NYSSCPA meets with newly appointed finance commissioner

By:
CHRIS GAETANO
Published Date:
Aug 6, 2014

 In a meeting with members of the NYSSCPA’s New York, Multistate and Local Taxation Committee, Jaques Jiha, New York City’s recently appointed Department of Finance commissioner, said he would improve transparency, equity and efficiency in the department and work to make it more customer oriented.

The meeting, held July 16 at the Society’s Wall Street office, was organized in an effort to boost the working relationship between the department and the practitioners who interact with it, said committee chair Richard Dauman. According to the Department of Finance website, the office collects some $30 billion in revenue for the city and values more than one million properties worth upwards of $800 billion.

Appointed on April 8, Jiha has experience in both the private and public sector. He previously served as the executive vice president/chief operating officer and chief financial officer of Earl G. Graves, Ltd., a multi-media company, and was the deputy comptroller for Pension Investment and Public Finance in the Office of the New York State Comptroller.

During his talk, he said that his overall goals include better aligning New York City tax law with the statutes in New York state, updating the utility tax to better reflect a changing business model, reforming the real property income and expense process, providing tax relief for city residents who pay no federal or state personal income tax, and implementing property tax reform.

The committee, meanwhile, made a number of suggestions of its own, chief among which was the reinstatement of Tax RAPP, an all-day seminar program that brought together tax practitioners and finance department staff for education. The department no longer offers the program, though Jiha acknowledged that it was popular. Other suggestions brought forth by the committee include:

• Establishing an independent taxpayer advocate. (The Office of the New York State Taxpayer Rights Advocate is currently housed within the state tax department, in contrast to the federal taxpayer advocate, which is its own independent office outside the IRS.)

• Creating a tax practitioner hotline

• Publishing and regularly updating a comprehensive contact list for the department, including a structure chart

• Offering online access for estimated tax payments

Dauman said that, overall, Jiha was receptive to the input, noting that “it didn’t feel like [he was paying] lip service,” but that he seemed genuinely interested in members feedback. Dauman added that there is already a plan in place for another meeting to be held in the middle of August and quarterly meetings going forward with the department and members of the committee.

The meetings, Dauman said, are important because they give Society members, and CPAs in general, a forum. They’re an opportunity, he said, to share ideas, voice complaints and “hear what’s on the other side.”

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