Chapter five: 1985-1994.
As NSPA prepared to celebrate its 50th year and move toward its second half-century, the following highlights deserve mention.
Professional recognition of the Society and its leadership was substantial. In the summer of 1994, the nationally prestigious Accounting Today news magazine profiled the "100 Most Influential Leaders of the Profession." Three of these highly acclaimed individuals were NSPA leaders: President Gary C. Rohrs, First Vice President Milton Brown and Executive Vice President Stanley H. Stearman.
NSPA offered a wider range of services than ever before to its members, including an 800 number for member services; a popular and now expanded tax-research assistance program to help members resolve difficult or unusual tax problems; the bi-weekly publication of the award-winning Washington Reporter newsletter, providing timely information on issues and events; the in-depth coverage and high artistic quality of the monthly National Public Accountant magazine, also an award recipient; a wide variety of services in the NSPA discount program, including discounts with UPS, AT&T, PennyWise Office Products, an assortment of professional publishers and others; the VISA Gold Card program for members' use, as well as the credit card acceptance program for the convenience of members' clients; insurance programs; software discounts; the bi-monthly NSPA Software News newspaper; the Agri-Plan/Biz Plan service; the Quality Assurance Review program; wide-ranging, constantly expanding educational and leadership development services at national, state and local levels; the ever-growing area of accreditation; scholarships supporting the future leaders of the profession; an expanded and varied Annual Convention; and more.
Non-dues revenue was at an all-time high, with royalties, administrative fees, discount programs, partnerships, services and publications providing an ever-growing percentage of income to the Society. This aspect of Society activity has received greater emphasis and effort in the past eight to 10 years. Its success has reduced the burden on dues income to maintain NSPA's customary high level of quality in services. Such efforts represent an important change in focus: NSPA remains a nonprofit organization, but there is general recognition that it is acceptable - perhaps even necessary - to generate profits from projects that are appropriate to the mission and role of the Society.
The future of both Society and profession looks bright as NSPA reaches its 50th birthday. The Society maintains a strong vocal presence: in legislative issues of importance to members; in court actions against repressive accountancy laws and regulations restricting unlicensed individuals' ability to serve small business clients; in relations with the IRS; and in all areas that affect the ability of members to operate their practices profitably, ethically and professionally.
As 1994-1995 President Milton Brown told 1994 convention attendees: "NSPA is no longer dreaming the impossible dream. We are making strong, vocal and influential progress! Our influence can be felt in the halls of Congress and in all federal and state offices. NSPA represents a strong, influential portion of the population and the economy."
VISIONS FOR THE NEXT HALF-CENTURY
With its sterling accomplishments of the past and exciting services of the present in mind, now is a good time to ask what the future has in store for NSPA and its members.
The future is bright with potential. Over the years, "the Society has evolved into a professional organization with a more evenly mixed balance of licensed and non-licensed members," according to Past President Gary Rohrs. "This is greatly due to dying-class legislation in states around the country. Because of the expansion of the IRS code, taxation has become a more dominant issue for the profession. Because of technology, we perform our services in ways never imagined. Because of its diversity of membership and excellent leadership during its first 50 years, NSPA stands at the threshold of becoming the predominant association of the accountancy profession."
The Society moved into its 50th year with a new long-range vision to direct its activities:
"[NSPA should strive to become] a professional society focused on providing services to business specialists, including quality education [in an overall setting] that is conducive to networking opportunities. This organization will have a business-oriented attitude, with little internal political influences. Members will be professionals in the financial world."
That vision will be crucial as time goes on. Looking into the crystal ball, NSPA leadership predicts these trends as significant for the future of the public accountancy profession and the Society:
* The de-emphasis of the certified audit function will continue, simply because there is no requirement for it in the small business community or where no stock is publicly held.
* An increase in the number of credentialed accountants who recognize the need for education beyond a baccalaureate degree.
* Members qualifying in related fields, such as tax consulting and financial planning, as they seek to be outstanding accountants with expertise in the professional specialties necessary for the small business community and individual clients.
* More women continuing to enter the profession.
* Continued efforts to reduce the tax-related paperwork burden on small businesses and tax preparers.
* Greater focus on the importance of credentials and the accreditation process.
* Increased interaction and advocacy with the IRS, Small Business Administration and other government agencies that directly affect the work of members and their clients.
* Continued emphasis on the passage of the Model Accountancy Law at the state level.
* Ongoing efforts to promote and refer to the Generally Accepted Tax Accounting Principles (GATAP) as a keystone for the presentation of financial statements.
* Technological changes that will make a tremendous impact on the way accountants do business.
By its 50th anniversary, NSPA had developed a strong, positive foundation that promised still greater growth and success. Executive Vice President Stanley H. Stearman said in looking at the Society's first 50 years: "At this point, NSPA had clearly established its prominence as the preeminent national professional organization for all independent accounting/tax practitioners. These practitioners are truly the backbone of the accounting profession. These are the practitioners that small businesses and individuals rely upon for financial, accounting and tax services. These are the practitioners who, regardless of title or license, can look to NSPA as their national professional association."
NSPA's Annual Conventions continue to be among the favorite services of members. These lively events are an unparalleled opportunity to network, learn from each other and outside experts, develop long-lasting professional bonds and personal friendships, and generally enhance the value of Society membership. The Annual Conventions are where the major decisions of Society governance are made.
Plans currently in hand for NSPA's 50-year Annual Convention, to be held the summer of 1995 in Washington, DC, promise an event of magnificent proportions. NSPA's 50th-anniversary year in Washington, DC, is expected to be a premier event, entirely appropriate for a decade that began with the then-largest convention held - NSPA's third meeting in Hawaii, which hosted more than 1,300 attendees.
THE STATE OF THE SOCIETY
In 1985 the National Society faced the challenge of upgrading, and otherwise improving, its internal financial management systems. After much research, evaluations and outside recommendations, NSPA installed an IBM 36 computer system at the headquarters office in Alexandria, VA. The result was a greatly improved financial management process - and picture - with a lasting beneficial impact on the financial health and credibility of the Society. In 1994, NSPA advanced again by installing an IBM AS400 computer and significantly improved all data processing functions.
Then, in 1986, NSPA took advantage of the popular ideas and theories of long-range planning. The Long-Range Planning Committee was re-established and chaired by Gary C. Rohrs, later president of the National Society.
The committee developed a comprehensive survey, which was published in the Washington Reporter newsletter. From the survey responses, the committee went on to develop and review 17 Aims and Purposes of the Society and NSPA's major mission. The Long-Range Planning Committee established two primary objectives to guide NSPA planning for the future: identifying the service opportunities that NSPA should supply to members and the accounting profession, and developing a written statement to implement a long-range strategic plan. Revisited in 1987, the long-range plan gave the Society a blueprint for the future. The plan, an essential component of looking to the second half-century, was completed, adopted, published and disseminated to the membership in 1991. "During that process, each member of the Board realized the importance of their responsibility as a leader of this great Society," then-President Paul C. Bumgarner said. "Through their efforts and adoption of this plan of action, future leaders of NSPA will reap benefits."
Internal financial management continued to improve, giving the Society an even stronger administrative and organizational base. The Society's operating budget topped $3 million, requiring continual monitoring, strong management and a high level of efficiency and economy.
Hand-in-hand with the technical advances of the outside world, NSPA continued its commitment to providing members, the profession and staff with state-of-the-art services. In 1987, NSPA purchased a new electronic telephone system and fax machine, and continued improvements in existing computer services and in-house printing operations.
In 1988, NSPA proudly experienced a first - the newly-elected president was the Society's first female top leader. Katie Mathes of Ardmore, OK, brought new insights into the leadership and direction of NSPA.
Walter Lau's, Honolulu, HI, administration immediately followed, and he inherited a staff of 30, membership of over 24,000 and an operating budget of $3.5 million. In just 10 years, NSPA had grown from a staff of 17 with 16,000 members and an operating budget of $1.39 million. New departments launched by 1990 included Marketing and Congressional Relations/Tax Counsel. Staffing levels changed and evolved to meet the guidelines of the business world, with administrative assistants becoming executive assistants and staff titles now including project coordinators, with special areas of expertise and talent.
Predicting that "members of the public accounting profession who serve small business as independent, local practitioners will become even more appreciated as a vital segment of the American economy," NSPA leadership identified an important aspect of the future for the profession: "Government, banking, industry and the news media will focus on this backbone of the nation. Individual practitioners will respond with a heightened feeling of pride and confidence. NSPA will be key to their success in living out that confidence."
In 1991, its 46th year, NSPA's future looked bright. The Society had improved its rapport with the IRS, Congress and other federal departments and agencies and intensified its Capitol Hill efforts through both the newly named Department of Federal Affairs and standing committees of National Affairs and Federal Taxation. More often than ever before, the National Society was invited to testify or comment on federal legislative or regulatory proposals. Previously NSPA would request inclusion - now it was sought. Services such as member discounts on airline tickets, car rentals and credit cards were greatly expanded.
