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!

So Much Awesomeness! Introducing the MSCPA Book Club

Change is everywhere in the accounting profession and MSCPA’s opportunity is to harness change and turn into something truly valuable for YOU. As our Vision states, we want “to be the most valued professional resource for our members.” This year at the 103rd Annual Conference we are implementing a new feature that came about from discussions with members.

Johnston, Reidun 2014

Reidun Johnston

A year ago, right before the 2015 Industry and Annual Conferences, Missoula member and MSCPA Director Reidun Johnston conducted focus groups with a number of Montana female CPAs of all ages, representing every area of accounting. They discussed ways that would encourage women to participate in the profession, become engaged and build their confidence and skills. One of the things they come up with was an idea to have a book club at the Annual Conference.

“Accounting used to be a profession for men, but we’ve all seen the number of women who have joined this profession,” Johnston stated. “The MSCPA member numbers exemplify this change. In 2001 MSCPA records show almost double the number of men compared to women and today there’s only 48 more men than women in the membership. That’s why we needed to have this conversation.”  (see charts below)

Gender2001Gender2016

 

InPraiseofSlownessGraphic311

 

 

 

 

 

So as a result of these great discussions, we are excited to announce the first MSCPA Book Club featuring the book In Praise of Slowness: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed by Carl Honore.  The book club will be a way for men and women both to network and discuss an issue that affects all genders, all ages—the hurried pace we try to keep. The book covers research that explains how to create a slower, healthier pace of life and find time to enjoy and savor, instead of fast tracking with no time to do anything that helps us make a life, not just a living.

Reidun stepped up to the plate and offered to moderate this idea. “I think this session will be a lot of fun—the book sounds great!” shared Johnston. “And we are working to get the London-based author to join us remotely for the first 10 minutes or so of our discussion. He’s really interested so . . . schedules and time-zones permitting, we’ll get that opportunity.”

The MSCPA Book Club is an optional early morning session at the 103rd Annual Conference, Friday, June 24th at 7:00am. It’s worth an additional hour of CPE. Check out the purchasing options at your local book store, or buy it at AmazonSmile and make the MSCPA Legacy Foundation your charity of choice. You’ll not only get a great read but you’ll be supporting the future of the accounting profession in Montana!

Our thanks go out to the many women who participated in these focus groups—for your ideas and your openness. It’s part of what makes for so much awesomeness in the Montana Society of CPAs and at the 103rd Annual Conference!

Read So Much Awesomeness Part I and learn about the big schedule changes to the 103rd Annual Conference.

AICPA’s Proposed Joint Venture with CIMA–A Member’s Perspective CON

by Joshua Herbold, PhD. CPA, MSCPA Secretary/Treasurer

In this blog post, Josh will address the CON side of the proposed venture between the AICPA and CIMA. Scroll down to see previous posts on this issue from President Brenda Byrnes and MSCPA Director Clint Morrison.

Herbold Josh sitting 2014

Josh Herbold, MSCPA Secretary / Treasurer

The American Institute of CPAs has proposed a joint venture with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (based in the UK). While there are some benefits to such an endeavor, I believe this proposal is, overall, not in the best interests of CPAs for the following reasons:

  1. It dilutes the “CPA” brand in pursuit of membership growth
  2. The AICPA is trying to be too many things to too many people
  3. The value of the CGMA designation has not yet been established in the marketplace
  4. Closer to home: For non-CPA members, the Montana Society of CPAs will be providing benefits (i.e., incurring expenses) with no control over the revenues from those members

The following paragraphs explain these points in more detail.

Those members who have been around for a while probably remember when the AICPA proposed to open AICPA membership to non-CPAs. These non-CPA members were to be called “Cognitors,” and the proposal went on to state that the term would also refer to CPAs. This proposal was soundly (and wisely) rejected by the AICPA membership. After all, what would be the point of becoming a CPA/Cognitor if others could qualify for the same designation without completing the “four Es” (education, experience, ethics, and the CPA exam)? How would a CPA signal to clients and employers the extra effort and dedication that they put forth to become more qualified? Obviously, it would be difficult for anyone outside of the profession (and even for some of those within the profession) to determine how a Cognitor had earned that credential, and AICPA members were rightly concerned about this brand dilution. The current proposal makes things even more confusing by using the same acronym for the new organization as the American Institute of CPAs: the Association of International CPAs. This proposal allows for both CPAs and non-CPAs to earn the CGMA (Chartered Global Management Accountant) credential and become members of this new organization, and thus has the same potential as the failed “Cognitor” designation to dilute the CPA brand.

