JANUARY 26, 2017
Getting Ready for CPA Day 2017
Resources for you to easily make the biggest impact.
Register to Attend
(*includes 2-hour complimentary CPE)
• Communication Action Plan & tips for your meeting
After Meeting With Your Legislator
• Write a thank you letter
• Join the Key Person Program
2016 CPA DAY RECAP VIDEO
Communication Action Plan & tips for your meeting
Please consider developing your own action plan for communicating with your legislators. Or, use the one below to develop and maintain regular contact with your legislators.
Write your legislators before the General Assembly session begins in January. This brief letter should include an introduction of yourself and an offer to assist the legislator within your areas of expertise.
Attend fund-raisers if possible and make an effort to introduce yourself to the legislator and other key people.
Attend the MACPA’S CPA Day in Annapolis each January or other gatherings where legislators will be in attendance. Work with your chapter officers to invite local legislators to an MACPA chapter meeting.
Remain aware of what is happening in the legislature, especially the activities of your legislators. Pay special attention to bills affecting the profession and business.
Stay informed on the MACPA’S legislative activities through updates on our Web site, articles in the Statement and the Issues Update provided to Legislative Network members.
Actively contact your legislators by using the easy reference guide.
Write a letter following the legislative session in April providing a positive evaluation and offering continued assistance.
Join the Key Person Program
As a Key Person with the MACPA, you take on a critical role in protecting our profession. A Key Person builds relationships with legislators who are influential with issues affecting CPAs, business, and the economy.
An MACPA Key Person may work on the state or the federal level. You will work as part of a well-connected legislative team that includes the MACPA’s Executive Committee, Board of Directors, CPA Committee on Political Action, State Legislation Committee, executive director and professional lobbyists.
Interested? Email Mary Beth Halpern at firstname.lastname@example.org
Write a thank you letter
Writing a brief letter urging your legislator to support your position is extremely effective and easy to do. Legislators closely monitor incoming mail and are sensitive to the wishes of those constituents who take time to write. They know these constituents are likely to vote and be active in the community.
You can reinforce the effectiveness of your letters by following up with a phone call to your legislator’s district office. For tips on how to effectively call, see the section on calling your legislator.
Guidelines for writing to your legislator
- Write the letter from yourself as an individual, not as an association or chapter representative. Legislators want to hear from “real constituents,” not organization officials.
- Write and mail your letter as soon as possible. Legislation can move quickly and legislators need to hear from you before they vote.
- Keep your letter brief and to the point. Letters should be no more than one page. A paragraph or two is fine.
- Stick to one or two issues and clearly identify them. A one-sentence description is fine. Give a bill number if you have one.
- Open your letter by clearly stating your position in the first paragraph. Follow up by giving reasons why the legislator should support your position.
- Personalize your letter. Let the legislator know how the legislation will affect you and the people and businesses you serve.
- Use a respectful tone in your letter. It’s OK to disagree with the legislator, but never attack him or her personally.
- Always put your return address in the letter. You can use either your home or office address; however, you should use the address that is in the legislator’s district.
- Always ask the legislator to write back to you with their position on the legislation about which you are writing. You need to know where they stand.
- Conclude your letter by urging the legislator to take action in support of your position and thank him/her for taking the time to consider your views.
- VERY IMPORTANT: Mail a copy of your letter and any correspondence you receive from the legislator to the MACPA.
Use the proper format
Address mail to The Honorable (full name). In the greeting, address the official by his or her title and last name, as in, “Dear Senator Smith.” Never spell a name wrong. Type or write legibly.
To the governor:
The Honorable Robert Ehrlich
Annapolis, MD 21401
Dear Governor O’Malley:
To your senator:
The Honorable _______________
____ James Senate Office Building
Annapolis, MD 21401-1991
To your delegate:
The Honorable ________________
____ Lowe House Office Building
Annapolis, MD 21401-1991
Dear Delegate _____________:
Your guide for talking with legislators
Talking to state legislators doesn’t have to be a nerve-wracking experience. Once you know what to do, it’s as easy as talking to a client or a friend. After all, legislators are people, too!
Use the following outline as a guide while talking to your legislator. Remember — each conversation is different, and this outline might not apply every time. But if you’ve never spoken to a legislator in person, this should give you a place to start.
- Give your name.
- Tell the legislator where you work.
- Identify yourself as a CPA and a member of the Maryland Association of CPAs.
- Identify yourself as being one of the legislator’s constituents. Tell the legislator where you live and ask where he or she lives — that might help strike up a conversation about your neighborhood or the legislator’s district.
- Tell the legislator the reason for your visit — namely, to state the CPA profession’s position on certain issues. State the issues in question and the profession’s position on each issue. (The MACPA will have briefed you about the issues prior to your visit. You also should have received copies of the MACPA’s position papers; these outline the profession’s position on the issues in detail.)
- If the legislator asks you questions about the issues that you cannot answer, do the following:
- Tell the legislator you don’t know the answer — it’s better to be truthful than to try to bluff your way through the response.
- Tell the legislator you will pass the question on to the MACPA, and that an MACPA representative will respond shortly.
- Make sure you follow through. Jot down the legislator’s question and, after your visit, pass the question on to an MACPA representative. We will respond to the legislator.
- End your conversation by emphasizing the difference between CPAs and accountants. Other accounting groups also visit Annapolis each year and each group has its own agenda. It’s important to help the legislators differentiate between these groups and the MACPA.