As part of its ongoing commitment to serve members as efficiently as possible, NSPA installed a toll-free 800 phone number for ordering products and educational materials, as well as seminar registrations. "This member service was a major step forward, offering our members not only vital services but easy accessibility as well," President Richard L. Garlock noted.
In 1992, under the leadership of Frank J. Oliveri, Jr., of Arabi, LA, NSPA embarked on a yearlong period of self-examination and reflection. "Many strong expressions and sentiments were stated, and countless opposing and supporting opinions were articulated," said Paul C. Bumgarner, then first vice-president and incoming president. "The board of governors recognized it was time to face the future head on, and commissioned an extensive management study of the organization, its structure and its role in the accounting profession." The results of this study prompted both congratulations on a job well done - and a recognition that more changes were needed.
As Gary C. Rohrs, then second vice president, recalled, "While we did not find that all is bad with NSPA, we did not find that all is good, either. It takes a really strong organization, with strong leaders, to acknowledge areas of deficiency and be willing to do something about them."
In 1992, Joseph L. Kaufmann made his final report to the Society as secretary-treasurer, having overseen an important four-year era in NSPA's history that included taking firm steps to improve internal financial management. "I enjoyed every minute of the past four years," he said at the time. "There have been 'ups' and 'downs,' but the ups far exceeded the downs. The financial well-being and recordkeeping of our Society has improved 100%." He warmly credited the leadership of past presidents Rocco J. Antonelli, Thomas O. Harrell, Jr. and Frank C. Santos, Jr. for making these improvements possible. In addition to their role as a past leader of NSPA, each of these individuals headed financial management and budget committees and worked closely with the secretary-treasurer to oversee internal standards and controls.
1992 was a banner year for NSPA, as an important Society investment and goal was realized: NSPA was able to proudly say its headquarters building was completely and totally owned by the National Society! In only 12 years the mortgage had been paid off, there were no encumbrances on the Society and NSPA owned the building free and clear - a monumental achievement of which every NSPA member rightfully can be proud.
Having struggled through a few economically difficult years while the nation struggled with a major recession, NSPA moved to a mandate for a balanced budget by fiscal 1994-1995. "In this effort, we were most successful," said then-outgoing President Gary C. Rohrs. "In fact, I see this success as a most important contribution to NSPA during my term as president. As a result of restoring financial soundness to NSPA, the Society was able to proceed with a major capital improvement in the form of a complete modernization and integration of the headquarters computer system."
Throughout its 50-year history, one of NSPA's most important contributions to the public accountancy profession has been its active commitment to enhancing and promoting ethical guidelines for practitioners and, in 1990, the Society again made the decision to revise and update its Code of Ethics and Rules of Professional Conduct.
The Code and Rule revisions were made to conform to federal requirements. At the same time, there remained a firm grasp on the underlying philosophy - "NSPA members are obligated to maintain their competency, integrity and high standards of ethical conduct. The members' duty to their clients requires nothing less." The updates sought to eliminate barriers within the profession and promote free competition among practicing accountants. Specific issues included a federal agency decision that some of the ethical rules of the accounting profession (such as the ban on advertising and promotional activities) impeded free competition among practicing accountants. The changes to NSPA's Code and Rules reflected the Society's commitment to remaining up-to-date and responsive to changing conditions and requirements.
Adherence to the Code of Ethics is the one essential characteristic that distinguishes the profession of accounting from a trade. The existence of a Code and members' acceptance of it are a mark of the professional NSPA member and defines the relationship between members and their clients as well.
Building on the previous 40 years of interaction and success, NSPA continued to increase its involvement with federal agencies during the next 10 years. The Society increased its presence on Capitol Hill substantially, and improved and expanded relations with the IRS.
There were a number of issues of importance to the accounting and tax profession in 1985, including tax act changes in the Medicare program (under the Deficit Reduction Act of 1984) and the possibility that certain Social Security benefits would be taxed. In addition, the National Society of Public Accountants Political Action Committee "scored total victory" in the 1984 elections, with its financial support and political efforts reaping rewards in elections/reelections beneficial to the profession and the small business community. Then-President Robert Grille testified before a Congressional Small Business Committee on a wide range of issues of concern to members and their clients, while Second Vice President Robert R. Feazell urged Congress to completely repeal provisions on the contemporaneous recordkeeping and preparer penalty provisions of the 1984 tax law.
In 1985, the IRS proposed continuing professional education (CPE) regulations for enrolled agents (EAs) that would have required all EAs to renew their enrollment every three years to maintain standing and authority to practice before the IRS. In addition, a renewal fee was included in the proposal. Prior to this, enrollments were perpetual with a one-time fee. NSPA suggested changing the proposed renewal period from three years (and 72 hours CPE credit hours) to two years (and 48 CPE credit hours). As President Robert Grille pointed out, this would assist practitioners in tracking their CPE credits. Since most state licensing CPE renewal periods run in two-year cycles, tracking could be handled concurrently with other similar requirements. NSPA also suggested that the qualifying CPE programs include those of NSPA. The Director of Practice did, in fact, accept NSPA's continuing professional education programs as suitable for fulfilling EAs educational requirements, as noted in the final Circular 230 regulations.
In 1986, NSPA sought Senate sponsorship of legislation designed to authorize enrolled agents and certified public accountants to practice before the Small Tax Case Division of the U.S. Tax Court. Their authority to do so would be an acknowledgment of the credentials allowing them to serve as EAs and CPAs. This provision had passed the House in the Tax Reform Act of 1985; efforts by NSPA included meetings with staff and tax counsels of Senators Bob Dole (R-KS), Russell Long (D-LA) and Bill Bradley (D-NJ). Unfortunately, the legislation did not pass the Senate and this issue remains very much alive and of great concern to NSPA.
During his term as NSPA president (1985-1986), Frank C. Santos, Jr. urged Rep. John D. Dingell, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, to broaden the scope of committee hearings on the conduct of the accounting profession. Those hearings had dealt primarily with audit insufficiencies by giant CPA firms, which in turn caused the failure of certain publicly traded companies. Santos stressed the potentially larger picture and pointed out the potential subsequent effects on the economy of the small business community. The interaction was fruitful; Dingell served as a major speaker at the Society's National Issues Conference that spring and remains in the news to this day as a strong supporter of small business issues of interest to NSPA members.
Santos continued his strong letter-writing campaign on behalf of Society members throughout 1986, urging that IRS Form 8210 be eliminated, as well as the underlying provisions of the IRS requiring self-assessed penalties. He testified in June 1986 before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Consumer Protection and Finance, criticizing proposals that would increase SEC regulation of the financial planning industry. "Abuses are rarely described as stemming from the offering of general planning advice, such as traditional tax planning and estate planning services," Santos said.
NSPA attention and effort continued to focus on legislation permitting EAs and CPAs to practice before the U.S. Tax Court and developing testimony urging repeal of calandar-year filing provisions of the Tax Reform Act of 1986. Additional testimony regarded NSPA's opposition to certain audit procedures, particularly the practice of interviewing taxpayers even if they had duly authorized representatives holding power of attorney. George Parker, of Decatur, Georgia, was chairman of the Federal Taxation Committee and provided testimony on this issue to the Senate Subcommittee on Oversight of IRS.
Throughout NSPA's fifth decade, the IRS continued its tradition of annually asking for NSPA members' comments and suggestions to help improve the various federal tax forms. Joseph L. Kaufmann, while he was chairman of NSPA's Federal Taxation Committee, stressed the importance of these suggestions: "Nothing can compare with the actual experience of using those forms." In 1985 the IRS incorporated NSPA suggestions when redesigning Federal Tax Deposit coupons for taxpayers making advance payments of certain taxes. NSPA also had a voice in IRS deliberations over magnetic media regulations, which were expected to have a significant impact on many small businesses. Implementation could cause undue hardship and severe financial burdens for those who did not have the computer capabilities to produce magnetic media to satisfy IRS regulations.
Among other important moves to enhance relationships with the IRS and simplify the business lives of its members and clients, NSPA submitted written comments about a proposal for two alternative federal tax depository system scenarios. Society representatives met with the IRS to critique a special enrollment exam and evaluate proofs of newly revised 1987 tax forms.
