MSCPA is Going to the House of Lords!

Herriges Margaret 2014

Margaret Herriges, MSCPA Communications Director

by Margaret Herriges, CAE, IOM | MSCPA Communications Director

What’s on your bucket list? Travel, adventure, fabulous experiences? Me, too, but I recently received an invitation that is beyond what I would have ever had the audacity to add to my bucket list: I’ve been invited to represent the Montana Society of CPAs at the House of Lords.

Did you go back and reread that last sentence? Yes! I said THE House of Lords! You know, Parliament . . .  in ENGLAND . . . how crazy is that?! Now that I have your attention, let me elaborate.

Houses-of-Parliament

You may know that MSCPA has international members. These are accounting professionals who want/need the recognition of what they do in countries that might not use the CPA designation but who do the same kind of work and have a similar designation from their own country. MSCPA has had a 30+- year relationship with the Association of CPAs International to help these accountants. When an international accounting professional applies for MSCPA membership, they apply through the CPAs International and this organization vets them on our behalf.

The head of this organization is Dr. Anthony Edwards. Dr. Edwards is amazing: a consummate professional with a zest for life and a kindness that comes across international phone lines. He’s an Honorary Life member of MSCPA and has long charmed the staff whenever he calls, sharing what life and work is like in the U.K.

A short time ago I received a call from Dr. Edwards (always a treat). He explained that an auditor regulation bill was recently signed into law in the United Arab Emirates. THIS is a very big deal. In a relatively young country—just 45 years old—this is a sophisticated and progressive step to being a country that recognizes the value of an audit. As he explained, I was thinking he must want me to publish this information in our newsletter, eConnect, about this momentous event—a great idea! But he went on to tell me that CPAs International was planning on celebrating this accomplishment with the help of their sponsor, the Baroness Caroline Cox, from the House of Lords and they would like ME to attend! Seriously! A farmer’s daughter from rural Montana, invited to be the guest of the Baroness and the Association at the House of Lords on May 4th!

invitation_mrs-herriges-002.jpg

To say I was stunned doesn’t start to explain it! Thrilled, amazed, excited and so incredibly honored is a start. I’ll practice sounding British and say I am gob smacked by this opportunity! In addition to the invitation itself, I have also been asked to make a short speech at the event, explaining the relationship with the International Association and our 56 out-of-country members that make MSCPA a player in the global accounting market.

When I received this invitation my first thought was: I need a passport! I’ve never traveled outside the United States. My second thought: will the MSCPA Executive Committee give me permission to do this?  Luckily the passport process went quickly because the Executive Committee graciously said YES!

This will all happen on May 4th.  My husband, Chris, and I will leave Helena on May 1st for an adventure I would never have had the courage to even dream about. I will be sharing pictures and blogging about this experience on MontanaCPAs.org and I invite you to share the experience with me by subscribing to our blog, MontanaCPAs.org.

Members of the Montana Society of CPAs are an amazing group of people. I get to tell your story on a world stage and I am so incredibly honored for this privilege.

TEMP Queen ElizabethI’m now amending my bucket list. I think I need to be a little more courageous with my dreams moving forward. I mean, how am I going to top being a guest at the House of Lords? Perhaps my bucket list should include an audience with the Queen?

Cheerio!

Changes to HB 550 that Will Affect You & Your Clients

Olsen George 2008

George Olsen, MSCPA Legislative Committee Chair

By George Olsen, Chair, MSCPA Legislative & Governmental Affairs Committee

At our Legislative meeting Monday morning we talked about the progress of the bills we are following in the Legislature.  Holly Franz, our lobbyist, reported on the hearing on House Bill 550—Revise laws related to corporate loss carryback and carryforward, last week in the Senate Tax Committee.

The bill would change the net operating loss carryforward and carryback periods from the current back three years and forward seven years to back two and forward 20.  It was interesting to see the different perspective people have on allowing corporations to use their losses against future or past income.  Many in the hearing room wanted to allow greater availability to use the losses while some wanted to limit the use of the losses because of the effect on the State’s budgeting.  They feel that limiting the deductions for the losses lets the state smooth out the ups and downs in budget revenue and avoids large expenditures for tax refunds in years when the state is experiencing revenue losses because of a downturn in the overall economy.  The same argument could be made for not allowing the state to collect excess tax revenue in years when the economy is booming and creating surpluses.

