Discussing Complex Issues in Plain English
enter the final weeks leading up to the national election,
I have noticed how much media coverage has changed over the
years. Substantive issues are reduced to sound bites, most
discussions focus on personalities, and allegiances to political
parties resemble the loyalty that sports fans have for their
the plus side, conventional wisdom about growing apathy
to the contrary, voter registration and turnout have shown
signs of improvement over recent national elections. My
hope is that this reflects a stronger commitment on the
part of the American public to use their Constitutional
right to vote, and thereby have a voice in decisions that
affect their lives.
the issues so we can develop informed voting opinions has
never been more difficult than in today’s media environment.
Where domestic issues are concerned, George Bush’s
and John Kerry’s tax policies differ in important
ways that all voters should educate themselves about.
our presidential candidates and their parties say about
tax policy is particularly important here in the State of
New York because federal and state tax policies are interconnected.
According to a recent independent study, the people of New
York pay the highest state and local taxes in the country,
nearly $131 of every $1,000 of income in 2002.
Bush recently announced that tax reform is one of his key
priorities and that he intends to pursue a bipartisan effort
to make the tax code “simpler, fairer, and pro-growth.”
Specific proposals include accelerating the 2001 tax cuts
to increase the pace of economic recovery and job creation,
ending the “double-taxation” of dividends to
encourage investment in American businesses, and increasing
incentives for small businesses to grow.
the other side of the aisle, the Kerry campaign platform
advocates cutting taxes for companies that create jobs in
the United States, and ending tax breaks on income from
foreign subsidiaries, which encourage companies to ship
jobs overseas. The Democratic platform calls for cutting
taxes for 98% of Americans, rolling back the Bush tax cuts
for those making more than $200,000, and rebuilding the
tax code so it rewards work and creates wealth for more
should strive not only to be well informed in this area,
but also to be able to explain how our tax system works
in simple terms, as well as to express their own opinions
logically and clearly. CPAs have the knowledge to interpret
political “sound bites” and tell people what
the ultimate impact will be on the taxes they pay. Individual
CPAs would provide an enormous boost to the public good
if they objectively explained in plain English the effects
of different tax proposals. They can do that yet for this
election. Furthermore, my vision for the future has the
NYSSCPA thoroughly analyzing all sides of any state or federal
tax reform proposals, and recommending policy directions
based on the substance of the issues rather than on the
political party or politician proposing them.
Publisher, The CPA Journal
Executive Director, NYSSCPA