NSPA President Thomas O. Harrell, Jr. wrote Congress in 1987, urging cosponsorship of the Omnibus Taxpayers Bill of Rights Act. He was particularly supportive of Section 4, which prohibited the IRS from bypassing the power of attorney of a taxpayer's duly authorized representative. Finally, in 1988, came the announcement that the agency would not mandate that a taxpayer be present for an audit interview. It appeared that NSPA efforts were successful at that point, but then it was discovered a technical correction bill was going to be required. As it stood now, the Act allowed for a highly subjective standard for bypassing the power of attorney of a representative during the interview process. NSPA launched a grassroots letter-writing campaign, in addition to direct efforts on the Hill, to combat this critical point. In late 1988 a new technical corrections bill passed Congress that included NSPA's proposal assuring taxpayers of their due-process rights during IRS audits and interviews.
That same year, the Federal Taxation Committee established a subcommittee to monitor taxpayers' and practitioners' difficulties and problems with tax penalties. The IRS showed its support by establishing a study group to review the structure and effectiveness of civil penalties and other civil sanctions provided for under the Internal Revenue Code. In May 1988, Gary C. Rohrs, then NSPA governor of District VII, member of the Federal Taxation Committee and later NSPA president, testified at a Senate subcommittee hearing to review tax penalties. This meeting was chaired by Sen. David Pryor (D-AR).
"The trend toward using penalties as revenue raisers must be stopped immediately and overlapping penalties or inconsistencies in enforcement of such penalties should be eliminated," Rohrs told the subcommittee. Past President Louis Mirman provided additional testimony on the issue and continued the push to reform the tax penalty system. The respect for NSPA from those involved was made apparent that September when a subcommittee of Pryor's private-sector penalty task force met at NSPA's headquarters office to discuss reform of preparer tax penalty provisions.
In 1988 NSPA initiated efforts to obtain a title change for individuals enrolled to practice before the IRS. The issue was discussed informally in a meeting with the IRS Director of Practice and, as a result, a notice about the matter was published in the Federal Register. While these efforts ultimately were unsuccessful, important professional liaisons were made and reinforced that proved helpful to the National Society at a later date.
A pleasant accolade came in 1989 when an NSPA member was selected for the first time by the Small Business Administration as its National Accountant Advocate of the Year. That was Joe Greenstreet, who was sponsored for this honor by the California Association of Independent Accountants.
Electronic filing entered the market in 1989, changing forever the nature of tax filing - and, of course, also irrevocably changing the way NSPA members interact with the IRS. NSPA kept the membership informed on this new aspect of technology and promptly began developing computer conference sessions on the issue as well. In recognition of the continuing importance of electronic filing issues, NSPA took a strong leadership role in the development and launch of the Council for Electronic Revenue Communications Advancement (CERCA), which is expected to drive the future of tax filings. An NSPA representative has sat on the board of that group since its inception, to ensure that the interests of independent practitioners are represented.
Among highlights of Katie Mathes's 1988-1989 administration as NSPA's first woman president was strong growth in government relations activities, including involvement in two major bills - the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights and a push to repeal Section 89.
Section 89 was an important issue for the Society and its members. It concerned the significant administrative and compliance burdens imposed on small businesses, primarily in terms of employee benefit plans for part-time employees. NSPA aggressively and consistently maintained its position - calling for a reduction in the paperwork burdens for small businesses. NSPA supported later legislation, HR 1864, introduced to simplify the nondiscrimination rules for employee benefit plans under that section and to expand the definition of part-time employees from 17.5 to 25 hours worked per week. This was a distinct improvement, although NSPA recommended an increase to 30 hours. NSPA called this a first step in the direction of simplifying the code provision. Health care insurance coverage for the self-employed also came under this section; NSPA recommended that the House Ways and Means Committee consider that issue and that the 25% insurance deduction for the self-employed be retained.
Having gained the respect of the IRS commissioner for NSPA as "a mainstream professional organization that is willing and able to work cooperatively for the betterment of the tax administration system," NSPA's Federal Taxation Committee increased its congressional efforts to make permanent the deduction for health insurance costs for self-employed people [Section 162(1)].
NSPA's success was called "a somewhat hollow victory" by 1990 Committee Chairman Theodore C. Rademaker, because it only extended the deduction rather than creating a permanent change. This was, however, still an important first step in continued efforts toward achieving equity for the self-employed.
The committee also took this year as its opportunity to establish two new IRS-related subcommittees: one for electronic filing, in response to growing concerns over the quality and direction of that program; and one for forms, meeting annually to discuss members' problems with agency products.
As soon as NSPA saw the specter of major tax reform looming ahead, it began planning early the various comprehensive means and events to be used for the dissemination of information as soon as a bill was enacted. NSPA was poised for action the moment TRA '93 passed!
As evidence of the continuing good relationship between NSPA and the IRS, Donny Woods of Arkansas was appointed to represent NSPA on the Commissioner's Advisory Group (CAG). Woods was the latest in a succession of NSPA members who have represented the National Society on the IRS CAG.
NSPA's Federal Taxation Committee sought ways to continue representing the needs of independent practitioners before the IRS. William Stevenson, committee vice-chair, worked to clarify the role of EAs with powers of attorney in the event of an audit. Committee member Bob Zaleski also brought up the issue of a little-known IRS procedure called the compliance check, a tool used to examine employment classifications without granting the protection of a prior audit. As the Society's 50th year approached, NSPA was seeking to make sure that taxpayers who undergo such examinations can consider their classifications protected in the future.
Late shipment of Package X by the IRS was a concern in early 1994; the good news was that the package was reduced from three volumes to two, while the bad news was that the packages themselves were delayed. Then came the inadvertent notices to balance-due electronic filers on April 18, 1994. NSPA responded immediately and succinctly. The notices warned that payments had not been received, when many, according to NSPA, undoubtedly were "in mail bags on the IRS loading docks."
Shortly thereafter, NSPA was at the IRS again, expressing concern that new electronic return originator rules would make the application process more difficult for those who wish to use Form 8633, Application to Participate in the Electronic Filing Program. Throughout these many months of opinion exchange, NSPA's and IRS' relationship remained cordial and mutually respectful.
NSPA continued to provide input into the White House Conference on Small Business and encouraged members to participate at the local, regional and national levels, as plans went into gear for the 1995 event.
Toward the end of NSPA's fifth decade, several familiar national issues continued to draw attention. The Ethics and Integrity subgroup of the IRS Commissioner's Advisory Group (CAG) advanced a proposal to regulate commercial tax return preparers and offered a proposed amendment to Circular 230 to create and define a designation of Commercial Tax Return Preparer (CTRP). NSPA was pleased with progress in this area, since all current members could be grandfathered in as CTRPs just by registering and meeting a CPE requirement only slightly more stringent than the Society's own. The CTRP requirement would be 24 hours of CPE every year, while NSPA requires 72 hours every three years with at least 16 hours in any one year. The specifics of this proposal will generate a great deal of discussion that will carry into NSPA's next decade.
An issue that never faded away, Circular 230 popped up again in 1994 as the Society's 50th year drew to a close. The IRS issued final regulations on Circular 230 after more than 18 months in proposed form. Several NSPA suggestions for modifying the proposed rules were adopted when the rules were finalized. Among such items were the "one-in-three" test for taxpayers under IRC Section 6694 for the "realistic possibility" standard, and guidelines on electronic filing, including service bureaus and transmittals.
During 1994, NSPA followed/commented/testified on many national issues, including Treasury plans to reduce fraud in tax returns while increasing taxpayer compliance, Social Security changes for 1995, health insurance for the self-employed, health care reform and implications of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Expectations were that the landslide Republican victories in the November 1994 election "all but guaranteed" tax legislation in the new year.
Through its various national committees, staff legislative activity, interaction with federal agencies and programs such as the annual National Issues Conference, NSPA continued to monitor and take actions on important national developments affecting the profession and its membership.
CELEBRATING PAC SUCCESS
Early in its fifth decade, NSPA celebrated the success of its nonpartisan political support arm, the NSPA-PAC, and its 10th anniversary in 1986. To commemorate this "Tenth Year of Dedicated Service," NSPA-PAC continued its PAC Awareness Program, designed to promote the PAC and create an image of effectiveness for the PAC within the Society's membership. This is never an easy task for a PAC, "given apprehensions toward politicians, legislators and the bureaucratic process," said committee chairman and past president Rudolph J. Passero.
Current PAC chairman, Past President Katie Mathes, is working diligently to increase support and attention on Ways and Means, Finance and Small Business committee members with "proven track records of supporting the work of NSPA members and their clients." NSPA-PAC traditionally held several fund-raising events throughout the course of each year, but always reserved its biggest for NSPA's Annual Convention. Drawings for major prizes and cash had always proved popular, but the greatest success came when the PAC implemented a silent and live auction, coupled with a Presidential Roast.
