Annapolis, Maryland, USA view of the Maryland State House from a nearby alleyway.

This year’s legislative session is off to a fast start in Annapolis, with our General Assembly already considering a number of proposed bills that could impact CPAs and their clients. Here are four that the MACPA is watching closely.

The Taxpayer Protection Act
MACPA members will be testifying this week in both the House and Senate on this bill, which is designed to prevent tax fraud, safeguard taxpayer information, and hold fraudulent tax filers and preparers accountable.

The bill is being considered by the House Judiciary Committee as HB 424, and by the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee as SB 304. If any of your legislators sit on either of these committees, please consider contacting them and voicing your support for the bill.

Filing Fee Fairness Act of 2017
Filed as House Bill 691, this bill would “alter the fee that specified business entities must pay for filing an annual report with the State Department of Assessments and Taxation.” Under this act, this annual filing fee would be set at an exorbitant $4,000 for small businesses that have just $200,000 in assets.

The MACPA has added this proposal to our legislative agenda and will be voicing our strong opposition to the bill.

The bill will be heard by the House Economic Matters Committee on Feb. 22. The MACPA is planning to testify at that hearing.

Please consider contacting members of the House Economic Matters Committee and voicing your opposition as well. You may use the following suggested language in your e-mails or phone calls to the committee:

Dear (Delegate’s name here),

I am a constituent and a CPA with clients and businesses located throughout Maryland.

I wish to express my strong opposition to the fees proposed in HB 691, “Corporations and Associations – Annual Reports – Filing Fees (Filing Fee Fairness Act of 2017).” An annual fee of $4,000 for a small business with only $200,000 of assets is unreasonable and unfair. Calculating annual filing fees based on the taxable assets of the entity is poor tax policy. It will lead to problems of interpretation and uneven application. For example, a large manufacturer with $200,000 of exempt manufacturing equipment will pay a lower fee than a small professional services firm that has $200,000 in computers and furniture.

HB 691 is an imposition to the very businesses that generate jobs and revenues for Maryland. It will only add to the costs of doing business in this state. I respectfully ask you to oppose this legislation.

Cemetery financial statement requirements
SB 192, “Office of Cemetery Oversight – Cemetery Financial Statement – Requirements” would require “a specified financial statement to be submitted by a specified cemetery to the director of the Office of Cemetery Oversight to contain a balance sheet from the most recent federal tax return filed by the business, or on a form specified by the director.”

The bill would also repeal the requirement the such financial statements must include “a specified statement by a certified public accountant and a review of the financial stability of the cemetery by a certified public accountant.”

A hearing on this bill was held before the Senate Finance Committee on Feb. 2. The MACPA has submitted written testimony in opposition to this bill.

Job announcement and salary history disclosures
The MACPA has submitted written testimony in opposition to HB 398, “Labor and Employment — Equal Pay — Job Announcement and Salary History Information Disclosures.” While lauding the bill’s sponsors for addressing the important issue of equal pay, the association found problems with a couple of the bill’s provisions:

  • The provision that prohibits employers from asking about current salary during the hiring process does not seem workable. “Collecting current salary information is the way employers determine typical market compensation for candidates,” the MACPA testified. “Prohibiting this practice will likely limit company growth and competitiveness and obstruct Maryland firms from attracting out-of-state talent.”
  • The MACPA also took issue with a provision that would require specified compensation information in job announcements, and with a provision that would prohibit employers from paying less than the minimum rate advertised in such announcements.

“Companies of all shapes and sizes are deploying proven methods for addressing pay equity, such as mentorships programs, blind evaluations and hiring practices, standardized salaries, flexible schedule for working parents, and the like,” the MACPA testified. “We firmly believe legislation should account for these programs as legitimate ways to address pay equity so companies that are already working toward a solution can continue to do so without interruption.”

Stay tuned
We will keep you posted on further legislative developments as they arise. Keep an eye on our blog for updates.

You’ll find more updates on this year’s legislative activity from the following sources:

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