Other common issues include technical complexity, succession planning, marketing to new clients and human capital.
  • Based on the results, most firms, no matter size, felt the recovery won’t start much before 4th quarter 2009 with the majority being in 2010.
  • Across all sizes and categories, firms expect A/R strain and reduction of revenue will most impact them.
Learn more about the
survey results online at

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Countdown to 2010 Session

It’s that time again! The Virginia General Assembly convenes January 13, and VSCPA volunteer members and I have been hard at work identifying potential legislation that could impact Virginia CPAs or their clients. We will continue to monitor those bills and others that pop up throughout session and take action as needed.

In addition, the VSCPA pursues an aggressive legislative and regulatory agenda each year to protect the CPA profession and designation in Virginia, and this year is no different. Check out the VSCPA’s 2010 agenda to see what we’re tackling now.

Currently, the VSCPA is working with long-time VSCPA member Sen. Walter Stosch, CPA, to introduce two pieces of legislation in the upcoming session:

  • Conformity: Each year, the VSCPA advocates for the quick passage of legislation to conform Virginia’s tax code to the federal tax code. This year is no different. Except the VSCPA’s bill would move the conformity date forward two years to make it a prospective date rather than a retroactive date, as has been used in the past. Additionally, it incorporates a threshold impact component, which will create some protection for Virginia from federal changes that could have a significant negative impact on tax revenue in Virginia.
  • Penalties on pass-through entities: The VSCPA’s bill separates the pass-through entity penalty structure into two separate penalties: failure to file and failure to pay.

Finally, the VSCPA will be hosting CPA Day 2010 at the Virginia General Assembly on Tuesday, January 19, from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Virginia State Capitol. It’s not too late to join us! Represent the CPA profession at the Virginia General Assembly by engaging your legislators. Sign up by January 12, and help us ensure our legislative goals are met. Can’t make it? We’ll be tweeting live from the General Assembly that day, so stay tuned to @VSCPANews on

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Great news to start off the new year! As of December 30, 2009, the VSCPA’s retention rate was 95.39 percent, up from last year’s rate of 94.02 percent. As the VSCPA’s membership year ends April 30, that rate could potentially increase.

What’s more, the VSCPA’s retention rate is exceeding industry standards. According to 2009 data published by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) & The Center for Association Leadership, the mean retention rate for individual membership organizations is 83 percent, and the median is 87 percent.

It’s important to bring new members into the fold, but equally important to ensure members return year to year. The high retention rate indicates members are satisfied with their overall membership experience and find value in maintaining their membership, which is good news for the organization. The stronger the membership, the greater the impact the organization can make.

Due to recruitment and retention efforts combined, this community has hit an all-time high — 8,900 members! That’s cause for celebration!

Through a commitment to research and gathering member feedback, the VSCPA continuously strives to ensure members’ needs are being met. If you have feedback on VSCPA programs, services or events, never hesitate to contact any of us directly with your thoughts.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Write, Text, Call or Come By?

We’re now well into the 21st century and communication technology has made it possible to choose any number of ways to interact. As a writer, I spend most of my time trying to convey ideas to audiences of varying size without much feedback. In my former life as a sales person, I valued the face-to-face and phone interactions that gave me the opportunity to consult and converse with potential customers. We all face several chances each day to share, trade or discuss information with a variety of people ... are you making the most of the opportunity?

Take a look at this article:
The Five Levels of Communication in a Connected World. I’m not sure that five is the correct number to classify communication (with the speed technology develops it's probably 20 by now), but the article does have some good points about using the correct communication medium for a situation.