The year was 1993 and NSPA's convention was held in a flooded St. Louis. Despite the poor climactic conditions and a somewhat lower attendance than usual, PAC continued with its plans for a "Sonnet and Song" Presidential Roast. President Paul C. Bumgarner showed his sense of humor as friend after friend showered him with song or rhymed praises. Perhaps it would not be fair to say it was all praise - but it was in good spirit. The Roast was followed by a fast-paced, high-powered live auction (the auctioneer was a frenetic Harold Krieger of Jefferson City, MO). Items that moved quickly on and offstage included live Maine lobsters, Omaha steaks, a cowboy hat, a signed Farrah Faucett original watercolor, vacations and more.
The event was such a hit that it was repeated in '94 at the San Diego convention. This time the roastee was President Gary C. Rohrs and roasters included Governor LaVerne Long, Douglas C. Burnette, Leroy Strubberg, Governor Clara Novitch and First Vice President Milton Brown. Harold Krieger returned with his cries of "Going, going gone!" and was joined in his efforts by Leroy Strubberg of Union, MO. The highest bid at this highly enjoyable event was $650 for a pair of cowboy boots.
STATE LEGISLATIVE AND JUDICIAL ACTIVITY
In 1985, the NSPA Board of Governors increased the amount of the monitoring grant made available to affiliated state societies to $500. The program had begun in 1983 when the National Society wanted to emphasize the critical importance of monitoring and chose to provide financial support as an initial incentive. The State Regulation and Oversight Committee had recommended this action, recognizing that monitoring state accountancy boards was "one of the most significant actions the affiliate can take." After ten years, NSPA state affiliates were convinced of the importance of monitoring and were committed to the activity. The decision was made, therefore, in 1994 to phase out the monitoring program over the next five years, initially by reducing grants by $100 each year until 1999. State societies were encouraged to continue monitoring state accountancy boards for their own practice protection, with NSPA's legal counsel available for technical assistance.
Other 1985 issues included a bona-fide effort by the Louisiana Society of Independent Accountants to reach a settlement in litigation against the Louisiana Board of Certified Public Accountants, which "was spurned" by the Board. The court had denied the rights of unlicensed accountants to perform review engagements and attach review reports, using SSARS-1 conventional language.
In that case, the Louisiana court upheld a statutory interpretation that unlicensed practitioners could not perform review engagements. "However, the Louisiana Board of CPAs, in an accommodation measure, by regulation gave NSPA's state affiliate broad "safe haven" language for compilation reports or transmittals," recalled NSPA's Legal Counsel William H. Sager. "Such a settlement initially was spurned, which led to the court action." Sager had testified in the trial court, where the Louisiana affiliate won; however, the issue was lost on appeal and both the State and U.S. Supreme Courts refused to hear the case.
NSPA's "Regulatory Alert" newsletter noted that the Department of Justice also settled an action against the Louisiana State Board of Certified Public Accountants, seeking to require the board to eliminate its ban on advertising and solicitation.
Other state activities included a proposal by the Montana Board of Public Accounting to amend its rules about inactive status of licensees; the formation of PACs by the West Virginia Public Accountants Association and New York Society of Independent Accountants; action by the Nebraska Society of Independent Accountants, which strongly opposed a bill requiring the state auditor to be a CPA; and a 1994 move in Nebraska to allow partnerships between non-licensed accountants and CPAs.
The Georgia Association of Public Accountants was victorious in a bid to upset a proposed rule from the State Board of Accountancy that would have restricted the rights of unlicensed accountants to prepare unaudited compilation and review statements.
In some respects, NSPA's fifth decade can be remembered as the "Decade of Court Cases." There are several cases that bear mentioning in NSPA's battle for the practice rights of the unlicensed. One important court case concerned the charge by the California Board of Accountancy against NSPA member John Jenkins. According to the Board, Jenkins violated two sections of the accountancy law by including "Member, National Society of Public Accountants" on his professional business card, because this suggested the cardholder was licensed, which he was not. Unfortunately, the "Jenkins case," as it was known to NSPA members, did not succeed. The Board argued that indicating memberships on business cards was misleading. NSPA countered by pointing out that Jenkins was conveying a truthful message. Unfortunately, while agreeing the message was certainly truthful, the Court said it had an overriding concern to protect the public from potentially misleading statements and, in their opinion, this statement could be perceived as misleading.
A more encouraging, equally important event was the "CAIA - Bonnie Moore" (California Association of Independent Accountants) case. The entire proceedings of this case are considered legendary within the profession due to the issues, organizations and, ultimately, the large numbers of people who would be affected. The case began in 1986 and continued until 1992. The issue concerned the right to use the title "accountant" and the term "accounting." The case went all the way to the California State Supreme Court. NSPA filed an amicus curiae brief and provided substantial financial and technical assistance to CAIA. NSPA also prepared amicus briefs for appeal to the U.S. Supreme Courts on behalf of more than 30 state societies, along with a separate brief on behalf of the National Society.
The final decision resembled the old adage that a glass can be seen as either half-full or half-empty, depending on the mood of the viewer: "We won the right to use 'accountant' and 'accounting,' as long as unlicensed individuals used a caveat or disclaimer stating that they were not licensed by the state board, and that the work performed by an individual or someone's firm did not require the practitioner to be licensed," Sager explained. "Previously, any use of these terms was unlawful and prohibited."
In Massachusetts in 1991, David Volin was facing a situation similar to Bonnie Moore's. Under dispute was the right of unlicensed accountants to give clients transmittals stating what work was performed. By 1994, after several years of litigation, the Massachusetts trial court upheld the rights of unlicensed accountants to practice their profession, call themselves "accountants" and provide transmittals to clients.
Although the decision represents a victory for Volin and unlicensed accountants in Massachusetts, the trial court's decision still requires clarification on a number of issues. These include the Court's interpretation regarding certain modifiers and their usage when describing professional attainments. For example, an unlicensed accountant in Massachusetts may refer to him/herself as an accountant, but not a "professional" or "experienced" accountant.
Another point of contention is the Court's prohibition regarding the usage of "member - National Society of Public Accountants" by unlicensed accountants on letterhead, business cards or any type of promotional materials. As in the John Jenkins case in California, the Courts believes this statement, while perhaps inherently truthful, contains the potential to mislead the public. Both Volin and NSPA (who filed a friend of the court brief in the appeal) believe that a state cannot prohibit what is constitutionally protected truthful speech. As of early 1995, the case is under appeal.
"All of these cases represent repressive [state] accountancy laws that are directed at unlicensed individuals, and attempt to restrict their ability to serve their small business clients and indirectly to reduce competition for licensed members of the profession," NSPA Legal Counsel Sager noted. "They also strengthen the need for continued effort in promoting and enacting NSPA's Model Accountancy Law across the country. The model law would create an additional class of licensees who could perform these tasks without being harassed by state boards and would obviate the hodgepodge of laws that restrict the scope of practice for independent accountants."
Over these most recent years, such skirmishes in NSPA's ongoing battle to protect the right to practice of its unlicensed members has resulted in a financial commitment for legal aid to affiliated state societies (the NSPA Restricted Legal Reserve Fund), as well as the development of its own Model Accountancy Law (MAL), mentioned earlier.
"Our Model Accountancy Law is the single most pressing legislative goal of the Society," noted Sager. "It has been part of our legislative policy since NSPA's earliest years and has been updated as necessary."
The 1986 version of the MAL was successfully shepherded through NSPA committee/organizational meetings and into adoption by the National Council of Delegates. Said then-District VII Governor and future NSPA President Gary C. Rohrs of this significant achievement: "Dramatically and forcefully, NSPA has stepped out on its own - and without a marriage to some previously expounded position by some other nationally recognized professional society."
The MAL moved forward at an admirably strong pace - it was introduced in several state legislatures in 1987, which then-president Harrell called "a very commendable record for a bill so recently adopted by the National Council of Delegates!" By late 1994, several state accounting bills based on the Model Accountancy Law were pending, in Minnesota, Oregon and New York.
RELATIONS WITH STATE AFFILIATES
An important element of NSPA membership is the availability of an affiliated society on a state level - providing local support and assistance to members. One outcome of this, however, is an assortment of uneasy relationships among individuals and organizations. This often results in a struggle to maintain an even and fair balance among NSPA and its state societies, and NSPA and non-state society members who are NSPA members. Historically, these relationships have fluctuated between mutually strong and supportive to tenuous at best. As Gary Rohrs noted during his term as president, "We must find a way to build and grow upon the foundation of our commonality, and not continue to be separatists."
Grassroots support has always been important to NSPA, - thus the existence of and affiliation with state societies. 1985 brought a new association in California - the California Association of Independent Accountants - as NSPA's state affiliate. CAIA replaced the Society of California Accountants, an affiliation which had been mutually discontinued in August 1985, when efforts failed to resolve differences in membership philosophy. When existing affiliations ended, NSPA also helped organize new associations in Ohio and Nevada in 1994.