Related to that point, one of the stated goals of the joint venture is to “further advance advocacy, achieve economies of scale and better support accounting professionals.” While I agree that all of these are worthwhile pursuits, I have to wonder which accounting professionals the AICPA has in mind. Not all accounting professionals are CPAs (even though I believe that the designation and the work required to achieve it would benefit most accounting professionals). Is it the job of the American Institute of CPAs to advocate for all accounting professionals? Or would our profession be better served by having the various professional groups (the AICPA, the IMA, the ACFE, and others) participate in a consortium of some sort? Furthermore, “advocacy” is a tricky issue even within a given jurisdiction; it gets trickier when an organization tries to represent multiple jurisdictions, which is exactly what the AICPA intends to do. The AICPA is trying to be everything to everybody—a strategy which usually ends up satisfying nobody.

And the fact is that the overwhelming majority of CPAs have opted against obtaining the CGMA designation. Prior to this year, current CPAs were grandfathered in and could obtain the CGMA designation simply by checking a box on their membership renewal and paying an extra fee. Even with no other effort required to obtain the designation, “90% of the AICPA’s members declined multiple invitations to become CGMAs.”[1] Also, when faced with the choice of which designation or designations to pursue, students have yet to see the value of the CGMA. (See http://ipassthecmaexam.com/cgma-designation/ for one blogger’s take on the decision between the CGMA and CMA designations.)

Finally, we get to some details of the joint venture that could have an impact on our state society. If the joint venture proceeds, CGMAs who are not also CPAs will become members of their respective state societies through their membership in the joint venture. On the surface, that’s great! But for those non-CPA members, dues will be set by and collected by the joint venture, then shared with the MSCPA. This means that we (the MSCPA) will be providing non-CPA CGMAs with all of the same benefits of membership that every member of the MSCPA receives, yet we will have no control over the dues that these members pay. While we expect the number of these non-CPA CGMAs in Montana to be small, incurring expenses when you have no control over your revenues seems like a risky strategy at best, and a losing proposition at worst.

 

[1] While the AICPA has noted that there are more than 150,000 CGMAs worldwide, only 40,000 of those are in the US. For more details, see: Miller, Paul B.W., and Paul R. Bahnson. “Transparency, integrity, prophecy and the AICPA merger.” Accounting Today 1 Jan. 2016: 22. Academic OneFile. Web. 4 Mar. 2016.

AICPA’s Proposed Joint Venture with CIMA–A Member’s Perspective PRO

by Clinton J. Morrison, MSCPA Director

In this blog post, Clint will discuss the PRO side, the advantages to the AICPA’s proposed joint venture with CIMA. Scroll down to read the recent blog post by President Brenda Byrnes that introduced this subject. 

Morrison, Clint 2013

Clint Morrison, MSCPA Director

Despite your busy schedule, you may have heard that the AICPA wants to join forces with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) to create a new accounting association, the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, while continuing to operate the membership bodies of both existing associations.  Your MSCPA board of directors reviewed this issue at its recent board meeting, and I was impressed with the vigorous discussion that took place among the board members regarding this topic.

First, it is important to point out that the AICPA dues should not be affected by this proposal, and your existing membership in the AICPA should not change.  AICPA members would automatically become members of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.  As a small business owner, I watch costs like a hawk, so this was the first hurdle that I was able to get over with this proposal.  Though I am a tad skeptical in this regard, the proposal does include the integration of management and operations, which should provide economies of scale and cut costs.

By joining forces with CIMA’s 227,000 members, our voice in advocacy efforts will be that much stronger.  To me, that is one of the most compelling arguments for this integration.  In an era of increasing rules and regulations for our clients and our own businesses, advocacy is important.  For me, oftentimes when I learn of a new rule or regulation, I can see the merits of its objective.  However, nearly as often, the implementation of policies and procedures in an attempt to comply with the new rule or regulation are costly at best, and often impractical particularly for small businesses.  In today’s environment, strength clearly comes in numbers, and sometimes, those numbers may be called upon to help create rules with common sense derived from professionals who understand and are affected by the consequences of such rules.

This proposal is also an extension of the joint venture between the AICPA and CIMA that launched the CGMA designation in 2012.  As such, AICPA members, typically in industry, were able to receive the designation based on meeting certain criteria.  But more importantly, these members, often accounting managers, controllers, and CFOs from small businesses, were afforded access to resources that were not readily available to them before this joint venture was launched.