In our minds, CPAs feel that deductions for losses should not be limited since they are real, hard dollar losses and the state only bears the burden to the extent of refunds of 6.75 cents on the dollar.  So we offered an amendment that we feel makes this bill more palatable. The amendment our lobbyist, Holly Franz, offered on our behalf:

  • Amends current procedure to provide that taxpayers electing a carryback or carryforward on their federal return automatically make the same election on their state tax return
  • Allows a taxpayer to elect a different carryback or carryforward on their state taxes if they affirmatively choose to do so

The benefits of this are it:

  • Simplifies the net operating loss election process for taxpayers
  • Reduces errors on tax returns
  • Is easy for the state to administer since federal return has to be attached to the state return
  • There’s no fiscal impact

The bill was amended in committee to increase the carryback period to three years and limit the carryforward period to 10 years, three more than the current seven years but much less than the 20 years in the original bill.  The carryback is limited to $500,000 per year. CPAs are inclined to think in terms of fairness to their clients while the folks in charge of the state budget think in terms of the short-term budget effect.  It’s interesting to see what happens when the interests of the two camps clash.

The bill is scheduled for third reading in the Senate tomorrow (04/12). Stay tuned for more information on this, and other bills we are monitoring on your behalf, as the Legislature wraps up.

Presidentially Speaking

By Annette Hill, MSCPA President 2016-2017

hill-annette-2016Hello fellow CPAs!  Happy Valentine’s Day!  I’m trusting you’ll take some time today to spend with your loved ones, especially your valentine!  Consider taking a breath to reflect on other areas in your life that cause you to feel grateful; home, health and relationships.

Many of you have asked us how it’s going with the search for a new executive director.  I’m happy to report that we are on schedule with the timeline set by our Strike Force leader, Brenda Byrnes. We are in the interview stage, having received numerous applications from qualified candidates and are on track to introduce you to a new executive director by our Annual Conference in June.

What about Jane?  Even more of you have inquired about Jane’s retirement and we assure you that you will have opportunities to celebrate with Jane, to congratulate and thank her for her many years of service to the Society.  Watch for details!

It is opportunity season for those of us in public accounting and no doubt many in industry, nonprofit, government and education are feeling the opportunity as well, wrapping up calendar year end activities and initiating 2017.  Our staff at the Society office have been closing the January 31, 2017 fiscal year and commencing the next one with issuance of dues statements.  Your statement hit your physical or virtual mail box on February 1st.

As you review the notice, you’ll see that our Society staff has done an outstanding job of detailing the five strategic pillars and the benefits your dues provide our members.

MEMBERSHIP tools and services, volunteer and leadership opportunities

SUSTAINABILITY and focus on being the most valuable resource for members

CONNECTION through Find-A-CPA, MontanaConnection.org, MSCPA.org, local and rural chapters, e-publications, social media and this blog

PROFESSIONAL EXCELLENCE with 52 live CPE courses, 4 conferences and thousands of webcasts

ADVOCACY with representation at the state Legislature, Department of Revenue, State Board of Accountants, IRS and AICPA.

What an inspiring and fitting list for our pillars! They guide our board of directors, staff, committees, task forces and all of our volunteers, charting the course for our mission.  That’s important and we need to keep it in front of us.  However, as you consider paying your dues this year, you might be asking yourself, “What’s really in it for me?”  I’ve spent a few moments considering the value my membership brings me.

In 20 years as a member, I’ve enjoyed benefits in all of the pillars and for that I’m grateful and have no doubt I have received much more than the cost of my membership dues.  One of my favorite benefits though, is really one captured in the MEMBERSHIP pillar.  “Tools and services” include our Society office and staff.  This is the benefit working for us every day that we may not even know is happening. Our Society office and staff are our best return on investment.

Have you called the Society office and been greeted with Heidi’s cheery and welcoming voice?  Have you experienced an issue with CPE and had Jean fix it for you?  Have you had Carol hold your hand as you worked through the paperwork to get your first peer review completed? Have you paused to giggle a little when you read the latest recipe for tax season mixology drinks on Facebook or learned what music Reidun cranks when she needs some inspiration? Attended a fun-filled, professional MSCPA conference? Reconnected with a CPA that left the state? (Thanks Margaret!) Finally, do you know the influence and the respect our illustrious executive director commands with our state legislators? Have you changed your job and in the stress of changing co-workers, locations and career goals, have you found some comfort in the familiarity of your MSCPA staff and office?  Have you remembered that these same people probably call you by name, recognize your spouse, know where you work and understand your passion for the accounting profession?

