Meet Molly!

I’m Molly Holahan, the new Communications Director!

I was born and raised in East Helena, MT.  I left Montana for 2 years to attend UNLV and transferred back to Montana and graduated from the University of Montana (GO GRIZ) with a BS in Communication Studies!  I found this degree to have the best mixture of technology, business, marketing and interaction with people!

For the past seven years, I worked at Anderson ZurMuehlen/Employee Benefit Resources.  I worked in our corporate office and helped with trainings and technology.  More recently, I transitioned to our sister company and worked in EBR as a plan administrator in training.

Blog Photo

Molly, Bill, Teva & Chewie

A little background on my life outside of work.  I met my husband, Bill, on a blind date! He had recently moved here from New Jersey to be closer to family.  He works as a tax attorney for the State at the Retirement Administration.  This year is full of excitement as Bill and I are welcoming our first child in October!

My first introduction to the MSCPA was working on a video project with Margaret. She was so passionate and creative- it was such a great experience.  I met Jean while working on a webinar and often bugged her with CPE questions and she was always unbelievably helpful and resourceful.  I enjoyed working with the Society any chance I got!

I am so thankful for this opportunity and am thrilled to work with Allen, Jean, Carol, Heidi, our board of directors, AND our amazing members (including so many of my previous coworkers from Anderson ZurMuehlen)!

I am so excited to be part of the MSCPA and look forward to meeting you at upcoming events and trainings!

Please contact me if you have any questions or just to say hi!

I’m so glad we had this time together

By Margaret Herriges, CAE, IOM

When I was a kid, the Carol Burnett show was in its heyday and my family watched it together and we laughed until we cried. Oh, it’s a good memory! That’s where the title of carol-burnett-show-2013this blog comes from, the closing song at the end of Ms. Burnett’s variety show. Some of you will remember it; those who are younger than 40 will think the Carol Burnett Show is just a late-night infomercial for a video.

This song has been running through my head a lot lately because it’s time for me to say “so long.” After 17 fun, exciting, wonderful years with MSCPA, I have given my resignation. My last day in the office will be June 29th.

When I started with the Society in 2000, I didn’t appreciate the real value of a CPA. I didn’t know how vital you are to the business world and to people’s personal finances. I know your importance now and I am, and will continue to be, a strong advocate for CPAs, especially my friends in Montana.

I’ve been fortunate to work closely with so many of you and the friendships we’ve made are priceless.  The things we’ve accomplished through the years, the Board meetings, the Annual Conferences and the many volunteers whom I’ve had the privilege to work with, these are the memories I will be taking with me, along with too many laughs and smiles to count. I’d hate to lose touch so you can find me on Facebook and you can reach me at mc2@bresnan.net.

I’ve been lucky to grow through my job as your Communications Director. My job has morphed from one of hard copy communications to electronic newsletters and social media and so much more. I’ve earned my IOM (Institute of Organization Management) and CAE (Certified Association Executive) credentials along the way and my appetite for knowledge and more experience has grown with these accomplishments.

I’m grateful to Jane for the opportunities I was given along the way. She made it possible to have a job AND a family. I was 31 when I started at MSCPA, I had been married not quite four years and I didn’t have a child. I laugh when I look back and remember that the board had to write a maternity policy for me!  I was the first staff to ever have a baby while working at MSCPA. That baby is now 16 years old and moving on to his own adventures. This office has been his home as well.

I’m grateful to the rest of the staff I’ve worked with throughout the years: Jean, Carol and Heidi who are still here, but also to Kay Roos, Susan Lively and the interns we used to hire each legislative session.  It’s been a good gig.  Allen Lloyd, you are going to LOVE it here! I wish you all the best.

Thank you for your support through the years, your friendship. I have long maintained that CPAs are the best people to work for; I’m guessing I always will. So I want to leave you with the song I mentioned in the opening of this blog, because I am so very glad for the time we had together, https://youtu.be/PjQuZCTLAv4, please consider it my thank you gift to you.  We had a laugh (many) and yes, we even shared a song or two. But, it’s time to say so long.

