By Alexandra Fabian, manager, government relations
In the coming months, legislators will make critical decisions that will directly affect your livelihood. While the accounting profession is highly respected, it is also tightly regulated and not wholly understood by outsiders. This leaves it especially vulnerable to the pangs of the budget process.
During these unpredictable times, the PICPA Government Relations Team is working tirelessly on your behalf to ensure that legislators consider the policies that are most favorable to CPAs.
As you renew your PICPA membership this year as an individual or firm, you’ll notice a check-off option to contribute to the CPA-PAC. The CPA-PAC is the driving force behind PICPA’s advocacy efforts. Consider these victories that resulted from the work of the CPA-PAC, PICPA members, and our full-time staff in Harrisburg:
- Blocked a legislative effort to alter the tax appeals process that would have been detrimental to CPAs’ ability to represent taxpayers before either the Board of Appeals or the Board of Finance and Revenue. This would have resulted in a substantial loss of revenue for CPA firms and stripped CPAs of the right to advocate in court on behalf of clients.
- Continued to suppress the tenacious threat of a sales tax on professional services which would be detrimental to the profession. Through the CPA-PAC, coalition involvement, and grassroots efforts, we have successfully communicated the negative impact such proposals would have on Pennsylvania taxpayers.
- Advocated for amendments to the Pennsylvania Solicitation of Funds for Charitable Purposes Act (Acts 71 and 72 of 2017). Prior to these pieces of legislation, charitable organizations with annual contributions of $300,000 or more were required to conduct an audit. Now, the audit threshold has been increased to $750,000 to align state and federal standards and alleviate organizations from an unnecessary burden.
- Worked with Department of Revenue and the legislature to decrease the burden on CPAs facing increasing workloads due to Schedule C filings and the 1099-MISC withholding requirement. As a direct result of our efforts, Secretary of Revenue C. Daniel Hassell agreed to suspend penalty assessments until July 1, 2018.
- Supported passage of major pension reform legislation (Act 5 of 2017). Pension reform has been one of the most pressing issues threatening the financial future of Pennsylvania. Achieving a first step in addressing this ticking time bomb was truly monumental, and it helps ensure stability for the business community.
In 2018, all 203 state House seats and half of the state Senate seats are up for re-election. This includes our seven CPA legislators who have done a tremendous part in promoting and protecting the CPA profession.
Your colleagues in the law and banking professions raise more than two times the amount of funding to back candidates who support their issues. Our ability to be heard among many competing voices depends upon participation from our members. Last year less than 3 percent of PICPA members contributed to the CPA-PAC. As we enter this critical time, a higher level of participation is needed if CPAs are going to stack up.
It is important to remember that your annual PICPA membership dues, by law, cannot support the CPA-PAC and its political activities. Contributions of any amount are greatly appreciated, but there are four established levels of giving that yield greater recognition for individuals and firms.