THIS is the value of membership.  I encourage you to renew (join if you are not currently a member) pay your dues and enjoy the benefits our greatest resource can bring you.  See you in Billings at the 104th Annual Conference!

 

 

Are you ready to make an impact?

by Jane Egan

Egan Jane color

Jane Egan MSCPA Executive Director

The 2017 Legislative Session begins January 2nd and promises to be just as busy and exciting as past ones.

Our current Governor, Steve Bullock (Democrat), was re-elected and Republicans hold a majority in the Senate and House.

The Governor has released his budget proposal which includes (among many other things):

  • a new tax bracket of 7.9 for people who make over $500,000 a year
  • increase in tax credits for new and expanding businesses
  • 6% tax on medical marijuana
  • Elimination of state capital gains credit for gains topping one million annually
  • A state earned-income tax credit for the working poor

Two of our committees—Legislation & Governmental Affairs and State Taxation—have been working on our legislative agenda for a number of months and are close to finalizing the details. We do know we will be initiating legislation to:

  • establish a corresponding deduction/subtraction on the Montana return for a credit on the Federal return that has an add back to income and
  • allow for CPA firm mobility

We have a Board-approved Legislative Policy and we are delighted to have Helena attorney, Holly Franz, on board as our lobbyist again this session.

Your MSCPA committees and staff work the legislative session for you—we want and need your participation and input. Contact me (800.272.0307) with your ideas and watch for notices by email and in eConnect on the many ways you can make sure the CPA voice is heard in this session.

Profiles: Jim Woy

Profiles is MSCPA’s blog series highlighting the impact Montana CPAs are having on the national level.

woy-jim-2016

Jim Woy, Shareholder, Anderson ZurMuehlen, Butte

I have served on the Education and Communications Task Force (ECTF) of the AICPA Peer Review Committee since 2013. The Committee is comprised of members from around the country who are peer reviewers, technical reviewers, Report Acceptance Bodies (RAB) and administrators of state peer review committees.  The task force  provides input to the AICPA Peer Review Committee and AICPA peer review staff. The task force has been instrumental in addressing and providing input regarding many of the recent changes in the AICPA peer review program. The task force also sets forth the agenda for the annual national peer review conference.

Volunteering as a task force or committee member on the national level allows me to meet and discuss some of top issues of the day with individuals who are in the moment,  on new and soon to effective standards. These individuals become friends you can call upon when questions occur and the breadth of knowledge shared in committee meetings is excellent. It helps me understand the “what’s behind” many of the changes occurring in our great profession.

I really enjoy the opportunity to provide feedback on issues impacting the peer review process. The AICPA Peer Review Committee and AICPA peer review staff do listen to our feedback and welcomes it, and in many instances,  changes get made due to this feedback. It is very rewarding.

Profile: Ron Yates

This blog post is part of our Profiles Series where we highlight the amazing accomplishments of Montana CPAs who volunteer nationally to make a difference for the accounting profession.

Yates 2007

Ron Yates, CPA, Eide Bailly LLP, Billings

I am very fortunate and proud to have had many opportunities as a Montana CPA to represent CPAs, the accounting profession, and the Treasure State at the national level.

Currently, I am starting the second year of a three-year term on the AICPA Tax Practice and Procedures Committee (TPPC).  This committee monitors developments in and changes to IRS procedural and administrative guidance.  Among other things, the TPPC keeps AICPA members informed of changes to tax procedure, tax administration, regulatory guidance, and IRS services, and develops guidance, information and resources for AICPA Tax Section members to help CPAs understand and comply with the complex rules of practice before the IRS.  We also serve as a resource to the IRS Advocacy & Relations Committee, as well as other technical resource panels and task forces, on matters of tax administration and procedure.  The TPPC is an oversight committee for the Tax Checklist Task Force (which is responsible for developing and maintaining the Annual Compliance Kit) and the Foreign National Task Force (which is responsible for creating various resources to help members with international tax issues). We participate in a monthly committee call and meet at least twice yearly in person.  Each committee member commits to writing one reviewed article for the AICPA’s Tax Adviser magazine annually.  If interested, you can read my article in the April 1, 2016, edition (“PATH Brings Changes to Federal Penalty Computations”).