Another aspect to consider is this proposal’s potential to broaden the appeal of the accounting profession to the next generation.  As an adjunct instructor at Carroll College, I regularly interact with students.   When I ask my Introduction to Business class, “What do CPAs do?” most students answer, “Prepare taxes”.  I enthusiastically respond, “Yes, many CPAs prepare taxes, along with other professionals who do not obtain the CPA designation.  But only CPAs can perform financial statement audits!” I don’t get a lot of enthusiasm in return.  It is not until I speak of the broad array of consulting services and other aspects of the accounting profession that I seem to peak their interest.  Thus, I believe that this new association will help broaden the appeal of our profession to students today, which may help encourage them to seek employment in accounting-related jobs, and once there, they will be able to realize their career goals and dreams.

Presidentially Speaking

 

Brenda Byrnes, President

Brenda Byrnes MSCPA President 2015 – 2016

It’s a GREAT day to be a CPA!  Now that is a catchy phrase but what does it mean to you?  To me it is the perfect phrase to capture my feelings about our profession.  As CPAs the opportunities available to us are really quite endless.  Our education, training and background enable us to provide our clients and employers with a unique problem solving perspective and strategic way of thinking.  It’s expected when they see CPA.

At the AICPA fall council meeting in October, I began to give serious thought to the meaning behind that designation as we tackled the topic of the future of our profession.  During the meeting the representatives of the AICPA membership voted to expand the potential holders of the CGMA (Chartered Global Management Accountant) credential to others outside of CPA designation holders.  These “others” are first required to pass the CGMA exam and then adhere to the experience, ethical and education requirements to maintain that credential outlined by the AICPA.  As nonCPA CGMAs, they would be non-voting associate members of the AICPA.  The current CPA, CGMAs would maintain their status with no changes.  Please note that the CGMA is only offered by the AICPA.  Other similar credentials exist with other organizations.

So how did this vote, affect you?  Honestly here in Montana I did not see a big impact.  From my discussions with many of you about it, I do not hear much concern.  Our members in BING often struggle with garnering support from employers for their CPA so the CGMA will likely be just as troublesome as a standalone certification.  We currently have 127 members of MSCPA who have chosen to adopt the CGMA.  Now others who are not CPAs will have the same opportunity.

This vote was not an end result of planning though.  It was a strategic step in a much bigger plan.  Why belabor a topic that seems pretty innocuous to Montana?  Well the next step is that the AICPA would like your vote for their proposal to create a new global accounting membership association called the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants in conjunction with CIMA.  CIMA is the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, a global management accounting membership organization. (follow this link for more information http://www.cimaglobal.com/)  This new association, cleverly acronymed AICPA, would represent public and management accounting professionals worldwide.  Your membership in the American Institute of CPAs would automatically afford you membership in the new association AICPA with no additional dues.

Sort of makes one’s head spin, especially this time of year?

Again, this step causes me to pause and to ponder what does my CPA mean to me and others.  Your MSCPA board of directors discussed this issue at length.  We did pass a resolution in January supporting the AICPA in its efforts to put this new association venture to a vote of the members of the American Institute of CPAs.  We viewed this as an opportunity for the membership to voice their thoughts on the future of our profession.  Will we be known as CPAs or as either CPAs or CGMAs?

Coming up in the next blogs, board members Clint Morrison and Dr. Josh Herbold tackle the pros and cons of forming the new AICPA.  I certainly have conflicted thoughts about it and I am sure you will too.  Hopefully the two perspectives will assist you in your voting.  We welcome your comments either way.  In fact we would like to feature those in a follow up to the pro/con debate. You have the option to comment below or email your comments to jane@mscpa.org.

No matter what though, I still feel IT IS A GREAT DAY TO BE A CPA!

UPDATE March 25, 2016: The AICPA’s governing Council has authorized an electronic member ballot on a proposal by the AICPA and The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) to create a new association representing the entire accounting profession, while preserving the AICPA and CIMA membership bodies. The organizations will integrate operations to strengthen advocacy and have more agility in responding to evolving member needs.

