Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Thoughts on the General Assembly

It's now been two weeks since the Virginia General Assembly convened for the 2013 Session. I'm sure you've heard about the controversy in the Senate earlier this week dealing with redistricting. It's certainly been the reigning news headline for the week and, if upheld, will impact many among our members. If nothing else, it clearly demonstrates how quickly things can change during Session.

There's also been quite a bit of attention on various transportation funding proposals being considered, especially Gov. Bob McDonnell's proposal (HB 2313) which has garnered a lot of support from various groups around the Commonwealth. Another high profile transportation proposal is that of Sen. John Watkins (SB 717).

Since I spend a significant amount of my time at the General Assembly attending the Finance Committee meetings for both chambers, and all the transportation bills involve changes to taxation, I have been able to sit in on a good bit of discussion. I cannot even begin to predict which proposal, if any, will prevail. The only thing I can say at this point is that there are a lot of very different, very strong opinions on the best solution.

The good news for CPAs is that our issues generally tend to be fairly non-controversial. Both bills to conform the Virginia tax code to the Internal Revenue Code for tax year 2012 (HB 2150 and SB 1241) are moving along in their respective chambers. We'll continue to monitor and communicate on the progress of these bills as they move along. Additionally, the Virginia Board of Accountancy's bill (HB 1959) to put in place a statute of limitations for filing complaints against CPAs and CPA firms is also moving along easily, and without opposition.

Continue to stay tuned to the VSCPA's 2013 Session Watch page and watch your inbox for our Session Watch e-newsletters for more detailed information on what we're working on the progress of legislation important to CPAs. As always, please let me know if you see any legislation you think we need to examine more closely, and don't forget to the keep your eyes open for the "Take Action" button on our advocacy communications as an easy way to get involved and have a voice in the process.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Federal Judge Strikes Down IRS RTRP Requirements

Last week, a federal judge ruled against the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on the agency's efforts to regulate the tax preparation profession.

Judge James Boasberg found that the text of the relevant statute does not support the IRS's claim to its authority to regulate tax return preparers. The ruling does not affect the IRS's Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) requirements.

While CPAs (along with Enrolled Agents and tax attorneys) were exempt from the requirements, the ruling is a major blow to the IRS's Registered Tax Return Preparer (RTRP) requirements. Do you think the regulatory oversight is necessary?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

CPAs and the Fiscal Situation

The VSCPA is pleased to present its interview with three CPAs who have taken the initiative to educate the public on the federal budget deficit. VSCPA member Ed Mazur, CPA, and fellow CPAs Ernie Almonte, CPA, and Dave Walker, CPA, have all held government positions and have firsthand experience with governmental fiscal issues.

Watch a video interview with Mazur and Almonte below, then help spread the word yourself. The VSCPA's Fiscal Responsibility Resource Center contains myriad reports, whitepapers and other resources related to the issue. That includes two PowerPoints to help you spread the word to civic organizations and other groups.

CPAs have the training and expertise needed to make sense of the federal government's fiscal situation. Use these resources to help you educate others.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

2013 General Assembly

The 2013 Virginia General Assembly Session convened today, though legislation has been trickling in for several months already. For the first time in several years, the VSCPA doesn't have any of its own legislation to champion. However, that certainly doesn't mean we can sit back and relax. Already on tap is the annual fixed date conformity legislation and a bill introduced at the request of the Virginia Board of Accountancy (VBOA) to put into place a statute of limitations for filing complaints against CPAs. Both of these bills have the support of the VSCPA.

Other issues being discussed for potential positions involve tort reform and procurement preferences. Additionally, we'll be looking at some tax administration issues in Gov. McDonnell's introduced budget. Specifically, these involve mandatory e-Filing of withholding and W-2's and e-Filing of pass-through entity returns. We've gotten mixed input on these issues so far, so please let us know if you have feedback you'd like VSCPA leadership to take into consideration in formulating our positions.

It's always a challenge to mine through the hundreds of bills introduced during each session in order to determine which issues to get involved in. One of our best sources of information is member input. While we may not be able to take on every issue that we're asked to, the leadership does evaluate every request and most of the VSCPA's biggest advocacy successes have resulted from members reaching out and providing input. If you know about a piece of legislation that will have an impact on the CPA profession, please let us know. Chances are high that if it's important to you, it will be important to other members as well!

Keep an eye on your email inbox for the first issue of "2013 Session Watch" this Friday and don't forget to visit the "Session Watch" page on the VSCPA website for detailed information on the legislation we're tracking.            

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

How Will the Fiscal Cliff Resolution Impact Your Clients?

As the New Year arrived, Congress struck a last-minute budget deal that avoided the so-called "fiscal cliff" scenario. The bill creates a new high-end tax bracket and extends the Bush-era tax cuts for all other brackets while extending the alternative minimum tax (AMT).

What does this mean for your clients? The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has already announced that tax season will be delayed a week. The payroll tax holiday enacted in the 2009 stimulus bill was not renewed, bumping workers' share of Social Security taxes to 6.2 percent. And of course, many issues will be revisited at the next deadline in February or March.

How are you advising your clients?