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Speaking truth to power

Published Date:
Sep 9, 2014

Speaking truth to power

As the unified voice for more than 28,000 CPAs throughout New York state, the NYSSCPA has always recognized its obligation to meet issues affecting our profession head on. This is true whether it means taking our concerns to a regulator or standards setter; to the Capitol Building in Albany; or to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. But we had a truly unique scenario last month, in which we found ourselves having to confront the president of the United States in defense of CPAs everywhere.

During a White House press conference in August, President Obama seemed to blame accountants for the increased number of U.S. corporations that use tax inversions to reduce their U.S. tax obligation. His concern about the potential impact of this trend is understandable. According to Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation, the United States could lose as much as $20 billion in the next decade if the inversion tide continues. However, as I said in a statement that the Society released on Aug. 7, the president’s ire was woefully misdirected: U.S. corporations hire accountants for their distinct ability and expertise in seeing that clients fulfill their tax obligations, as required by law. In fact, it is a CPA’s unique ability to navigate an extraordinarily complex tax code that makes his or her services valuable to individual and corporate clients. If President Obama wants to point fingers, I added, perhaps he should point them at Congress for creating the very loopholes he vilifies.

We didn’t mince words, and our pushback drew national attention. But far more important than the headlines it generated was the reminder it offered legislators, businesses and the public about the nature of our role as trusted professionals. Many know our Society as a valuable source of comment letters about technical matters. But it’s also a part of our job to wade into controversial and uncomfortable areas in order to shine a light on the truth and to demand a common sense approach when others fail. The stand we took is also a powerful reminder to Society members about what drives the work we do: a passion for the profession. We don’t simply have an obligation to tackle these issues—we share a fervent desire to do so.

I hope, more than anything, that we’ll carry this spirit with us into the state’s new legislative session, and that we’ll continue to show the world that we have not just solid positions, but ones we’ll fight for. To that end, you can help us to heighten the profession’s visibility and strengthen our collective voice by supporting our political action committee (PAC). When you support our CPA PAC, you help send a clear message to legislators that we intend to be heard. To learn more about it, visit our website.

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