Oct 07, 2013

Creative Accountants

By Peter Calcara, Vice President - Government Relations

When in doubt, blame it on the creative accountants! That seems to be the mantra among many in politics, the media, and elsewhere, particularly when it comes to tax policy and tax planning strategies. I don’t know why the phrase “creative accountants” bothers me – I live with the “lobbyist” tag, after all – but it does, and I’m not even a card-carrying member of the esteemed CPA profession.

This past Wednesday, during debate on the state House floor on a bill dealing with Angel Investments Tax Credits, a state lawmaker uttered those words. It’s not the first time, and I know it’s not the last time I’ll hear a politician use the term to advance his or her legislative interests.

Here’s what he said:

“My amendment ensured that creative accountants aren’t shifting small-business funds between immediate family members in order to qualify for investment credits intended for outside and new investors…”

Probably an innocuous enough statement, but what galls me is the underlying premise that accountants are doing something nefarious on behalf of their clients and must be stopped.

Maybe this lawmaker – maybe all lawmakers – needs a crash course in Government 101. Lawmakers, whether at the federal or state levels, are the ones who write tax laws, not creative accountants. PICPA members and other members of the creative accountants’ society are simply empowered to interpret those proposals approved by lawmakers. (Or should we call them creative lawyers?)

Harrisburg capitol buildingThe PICPA is an ardent proponent of tax simplification. Our track record for supporting legislation that actually improves and streamlines the tax administration process for taxpayers is solid. From our Guiding Principles of Good Tax Policy, to streamlining the local tax collection process (Act 166 of 2002 and Act 32 of 2008), to restructuring the Pennsylvania Board of Finance and Revenue (Act 52 of 2013), the PICPA’s efforts to shape tax regulations and laws is directed at a clearer, more workable tax system for practitioners and taxpayers. Our organization has never been known to stand by legislation that would promote or encourage substandard practices within the profession – a trend that we pride ourselves in. We advocate on behalf of our more than 20,000 members with state lawmakers and regulators to ensure that the voice of Pennsylvania’s CPAs – your voice – is heard in Harrisburg.


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Statements of fact and opinion are the authors’ responsibility alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of PICPA officers or members. The information contained in herein does not constitute accounting, legal, or professional advice. For professional advice, please engage or consult a qualified professional.
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