Improving relations between NSPA and its various ASOs was an important goal as NSPA approached the end of its first 50 years. An ad hoc committee was formed to find the means to encourage dialogue between the National Society and the state societies. A typical concern, for example, was the decision of NSPA's affiliate, the Massachusetts Association of Public Accountants (MAPA), to continue its long-standing exclusion of unlicensed practitioners from the membership rosters as active members. The resulting strife finally caused the formation of a new entity, the Massachusetts Society of Independent Accountants (MSIA). NSPA entered into a discussion with both groups in an attempt to resolve their differences.
One important result of this discussion was the formation and subsequent approval of a nationwide, state-by-state Declaration of Intentions. This Declaration called for an "agreement to meet and talk" and NSPA sought 100% participation. By midyear, nearly every ASO had signed the declaration and was sending representatives to the Convocation on Uniform Active Membership Requirements, held in San Diego during NSPA's Annual Convention.
NSPA's fifth decade was an important one for improving relations between the Society and its ASOs, according to Rohrs. During his presidency alone, a renewed awareness and acceptance of that relationship evolved, as evidenced by the Declaration of Intentions, signed by NSPA and all but one of the ASOs in 1993. Among the elements that were resolved was a conflict between NSPA and the ASOs over the Regional Tax Seminars, Rohrs noted, accomplished by redesigning the seminars to be more state-oriented.
An important service NSPA makes available to state society leaders is the annual Legislative Strategy Conference. This program is a key component in the dissemination and exchange of information concerning court cases, upcoming legislation and legislative strategies utilized by various state societies. Originally launched in the spring of 1990 with simultaneous events in three cities, they were established well enough to be consolidated into one event in the Washington, DC, area by 1994, with strong attendance from across the nation. "This kind of national gathering provides a better program" said Robert Gorden, State Regulation and Oversight Committee chairman, "in that we can exchange ideas with all states, not just a fragmented group." Since their inception, these meetings have been an important service to state societies and their leaders.
NSPA also developed two important documents for members regarding state regulation. One was a notebook providing a "Synopsis of State Laws Regulating the Public Practice of Accountancy," an updated compendium of major features of state accountancy laws that relate to independent accountants, compiled by William H. Sager, legal counsel for NSPA. Begun in the mid-1970s, the publication was improved and expanded over the years; the material is distributed free to legislative chairpersons of NSPA's ASOs.
In 1990, NSPA first published Safe Harbor Transmittal Language. This was, and remains, an invaluable resource to guide members in preparing financial statements and reports. Prepared by the NSPA Legal Department, it summarized transmittal language permitted to be used by unregulated and unlicensed practitioners in various jurisdictions and is updated every two years.
State relations, activities and legislation remain at the forefront of NSPA concerns. NSPA is dedicated to protecting all members' rights to practice.
INTERACTIONS WITH COLLEAGUES
An important achievement of 1991 was the increased communication between NSPA and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). This same year, both NASBA and AICPA took serious notice of and reviewed NSPA's objections to their new joint Uniform Accountancy Act. "Every effort should be made to provide for those individuals in our profession who are not currently licensed by an accountancy board, so they may continue to practice with dignity," said 1990-1991 President Richard L. Garlock.
Fulfilling 1992-1993 President Paul C. Bumgarner's theme "Growth Through Communication," NSPA hosted a Conference of National Accounting Organizations in Alexandria, VA. Representatives of AICPA, NASBA, National Association of Enrolled Agents, Accountants for the Public Interest, American Women's Society of CPAs, National Conference of CPA Practitioners, National Association of Tax Practitioners and others participated in the sessions.
The objective of the gathering was to identify goals and common ground among these professional organizations, to improve relations through coalition building and to enhance NSPA's position in the accounting profession. The meeting was vital to "building trust among ourselves, and spending less time protecting ourselves and more time protecting the public in accounting and tax issues," Bumgarner said. NSPA has followed up on the conference with meetings on an individual basis between successive presidents of these and other organizations in the field, creating an ongoing dialogue that builds on mutual concerns in advancing the profession.
Always a concern for a healthy Society, an ambitious membership recruitment program was researched, developed and implemented to take the message of the Society to more practitioners than ever before. Membership grew from 16,000 to 23,000 by 1988, and has remained at more than 20,000 throughout the fifth decade.
In recent years, the services that are available have increased tremendously. Today they include such benefits as toll-free access to NSPA; tax problem research assistance; discounts from professional publishers, software companies and both paper and on-line subscription services; and expanded educational offerings.
NSPA leaders and staff worked hand-in-hand to develop and strengthen services to the membership in 1989. The first step was a contract with an independent research company to conduct the Society's first Membership Needs Assessment Survey. This proved to be one of the most ambitious and significant undertakings in NSPA history to that date. It gave staff, officers, Board of Governors and committees a practical insight into precisely what the individual members of NSPA wanted and needed from the Society. The results were far-reaching; new programs and services were launched and others found not useful were revised or eliminated. The project continues to shape planning efforts as the Society discovered the immediate benefits of frequent member surveys.
In 1989, the Society faced a necessary dues increase - always a challenge when you want to maintain a strong retention record. Gratifyingly, increasing dues did not hurt membership levels - a strong indication of the value the members hold for the Society. "With the hard work of the committee members, state directors and governors, NSPA retained 87% of its membership going into the 1989-1990 membership year," said Wilson "Red" Hall, then chairman of the Membership Committee. "A significant portion of those who dropped their membership did so because they were retiring from practice, not through any lack of satisfaction with NSPA's services and programs. It has been a successful year - we took our message to more professionals than ever before and generated more than 2,300 new members in a 12-month period."
In keeping with the rest of the nation's growing involvement with the global marketplace, 1993 was the year that NSPA went more truly international. Although NSPA has long maintained an international membership from such locations as Canada, Barbados, Japan, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Costa Rica, the Phillippines, Panama and South Africa, the National Council of Delegates at the 1992 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Convention voted to amend the Bylaws and expand Society boundaries by authorizing the affiliation of international accounting organizations. By 1993, "the dream came true with the first international affiliate, the Institute of Certified Compilers of Canada," recalled then-president Paul Bumgarner.
As increased numbers of licensed members were facing quality assurance review requirements by their state boards of accountancy, NSPA stepped in with a new service to assist members in meeting this requirement. NSPA first offered its Quality Assurance Review (QAR) in 1991 as a voluntary program through which members can improve their level of practice and professionalism. Initially developed as a pilot program, the QAR caught on so well that it has received national acceptance in several states and has been recognized by state Boards of Accountancy as a vehicle to provide QAR services to licensees in those states. Considered a valuable membership service, participation has been high from both licensed and unlicensed members. Since the program is voluntary, its success demonstrates NSPA members' desire to provide quality services to their clients.
NSPA's QAR program now is ongoing, offered in two cycles a year. In recognition of its value to the Society, members and the general public, the QAR committee has been made a standing committee of the Society through an amendment of the bylaws in 1993.
In 1991, NSPA's Membership Committee was instrumental in originating and recommending approval for a Technology Committee. "With the rapid pace of automation, this committee will prove beneficial to a large majority of the membership and result in significant cost savings as well," said Jeff Adelstone, then-chairman of the Membership Committee.
By 1992, the nation was in the grips of an economic recession. In the name of membership retention, the Society recognized it could "cross its fingers and take its chances" or initiate daring and aggressive steps of providing members with even more services and benefits for their dues dollar. NSPA elected to rise to the challenge by inaugurating a number of new services, including:
* Software News, a bimonthly newspaper free for members, in response to exceptionally rapid advancements in computer and electronic technology;
* a discount program for office supplies;
* expanded contractual relations with major publishers of accounting and tax publications to give members access to these important items at discounts;
* the now-essential Washington Reporter newsletter, launched on a biweekly basis rather than monthly to bring members fast-breaking news on current developments; and
* a no-fee Gold Visa credit card program and new professional services account program that lets clients pay fees immediately by credit card.
NSPA also expanded its Tax Research Assistance Service, to give members year-round information and materials on difficult tax issues; started an out-of-state tax forms service to give members a quick and easy way to obtain state forms; publicized evaluations of accounting software; and offered vast expansions in discounted products and services.
When 1993 came around, NSPA, along with many other national associations, "tightened its belt by a notch or two." NSPA, however, continued to increase member services even more. The Society's belief that members look to NSPA for assistance more than ever when times are tough turned out to be the correct position. The results were impressive. In the midst of a recession, NSPA maintained its 86-87% retention rate and at the same time, increased member participation in education seminars and discounted product sales.
As the fifth decade came to a close, it was clear that NSPA must be doing a lot of things right for its members.
NSPA continued its aggressive efforts to inform the public about the value and role of practicing accountants to the country. Tax columns and tax tips were regularly sent to editors all around the country, along with feature articles about tax preparation and the accountant.
