2020 Is Going to Be a High-Stakes Year

Feb 28, 2020

PICPA’s full-time presence in the state capital and our dedicated volunteer members contributed greatly to a very successful 2019 advocating on behalf of our more than 20,000 members and the broader CPA profession.

Relationships Are Key

Building relationships with newly elected officials and maintaining existing relationships were major initiatives in 2019. On Jan. 1, 2019, as the General Assembly entered its 2019-2020 legislative session, the composition of the legislature had undergone a major transformation, with 20% of members taking office for the first time. There were 43 new representatives in the state House and seven new legislators in the Senate. We conducted meet-and-greet meetings with 44 new members of the state legislature. We also met with 17 of Pennsylvania’s federal-level elected officials, both in Washington, D.C., and in their district offices. 

Relationship building is key to our efforts, and we plan to continue making this a priority in 2020 and beyond.

There is no getting around the obvious: 2020 is a major election year. Just in Pennsylvania, 203 seats in the state House, 25 seats in the state Senate, and three row offices are up for a vote. All five members of the “CPA Caucus” in the state House – Reps. George Dunbar (R-Westmoreland), Keith Greiner (R-Lancaster), Mike Peifer (R-Pike), Frank Ryan (R-Lebanon), and Ben Sanchez (D-Montgomery) – are up for reelection. And just as we were getting used to the new faces in the capitol, we are preparing for the landscape in Harrisburg to change yet again. 

In addition, there is a highly charged presidential election topping the ticket. As always, ensuring that the CPA profession is well-protected tops our list of priorities. In our turbulent and divisive political environment, it is increasingly important that we ensure any proposed legislative changes will benefit CPAs in Pennsylvania in the end.

Advocating for CPAs

We are at the halfway point of the 2019-2020 Pennsylvania legislative session. State lawmakers have introduced nearly 3,000 bills (2,028 in the House and 936 in the Senate) thus far, with only 118 of those being signed into law. That translates into about 4% of non-budget-related bills making their way through the process.

It was no small feat, then, that the PICPA, working with our allies in the General Assembly, secured important legislative victories in 2019. Here are two PICPA-initiated bills that became law:

  • Act 13 of 2019 allows a combined income tax return for an estate and revocable trust. 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.
  • Act 90 of 2019 establishes a tax collections statute of limitations. The PICPA-backed proposal establishes a 10-year window during which the state must collect taxes administered by the Department of Revenue, except the inheritance tax. Exceptions include, but are not limited to, cases of fraud or willfully failing to file a return. It was signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf on Nov. 27, 2019.

The PICPA government relations team will continue its work on the following issues pending in 2020: 

  • Combat unintended consequences of delicensing efforts – Pennsylvania has experienced a first step in a growing licensing alteration movement. Wolf signed into law Act 41 of 2019, which requires licensing boards and commissions under the Pennsylvania Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs to provide licensure by endorsement to applicants who hold similar licenses in other states. There are, however, licensing issues in other states that are overly broad and could devalue the CPA license. The PICPA is closely monitoring these initiatives.
  • Clarify new and complicated withholding obligations on Pennsylvania businesses from Act 43 of 2017 – We are working on a proposal in the legislature that would streamline recent 1099-MISC withholding requirements of nonresident income.

Also in 2019, we held another successful Day on the Hill event where members met with their state legislators, the CPA-PAC had one of its most successful fundraising years to date with over $200,000 raised, we offered technical input on numerous bills and amendments, and we provided written comments on various proposed regulations and bulletins. Last but not least, we held numerous meetings with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, including another great annual Q&A in November, and provided input on many of its key initiatives. 

New proposals that challenge the profession will surely emerge, but rest assured that we will never stop working on your behalf, ensuring your license is well-guarded amidst this season of change. 

We thank all of our volunteers for their exceptional work and continued dedication to our efforts. We anticipate many successes in the second half of this legislative session, and we look forward to working together to make 2020 the best year yet!  

Alexandra C. Fabian is PICPA's manager - government relations. She can be reached at afabian@picpa.org.

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