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Making progress in Albany

Joseph M. Falbo Jr.
Published Date:
Feb 11, 2016

Making progress in Albany

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of representing our Society in the state’s Capitol, and sharing our position on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s New York state budget during the Assembly and Senate’s joint budget hearings. The testimony is available online; if you’re inclined to spend 15 minutes watching it, please let me know what you think. The Society is always looking for member feedback, particularly in the area of advocacy.

I addressed several points on our 2016 legislative agenda, focusing on the estate tax “cliff” that we’ve been urging the Legislature to amend since its creation in 2014. After delivering my testimony, the chair of the Assembly’s Trust and Estates Subcommittee, Assemblyman Edward C. Braunstein, said he was interested in learning more about the NYSSCPA’s position. His office reached out to us twice, requesting that we submit our white paper on the issue. This has led to a follow-up meeting with his office staff.  Sen. Liz Krueger, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, also requested that we continue our discussion after the hearing so that she might learn more about our position on multistate income tax matters and the complexities surrounding part-year residency. We’re in the process of setting up a meeting with her office as well.

We made progress advancing our position on specific tax issues, but that wasn’t necessarily our primary objective. There’s a much larger goal—relationship building.

I never miss an opportunity to point this out, and I cannot stress this enough with our members. I can’t say definitively, but I suspect that I wouldn’t have received an invitation to testify if it hadn’t been for all of the time and resources our organization has dedicated to building our government affairs program. Kevin Matz is an estate and trust expert on our Board of Directors. Kevin, in conjunction with Society staff, has been pushing for a New York state estate tax fix since the cliff was created by the state’s 2014 budget legislation. For a few years, volunteers like him have been patiently and methodically hammering away at rectifying what we believe is bad tax policy. This type of advocacy illustrates one of the core reasons why our Society exists in 2016. As technical experts with unique skillsets in an array of accounting, tax and business arenas, it is imperative that we engage and, where appropriate, assume a thought leadership role.

I mentioned relationship building. One way in which we do that is through face-to-face meetings about the issues with lawmakers and their staffs; the other way is through the NYSSCPA’s PAC, our political action committee. Each year, when it’s time for the Society to mail out your dues invoice, we include in the package that you receive a plea to help us replenish our PAC. When you donate to the PAC, you allow us to support the legislators who support us. We use that money to attend fund-raisers—dinners and a variety of political events—but we’re not there for the food and drink. That’s where we establish and build relationships. In the past, we’ve had to pick and choose which events to attend because we had limited funds in the PAC, but we’re making progress. And members have noticed. In one year, we gained more than 100 new PAC members. That’s more than 100 new individual donors. Their names, along with all of the other Society PAC members, can be found on page 10 of this issue of The Trusted Professional. Those are the members I’d like to personally thank for understanding the importance of relationship building in Albany. They care about the profession and understand that the NYSSCPA’s PAC is a tremendous vehicle through which we can protect it. I’d like to see even more names on the list next year, so please make yours one of them.

We have a great relationship with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, as well as with other state regulators, but we must not rest.  A sound government affairs program allows us more opportunities to prevent bad law, like the one that allowed the estate tax cliff to be enacted in the first place.

Please do yourself—and your profession—a favor when your dues invoice arrives in the mail next month. Become a member of the PAC. Or don’t even wait for the invoice. Join today by going to the Society’s website and clicking on the Advocacy tab at the top of the home page. From there, you can become a PAC member, see what other issues we’re working on in 2016, or tell us about an issue that you believe we need to add to our agenda. 

Thank you, in advance, for your continued support!

Click here to see more of the latest news from the NYSSCPA.