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This Year’s AICPA Council Issues Are (Mostly) All About Taxes

Let’s all keep in mind here that the repeal of burdensome 1099 rules buried in the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (or “Obamacare” for my fellow right-wing nutjobs out there) can be directly traced to efforts by the AICPA and its members, including a few angry letters sent by the AICPA to Congress. It’s a perfect example of legislative action at work, for those of you out there with little faith in the process.

Here are this year’s key issues:

Tax Strategy Patents S 139 The Equal Access of 2011
The bill would stop the granting of patents for tax strategies. Which basically means your next door cube-dweller won’t be able to patent his favorite spreadsheet.

Tax Due Dates S 845 Tax Return Due Date Simplification and Modernization Act of 2011
This bill would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for the logical flow of return information between partnerships, corporations, trusts, estates, and individuals to better enable each party to submit timely, accurate returns and reduce the need for extended and amended returns, to provide for modified due dates by regulation, and to conform the automatic corporate extension period to longstanding regulatory rule. The short version: it seeks to change the dates on which tax returns are due to a more sensible pattern.

Simplification of the tax code
The AICPA has a long history of advocating sound tax policy; this year, it’s all about simplifying the tax code, starting with the repeal of AMT and consolidating education provisions.

Workforce Mobility HR 1864 Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act of 2011
Unlike previous mobility initiatives, this one would limit the authority of states to tax certain income of employees in other states. Thanks to the Internet, many companies are able to staff employees around the country, some of which only do a few hours of work a month. That means the company must register and withhold state taxes for these employees in each state.

“Our tax laws are a vital component of the economic health of our nation as evidenced by the discussion in Washington about tax reform,” Barry Melancon, president and CEO of the AICPA, said. “We think it’s important for members of Congress to talk taxes with CPAs as they consider changes to the law. CPAs can provide objective advice, based on real-world experience.”

The goal of Congressional visits is to exchange information with our Congressional members on legislative issues of concern to CPAs (and, directly related to CPAs’ concerns, those of their clients) and to garner support for the profession’s position on these issues, as well as to position CPAs as resources and thought leaders. To call it lobbying would be a misnomer as lobbying would imply a one-way relationship, beneficial only to the special interest doing the lobbying. So don’t even go there; we’re talking about providing professional analysis, opinion and expertise in exchange for a voice in legislation that could potentially impact hundreds of thousands of CPAs and CPA firms around the country.

For the CPAs on the Hill yesterday, they not only presented their issues but offered themselves as experts in areas many Congressional offices are unfamiliar with. Tweaking the tax code is a delicate issue, and one that shouldn’t be approached without expert analysis of any proposed legislation. This is where the two-way street comes in, and another reason why these visits are important for all involved parties.

We’ll update later with specifics on the day we spent meeting Maryland Congressional members with the MACPA Council and Executive Committee, including former MACPA Chair and amazing storyteller Larry Kamanitz, who made 60 cents an hour when he first got into public. Stay tuned!

CPA Suing Craigslist Vindicated by New Reviews

In Tuesday’s QOTD someone did not have kind words for Leo Kehoe, a Queens CPA. Specifically, “Watch out for this fraudulent scumbag! … He will botch up your tax returns and forget to submit them.” Scumbag? Fine. “Botch up” and “forget to submit” are also tolerable. Stuff like that happens (right?). What no CPA needs or wants, is their name associated with “fraudulent.”

Anyway, someone had a bad enough encounter with Kehoe that it demanded these words for anyone searching out both a CPA and perhaps some NSA coitus.

Mr Kehoe should be able to rest a little easier now as the Gothamist reported yesterday that a certain someone or someones has a completely different opinion on his services, “Leo Kehoe is a great CPA. He charged me a lower fee than what I had payed with someone else and he did a much better job,” and this one from yesterday, “Leo Kehoe: Much better than Cats. I’m going to see him again and again!”

Depending on your point of view, the “Cats” compliment may be worth far more than the $4 million that Kehoe isn’t likely to get but since accountants seem to be hung up on money far more than cultural comparisons, we expect him to continue moving forward with the lawsuit.

Accountant Sues Craigslist Over Negative Rant [Gothamist]

$500k Will Not Satisfy One CPA’s Quest for Vindication

TOLD YOU.jpgA CPA in Redmond, Washington is receiving $500,000 from the state’s board of accountancy after battling with them for nearly five years over a disciplinary action that probably should have been NBD.

D. Edson Clark had claimed that the state Board of Accountancy was improperly pursuing unwarranted charges against him in retaliation for complaints he had made about the handling of another case. He requested tens of thousands of pages of public records and launched seven lawsuits against board employees over the past two years.

Clark was very determined to clear his good name. So much so that the Board of Accountancy claimed, “it has been disrupted by Clark’s requests, and that his demands for public records are burning up its budget and limiting its ability to function.” Apparently, the Board was so overwhelmed that it threatened Clark with an anti-harassment complaint because the volume of emails he was sending was disruptive.
This brings up some questions: A) How many emails does it take to disrupt an office? B) Did they try hiring a temp? C) Was Clark spending his entire day copying and pasting the same email over and over or was he drafting individually scathing rants? D) At what point does a person cross the line of crazy-ass obsession?
Despite the metric asston of emails received by the Board, a judge in one of Clark’s lawsuits was not impressed with the Board’s handling of the situation:

In an oral hearing in June, Judge Thomas McPhee, a judge in Thurston County Superior Court, said that the board had “developed a pattern of incompetence in answering these discovery requests that is just difficult to believe for a state agency.”

We’re all familiar with governments’ inability to do much of anything but for a judge to put the situation in this context might be a new low for bureaucratic inefficiency.
Don’t worry though, the saga isn’t over as Mr. Clark has indicated that he plans further litigation in order to FULLY EXONERATE himself. Nevermind that the $500,000 is over a third of the Board’s budget. This is obviously personal. We admire the gusto.
Redmond CPA to get $500K settlement from state board [Puget Sound Business Journal]
Redmond accountant, Washington regulator at odds [Puget Sound Business Journal]