When CPAs talk, Maryland’s lawmakers listen.
That point was driven home time and again on Jan. 20 as more than 500 of the state’s CPAs gathered online for the 2022 edition of the MACPA’s CPA Day. Held annually to educate MACPA members on the finer points of legislative advocacy, the event was held virtually for a second consecutive year due to the pandemic.
The virtual setting resulted in record attendance, and an all-star lineup of guest speakers made sure that Maryland’s CPAs walked away with a clear idea of how much influence they have — and how much respect they command — in Annapolis.
“You’re one of the groups that I rely on most” during the General Assembly’s legislative session, said Del. Eric Luedtke, House Majority Leader and a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees tax policy.
“Maryland legislators actually do listen and act on what they hear from constituents, and they especially listen to CPAs,” added Karen Syrylo, a tireless legislative volunteer and member of the MACPA’s State Tax Committee. “They trust and respect our opinions, and they appreciate that we’ll tell it like it is.”
That makes this year’s version of CPA Day even more important than usual. A number of key leadership posts have changed hands recently in the General Assembly, and CPAs will be working to build relationships with these new leaders and educate them on the critical fiscal matters that impact the state.
And since 2022 is an election year in Maryland, there will be even more changes to come, said Sen. Brian Feldman, vice chair of the Senate’s Finance Committee and himself a CPA. “Politics is a relationships game,” he said. “It’s important that we all get to know our state legislators, and CPAs have been especially good at that over the years.”
Despite the changes — or maybe because of them — Senate President Bill Ferguson told CPAs that 2022 would be “a year of creating certainty and stability.”
“The General Assembly has consistently found ways through (the pandemic) to come together and solve problems,” Ferguson said. “We will do that again this year.”
Four issues take center stage
The MACPA’s 2022 legislative agenda includes four key issues:
- Opposing sales taxes on professional services, including those provided by CPAs.
- Opposing efforts to replace Maryland’s contributory negligence standard with a comparative fault rule. Comparative fault is a legal maneuver that would result in increased costs of doing business and decreased productivity.
- Supporting proposed amendments to the sales tax on digital download and streaming services, as recommended by a Maryland Chamber of Commerce working group that includes members of the MACPA’s State Tax Committee. The Maryland Chamber “supports legislation that increases clarity and helps with compliance while reducing unintended taxation and maintaining legislative intent.” So does the MACPA.
- Supporting proper funding for the Maryland Comptroller’s Office, in an effort to help tax professionals better do their jobs and serve their clients.
On those fronts, CPA Day attendees heard a bit of good news: Sen. Guy Guzzone, chair of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, said “there is virtually no way” that the General Assembly will consider sales taxes on professional services this year. And though making no guarantees, he also offered doubt that contributory negligence would come under fire. Guzzone did promise, however, to work closely with CPAs on their agenda if the need arises.
CPAs chime in on elections, cannabis
CPA Day attendees were also polled on three election-year races. The polls were not scientific, nor were they endorsements of any kind by the MACPA. Rather, they were merely a quick gauge of where CPAs stand 10 months before the election.
- In Maryland’s race for comptroller, CPAs in attendance favor Brooke Lierman over Barry Glassman, 47 percent to 41 percent. Tim Adams received 12 percent of the vote.
- In the race for governor, current state Comptroller Peter Franchot earned 44 percent of the CPA vote, easily outdistancing the other 11 candidates in the poll. Kelly Schulz finished second at 10 percent.
- When asked whether they support legalizing cannabis for adult recreational use in Maryland, 51 percent of attendees said yes, 31 percent said no, and 18 percent said they weren’t sure.
Of greater urgency, however, is the current legislative session, and CPAs were given five key ways in which they can help advance the MACPA’s legislative agenda.
- Ensure your current home address is on file with the MACPA.
- Email your legislative representatives and explain the MACPA’s position on the four issues listed above.
- Follow MACPA Connect and the MACPA blog for up-to-date news regarding the association’s advocacy work.
- Contribute to the CPA Committee on Political Action by visiting MACPA.org/give-pac, or by scanning the QR code to the right.
- If you have a personal relationship with a Maryland legislator, contact Mary Beth Halpern at Marybeth@macpa.org to join the MACPA’s Key Person Program.
Learn more about the MACPA’s legislative work by visiting MACPA.org/advocacy.