In early 1985, NSPA launched a two-page Client Report, designed for member use for their clients or potential clients. Originally available as an insert in the Washington Reporter, members were encouraged to personalize issues with their company names. In 1992, the Client Report became available in the National Public Accountant, providing a coated, camera-ready sheet more suitable for reproduction. The Report regularly provides a digest of information and issues of interest to both small business owners and individuals.
In 1987, the National Public Accountant was awarded recognition by the national association community as "outstanding in appearance and design." The popularity of the Portfolio of Accounting Systems for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses prompted the contracting between Prentice Hall and NSPA for a third edition. NSPA members showed their abilities and dedication, producing 61 chapters on 61 different types of businesses for this most recent edition.
NSPA continued its triennial development of the Income and Fees Survey Report, releasing findings in 1988, 1991 and 1994. These studies were instrumental in the Society's success in providing public recognition of NSPA on local, regional and national levels.
NSPA's educational programs have grown tremendously this past decade, reflecting the shift in today's accounting practice services from accounting/taxation-only to expanded financial and management advisory services. One of the most important contributions has been the refinement and dissemination of the Generally Accepted Tax Accounting Principles (GATAP), described earlier in this history. By mid-1985, GATAP had been developed as a correspondence course. The course was to serve as NSPA's official guide to GATAP, with an education session scheduled for that year's Annual Convention in Honolulu, HI.
It is worth recalling at this juncture that GATAP was developed by the Accountancy Standards Committee as a set of principles governing the preparation of financial statements. The GATAP methodology uses the income tax return as the basis for preparing the financial statement. GATAP provides a definite and useful purpose for the types of clients that NSPA members are most likely to serve.
In 1986, the Education and Professional Development Department held seven seminars in which more than 1,000 members participated, introduced three new correspondence courses (TRA'86 Update, Practical Estate Planning, ACAT Preparatory Course) and implemented a mini-topics program for use by affiliated state societies to stage their own educational seminars.
A highlight of 1986 was the National Issues Conference, formerly the Conference on Government Regulation. This program focused on current, national developments affecting the public accounting profession and the small business community. Events included visits to Congressional representatives on Capitol Hill.
Throughout the course of the decade, NSPA sought to offer top quality educational seminars with timely topics in a cost-effective manner. New seminars were added while others were deleted as NSPA worked to develop the perfect educational mix. The goal, of course, was to provide the best - at the lowest possible price to the member.
In 1990, NSPA instituted its Regional Tax Seminars, with plans for seminars to be held in more than three dozen locations around the country. The seminars were led by the educational team of Roger W. Sample, CPA and John W. Bailey, CPA of Fort Collins, CO. "Our membership had indicated their desire for this kind of educational program, and we were very happy to provide such a valuable service," said then-president Walter T.Y. Lau.
Originally cosponsored by NSPA and the affiliated state societies, future seminars will be offered by individual state societies, working directly with Sample & Bailey. "The name, speakers, content, format and other features of the Regional Tax Seminars will remain substantially the same," said then-President Gary Rohrs of the change, which involved "much discussion and soul-searching. This change, however, is in the best interests of NSPA and its affiliated state societies."
NSPA will continue to promote the program in its national publications and Sample & Bailey will contract directly with affiliated state associations, which will plan, promote, coordinate and manage the seminars.
An annual highlight is the increasingly popular National Estate Tax Conference. The conference was developed to increase practice revenues by adding a service essential to a practitioner's current client base. "We wanted to continue the quality of the past highly technical and professional estate tax planning conference," recalled Vicki Lynn McGuar, former Education and Professional Development Committee chairman. Top speakers in an easily accessible location in a related growing field proved to be the perfect mix for success.
Client Service Seminars featured new topics, new speakers and new concepts throughout the early 1990s, to help members add new services that would expand their practices. Among new programs offered were Computer Seminars, Elder Care Planning and Asset Protection, Business Entities and others. Flagship tax seminars were a continual success, including the National Estate Tax Conference, mentioned above, and the annual National Tax Institute.
By 1994, NSPA had eliminated 25 nonproductive and unprofitable course offerings; added 60 new course offerings of general and specialized natures; made 99 new, top-quality self-study courses available to members; expanded the popular National Estate Tax Conference to two locations; and updated topics for the National Tax Institute.
NSPA's continuing education and professional development programs are well-respected for their program content and professionalism. Additionally, NSPA has been registered with NASBA as a sponsor of continuing professional education in its national registry of CPE sponsors - a recognition received continuously since the registry's inception in 1990. NSPA's CPE programs have been approved by all state accountancy boards and by the IRS as well.
To make the Golden Anniversary of NSPA an especially memorable one in terms of educational services, NSPA begun planning for its first-ever Seminar at Sea, a seven-day Caribbean cruise to be held in May 1995 aboard the luxurious SS Norway. Participants will enjoy a unique opportunity to earn eight CPE credits in "Financial Issues of the Elderly" and relax after the taxing tax season.
INCREASING MEMBER SERVICES
NSPA's fifth decade clearly has been an exciting one for NSPA in many ways, not the least of which has been the Society's success in increasing and enhancing its services to members. This is not only good for members, it is also good for the Society as a source of ever-expanding non-dues revenue. The proportion of NSPA's annual budget represented by non-dues revenue has been increasing favorably in recent years, a trend common to the association environment and one that makes the Society ever more effective at the financial level.
As Executive Vice President Stearman often has said, a key goal of NSPA is "Service, service, service." In the range of such services offered by NSPA to its valued members in its 50th year, several new resources should be noted:
* AT&T discount on long-distance phone calls, newly announced in December 1994;
* an agreement with AgriPlan/BizPlan - an administrative service that allows sole-proprietor small-business owners and farmers to deduct 100% of eligible health insurance and medical expenses, by simplifying compliance and accounting procedures associated with IRC Section 105;
* UPS shipping discounts;
* the All States Tax Forms Service, available toll-free from NSPA;
* a member VISA Gold Card through MBNA, with no annual fee;
* discounts on office supplies from Penny Wise office products; and
* expanded research assistance capabilities with the NSPA Tax Research Assistance Program signing of an agreement with the Research Institute of America (RIA) to provide the main resources for the National Office tax library.
By 1990, a new professional liability insurance program and new carrier were important benefits. "The nationwide state of professional liability insurance created a volatile situation that kept NSPA members guessing from day to day whether they had coverage or could even get coverage," recalled Richard L. Garlock, then chairman of the Insurance Committee and later a Society president (1990-1991). "Professional liability insurance is a vital necessity for all practicing accountants," Garlock said. "We have the best coverage available at the lowest rates."
NSPA offered a new freedom-of-choice medical insurance program in 1993. By 1994, a new term life plan had become an instant success among members.
LOOKING TO THE NEXT 50 YEARS
In its 50th year, the Society stands poised to continue its exciting history into a new half-century. Revenue is up; the budget - especially in non-dues income - is up; staffing levels are up; morale is high; services are at an all-time high; membership numbers are up. With a successful, eventful past as a beacon for the future, NSPA's prospects for its second 50 years are exciting, to say the least.
It would take volumes to fully detail the many accomplishments, contributions and advances experienced by the Society in its first half-century. These have been only the highlights of 50 years of growth, expansion and - most importantly - member service to a profession that is continually adapting to the new trends and technologies of American society.
NSPA looks forward to its sixth decade, and its second 50 years, with excitement and a constant commitment to making the public accountant's professional life the best it can be for its members. What comes next is limited only by the dedication of our members and leaders - and the past has shown that there are few limits to that dedication, spirit and commitment.
Said Joseph L. Kaufmann, 1994-95 NSPA First Vice President, "As we celebrate our 50th Anniversary, we would like to take a brief look into the future. As we begin our 51st year, the theme will be 'A New Beginning.' It will be a new beginning in many ways as we prepare to enter the 21st century.
"Our new executive vice president will be the most visible part of the New Beginning. Most of us have only known Stanley H. Stearman as the executive vice president. As with any change of command, there will be changes in style. However, we feel the major change in our Society will be restructuring of the organization as envisioned by your Board of Governors. This new vision of the future we expect to be able to present to the House of Delegates in Washington, DC, as we celebrate the culmination of our first 50 years."
February 13, 1995
Mr. Milton Brown National Society of Public Accountants 1010 N. Fairfax Street Alexandria, VA 22314-1574
Dear Milton Brown:
The year 1995 marks my 29th year as a Public Accountant. How things have changed over the years! The tax law has been revised, updated, simplified and redone; the Code and Regs. have been completely rewritten. In the midst of all these changes, NSPA has been a constant help in my practice. Moreover, NSPA has been with accountants through thick and thin.
The emergence of electronic equipment and updated communication systems has made us all stop and take notice. But where can we turn for accurate, updated information on the tax and accounting issues that affect us as accountants?
When I decided to take the Special Enrollment Exam sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service, who was there with a pre-planned review course? It was NSPA.
