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Chair's corner.

This month I want to talk about the AICPA's advocacy role in the tax area. The Institute represents us on issues that are important to CPAs and the general public. Through such efforts, we not only bring about meaningful changes, but also demonstrate the profession's expertise and commitment to the public interest. I want to share with you a few of the AICPA Tax Team's activities this past year that affect CPAs and their clients and promote positions that benefit the public.

In one recent instance, the Tax Team provided comments to the Internal Revenue Service on Form 1040, Schedule D instructions involving capital gains transaction recordkeeping. The Tax Team pointed out that, as originally written, the instructions could have been interpreted in a way that would make reporting onerous and excessively detailed. Our advocacy helped reduce the burden on taxpayers and tax practitioners alike, and that's something all members can celebrate.

As a follow up to this issue, the Tax Team staff consulted with the staff of Senator Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) on related proposed legislation. They also held meetings and conference calls with staff from the Government Accountability Office on their review of individual capital gains tax noncompliance for securities.

In another initiative, one with public interest aspects, the Tax Team commented on proposed regulations on the disclosure or use of taxpayer information. And, in response to consumer concerns about the proposal, the team drafted talking points and a memo for the state CPA societies, and background information for the media and the public to clarify what the changes will really mean for taxpayers.

Ethics being a cornerstone of our profession, the Tax Team also has been involved in promoting tax ethics and practice quality control. In an example of helping CPAs maintain competence, it developed educational resources for members on last year's significant Circular 230 changes.

These increased advocacy efforts have led to greater media coverage of CPAs. It is always wonderful to see Tom Ochsenschlager, AICPA Vice President--Taxation, appear on news programs giving the profession's perspective on hot-button issues, such as the alternative minimum tax and other tax-related topics. You may also have seen his appearances on the three major networks' evening news shows, as well as on Fox News. Furthermore, he or the Institute provided information for articles in the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, USA Today, the Washington Post, Marketwatch.com, the Associated Press, Bloomberg, the Boston Globe, the Miami Herald, and numerous regional papers. The tax and accounting trade press also extensively covered the AICPA's technical comments to regulators and legislators. All members should realize, as Tom and I do, that each appearance or quote is important because they remind the public of our profession's thorough knowledge of business issues.

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great and Built to Last, notes that successful companies identify and defend their core values and core purpose. Tax planning and preparation are core services for a large number of our members. Through our tax advocacy efforts, we champion changes that are in the public interest and spotlight problems in proposals that could hinder how members practice without benefiting taxpayers. We should all be proud of how we are able to encourage meaningful and important changes while promoting CPAs' unique value and contribution in one of our core service areas.

Leslie.Murphy@plantemoran.com
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Author:Murphy, Leslie
Publication:CPA Letter
Date:Jun 1, 2006
Words:555
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