God bless!

 

A Day at the House of Lords

Today (04/04/17) I LIVED the term gobsmacked. It’s a strange word that so adequately describes the experiences I had today at the House of Lords. To enter through Westminster Hall which was built in 1097, a place that saw the conviction of William Wallace and speeches made by Sir Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Queen Elizabeth, it was overwhelming in the best way. 

I want to share my speech that I made today, representing the Montana CPAs. Photos of the actual event and the people in attendance will have to wait for a later date as only the official photographer is permitted to take pictures in Parliament. What you will see are photos I took from the outside and, if you go to our Facebook page, you will see a short video I made outside Parliament right before we were admitted this morning. What an honor it truly was!

I was introduced by the Baroness Caroline Cox of Queensberry.


My Noble Lords, Members of Parliament, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:

I have served as the Communications Director of the Montana Society of Certified Public Accountants for 17 of the organization’s 104 years. It is a pleasure to be at the House of Lords with you today. It is a tremendous honor, one a farmer’s daughter from rural Montana never would have had the courage to dream! A heartfelt thanks to Baroness Cox!

Montana is a beautiful state with dramatic mountain vistas and sweeping plains and of course the skies. Montana is called Big Sky Country for a reason.

Montanans are known for our strong work ethic. Our agricultural roots come through no matter what our chosen profession. Similarly, certified public accountants are known for their strong work ethic, high standards and strong morals. They are the foundation of the business world. We have a member in Montana who is known to say, “some people speak Spanish, Arabic or English. I speak accounting; the language of business.”*

For over 30 years, the Montana Society of CPAs and the Association of Certified Public Accountants International, have worked together to help our members succeed in the “language of business”. We are proud of this partnership that allows us to have an international presence, one that allows accounting professionals with the right credentials, to be members in the Montana Society of CPAs no matter what part of the Globe they live.

Throughout our 30-year history, world events have shaped our international membership numbers.  We’ve has as few as 17 international members as we began our partnership and we have boasted as many as 94 international members in 2008.  Today we hold steady in the mid-50’s, including 18 who reside in the UAE.

Regardless of the numbers, one thing has remained true and strong through the years; the leadership of Dr. Anthony Edwards. For many years, through different staff and leadership at MSCPA, Dr. Edwards has remained dedicated to the Association of CPAs International’s objective to advance the science of accountancy and financial management.

Many members in the Montana Society of CPAs work as auditors. Their work is invaluable in the business world and they must strive to keep up with the constantly changing standards. This is not work for the faint of heart, but it is important work for the economies of the world. So with this in mind, we congratulate the United Arab Emirates on the passage of the Auditing Law we are celebrating today. A strict code of ethics is what makes true accounting professionals stand out and we applaud your regulatory efforts.

Being here with you today at the House of Lords is the opportunity of a lifetime for me and my husband. I am proud to represent the Montana Society of CPAs as we celebrate the UAE’s enhanced standards for this most honorable profession. And meeting representatives from around the globe makes the international business world seem a lot closer to Montana. On behalf of the Montana Society of CPAs, I wish the very best to all of you and to our members serving the accounting profession in the United Arab Emirates. Thank you, and thank you Baroness Cox for this honor.


After the speeches from all the guests, we dined together in the Attlee Room in the House of Lords. Afterwards, the Baroness, who is charming and so funny, gave us a private tour of the House of Lords, explaining how they vote by going out and standing in either the “Content” or “Not Content” hallways. Finally, we ended our day by helping the English economy with a healthy visit to the gift shop.

What an experience! What an adventure! The things I saw and learned, the people I met, including the Ambassador from the UAE. I truly am gobsmacked and thankful for a word the describes the enormity of this day.

*The member I am quoting is Walt Kero of Missoula. Thank you Walt for giving me such a good line that I find myself using it in nearly every speech I give on behalf of MSCPA.