The proposal will keep the profession strong amid technological, demographic and international trends that are rapidly reshaping the business environment. The AICPA will continue to promote, protect and grow the CPA profession, with AICPA members continuing to receive all current benefits. From this broader platform of more than 600,000 current and next-generation professionals, the AICPA will have a stronger voice against burdensome regulations that are not in the public interest. It will also enhance and expand resources across public and management accounting.

Since the AICPA first brought the proposal forward to members on Nov. 2, it has received support from 51 state CPA societies. The AICPA Board of Directors and governing Council have both recommended approval. In addition, resolutions of support have been passed by the AICPA’s Private Companies Practice Section Executive Committee, the Business & Industry Executive Committee, the Women’s Initiatives Executive Committee, and the Government Performance and Accountability Committee.

Watch for your personal and confidential electronic ballot credentials the week of April 18 from the third-party vote administrator under the name “AICPA Independent Tabulator.” To make sure you receive this email with your unique credentials, simply add the following email address as an approved sender: noreply@directvote.net. CIMA members will be asked to endorse the proposal on a similar timeline. For more information, visit www.aicpa.org/horizons

AICPA takes on the IRS

Yates 2007by Ron Yates, Former AICPA Council Rep,
MSCPA Past President 2010-2011

Greetings MSCPA Members. As you may have seen recently, American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) President/CEO Barry Melancon said the AICPA is pushing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to improve its services for both taxpayers and CPAs. As reported by Michael Cohn of Accounting Today on January 26, 2016, Melancon gave a speech to the Accounting Club of America regarding the AICPA and the future of the profession. Pertaining to the IRS, Melancon is quoted as saying, “Basically the service levels in the Internal Revenue Service to preparers and taxpayers are at an all-time low,” he said. “To use a South Louisiana French term, it sucks. We do not have a 21st century IRS, and we are not likely to get one in the short term. We’re not going to get one because the Congress absolutely loathes the Internal Revenue Service and the leadership of the Internal Revenue Service.”

According to Cohn, Melancon went on to discuss some of the political challenges facing the IRS in Congress, and the $290 million that Congress earmarked in the December 2015 tax extenders legislation, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015, toward improving taxpayer service and cybersecurity and combating identity theft. “They [Congress] refuse to fund the Internal Revenue Service with any additional dollars,” he said. “In the last tax extenders bill, it looked like they funded it, but it was sort of a shell game, moving dollars around. And it is not going to change with this administration and this Congress and this IRS commissioner. On the political side, bridges have been burned and it is just not going to change. We have been big advocates that it needed to change. We have actually been on the Hill advocating for specific, dedicated funding to the IRS only for customer service—which, by the way, the IRS hates because they want just general funding—and even on that, we couldn’t get any traction from Congress.”

According to Cohn, Melancon hopes to make some headway this year. “We have called upon Treasury—and we are working with the Department of Treasury…to convene a group in 2016 prior to the results of the election, prior to us moving into a new election, to map out a vision of what a 21st century IRS might look like so that when we have new players and a new Congress and a new deal, we’ve got a blueprint to try to get that done,” he said. “Treasury has not yet been totally receptive to doing that, but we envision a forum in which preparers and not just CPAs, but lawyers and enrolled agents and others, come to the table, with representatives of the Service, representatives of Congress, and try to create a meeting of the minds, a rational way rather than the irrational political way. Hopefully we can be successful with that. No guarantees.” Finally, Melancon noted that an identity theft bill currently moving through Congress may provide an opportunity for the AICPA to address some of the current IRS funding and service concerns.

As Montana CPAs and accountants, what has been your experience with IRS service lately? Please share with us your thoughts and comments on what you are seeing and any “tips of the trade” that might be helpful over the next 10 weeks of tax season. Also, please share your opinion about the current level of IRS funding and what can be done to improve both customer service and move toward a “21st century IRS”.

A Note of Gratitude-and a Few Year-End Requests

Yates 2007

Ron Yates Eide Bailly

by Ron Yates, former AICPA Council Representative

Greetings MSCPA Members.  I hope that each of you find time to enjoy the wonder and blessings of Christmas without succumbing to the madness of the holiday season or the angst associated with year-end planning and the fast-approaching “busy season” 2016.  In no time at all Christmas and New Year’s Day will be past, tax and audit deadlines will be complicating our recreation and weekend plans, and once-again we’ll be anxiously awaiting the arrival of spring.