OPPOSE SALES TAX ON SERVICES
The Maryland Association of Certified Public Accountants is a membership organization with nearly 10,000 CPA members. Our members serve thousands of business clients in Maryland. We strongly oppose legislation that would impose sales and use tax on services, because it would have a direct negative impact on the Maryland businesses and consumers.
According to the fiscal note on a previous similar bill, “This bill will have a substantial effect on small businesses that provide or purchase the services on which the sales tax is imposed. Small businesses that purchase these services will either pay more for these services, lowering profits or causing a reallocation of other spending decisions, or will purchase smaller quantities of these services. Small businesses providing these newly taxable services will experience losses in sales for the reasons noted above. The amount of such losses will vary and cannot be reliably estimated at this time.”
The biggest obstacle to implementing a sales tax on professional services relates to the difficulty in administering the tax. This complexity exists for both the State and taxpayers. The multi-state nature of both the customers and the taxpayer in many instances make it difficult to determine where the service takes place. The following example illustrates this complexity:
A CPA travels to several states to provide tax, consulting or other services to a client that does business in several states, including other states the CPA has not visited. The sales tax for Maryland cannot be based on the amount of time the CPA spent in Maryland, because that may be disproportionate to the value of the service the client will actually enjoy in Maryland. It cannot be based on the client’s percentage of business in Maryland versus other states, because that may have nothing to do with the particular service the CPA provided. You can’t base the Maryland sales tax on whether the contract for the service was signed in Maryland, because that may have absolutely nothing to do with where the CPA will do the work or where the client will enjoy the service.
Not only are sales and use taxes a bad idea when applied to the services typically supplied by CPAs, they are also a bad idea when applied to a host of other services for the following reasons:
- Discrimination against small and emerging businesses. Small firms typically find it necessary to use outside services while larger companies likely have in-house expertise that can provide otherwise taxable services at no cost. Also, a small company whose services may become taxable will have to incur additional costs to establish and maintain collection and reporting mechanisms while larger companies likely have similar mechanisms already in place. Diverting capital into payment of additional taxes and administrative costs limits the growth of small companies.
- Pyramiding taxes on services and final goods. Taxing services increases the potential for goods and services being taxed several times resulting in higher consumer costs.
- States with service taxes are at a competitive disadvantage compared to states that do not tax services. Not only does it discourage the use of services, but it discourages companies seeking to relocate or expand.
- Taxing services will affect those who can least afford it more than those who are well off. Sales tax by its very nature is a regressive tax. The tax rate remains the same no matter what an individual’s income level may be. If more services become taxable a larger portion of disposal income for those on the lower end of the socio-economic ladder will go to satisfy sales tax obligations than that of others who are more well off.
The Maryland Association of CPAs believes a sales tax on services would burden the citizens and businesses of this state unnecessarily with additional taxes. It would negatively impact economic growth and development. We believe this proposal is bad for small business in Maryland and we will work to defeat such legislation if introduced. We note that other states such as Florida, and more recently Michigan, have attempted to tax a broad range of services only to quickly repeal them in part due to the complexity of administration as noted in the above example.
Retain Contributory Negligence Rule: Defeat Efforts To Legislate Comparative Negligence
In many of the past several years’ sessions of the General Assembly, trial lawyers have introduced bills designed to replace Maryland’s current system of determining a defendant’s liability with a system that makes recovery against a defendant easier – even when the person bringing the lawsuit substantially contributed to his own injuries. At present, the Maryland courts allow a person sued for negligence or wrongdoing to raise the “contributory negligence” defense, that is, the party sued may claim that the plaintiff contributed to his injury and thus should not be allowed to recover from the defendant. This long-standing rule in Maryland courts prevents a person from shifting his or her responsibility to others.
If an injured party acts, or fails to act, with knowledge and appreciation that such conduct could result in harm and that party then is injured, he or she cannot recover against another for that injury. The defendant bears the burden of proving that the injured party’s conduct contributed to the harm, and this is generally considered by the jury. Because Maryland’s doctrine of contributory negligence allows a jury to take into consideration how an injured party’s conduct contributed to that party’s injury, it permits juries to more fairly evaluate what damages, if any, should be awarded to an injured party who may have contributed to his own injury. This, in turn, results in lower litigation awards and costs.
The contributory negligence standard should be maintained in Maryland and MACPA will work to defeat any change because:
- the contributory negligence standard prevents a flood of suits by plaintiffs who have a disproportionate amount of fault;
- the contributory negligence standard will keep the lid on insurance premium growth rates;
- the contributory negligence standard fosters the exercise of due care by all persons;
- the contributory negligence standard, as a long respected doctrine, enhances the predictability of litigation, including its costs;
- the comparative negligence rule as outlined in prior bills would lead to higher premiums for automobile and homeowners’ insurance;
- prior bills’ comparative negligence rule would lead to higher premiums for businesses’ general liability and product liability insurance; and
- prior bills’ comparative negligence rule would lead to higher premiums for professional liability and errors and omissions insurance.
The increased cost of conducting business and the decreased productivity associated with the comparative negligence standard would, in the long run, lead to a loss of jobs, increased liability and a deterioration of the economic climate in Maryland. MACPA will again work to retain the contributory negligence rule.
What we are advocating for and why it matters
• Oppose sales tax on services
• Retain contributory negligence rule: Defeat efforts to legislate comparative negligence
58 State Cir,
Annapolis, MD 21401-1906