We've been sounding the alarm for years now. “Sooner or later,” we've been telling any CPA who would listen, “you're going to have to step to the legislative plate and knock one out of the park for the profession.”
In Maryland, that time came this year.
Shortly after turning out in record numbers to fight for the MACPA's legislative agenda at CPA Day in Annapolis, the state’s CPAs were at it again, raising their voices and packing a political punch as lawmakers tried to legislate their way to economic recovery.
Maryland CPAs mobilized in force this year to fight onerous legislative measures that would have raised taxes on businesses and individuals alike, increased complexity, and put the state's businesses at a competitive disadvantage.
The bills in question included:
- A measure that would impose a sales and use tax on professional services, including many of those provided by CPAs.
- A provision that would have extended the state's sales tax to include any product that is electronically downloaded. The so-called “digital download tax” was so vague that it could have encompassed online payroll services, accounting software with service, payment processing and research services, all of which could directly impact Maryland CPAs.
In each case, CPAs made their voices heard through live testimony and an extensive grassroots e-mail and telephone campaign that targeted Maryland lawmakers who have key voices in the issues that impact the profession.
“CPAs have enormous credibility, and what you're doing is absolutely crucial,” Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot told MACPA members at CPA Day. “There's an old saying in politics: If you're not at the table, you can often end up on the menu. Maryland CPAs should have a place at the table.”
Here’s how “Going Concern” blogger Adrienne Gonzalez put it after attending CPA Day:
“I left with the sense that MACPA had been given a new mission by both Delegate (Brian) Feldman and Comptroller Franchot: They've done a lot up until this point but maybe it's time to do more. Delegate (Sam) Arora expressed that he would love to get state CPAs' thoughts on the new budget, specifically line items that could be eliminated, and was sure that many of his fellow delegates would feel the same. The great part about CPAs doing this is that they are trustworthy, impartial and knowledgeable. Of course, MACPA initiatives protect the interests of CPAs in the state, but CPAs' interests are almost always directly in line with those of their clients and the communities they serve.”
When it’s crunch time, CPAs are proving that they take their mission seriously: They’re committed to making sense of a changing and complex world. They do that for their clients.
Equally important, they’re doing that for lawmakers.