When I wanted to know about financial statements prepared on a tax-basis, who was there? It was NSPA.
When I had a difficult tax question regarding disability, who had a research department to help answer my questions? Again, it was NSPA.
When I wanted articles on electronic equipment, what organization had a special section devoted to such things? It was NSPA.
When I want to know about major tax issues from our nation's capitol, who has a "Reporter" to keep me up to date? Once again, it is NSPA.
When I wanted to share my practice experience with other accountants, what group had a quality, national magazine for me to express my views? None other than NSPA.
At every stage of my career, NSPA was there to help with information and resources which otherwise wouldn't have been available.
It is with pride that I join other independent accountants across our great land to salute NSPA on its anniversary.
Thanks for your help and keep up the good work.
All best wishes,
John R. Williams
P.S. I've been a member of NSPA since 1985. Currently, I hold a PA license from the state of Indiana, am enrolled to practice before the IRS and am an Accredited Tax Advisor and an Accredited Tax Preparer.
Incidentally, I won the 1992 Golden Quill Award from NSPA at the national convention in St. Louis, MO, during the summer of 1993. Thanks, again.
RELATED ARTICLE: ROBERT GRILLE
Robert Grille was elected NSPA president in Nashville, TN, at NSPA's 38th Annual Convention. He was elected during a time when many accounting practitioners were facing restrictive state legislation. NSPA, in turn, recognized the importance of staying informed and responded by encouraging state societies to monitor state boards of accountancy. This was an issue of highest priority.
Grille also kept a close eye on federal activities affecting accounting practitioners. He expressed concern in testimony before the U.S. Senate Small Business Committee over the question of Federal Trade Commission oversight of professionals. Grille urged Congress to reject any effort to exempt professionals from FTC oversight, citing problems NSPA members had faced from state boards. Said Grille, "Unfortunately, many of the regulatory bodies are controlled by those they seek to regulate."
He was also featured on the nationally distributed "Small Business Report." Grille stressed the importance of accurate recordkeeping to small business survival and encouraged entrepreneurs to rely on the services of professionals.
Grille also called attention to the confusion the general public faces regarding the tax system. In testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee, Grille challenged Congress to "be up front" about tax reform and "tell the public just what is happening and why." He listed specific objections to an array of tax proposals, including the depreciation system, the handling of miscellaneous deductions and the reduction of maximum corporate tax rates.
Grille lived up to his reputation for stating the facts clearly and simply by pointing out that it is the very complexity of the tax system that is, in part, responsible for some of the problems the IRS experiences.
RELATED ARTICLE: FRANK C. SANTOS, JR.
Frank C. Santos, Jr., of New Bedford, MA, became president of the National Society at its 40th Annual Convention, held in Honolulu, HI. This was the largest convention NSPA had held to date. Almost immediately following his election, Santos participated in the IRS Conference of Assistant Regional Commissioners (Data Processing) and Service Center Directors. He pointed out to the assemblage the many communications problems NSPA members were experiencing, particularly involving Federal tax deposits. Santos stated that changes needed to be made and procedures streamlined, as practitioners are being forced to spend a disproportionate amount of time and energy resolving payment and collection disputes.
Santos did not believe in just words, however. Before the start of the 1985 tax filing season, he had appointed an NSPA Federal Taxation Committee consultant in each state to serve as a clearinghouse contact for Society members who encountered problems in their relations with the IRS. He stressed that "it is our intent to continue our excellent relationship with the commissioner and the IRS, but we must at the same time serve our members by trying to eliminate or solve problems."
Santos also expressed the Society's concerns in letters to Capitol Hill, including letters to Senator Robert Packwood (R-OR), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Representative Dan Rostenkowski (D-IL), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, regarding the impact on the American economy of the effective dates for the Tax Reform Act of 1985. In later correspondence, Santos stressed NSPA's opposition "to the concept of self-assessment of penalties," pointing out that the procedures are extremely burdensome to small business.
Not one to stop at Congress, Santos also wrote President Reagan urging the Administration to modify its policy on the SBA. He expressed concern specifically "about the Administration's policy proposal to abolish the SBA."
RELATED ARTICLE: ROBERT R. FEAZELL
Robert R. Feazell of Cincinnati, OH, was elected president at NSPA's 41st Annual Convention. In addition to facing head-on a wide variety of legislative issues, Feazell also placed strong emphasis on membership acquisition and continuing professional education. His enthusiasm and dedication about the National Society was infectious, so it was only appropriate that he decided to have a rallying theme for his year in office - "Enthusiasm Makes the Difference."
He instituted a program immediately following the convention - Committee Week - in which many of NSPA's committees met to work together for a successful and well-coordinated year. This successful event has continued into NSPA's 50th year.
One of the means in which Feazell and his Board of Governors met the states' restrictive legislation problems was with the release of an exposure draft of an NSPA Model Accountancy Law.
A great believer in action, Feazell was often testifying before Congressional committees. In a letter, he urged Congress to act expeditiously on the recommendations of the 1986 White House Conference on Small Business. He also encouraged a meeting between NSPA and the American Bankers Association in order to reopen channels of communication to discuss matters of mutual concern.
Feazell also kept close watch on the workings and administration of the National Society, appointing a Financial Management Review Committee to assure thoughtful decision-making involving NSPA finances. Originating as an ad hoc committee, this important oversight committee continues to function today.
RELATED ARTICLE: THOMAS O. HARRELL, JR.
In Boston, MA, Thomas O. Harrell, Jr., was elected NSPA president for the 1987-88 term. Harrell believed strongly in unity - within the profession and more importantly - within the membership of the National Society. As he often said, "Together, we make it happen."
NSPA maintained an active dialogue with IRS, submitting comments regarding the structure and effectiveness of civil penalties and sanctions authorized by the Internal Revenue Code. Congressional testimony and written comments also became an important part of this issue. Harrell also congratulated the Service for taking a positive step forward in its approach to audit interviews.
The Taxpayer's Bill of Rights was an important issue for Harrell, and he alerted Senate Finance Committee members to a significant technical problem in the bill's provisions relating to taxpayer interviews. While legislation was drafted to provide safeguards for taxpayers during audit examination interviews, it also contained a highly subjective standard for bypassing the power of attorney of a representative. In addition to his own comments, Harrell urged NSPA's state societies to contact their U.S. Senators to voice their concerns as well.
State legislative issues continued to play a critical role for NSPA members and Harrell made certain NSPA was as involved and supportive as possible. Despite all of Harrell's actions on a national legislative front, he is perhaps best known for his commitment to "guaranteeing our right to practice our chosen profession."
RELATED ARTICLE: KATIE MATHES
It was at NSPA's 43rd Annual Convention in Las Vegas, NV, that Katie Mathes, of Ardmore, OK, became the first woman in the Society's history to achieve the office of presidency.
Mathes set a goal of "Excellence" for her committees and proved time and time again her own commitment to achieving this goal. In her guidelines to her committees, she said, "We must always strive to develop the best programs possible. Those that need attention will become good programs, those that are good will become better and those that are better will become the best. Our goal is excellence and we will achieve excellence in all our programs and services!"
Mathes also placed a great deal of emphasis on continuing professional education and sought to ensure that NSPA provided the highest quality with the greatest variety possible. "My first contact with NSPA was at a CPE program. I left extremely impressed with the professionalism of this organization. I want to be certain that every participant will feel the same way."
With the inauguration of U.S. President George Bush, Mathes took the opportunity in a letter to recommend characteristics he should seek in his appointment of a new Internal Revenue Commissioner. Fred T. Goldberg, Jr., was appointed, sworn in July 18, and made his first major appearance at NSPA's Convention that August.
In addition to professional education, Mathes stressed membership recruitment, encouraging a member-get-a-member grass roots effort as well as national efforts. Gifts were awarded for various levels of recruitment, as a tangible "thank you" for efforts.
In all the varied issues facing the Society - federal or state legislative concerns, education programs, recruitment efforts, and others - Mathes encouraged the best in everyone involved.
RELATED ARTICLE: WALTER T.Y. LAU
Walter T.Y. Lau of Honolulu, HI, was elected NSPA's 43rd president in Toronto, Canada. Lau recognized the diversity among NSPA members as a primary strength of the Society. He noted that "professionalism" was the unifying force among this diversity and he challenged members to live up to a high standard. "Professionalism, just like trust and respect, is not granted automatically. Every professional has had to earn and maintain these values, regardless of his field. We, the professionals of the National Society of Public Accountants, must always strive for complete mastery of our chosen profession."
During his term in office, Lau sought to improve the Society and expand member services. A popular and well-respected man, Lau was frequently invited to speak at many state society events, allowing him the opportunity to introduce NSPA's professional services to an ever-widening audience.