7 Things You May Have Missed During Tax Season

Even if you aren’t in public practice, the new year gets so busy that sometimes we don’t come up for air until May! So here are a list of things you should be aware of that were announced during tax season, in roughly chronological order:

  1. Inaugural Community Service Award
    CommunityServiceAward150aMSCPA is pleased to announce our inaugural Community Service Award. This award is a celebration of the many contributions CPAs make to their communities. Nomination deadline is May 8th. Award details

  2. Governmental Conference & Roundtable
    2017GovernmentalConf200Our annual Governmental Conference will be in Bozeman on May 19th. As an added bonus, there will be a Governmental Roundtable Discussion in Bozeman on May 18th. This conference has been designed for auditors of local governments, representatives of city, county, town and district governing boards and accountants from city, county, town and school district business offices.
  3. Montana Salary Survey
    Every other year, MSCPA conducts a salary survey of our Montana members. We will launch this later in May–watch your email boxes. This is a salary for individuals and only those who complete the survey will get a copy of the results. It’s a great resource for Montana accounting professionals.  If you’d like input on the survey questions, contact Jean@mscpa.org right away.
  4. Jane’s Retirement Party
    Our beloved Executive Director, Jane Egan is retiring June 30th. Help us celebrate all that she has done for MSCPA at her retirement party, June 21, 4:00 – 7:00pm at the Big Horn Resort in Billings. Watch for e-invites in your mailbox soon. RSVP to Heidi@mscpa.org by June 15th.
  5. 104th Annual Conference, June 22& 23 in Billings
    HomeLogowDatesRegistration is open! This is going to be the most interactive conference we’ve ever had and it’s your opportunity to ask questions and learn about some of the most pressing issues in the profession. Check out our schedule of events and remember to make your hotel reservations early!
  6. Proposed Changes to MSCPA Bylaws
    MSCPA is proposing changes to our bylaws. The one significant change is to student membership. Our current bylaws state students must be “At least junior standing” (Article III, Section 1). We are proposing to change that to “At least sophomore standing”. As students are being recruited earlier in their academic career, we feel it is important to get them involved in the Society. The rest of the proposed changes this year are simply terminology updates. The proposed changes will be voted upon by the membership at the Business Meeting held at the 104th Annual Conference on June 22 at 3:30pm at the Big Horn Resort in Billings. View proposed bylaw changes (proposed changes are in red)
  7.  IRS Meeting One-On-One
    On August 1st, the IRS Tax Advocate Service (TAS) will hold a problem solving day at MSCPA’s new offices. The purpose of the event is to discuss unresolved IRS problems that you or your clients are facing. In order to participate you must have a valid F2848 or F8821. Appointments will be taken beginning in July; walk-ins will be helped as representatives are available. Watch for more information coming in
    June/July.

If you have question about any of these events, please don’t hesitate to contact MSCPA:
     Mailing Address:  PO Box 138, Helena, MT 59624
     Physical Address: 46 N Last Chance Gulch Ste 2D
     Phone: 406.442.7301 or 800.272.0307
     email: staff first name@mscpa.org

 

 

Allen’s Story

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Allen Lloyd, Incoming MSCPA Executive Director

Hello MSCPA Members!

My name is Allen, and I am excited to become the next Executive Director of this outstanding organization.  My first order of business will be getting to know you and learning what keeps you up at night and what gets you out of bed in the morning.  To break the ice, I wanted to tell you a little about who I am… You can read about my career in the announcement, but that is only a small part of who I am.

Currently, I live in Columbus, Ohio, and people here ask, “Why move to Montana?”  Professionally, this is a dream opportunity, and I look forward to growing and building on the work of Jane, the staff, and our members.  Personally, my family and I love being surrounded by nature, so we are very excited to explore the beauty of the state and take in the landscape you call home.

