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Numbers matter.

As chief executive of CalCPA, I am proud to be an advocate for the accounting profession, as well as our own membership. Wherever I go, I talk up the benefits of membership, especially the benefit of our advocacy efforts. However, I am often surprised to find that many CPAs don't know the positive impact of those efforts.

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Advocacy is truly important to CalCPA. Daily, CalCPA's government relations team monitors our state Legislature, not to mention the California Board of Accountancy and other regulatory agencies that impinge on what you do and how you do it.

When new legislation or regulations surface that might restrict the profession, CalCPA--staff and members--shifts into action. By advocating on your behalf, CalCPA stops damaging legislation before it passes a committee vote or before regulations are finalized.

ON YOUR SIDE

In 2002, mandatory e-file surfaced in Sacramento as one of many potential remedies for the state's budget woes.

Members, from solo practitioners to partners in much larger firms, cried foul and turned to CalCPA's Committee on Taxation and government relations team for help.

The issues at stake included: increased costs to taxpayers; the inability to e-file some forms; no opt-out provision for taxpayers; and the state's inability to guarantee the privacy of personal information online. In 2002, mandatory e-file was stalled, thanks in great part to the issues that CalCPA brought before legislators--issues that no member could have brought forward alone. With CalCPA, a member's voice instantly transforms from one CPA to 28,000. Imagine our impact and influence if all 60,000 CPAs in the Golden State were members.

In 2003, when the state budget took a turn from bad to worse, mandatory e-file re-emerged. And while some of the preceding year's issues had been resolved, there was great concern among smaller CPA firms that implementing this mandate in a single filing season, on short notice, would cause undue hardship. Also, some practitioners were experiencing difficulty navigating the IRS e-file approval process, which was required to be eligible to e-file in California. The message members sent us was clear: 'We'll try, but it just may not be possible.'

Fast forward to this year, the e-file mandate, as you know, passed, requiring most tax preparers to file 2003 state tax forms electronically. Failure to comply could subject the tax preparer to a fine of $50 per return not electronically filed.

Resigned to the inevitability of the mandate, CalCPA's government relations team worked with the Legislature to pass AB 2480, which would suspend the $50 penalty per non-e-filed tax form for a period of one year. As this magazine heads to the printer, AB 2480 is sitting on the governor's desk awaiting his signature. It just goes to show that it always helps to have a powerful advocate on your side.

A HIGH PRIORITY

Last year, CalCPA surveyed California CPAs--members and nonmembers--on critical issues. Respondents told pollsters that CPAs need a stronger voice in the regulatory process and that one of the most important things a professional association like CalCPA can do is provide that voice.

We're doing a lot, but we need to do more. California's CPAs would be better served and better represented if more CPAs joined and participated in CalCPA.

With this in mind, I urge you to help us recruit more CPAs into CalCPA. If each of you recruited just one member, it would make a difference, ensuring better representation for CalCPA members in the committee rooms and legislative offices of the state capitol.

FIGHTING THE EXPANDING JUGGERNAUT

Increasing CalCPA's influence is critical, given the expanding role of the state government in our day-to-day business affairs. The number of bills introduced by state lawmakers has increased three to four times in the past 25 years. Only an organization such as CalCPA can monitor the flood of legislative activity and step in when potential harmful legislation surfaces from the floor of the Legislature.

Recruiting is a win-win situation. CalCPA wins with increased membership, which provides a greater voice in legislative affairs. Each new member wins because a larger CalCPA can better deal with the vagaries of the expanding legislative and regulatory juggernaut in Sacramento.

Please join me in inviting more CPAs to join CalCPA (www.calcpa.org/join). The colleagues that you recruit will be better for it. So will you and the profession.

BY SUSAN B. WATERS, CAE

Susan B. Waters, CAE is CEO of the California Society of CPAs. You can reach her at susan.waters@calcpa.org.
COPYRIGHT 2004 California Society of Certified Public Accountants
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Title Annotation:FromtheCEO
Author:Waters, Susan B.
Publication:California CPA
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Sep 1, 2004
Words:748
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