Considering his commitment to professional education, it was appropriate that it was during Lau's term as president that NSPA became one of the first approved sponsors on the National Registry of CPE Sponsors. The registry was developed by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy to recognize sponsors for their ability to meet nationally accepted standards for CPE.
Despite his distance from the national office, Lau stayed in close touch with federal legislative activities and issues. In comments to the House Ways and Means Committee, he described the many positive and negative experiences of members as a result of the watershed changes to the Internal Revenue Code (TRA '86). He wrote again to the chairman of the committee, Representative Dan Rostenkowski (D-IL), concerning a number of congressional revenue raising options. He urged the committee to employ tax fairness and uniformity during the formation of a deficit-conscious budget package. Later communications stressed that the 25% health insurance cost deduction for self-employeds was a critical issue.
RELATED ARTICLE: RICHARD L. GARLOCK
Richard L. Garlock of Portland, OR, was elected the Society's president at its 45th Annual Convention, held in Denver, CO.
Garlock was committed to "fight for the right of our Society members to practice their profession in a non-discriminatory environment." And it turned out to be a busy year in the state legislatures. Nearly half a dozen affiliated state societies sponsored legislation in their respective states. Additionally, at least 15 state legislatures introduced bills providing for the 150 semester hour requirement before an applicant could qualify to sit for the CPA exam. And the Supreme Court of California granted Bonnie Moore and the California Association of Independent Accountants' petition for review of the Court of Appeals' decision.
NSPA also submitted comments on the exposure draft of the joint AICPA/NASBA proposed Uniform Accountancy Act. Garlock raised numerous objections to the proposed act and stated his vigorous opposition to two items in particular - the repeal of licensing of public accountants in perpetuity and the lack of any provision for reciprocity of licensed public accountants. He also voiced opposition to provisions that extend the audit function to reports on compilation and review services.
Garlock was also vocal on national legislative issues on behalf of Society members - and the general public. When the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security held hearings to review the need for increasing the Social Security earnings limit, Garlock quickly filed a formal statement urging earnings limitation repeal. In a "to-the-point" statement, he said, "The Social Security Retirement test, initially developed and implemented more than 50 years ago, is no longer responsive, applicable, necessary or beneficial to the current state of the nation."
RELATED ARTICLE: FRANK J. OLIVERI, JR.
Frank J. Oliveri, Jr., of Arabi, LA, was elected NSPA's 45th president. He pledged to meet the Society's and the members' needs in continuing professional education, membership growth and unity among members.
Oliveri encouraged his committees to work together to produce programs that would be beneficial to the entire membership of the National Society. "We have the tools at hand. We have the necessary pride and dedication in our work and our abilities to meet the challenge."
Oliveri also initiated the most extensive review of Society programs, structure and administration ever undertaken in NSPA's history. A nine-month study conducted by a nationally recognized management consulting firm examined every aspect of the Society.
"The decision to undertake a study of this magnitude is not one to be made lightly," said Oliveri, "but to avoid it out of fear of what it could reveal is foolish." The final report offered guidelines and suggestions for taking NSPA successfully into the next century, while also giving high marks for the Society's direction, leadership and commitment to the profession.
It was during Oliveri's presidency that NSPA initiated a pilot quality assurance review program. It was conducted under the review standards of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. This pilot program proved successful and continues today, offering members an opportunity to be assured of their professional skills.
RELATED ARTICLE: PAUL C. BUMGARNER
NSPA's 46th president was Paul C. Bumgarner of Charlotte, NC, elected at the Philadelphia, PA, Convention. He set the theme for his administration early, stating, "Communication is the key to success. It is time to drop any reservations we may have about diversity and accept ourselves as the equals we are. We need to communicate with each other, within the profession, with the government and financial community and with the general public. NSPA will grow through communication."
During Bumgarner's presidency, NSPA experienced a growth in member services. The Regional Tax Seminar sites were expanded, a states' tax forms program initiated, a tax research assistance desk inaugurated and NSPA added a toll-free number for members. Educational offerings in a variety of formats increased, and additional professional publications were made available to members at substantial discounts, to name just a few.
In addition to new member services, NSPA gained a new affiliate organization, the Institute of Certified Professional Compilers of Canada, the Society's first foreign affiliate.
In addition to testimony and comments on a number of national legislative issues, Bumgarner also wrote U.S. President Bill Clinton to recommend certain professional characteristics that the next Commissioner of Internal Revenue should have. Noting that the next Commissioner should be "tuned into the feelings of taxpayers and their tax advisors," Bumgarner called for a nominee with understanding and empathy for American taxpayers facing compliance problems.
Bumgarner took his theme of communication far beyond NSPA and called a first-ever summit of leaders from other national professional accounting and tax associations. This highly successful meeting offered each organization an opportunity to exchange opinions on the state of the profession and, more importantly, to seek out common ground for future coalitions. Said Bumgarner, "we must share with each other our commitment to the profession."
RELATED ARTICLE: GARY C. ROHRS
Gary C. Rohrs of Independence, MO, was elected at NSPA's 48th Annual Convention, held that year in his home state. In his acceptance speech, Rohrs challenged members to have "the courage to see ourselves as we are; the vision of what we want to be; and the commitment to make it happen."
One of the most immediate challenges Rohrs faced was to make certain NSPA was prepared to launch an extensive, informative education program on the Revenue Reconciliation Act of 1993. In addition, President Clinton released his health care reform plan and NSPA began an exhaustive study of its implications for small business. Two monumental tasks were at hand.
Rohrs also submitted comments to the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy and the AICPA on the exposure draft of proposed Uniform Accountancy Act Rules. He objected strenuously to the failure of the proposed rules to provide safe harbor language for use by unlicensed accountants.
He also participated in a session of the IRS' Executive Development Class, an education program the Service conducts for its new executives. Rohr's role was to raise the awareness of these new IRS senior management individuals of NSPA as a practitioner group and the Society's role within the professional community.
In addition to outside influences, Rohrs also faced a potential financial crisis within the Society. Through foresight and early intervention, he turned a potential problem into a financial victory for NSPA that resulted in a plan to completely modernize NSPA's entire computer system.
But most important, according to Rohrs, was "not what I accomplished, but rather the NSPA team. We studied, evaluated and moved forward to achieve success. I believe that we accomplished a great deal."
RELATED ARTICLE: MILTON BROWN
Milton Brown was elected president of the National Society at the beginning of NSPA's 50th anniversary celebration. In his acceptance speech, Brown challenged the membership to be involved - to seek out new members, to participate in Society programs and to prove their competence through the ACAT examinations.
He also set the tone for his administrative year when he emphasized that NSPA was "dedicated to the protection of the livelihood of every practicing accountant - licensed/certified or non-licensed. You have the right to practice your profession. You have the right to your livelihood and I will fight to protect that right!"
Brown brought to the NSPA presidency extensive knowledge of accountancy laws and regulations. He has served as president of the New Jersey State Board of Accountancy, chairman of the AICPA/ NASBA Uniform Accountancy Act Committee and director-at-large on the NASBA Board of Directors, to name just a few positions. While Brown was President, NSPA participated in an important NASBA/NSPA summit meeting.
But many feel that Brown's most important contribution to NSPA was not the technical knowledge he brought to the National Society but rather his ability to listen, to learn and to be decisive. He took steps to not only increase communications among NSPA's leadership (utilizing teleconferences, for example) but among the membership as well. He instituted a monthly column in the Washington Reporter to accomplish this - which was well-received by the members.
He also extended his hand to other professional organizations - exchanging ideas, concerns and forming important coalitions. "The openness and cooperation at these meetings is always impressive," said Brown.
Among the many accomplishments of the Brown administration, one that shines brightly is the nearly 90% membership retention rate the Society experienced. This is the highest NSPA has experienced and, said Brown, "shows our goals are on target and that we are doing our job!"
To describe this highly respected man and his successes is difficult. He has been called an accountant, a leader and a diplomat. But most often he is called, "my friend, Milton Brown."
"It seems only appropriate to conclude NSPA's 50-year history with the following letter, received from NSPA member John R. Williams, of Indianapolis, IN.
This letter has helped keep my mind focused on all of the reasons NSPA exists today. It also provides both me and the National Society with the encouragement to continue to work on behalf of independent accounting practitioners everywhere.
In reviewing 50 years of history, it is astounding to realize all that NSPA has accomplished. Of course, we still have much to do. But it is very encouraging to know that we are succeeding in our efforts.
Thank you, John, for making my day. More importantly, thank you for being able to put into words what NSPA means to so many of us!"
- Milton Brown NSPA President 1994-95
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|Title Annotation:||The National Society of Public Accountants: A 50-Year History; history of the National Society of Public Accountants|
|Publication:||The National Public Accountant|
|Date:||Jul 1, 1995|
|Previous Article:||Chapter four: 1975-1984.|
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