One of my favorite hobbies is mountain biking.  I didn’t learn to ride until I was six or seven, but once I learned, it was hard to get me off of a bike.  My wife and I met on a mountain biking trip, and I already have a list of friends who want to come riding in Montana.

No handsDuring the interview process, I was asked about relocating to a smaller city.  I turned 40 a couple of years ago, and while my last 20 years were spent in Columbus, most of my first 20 years were spent in a speck on the map called Clarington, Ohio.  Growing up, my world view was two hills and the Ohio River. We drove 10 miles each way to get groceries once a week.  There will definitely be adjustments, but Helena has everything a person needs (nice people, craft beer, good coffee, and a Target).

Bad selfieMy wife, Jill, is an accountant currently working in industry.  When we met, her plan was to be in Columbus for a few months then move west. I only delayed her plans by 16 years.  We have two boys: Byron, who turns 9 later this year and Winston, who turned 7 in December.  As you can imagine, there is rarely a dull moment around our house.  Our family photos do a pretty good job of capturing a typical night at our house.

I would like to thank Jane, the staff, and the volunteers and members for all their work making MSCPA the great organization it is today.  In particular, I want to thank the Search Strike Force for making me feel welcome during the interview process, and for their belief in my ability to lead this organization.

HomeLogowDatesPlease join me at the Annual Conference in Billings, June 22-23. There, we will celebrate Jane’s accomplishments and reignite your passion for the accounting profession with some great speakers and opportunities to connect with friends old and new.  We’ll roll out the welcome mat so you can relax and learn at your professional home!

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.

MSCPA Makes the Move

Dear Members

There are a lot of changes going on at MSCPA and we want them all to be good for you and for the organization. That includes our office space.

Egan Jane color

Jane Egan MSCPA Executive Director

As many of you might remember, we moved to our current location five years ago. We were excited about the space we designed and the opportunities it held for more member contact. However, things beyond our control have changed the quality of this work space.

When we moved into our Ninth Avenue location, there was plenty of parking. Full occupancy in the rest of the building and the newly constructed building next door took all our extra parking options. This made it very hard to use the beautiful conference room we built.

Our conference room really is a thing of beauty. We can host meetings for up to 30 people. It’s extremely functional with a large screen tv wired to our computer connections. Sadly, it has become nearly 900 square feet of unusable space at $12.85 a square foot. So . . .

WE ARE MOVING! Our new physical address will be in the New York Building, 46 North Last Chance Gulch; our mailing address will once again be PO Box 138, Helena, MT 59624-0138. Our anticipated move date is April 30th. It’s downtown on the walking mall with a sky bridge to the parking garage. The board room in the new space will accommodate 16 people, have beautiful natural lighting, offices for all the staff plus a good work space and it’s less expensive!

While we aren’t looking forward to the move itself, we are looking forward to the new accessible space and we feel it’s the responsible thing to do as stewards of your dues dollars.

This is another big change for the Society and I thank you in advance for your understanding. If you have questions about this move, I am always happy to talk to you.  One of the things that will stay the same is our members are welcome to use our board room at no cost and we are delighted when members drop by.  Stay tuned for more information about our new space and be sure to come visit us.

Sincerely,

Jane Egan | Executive Director
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We’ve set a goal!

by Ron Yates, Eide Bailly, MSCPA President 2010-2011, AICPA Board of Directors

We’ve set a big goal! And I’m asking for your help.

Yates 2007

Ron Yates, Legacy Foundation Council Chair

During my term as MSCPA board president in 2010, we boldly launched the Legacy Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charity, with the purpose of promoting and impacting the accounting profession in Montana. It’s important that all our members know that every dollar counts! This foundation isn’t only about big contributions. Like the AICPA Feed the Pig campaign says, “Small change adds up.”

Can we count on you? We have set a challenge goal to receive a $25 donation from half of our Montana membership between now and June 30th. This means at least 644 members, donating $25 each, helping us to raise $16,000! Won’t you please help by making your $25 donation to the MSCPA Legacy Foundation today? Many employers even match these donations to double the benefit.

