Note: The following was written by Celeste Sollod, CPA, a staff accountant with Hertzbach and Company who participated in her first CPA Day in Annapolis on Jan. 25.
Every year, MACPA members spend a day in Annapolis visiting legislators and learning about issues that affect practitioners in Maryland. This year, my first as a CPA, I was able to join in.
Under the leadership of Tom Hood, a consummate relationship-builder who has led MACPA for 20 years, CPAs were sorted into groups based on home addresses to visit the state delegates and senators. Even though my group met with staff instead of the representatives, going to their offices in the charming government buildings in Annapolis was a great way to learn about the legislative process.
The bills the MACPA supports have more to do with supporting CPAs and their businesses, many of them small, than with specific tax policies. As “trusted technical advisors” (the often-used term for our role), it’s our job to explain to delegates and senators how laws affect their constituents, including CPAs, and any potential negative effects.
For example, the MACPA opposes a potential sales tax on professional services, not chiefly due to the tax on clients itself and any higher prices to the clients, but due to the burden of compliance on small businesses, which includes many clients who are attorneys, doctors, and other service professionals.
The MACPA supports retaining the contributory negligence rule, which, if overturned, could mean that an accountant whose client was found guilty of fraud could be liable for the entire damages even if they’d followed best practices. We also supported continued deductibility of HSA contributions used to pay for medical procedures — in this case, specifically, male sterilization — which was in danger of being excluded due to conflicts between federal and state law.
CPA Day isn’t only about meeting legislators. Meeting other CPAs from my neighborhood was a highlight of the day. Many have been coming to CPA Day for years and are involved with MACPA in other ways. They hold a variety of positions—sole practitioner, CFO for a specialized construction company, senior member of a firm—with a variety of experiences. We talked about the issues Baltimore City faces both among ourselves and with legislative staff, forming bonds over shared concerns. We enjoyed comparing the many new restaurants opening in our area and talked specifically about how we could support local businesses.
I’d like to thank the farsighted management at Hertzbach for making it possible for me to attend CPA Day just as tax season is gearing up. The end of January is a challenging time to leave the office when you’re in public accounting, but if you can manage it, CPA Day is highly worthwhile.