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January 27, 2023

AICPA Mansplains Sound Tax Reform to Dudes Trying to Tax Reform

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) just took over as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and the AICPA couldn’t resist sending him a letter telling him how to do his job.

In his letter, Troy Lewis, the chairman of the AICPA’s Tax Executive Committee, was sure to tell Ryan that “the AICPA supports comprehensive tax reform.” I for one am glad that the AICPA was brave enough to stick its neck out like that. The AICPA has issued other controversial statements in the past; statements like “the AICPA enjoys good music,” “the AICPA opposes the punching of babies,” and “the AICPA is in favor of good ideas.”

Lewis also wanted to educate Ryan on the AICPA’s Ten Principles of Good Tax Policy. The ten principles were summarized in a column for the Journal of Accountancy in 2002. Unfortunately the author of the column forgot to list one of the principles. It’s great when someone representing the accounting profession says, “I’m going to count to ten,” and can’t quite do it.

[Lewis’s] letter emphasizes five of [the good-tax-policy] principles in particular:

  • Equity and fairness;
  • Certainty;
  • Simplicity;
  • Economic growth and efficiency; and
  • Transparency and visibility.

Fuck you, AICPA. Is this five principles or eight? That’s like someone who’s looking for a spouse saying they’re interested in just one characteristic. A potential mate has to be:

  1. Funny and smart and rich and good looking and emotionally present and good in the sack

Just one important characteristic. Is that too much to ask?

The list of principles emphasized by Lewis is almost the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.1 No politician is going to promote a tax reform bill that’s the opposite of those principles. No one’s going to push for tax reform that’s:

  • Biased;
  • Byzantine;
  • Inefficient;
  • Economic retardant; and
  • Opaque

We’ve already got that, so it wouldn’t be considered “reform.”

The AICPA sending its principles of good tax policy to the House Ways and Means Committee is like Emeril Lagasse sending a letter to Gordon Ramsay  to inform him of the principles of good cooking which include:

  • Food should taste good;
  • Food should not be burned; and
  • Employees must wash hands before returning to work.

Unfortunately, when we do get tax reform in the U.S., it’s pretty much inevitable that the new tax code will still be complex, unfair, and unclear. But don’t worry. The AICPA can say that congress and Paul Ryan refused to take its advice. And since I’m a member of the AICPA, that basically means congress and Paul Ryan didn’t take my advice.

Sorry, America. I did everything I could.

1 Almost. I’ve seen Couples Retreat.


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