I’m now serving my final year as Chair of the Legacy Foundation Council. I’m very proud of what the foundation has accomplished, thanks to the on-going support and dedication of my fellow Council members, the MSCPA board and staff, the Managing Partner and Past President groups, and our terrific MSCPA members – YOU! In the past two years we have offered 20 scholarships to students to attend the MSPCA Annual Conference. We keep hearing that these students are deciding to pursue their careers in Montana because of this experience! In 2017, we are going to offer another 20 scholarships for the 104th Annual Conference PLUS five additional accounting educator scholarships. Additionally, the Legacy Foundation had the privilege of sending Austin Schuerg to the 2016 AICPA Leadership Academy. You can read about Austin’s experience in a recent blog on MontanaCPAs.org.

If you respond to this $25 challenge, we will be able to increase the impact we make across the state. Of course, if you’d like to make a bigger donation, we would be pleased to accept it. But we truly want all our members—new CPAs, retired CPAs, CPAs in public practice, industry, education and government—to help support this campaign with $25 knowing that every donation matters.

Please learn more about our recent success stories in the foundation’s 2016 Annual Report.

Thank you so much for your support — past, present and future! You can make your donation online or you can mail a check to
MSCPA Legacy Foundation
1534 Ninth Avenue
Helena, MT 59601.

If you are interested in making a multi-year pledge, would like to consider naming the foundation in your estate, or want to start a Tribute Plaque in honor of someone important to you or the profession, please contact me at ryates@eidebailly.com or Jane Egan at jane@mscpa.org , telephone # 1.800.272.0307.

Fairmont – Over 100 years of hot water and good times

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Aerial View Fairmont Hot Springs

We are excited to hold the 103rd Annual Conference at Fairmont and many members have asked why we made the decision to go to a resort this year after so many years in our more urban areas. The answer is simple: Fairmont built a beautiful new convention facility!

Our hotel block for the 103rd Annual Conference expires on May 23rd (that’s next Monday folks!) which means YOU MUST MAKE YOUR RESERVATIONS BY MAY 23rd. We have the awesome rate of $119/night (plus tax) so you don’t want to miss this discounted hotel room rate.

To make your reservations go to: https://reservations.fairmontmontana.com/vRes/Custom/GroupLogin.aspx .
You will be asked for a group id number 17120 and password 486; from here you may enter your information.  if you have any issues please call Fairmont at 800.332.3272.

We also have spots reserved at the near-by Fairmont campground. But like the hotel reservations, the availability of these spots expires May 23rd. There are 30amp and 50 amp electrical sites available. Make your reservation by calling 406.797.3505 and be sure to tell them you are with the Montana Society of CPAs group. The campground is about 1/4 mile from the Resort and DOES NOT include swim passes to the hot springs.

After, Indoor Pool 2013You’re going to love the new convention facility and you will have so much fun in the hot springs! But we thought you’d enjoy a learning about Fairmont’s colorful history. Please enjoy this brief history lesson excerpted from Fairmont’s History brochure.

Long before the white man knew about the hot springs, Native American tribes such as the Flathead, Nez Perce and Shoshone set up tepees in the surrounding trees. The Native Americans called the 12 hot pools “Medicine Waters”.

In 1869, George and Eli Gregson acquired the hot springs from a squatter named Hulbert for $60. Can you imagine?! We pay twice that to stay one night and that’s with our discounted rate!

Gregson 1In the years to come, George and Eli turned their attention to the 12 pools of hot mineral water. They built a well-furnished and two-story hotel that could accommodate 50 -60 guest, a plunge bath and five large bathing rooms. Away from the main building a bar room and separate sleeping apartments were constructed. A covered flume was used to conduct the hot and cold water to the bath houses. The cold water was taken from a pure cold stream flowing about 700 yards south of the hotel.