Also, this spring I was officially nominated by the AICPA Nominations Committee to fill an open board seat for a three-year term on the AICPA Board of Directors. The official election of board members will occur in October 2016 at the AICPA Fall Council / Annual Members meeting. I’m very excited for this tremendous opportunity to represent all CPAs at the national level.

From October 2012 through October 2015 I had the privilege of serving as Montana’s elected AICPA Council Representative, succeeding Dan Vuckovich of Great FallsMontana is guaranteed one representative on the AICPA Council, which is the governing body of the AICPA and includes elected representatives from all U.S. states and territories.  In 2015 Gordy Thompson of Havre was elected as my successor as AICPA Council Representative.  Gordy is doing a fantastic job representing Montana CPAs at the national level.  Gordy discussed the importance of this role in his July 18 Montana CPA blog, a great read.

Finally, from 2011-2014, I served on the AICPA Life Insurance / Disability Plans Committee, including serving as the Product Development Task Force chair in 2013.  This committee’s purpose it to make available, through the AICPA Insurance Trust/AICPA Group Insurance Trust, a variety of self-supporting insurance products that are responsive to the needs of the membership and to provide oversight for plan administration and premium levels. This committee, which reports directly to the AICPA board of directors, handles millions of dollars of annual premiums providing hundreds of millions of insurance coverage to CPAs and their families.  It was a great personal and professional experience and I would highly encourage you to consider applying for future service to this committee.  Many of you may recall that Montana’s own Ellen Feaver chaired this committee about a decade ago.

These service opportunities have helped me to grow personally and professionally and I would highly encourage all MSCPA members to consider “raising your hand” when volunteer opportunities arise at the state or national level.

 

Profiles: Linda Harris, AFWA National President

Note: This is the fourth in a series of blogs highlighting the dedication of Montana CPAs and their service nationally to the accounting profession.

AFWA (Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance) was founded in 1938 to increase the opportunities for women in all fields of accounting and finance. My involvement began when I was a student.  I went to an accounting club meeting and a member of AFWA was presenting.  I was impressed that she decided to open her own accounting firm because of her connection to this organization.  A year later I had another opportunity to attend their student night and decided to join.

Harris Linda 2015On May 19th this year, I had the honor of being installed as the 2016-2017 President at the National Conference hosted by AFWA’s Billings Chapter.  I am honored to lead this organization and the great women who serve on the Board.

AFWA supports our members and provides them with the skills to be successful professionally. We help our members develop relationships, be creative, have higher emotional intelligence, relate to clients and customers, present and speak well, become better listeners and much more!

The President and Board are very involved in setting the course of the organization.  Along with our staff, we develop a strategic plan, work with chapters and members to communicate that plan and support the membership on a national level.  As President, I will oversee the vice presidents who chair our committees to ensure that the goals we have set for the year will be implemented and the projects completed.  I will work closely with our Executive Director on any issues that affect the organization from a national perspective and I will represent the organization wherever, whenever needed.

My involvement in this organization has been instrumental in providing me with leadership skills that have helped me advance not only within AFWA, but in other organizations, including the Montana Board of Public Accountants, and my own practice in Absarokee as well. It has been a safe environment to hone public speaking skills, to share professional knowledge and grow my network of colleagues and friends.

Being involved at a national level has allowed me to be exposed to topics that I might not encounter Montana.  I feel like I have a broad base of knowledge AND a whole network of colleagues that I can call upon. My membership certificate still says “student member”.  I never imagined that one day I would be the National President of AFWA.

AFWA Logo

Profiles: Gordy Thompson

Note: This is the third is a series of blogs highlighting the dedication of Montana CPAs and their service nationally to the accounting profession.

Gordy Thompson, Anderson ZurMuehlen, Havre

ThompsonGordy2016Presently, I am the elected AICPA Council member representing the state of Montana.  The AICPA Council is the governing body of the AICPA with representation from all fifty states and territories based upon membership.

I am just beginning a three year term in which we normally have meetings three times a year at various locations around the country.  We meet at least every other year in Washington DC where are main focus is advocacy for CPAs.  We meet with all of our state Senators and Representatives to discuss and promote (or not promote) bills and legislative agendas that have an impact on our profession.

