In the words of March Madness, this has been and continues to be a “full court press” involving literally several hundred members in letters, testimony, and key contacts to finish up our legislative agenda. We are working our way to a 3 for 3 victory (5 for 5 if you count the pre-season).
Here is what our final seven days looks like:
1) HB 1296 Mobility / Practice Privileges You read last week that we passed the House unanimously (135-0) and now scheduled for a hearing this Wednesday at 1:00 pm in the Senate EHEA Committee. Our challenge is to get it out of committee with a favorable report and onto the Senate floor in time for a vote before the session ends on Monday, April 7, 2008 at midnight.
2) SB 817 Maryland Tax Preparers Act This is the bill we were successful in getting amended to represent the concerns of CPAs discussed in our town hall meetings and our legislative executive committee. We will be at the hearing before the House Economic Matters Committee on Wednesday, April 2, 2008 at 1:00pm. This is the same situation as mobility – it needs to get through the House committee and onto the House floor before the end of session (sine die). See our amendments here Download sb0817_84473601.pdf
The significance of this bill is that it would have required the registration (fee) and additional CPE requirement for all CPAs and their staff who prepare tax returns. It was initiated by a consumer group and aggressively supported by the Maryland Society of Accountants. Following the same pattern as their counterparts from Oklahoma, they tried to put in the “alternative credential” of Accredited Tax Preparer (this is the famous “Jack Surgent” credential we discovered last year) and lay the groundwork for a second-tier CPA license (Accredited Business Accountant). Our amendments exempted CPAs and their staff, specified an independent regulatory-based exam, required disclosure that these registered tax preparers are not CPAs (or tax attorneys or enrolled agents per Circ. 230), and we limited the holding out to be Register Individual Tax Preparer and avoided the terms “licensed” or “certified”. We also successfully got a designated seat on the new State Board of Tax Preparers.
3) Corporate Tax reporting (HB 664 / SB 444) We have now successfully passed the amendments to the onerous corporate reporting bill that was passed during the special session (SB 2). HB 664 & SB 444 have now passed their respective houses and are expected to be enacted. Special thanks to Karen Syrylo and the Maryland Chamber of Commerce for leading these efforts.
In case you were wondering, the pre-season was stopping sales taxes on accounting services and stopping comparative fault legsialtion, both of which did not make it in this session.
Thanks again to all of our CPAs who helped contact legsialtors during the busiest time of the year, you are making a huge difference!