The springs offered cures for rheumatism and other types of ailments. It was said a savory soup could be made by adding salt and pepper to the hot spring water. The soup was consumed in the hopes of curing various ailments.

In 1890 the Gregson Resort was leased to Miles French and a town site was plotted in 1892. On December 9, 1893, the Butte Miner carried a story about the dedication of the town site. It was also reported that the new B & P Depot has been built at Gregson. In 1901 the Resort was sole to Con Hays and James Breen.

Many organizations and clubs held their annual picnics and parties at the springs. On August 12, 1912, the Butte Miners held the most infamous; 14,000 people took part in the event! A brawl broke out between the Anaconda smeltermen and the Butte miners. Two men died in the disturbance but at the inquest the judge could not determine what really occurred so no one was prosecuted. We’re pretty sure MSCPA’s 103rd will be a lot calmer than this!

Tragedy struck on December 23, 1914 when the dance hall and adjoining buildings caught fire. A week and a day later, the hotel plunge caught fire and burned along with the remaining buildings. The fires were blamed on faulty wiring. At the time of the fires, ownership of the resort has passed on to the Montana Hot Springs Association.

George Forsythe bought the Gregson Resort in 1916 and rebuilt and expanded to accommodate tourists. George died in 1935 and his wife, Victoria, ran it until 1959 when she sold it to Treasure State Industries.

The resort closed in 1971 because it fell into such disrepair, but on August 29th that same year the Gregson Surveyor’s Picnic was held as the last chance to see the old hot springs before new construction began. The Montana Standard reported that federal funds would help build a complex including an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, picnic area, outdoor pool and 190 guest rooms. In 1972 the remaining buildings were demolished to make way for the new complex.

The new construction began in 1972 under the direction of new owner Lloyd Wilder of Fairmont Hot Springs British Columbia. It was designed with an indoor pool 80 x 120 feet and an even larger outdoor pool. A cabaret was once located on the second level which connected via an enclosed “bubble” walkway.

Mr. Wilder sold Fairmont to Leroy Mayes in 1981 but repurchased it again in 1990 after it had been taken over by two financial institutions. Wilder died in the last decade and left the ownership of the hotel in trust for his children.

Today, many owners and a stories later, Fairmont offers a new convention center in addition to the hot springs, golf, tennis and many outdoor recreation opportunities. The 168 degree water is cooled to comfortable temperatures that invite you to indulge in the pools and water slide. The hotel’s main restaurant was recently remodeled and you can enjoy a morning latte in the coffee shop.

Fairmont Fun Facts

  • Fairmont Golf Course’s 5th hole is “mile high, mile long” being a mile high in altitude and at 649 yards long the longest hole in Montana.
  • The large pools contain around 220,000 gallons of water. The smaller pools contain approximately 50,000 gallons of water.
  • 58 laps in the indoor pool is 1 mile. 45 laps in the outdoor pool is 1 mile. 
  • The hot water contains calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, iron, magnesium, silica, chloride, fluoride, lithium and other chemicals. Most “smelly” hot springs have a high sulfur content. The sulfur content of Fairmont’s hot springs is very low. 
  • The hot springs originally bubbled to the surface in twelve pools. There are three shingled huts near the Wildlife Zoo where the springs come to the surface near the current resort. Now, most of the hot water comes from a 600 ft. well because this source is cleaner and hotter than water that has been allowed to bubble to the surface.

We hope you’ll join us at Fairmont for the 103rd Annual Conference to make a little history of our own. This year’s Conference boasts:

  • Up to 13 hours of CPE
  • Young Professionals Track
  • Highest honors being awarded
  • Dueling Pianos
  • New book club event
  • Fantastic speakers
  • Crazy fun events
  • Ethics credits
  • Super connections with CPAs from across the state

Be sure to register before June 1st to take advantage of early bird pricing and don’t forget to make your hotel reservations by May 23rd.

FHSR outdoor pool 300dpi

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”.