The American Institute of CPAs scored a victory this week in convincing House lawmakers to remove a provision in the Farm Bill Extension Act of 2007 that it feared could jeopardize the business of CPAs in farming communities.

The original provision would have allowed the Farm Credit System to offer accounting, tax and other financial services in addition to the usual loans. The FCS is a nationwide financial cooperative created by Congress in 1916 to provide farmers with a dependable source of credit.

The AICPA had opposed the extension of the FCS charter to include accounting and tax services, contending that it would have resulted in unfair competition to small CPA firms. FCS financial institutions are government-sponsored entities and thus have a lower cost of business than small CPA firms, argued the AICPA.

The FCS services not only farmers, but also related businesses that serve rural America, including farm equipment and truck dealers, hardware stores, transportation companies, small manufacturers and others who sell goods and services to farmers.

The House defeated the amendment with a voice vote on the floor. The provision may yet show up in the Senate version of the bill, however, as the Senate has not yet finished drafting its farm bill. AICPA CEO Barry Melancon has vowed to watch Senate action "very closely."

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