First of all, I want to sincerely thank each of you for the opportunity to serve as your elected AICPA Council Representative over the past three years.  Serving as your representative at the national AICPA level has been a great honor, a tremendous learning experience, and truly one of the highlights of my professional career – challenging, exciting, professionally rewarding, and great fun!  I have actively attempted to represent the diverse interests of Montana CPAs at the national level and move our profession forward against the ever-present challenges of staffing, student recruitment, examination & certification, professional education, legal liability, client expectations, specialization, and expanding professional, geographic, and technological boundaries.  Thank you all for this opportunity, as well as your friendship, advice, and support.

ThompsonGordy08 CMYK

Gordy Thompson, Anderson ZurMuehlen

Please enthusiastically congratulate Gordy Thompson of Havre on his election as your AICPA Council Representative for the 2015-2018 term. Gordy is a strong leader that will represent Montana CPAs extraordinarily-well at the national level.  Gordy is a friend to all and a stranger to no one!  He has already established tremendous professional contacts within the AICPA that will serve to benefit all MSCPA members going forward.

Please offer your outstanding support to President Brenda Byrnes, President-Elect Annette Hill, and all MSCPA board members and office personnel.  The MSCPA’s mission is to inspire, empower and impact members to achieve professional excellence and this is exactly what our MSCPA board and staff do each day!

Egan Jane color

Jane Egan MSCPA Executive Director

Please keep Jane Egan, MSPCA’s fearless leader and our great friend, in your thoughts and prayers as she continues to successfully battle cancer.  As politicians, regulators, and certain other disagreeable individuals know, Jane is not to be messed with!  Cancer doesn’t have a chance to prevail in this fight!

Please continue to be actively involved in our profession at the local chapter, MSCPA, and AICPA levels.  I am fortunate to have gotten involved at each of these levels during my public accounting career and plan to continue doing so.  I have truly personally received much more back than the effort and time I have invested.  We have a wonderful, dynamic, evolving profession that actively seeks your input, involvement, and leadership.  Please take advantage of these fantastic personal and professional growth opportunities by personally getting involved.  E-mail me at ryates@eidebailly.com or call me at 406-896-2423 if you have any questions or if I can be of any assistance regarding your professional involvement.

Finally, please consider financially supporting the MSCPA Legacy Foundation, our very own 501(c)(3) charitable organization, with your year-end gifting.  The Legacy Tree project currently happening in the MSCPA office is a touching visual tribute to the many people—past, present and future—who support the greatness of the accounting profession in Montana.  Let’s each do our part to support the foundation for the betterment of the Montana accounting profession for generations to come!

Full tree with Leaves

The Legacy Tree

 

Repair Regs Guidance

Confused about repair regulations and form 3115? You are not alone! MSCPA has been working to find the answers and resources for you.

Update 2/13/15: IRS Makes It Easier for Small Businesses to Apply Repair Regulations to 2014 and Future Years  Read press release

Update 2/13/15:  AICPA says help may be on the way. Read more in this Forbes article

Top 20 Q & A About Repair Regs

Surgent McCoy has put together a list for our members of the Top 20 Questions and Answers  CPAs are asking.

Questions asked by our members

Surgent McCoy was able to answer a few of our member’s questions.

Webcast offered to help with Repair Regs Form 3115 – 02/24/15

The IRS expects most businesses with significant amounts of real and personal property will be required to file one or more 3115s this year. This course will help you understand the impact of the regulations, determine if/when you need to file a 3115 and help you with the preparation of the dreaded form. Webcast details  – This webcast is through the Idaho Society of CPAs and you must register through them, MSCPA members will be given their member price.

Update & Implementation of Final Repair Regulations – 02/13/15 –

UPDATE: Replay on 02/23/15

Webcast details

This update will explore new regulations which include several taxpayer friendly safe harbors. These rules cover how to handle materials/supplies, de minimis expensing, repairs vs. improvements which includes a safe harbor for small taxpayers. Learn how to implement these rules by filing new annual elections and/or accounting method changes using Form 3115. Webcast tomorrow – please email jean@mscpa.org or give her a call at 406-442-7301 to register for this webinar – our website shows registration closed for this but we can still get you included. For the replay on 2/27 you can register online. 

