By Jane Egan
We thank Governor Bullock and members of the Legislature for these important laws for our profession.
HB 44 changes Montana from a two-tier license (certificate and then license to practice) to a one-tier (license only – no interim certificate). Currently, Montana is a two-tier licensing state. Tier one you receive a certificate once you have passed the exam, obtained your education hours and passed the ethics test. You cannot practice as a CPA with a certificate only. Once you obtain your experience, you reach tier two and receive your license to practice and can hold yourself out as a CPA. (Sponsored by Rep. Tom Berry)
This bill will eliminate the issuance of the certificate. Candidates will pass the Uniform CPA exam, obtain the required education hours, pass the Ethics exam and gain the required experience hours to obtain a license to practice as a CPA.
The Board of Public Accountants has posted guidance for complying with this new law: http://bsd.dli.mt.gov/license/bsd_boards/pac_board/board_page.asp
HB 184 exempts CPAs from obtaining a private investigator license when they are engaged in activities relating to the practice of accounting. (Sponsored by Rep. Greg Hertz, CPA and MSCPA member)
SB 39 generally revises patent and copyright trolling laws by prohibiting bad faith assertions of patent infringements. SB 39 will force patent trolls to alter their typical business model and remove some of the financial incentive to assert dubious patent infringement assertions. This will in no way limit legitimate patent claims. (Sponsored by Sen. Cary Smith)
We also thank our members who testified: George Olsen, Dan Vuckovich, Gary Carlson, John Steinhoff, Keegan Witt, Ann Deegan, Seth Blades
Our other priorities are moving forward as of today:
HB 379 lowers the tax statute of limitations on individuals, sole proprietors and partnerships to 3 years (currently 5 years) and accomplishes two goals regarding penalties and interest provisions. First, it treats taxpayers who are trying to comply with Montana’s tax code more fairly by reducing penalty and interest provisions. Second, HB 379 imposes additional penalties on bad actors who are trying to game the system. Current Montana law treats bad actors the same as those that are trying to comply with the law. The provisions in the bill are designed to help law-abiding Montanans.
HB 560 will allow the Board of Public Accountants to change their fund structure from an appropriation to an enterprise fund in order to have more control over how they spend the funds they bring in from license fees.
SB 171 is Senator Bruce Tutvedt’s tax simplification bill which we support and have worked on for a number of years. The House Taxation committee amended the bill Tuesday to include a tax cut which makes this bill the only remaining vehicle for tax relief. Our goal – tax simplification – is accomplished by starting your Montana return with federal taxable income and filing in Montana the same as you file federally.
SB 386 is DOR’s bill to simplify pass through entity tax provisions and will eliminate the PT-STM form for most filers.
The Legislative Session’s 90th day is May 1st. Legislators may adjourn early if they finish their business. Stay tuned for an end of session update.