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.

Halfway There!

Friday marks the halfway point of the 2015 Legislative Session. This has been a very busy

Jane Egan MSCPA Executive Director

Jane Egan
MSCPA Executive Director

eight weeks for those advocating on your behalf at the Montana Legislature. So who is advocating for you?

We are having a great session so far with all of our priorities advancing – knock wood!

So let’s talk about the bills impacting the CPA profession and the position MSCPA has taken on each of them:

HB 44– Rep. Tom Berry

SUPPORT: Change Montana from a two-tier license (certificate and then license to practice) to a one-tier (license only – no interim certificate); eliminate any reference to LPA (they are a dying class); clarify firm registration (no separate registration for satellite offices); allow a fee for firm registration

WHERE IS IT: Passed the House (1/27), transmitted to the Senate

HB 184 – Rep. Greg Hertz at the request of MSCPA

SUPPORT: Exempt CPAs from Private Investigator License Requirements

WHERE IS IT?  Our first victory! SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR (2/18)! Effective Date: October 1, 2015

HB 560 – Rep. Greg Hertz at the request of MSCPA

SUPPORT: Allow the Board of Public Accountants to change their fund structure from an appropriation to an enterprise fund in order to have more control over how they spend the funds they bring in from license fees.

WHERE IS IT? Hearing in House Business & Labor 3/11

SB 39 – Sen. Cary Smith

SUPPORT: Provide for the civil offense of bad faith assertions of a patent right including remedies and damages. This bill will curtail the efforts of patent ‘trolls’ or ‘patent assertion entities’ which purchase patents for the express purpose of filing patent infringement lawsuits against companies to get licensing fees or a legal settlement without actually making any goods or providing any services

WHERE IS IT? Hearing in the House 3/9

SB 76 – Sen. Gene Vuckovich (Yes, this is Dan V’s dad)

SUPPORT: Allow a licensing board to administratively suspend a license; allow a licensing board to ask the department to do this for them

WHERE IS IT? Transmitted to the Governor

SB 286 – Sen. Cary Smith

MONITOR: Prohibit a state agency from adopting rules that will burden a person’s ability to enjoy the person’s property rights or engage in a lawful business or occupation. We are concerned this bill might prevent our Board of Accountancy from regulating CPAs. We may oppose if this bill makes it to the House.

WHERE IS IT? Passed out of Senate committee

SB 390 – Sen. Elsie Arntzen

SUPPORT: Study fees the Department of Revenue charges boards — including the Board of Accountants

WHERE IS IT? Passed Senate committee

Now let’s change gears and talk about the Bills Impacting Tax Law

HB 359 – Rep. Ed Lieser

MONITOR: Adjust the inflation factor calculations for individual income tax

WHERE IS IT? Passed the House

SB 91 – Sen. Fred Thomas by request of DOR

MONITOR: Allow for reciprocal collection and offset of tax liability between the state and Federal government

WHERE IS IT? Tabled in committee at sponsor’s request

SB 167 – Sen. Dick Barrett

MONITOR: Revise the criteria related to the water’s edge election for corporate income taxes by changing the list of countries consider tax haven jurisdictions

WHERE IS IT? Senate Finance and Claims hearing 2/25

SB 170 – Sen. Dick Barrett

MONITOR: Allow two Montana taxpayers to file a joint state return, or a combined filing separately return, if they filed a joint federal income tax return

WHERE IS IT? Passed the Senate

SB 92 – Sen. Fred Thomas by request of RATIC

SUPPORT: Reform penalty and interest amounts to more closely mirror Federal

WHERE IS IT?  Passed the Senate

HB 379 – Rep. Greg Hertz

SUPPORT: Reform penalty and interest amounts to more closely mirror Federal  AND lower the statute of limitations on individuals, sole proprietors and partnerships to 3 years (currently 5 years)

WHERE IS IT?  Heard in House Taxation committee 2/12

SB 269 – Sen. Duane Ankney

SUPPORT: Lower the statute of limitations on individuals, sole proprietors and partnerships to 3 years (currently 5 years)

WHERE IS IT? Passed Senate Taxation committee

SB 212 – Sen. Scott Sales

SUPPORT: Revise the penalty and interest provisions for certain taxpayers who receive an extension for filing individual income tax returns; clarify they are based on tax due – not tax liability

WHERE IS IT? Heard in Senate Taxation

SB 6 – Sen. Fred Thomas for RATIC

SUPPORT: Clarify the right to request alternative dispute resolution methods including mediation

WHERE IS IT?  Transmitted to the Governor

SB 166 – Sen. Dick Barrett

OPPOSE: Eliminate the waters’ edge election for corporate income tax filers

WHERE IS IT? Committee vote failed; remains in committee

SB 171 – Sen. Bruce Tutvedt

SUPPORT: Tax Simplification! This bill will restructure the individual income tax, reduce rates for the corporate income tax and eliminates several credits.

WHERE IS IT? Passed Senate committees

SB 386 – Sen. Jill Cohenour

SUPPORT: Revise laws related to pass through entity simplification. MSCPA members worked extensively with DOR to reach a compromise – second tier entities will be subject to withholding or composite returns (consent agreement goes away); small and/or family owned entities may continue using the consent agreement; the PT-STM goes away!

WHERE IS IT? Newly introduced; Hearing in the House 3/10

In addition to these bills we are also monitoring 13 tax credit bills and four tax reduction bills.

We encourage you to share your voice with your legislators on these issues and we hope you’ll join us by phone Monday mornings for Advocacy Mondays.

If you have questions about any of the legislation mentioned above or any bills you hear about and think we should be monitoring please contact me: or call 800.272.0307.

MSCPA is proud to advocate on your behalf!