Earlier this year, I was asked to participate in a sort of town-hall-style forum to discuss a number of profession-centric issues. The session was slotted for one hour and, as is my custom, I hoped to make enough cogent points to not only fill the time slot, but also to keep the attendees interested (read: awake) and in their seats, and not just hanging around long enough to earn CPE - but we hardly had enough time to cover the critical events that surfaced in 2009 and will remain there to greet the profession in 2010.

Here's two for starters heading into 2010 - International Financial Reporting Standards and GAAP for private companies. With the Securities and Exchange Commission's decision to revisit the roadmap toward adoption of IFRS, the transition for the profession to principles-based standards, let alone diplomatically hammering out standard-setting compromises on topics such as fair value, will only get more complicated. Also to be taken into consideration is the future of the Financial Accounting Standards Board and sobering statistics that show that the average cost of transitioning to IFRS for U.S. filers will be in the neighborhood of $35 million. That also begs the question of IFRS education, and a nationwide push to incorporate it into collegiate accounting curricula.

With regard to the 30-plus-year debate over reporting standards for private companies, something resembling progress will need to happen in 2010. It's been five years since the American Institute of CPAs passed a motion to establish a task force in partnership with FASB to determine the financial reporting needs of private concerns. But sadly, it appears that FASB is in no hurry to accelerate the process, unlike its record-setting modification of fair value when under pressure from lawmakers and bankers.

Expect tax preparer registration, tax patent legislation and the thorny 7216 rules regarding taxpayer information to become embedded in critical battles. While no one questions the importance of competency among tax preparers, in the opinion of many the cachet of the CPA credential might be severely diluted should a formal registration/regulation process be mandated. And it remains to be determined who would receive an exemption and exactly who would get grandfathered in.

Currently there is pending legislation to either prohibit or narrow the scope of tax strategy patents being granted. For those keeping score at home, some 80 patents have been granted since 1998, with 133 patents currently pending.

In 2010, also expect the triple-bottom line of sustainability to expand its scope, which will more than likely result in more firms offering client services in this area.

Before I close out my final column of the year, there are two important housekeeping announcements for 2010 that must be noted. This issue is when we have traditionally published our Top 100 Technology Products feature. However, we are changing our focus slightly and reformatting that section to more of a "Top New Technology Products" showcase, which is slated to debut in our first June issue.

Second, with the merger of Practical Accountant into Accounting Today, we will publish both our Top 100 Firms and the Regional Leaders reports in the same March issue. So for those regional firms that were previously given a survey deadline beyond Accounting Today's Top 100 completion date, we must stress that the regional numbers will be due at the same time.

So with that, we at Accounting Today would like to wish all of you a healthy and happy holiday season, and we will be looking forward to getting back together in January.

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