Implementing the new tangible property regulations

Circular 230, Regulations Governing Practice Before the Internal Revenue Service (31 C.F.R. Part 10), may present challenges to practitioners in signing tax returns for clients that have not implemented the final regulations. Due to the challenges of the regulations, waiting to address these issues until completing the 2014 tax return is ill-advised. This article provides some history, context, and a high-level overview of the major components of the final regulations and discusses the implications for Circular 230 and signing tax returns for clients who have not implemented the new regulations. Journal of Accountancy  (1/31)

Legislative Session Preview

by Jane Egan, MSCPA Executive Director

Jane Egan MSCPA Executive Director

Jane Egan
MSCPA Executive Director

Did you know that the Montana Society of CPAs is the ONLY organization advocating on behalf of CPAs in Montana? We are constantly monitoring the issues that will affect you, your clients, your organizations and businesses. And the 2015 Legislative Session is going to bring us many opportunities to be that advocate for you.

MSCPA’s 2015 Legislative Policy reads:

MSCPA will:

  1.  Analyze and support, oppose or improve legislation directly impacting our profession,
  2.  Provide resources and commentary in the areas of tax policy and administration, economic development and business issues,
  3.  Provide technical information and/or analysis to legislators, agencies such as the Department of Revenue and other groups on proposed legislation, 
  4. Review proposed bills that fall under this legislative policy and agree to support, oppose or remain neutral. 
  5. May initiate and promote legislation affecting our profession and tax policy.

We will continue to develop our role to meet these objectives.

With this in mind, here is a preview of the issues we will be monitoring when the Session starts January 5th:

Tax Simplification
As you are well aware, Montana’s tax system is one of the most complicated in the nation. Many legislators are very interested in working to simply our tax system. CPAs, as the tax experts, are an integral part of this process. MSCPA’s Legislative and Governmental Affairs and State Taxation Committee members have been working with Sen. Tutvedt throughout the interim on a tax simplification bill he is proposing.  We will also be working with other legislators as they bring forward tax simplification bills.

Penalty and Interest Reform
The Revenue and Transportation Interim Committee has agreed to introduce a committee bill to reform Montana’s penalty and interest statutes to be fairer to taxpayers who comply with the law and to give DOR the ability to penalize the bad actors. The proposal will mirror Federal for the most part and would amend existing provisions and add new penalties for substantial underpayment of tax and for filing a fraudulent or frivolous return.

Exempt CPAs from Private Investigator License
CPAs who perform forensic accounting work in Montana are currently required to have a private investigator license. Current law allows many exemptions including attorneys, legal intern, paralegals, law students, collection agencies and more. This bill, instigated by MSCPA, would include CPAs in the long list of exemptions from the licensing requirement.

Two-Tier to One-Tier Licensing for CPAs
Currently, Montana is one of approximately six states that have a two-tier licensing system for CPAs. The first tier you obtain the necessary education, pass the exam, take the ethics test and receive your certificate. (You cannot practice as a CPA with your certificate only). The second tier you complete the necessary experience requirement and apply for and obtain a license or permit to practice.

The two-tier system if very confusing for the public and for some CPAs. The Montana Board of Public Accountants will be introducing legislation to change to a one-tier system. CPAs will meet all the requirements (education, exam and experience) and apply for and obtain a license or permit to practice.

Enterprise Funding for the Board of Public Accountants
Our Montana Board of Public Accountants, housed in the Department of Labor, is currently funded by appropriation via the Legislature. MSCPA will instigate legislation to change the funding for the Board to enterprise funding. Enterprise funding would give the Board more oversight and greater participation in the funding of the Board activities using the funds they collect from licensing and renewal fees.

Pass Through Entity Reporting
MSCPA members have been meeting with the Department of Revenue for several years to work on pass through entity reporting for non-residents. DOR will propose legislation that will eliminate the consent agreement option which would eliminate the PT-AGR and PT-STM forms. This would leave the pass through with two options: withholding or filing a composite return.

Audit Threshold
Currently the Montana law regarding the audit threshold is tied to Federal. The Federal threshold will increase from $500,000 to $750,000 for fiscal years beginning on or after 1/1/2015. The Department of Administration and the Montana Association of Counties (MACo) are interested in decoupling the Montana law from the federal requirement and inserting $500,000 as the fixed amount in the Montana code. MSCPA’s Governmental Accounting and Auditing Committee support the change.

Tax Credits
Rep. Roy Hollandsworth mentioned during the September Revenue and Transportation Interim Committee that he would be bringing a tax credit bill during the 2015 session. No specifics yet but it might be a bill that puts a sunset on all credits.

In addition to these specific bills, there are 155 introudced bills and 1,966 bill draft requests listed on the LAWS website. Of those, we have 132 on our watch list so far.