The AICPA is the organization that promotes, as well as offers guidance and tools to practice, as well as enforces the standards that we as professionals must maintain.  Being on Council provides me the opportunity to meet other professionals from around the country to discuss the issues effecting all of us. It also allows you to network with some of the brightest minds in business.   What I enjoy the most is listening to what all the experts have to say about what the profession will look like in the  future and how do we prepare for that.

I am very proud to be able to represent the great state of Montana and to provide input from the Big Sky Country and would strongly encourage anyone to get involved at the state or national level.  Being a CPA is not just how I make living.  It is who I am!!

Profiles: Maria Christiaens

Note: This is the second in a series of blogs highlighting the great work Montana CPAs are doing on the national level through volunteer service. 

Maria J. Christiaens, Eide Bailly LLP

Maria Christiaens 2016Currently, I serve on the Executive Committee of the AICPA Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center (EBPAQC). The EBPAQC was established to assist CPAs with meeting the challenges of performing quality audits in this unique and complex area.

With the recent U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) scrutiny of plan audits, the EBPAQC has been very active with enhancing quality within the membership. I am in the second year of a three-year term on the Executive Committee, and in that time I have been involved in the following:

  • EBPAQC Training
    o Speaker – AICPA EBP National Conference (May 2015)
    o Moderator –AICPA Multiemployer Plans Webinar (January 2016)
    o Speaker – AICPA EBP National Conference (May 2016)
    o Subject Matter Expert –Audit Competency Exam for Health & Welfare (May 2016)
  • EBPAQC Quality Initiatives
    o AICPA Task Force on Improving Audit Quality
    o AICPA Task Force on Reporting and Assurance Models (Chair)
  • EBPAQC Resources
    o Fatal Flaw Reviewer for Primers and Audit Tools
    o Development Team for Audit Aids

My experience with the AICPA Quality Center staff has been invaluable. They are a group of smart and dedicated professionals who sincerely wish to serve the AICPA membership. The EBPAQC keeps the lines of communication open between the practitioner and the regulators (DOL, IRS, PCAOB) in order to find the balance in serving the client and protecting the public. By participating in meetings with the EBPAQC and the regulators, I am now acquainted with people who will serve as excellent resources beyond my term of service.

Montana CPAs have a unique perspective that we can bring to the AICPA. In most cases we are directly in contact with the owners of small businesses and we are in a position to demonstrate how the practitioner can follow the audit and accounting standards in a cost-effective manner without compromising the quality of our work. Understanding this, I encourage everyone to seize the opportunity to serve our profession at the national level, as we all have the ability to make a positive impact.

Profiles: Rick Reisig

This blog is the first in a series featuring Montana’s national accounting leaders. For a state with our size population, we have a tremendous representation of leaders serving at the AICPA, NASBA, ASWA and more. In this series we will learn more about the work they do and why they feel it is important to volunteer. We are grateful for their service and the impact they make.

Rick Reisig, Anderson ZurMuehlen, Great Falls

Reisig Rick 2014Presently, I’m involved with two national groups – the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the AICPA’s Auditing Standards Board.

NASBA’s mission is to enhance the effectiveness and advance the common interests of the various state boards of accountancy (including Montana, of course) that regulate all certified public accountants and their firms in the United States and its territories.

The AICPA’s Auditing Standards Board is the AICPA’s senior committee for auditing, attestation, and quality control standard-setting applicable to the performance and issuance of audit and attestation reports for non-issuers (non-public companies).

With NASBA, I’m in my third year on the Board of Directors, the first year as a Regional Director and the last two as an At-Large Director not tied to any particular region. For the AICPA’s Auditing Standards Board, I’m in the last year of my three-year term on the board.

While the missions of both groups are very different, my involvement, and my main take-a-way from serving, is very similar. For both, my service is focused on the strengthening of the profession, while protecting the public interest. To serve in that role, for the profession I love, is tremendously rewarding! That leads, of course, to my main take-a-way from serving – the opportunity for professional and personal growth that comes from working with the brightest, most committed, individuals in our profession. At each meeting, for each organization, I try to be a sponge absorbing all the knowledge I can for the time that I’m there. I’ve learned so much from my participation, and made so many wonderful life-long friends from all across the country that share my love of the profession.

I would definitely encourage any involvement on a national level, as you will then have a real “say” in the future of our profession along with meeting some fabulous individuals that feel as strongly about the profession as you do!