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  • Jul 22, 2019

    Advocacy Never Rests: PICPA Works Behind the Scenes in Quiet Harrisburg

    By Peter N. Calcara, vice president – government relations


    The halls of the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg are eerily quiet when the General Assembly is in summer recess. With the state budget completed, July and August lack the mad, scrambled pace of the final weeks in June when budget discussions had everyone on edge. The state House is in recess until Sept. 17 and the Senate is scheduled to return Sept. 23, so it is typically a slow time for Harrisburg’s lobbying community.

    Empty stairs in PA Capitol rotundaHowever, the quiet isn’t a license to stop advocating on behalf of the profession. On the contrary, the quiet offers excellent opportunities to plow some legislative ground for a fall harvest. The PICPA government relations team continues to work with key lawmakers, staff, and various state departments and agencies on our fall session agenda. Here’s a look at some of what we are working on.

    This year’s tax bill—Act 13 of 2019—included a change championed by the PICPA and one of our chief advocates in the House, Rep. Keith Greiner, CPA (R-Lancaster). The provision, which was originally House Bill 706, allows a fiduciary to make and file a joint tax return for an estate and trust for the taxable years when the trust income is reported as part of the estate income. With that accomplished, the PICPA now turns its focus to two other tax proposals: House Bill 17 and House Bill 926.

    House Bill 17 would establish a 10-year statute of limitations on the assessment of tax on nonfiled tax returns and collection of all taxes administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue (DOR), except for the inheritance tax. House Bill 926 seeks to provide businesses and tax practitioners with more clarity in meeting their compliance responsibilities and to mitigate payor liability for good faith compliance with the 1099-MISC nonresident withholding requirement. Both bills are pending in the House. House Bill 17 has already been unanimously approved by the House Finance Committee. You can read PICPA’s issue briefs on House Bill 17 and House Bill 926 for more details.

    Another issue on the horizon has to do with licensing (or delicensing) certain occupations and professions. Efforts are underway across the country to roll back licensure requirements that may impact CPAs. We have already seen legislative and regulatory action in nearly two dozen states, including Arizona, Louisiana, and Wisconsin. These typically involve the establishment of a professional review committee tasked to ensure that the least restrictive regulations are being used to regulate all professions in addition to making recommendations for the elimination of licenses in the state.

    Pennsylvania has 29 boards and commissions—the State Board of Accountancy being one—that license 255 occupations and professions. One in five Pennsylvanians needs an occupational or professional license from the state to do their job, or about 1 million workers.

    Pennsylvania already has experienced a first step in the licensing alteration movement. Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law Act 41 of 2019, which requires licensing boards and commissions under the Pennsylvania Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA) to provide licensure by endorsement to applicants who hold similar licenses in other states. With more than a half dozen bills in various committees and a bipartisan working group looking to make changes, we will undoubtedly see legislative activity pick up this fall.

    On the nonlegislative front, the PICPA Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Task Force has a busy summer scheduled. The GASB recently issued three new exposure drafts (Subscription-Based Information Technology Arrangements; Public-Private and Public-Public Partnerships and Availability Payment Arrangements; and Deferred Compensation Plans that Meet the Definition of a Pension Plan and Supersession of GASB Statement 32). The PICPA task force will review these drafts and submit comments. If you have an interest in GASB issues and want to lend your expertise to the task force, send an email to governmentrelations@picpa.org.

    Lastly, the PICPA government relations team is prepping for our fall volunteer-led committee meetings. The PICPA Committee on State Taxation holds its annual “Questions and Answers Meeting” with the Department of Revenue on Oct. 16, and the PICPA CPA-PAC Board of Trustees meets later that month. These meetings help formulate the PICPA’s legislative and political agendas for the upcoming year.

    As always, the PICPA government relations team is committed to fighting for and protecting your interests in Harrisburg and ensuring CPAs are seen as trusted advisers. If you have any regulatory concerns or would like to schedule an individual meeting with your legislator in your home district, please contact us at governmentrelations@picpa.org.


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