Holly Franz, MSCPA Lobbyist

Holly Franz, MSCPA Lobbyist

We have contracted with lobbyist Holly Franz again for the 2015 Session to help your voice be heard. Holly has lobbied on MSCPA’s behalf for many years now and she is an invaluable resource in our advocacy efforts at the Legislature.

MSCPA is the accounting profession’s voice in the legislature.  We will track the bills we know will affect you, your clients and your companies.  We will be monitoring legislation, going to hearings and standing up for the accounting profession and Montana businesses.  But nothing is more important than your voice to your local legislators.  If legislators don’t hear from business professionals on tax and business issues where will they get their information?  Your voice, your expertise and your involvement are crucial.

We’ll be publishing updates throughout the session. Technology makes participation easier than ever. You can watch or listen to floor session and committee hearings live over the internet, or watch and listen to archived broadcasts of previous floor sessions and committees.

Advocacy Mondays
We also urge you to participate in Advocacy Monday conference calls, every Monday beginning January 5th at 7:00 a.m. throughout the session. All MSCPA members are welcome on these one-hour conference calls that outline the issues happening each week at the legislature. To join simply dial 888.289.4573 and use access code 8863665.

If you have questions or comments I want to hear from you. Please call 800.272.0307 or email Jane@mscpa.org.

THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON THE SUCCESS AND LONGEVITY

by Becky Turner, CPA, CGMA
Glacier Bancorp

Becky Turner, CPA, CGMA

Becky Turner, CPA, CGMA

As with any organization, the support by and work done within the volunteer committees makes the biggest impact on the success and longevity of that organization.  The same is true at MSCPA!  While they are absolutely AMAZING, the Board and MSCPA staff could not possibly shoulder all of the work done by each of the Committees.

I have been a member of the Professional Development Committee since 2009.  I have known Jean (Rieden) since I was a kiddo and I had only been part of the Society for about a year when she—let’s be honest here—may have strong-armed me to consider joining the Professional Development Committee.  Jean knew I couldn’t possibly say no to her; she didn’t even have to threaten, “Don’t make me call your mother”.

At the time I joined, the Professional Development Committee needed some diversification in ‘years of experience’ within their ranks, and was in desperate need of Industry representation. Fortunately, I fit the bill! Being a typical CPA, i.e. introvert, this group provides me a networking opportunity with CPAs around the state.  The diversity of the group is an added bonus; we have a great mix of public practice, representing both tax and audit and industry individuals from a variety of businesses and positions. Being on the Professional Development Committee allows me to impact the courses provided in a given year, meaning I can help ‘steer’ the course offerings to the needs for my particular job, experience level or training needs of my department/company.

MSCPA provides accessible, affordable, professional development courses to meet a particular learning style. While webinars, self-study, and online courses are prevalent, we offer a service to our members that respond best in a live, in-person learning environment.  We also have the ability to provide specialized courses for Montana-specific issues, such as tax and employment matters.  In fact, stay tuned for a new series of webinars based solely on Montana issues, provided by experts in those areas!

Membership and involvement in the MSCPA and on their Committees shows how much my employer, Glacier Bancorp, Inc., stands behind their employees, helping us grow in our positions by maintaining our certifications, encouraging professional development courses and networking with fellow CPAs. This is at a relatively small cost to the bank; my involvement on the Professional Development Committee takes me out of my office for three days a year (including Leadership Day), we have two one-hour conference calls in the fall and I field a few emails during course scheduling.  The time and impact this has on my work and Glacier Bancorp is minimal, yet offers BIG returns and personal accomplishment.

Being involved on MSCPA Committees is my way of showing commitment to furthering the CPA profession and Society. It is a great networking opportunity while supporting the Society in their mission to help all of us achieve professional excellence.  The Professional Development Committee is always recruiting new members . . . (hint, hint).  We are currently seeking members to help with our diversification in ‘years of experience’ and BING representation.

Based on my committee experience, I would recommend every member consider serving a term on one of the Committees. It will make the biggest impact on the success and longevity on both your career and the value MSCPA continues to offer.

If you are interested in joining the Professional Development Committee, or any of MSCPA’s committees, please check them out on our website and contact the Society Staff for more information, 800.272.0307.

Becky Turner is a Vice-President and Internal Auditor for Glacier Bancorp in Bozeman, MT. She has been a member of MSCPA since 2008 and also serves as a member of the Industry Group and the Future of Learning Task Force.