AICPA reacts to Manchester terror attack and presses Congress on tax reform

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The American Institute of CPAs observed a moment of silence at its Spring Meeting of Council in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday morning following the suicide bombing on Monday night at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England.

“Recognizing the tragic events that have unfolded yesterday evening, as we’ve gotten more information, this is really just to convey my heartfelt prayers for the communities and families impacted in Manchester by the terrorist event,” said AICPA chair Kimberly Ellison-Taylor.

She acknowledged a colleague in the audience who was visiting from Manchester.

“Our hearts and prayers, as citizens, as colleagues, as members of the community, as moms, as dads, we’re horrified that there are some places that are just not a safe zone for us anymore, that our youth and children would have to find out about the world in such an awful way, is just heart-wrenching,” said Ellison-Taylor. “I just wanted to have a recognition, a moment of silence, to say that we will remain unwavering and unrelenting in our passion to move forward, and we stand in solidarity with the communities around the world and with the families in Manchester.”

The bombing killed at least 22 people and injured dozens of other young concertgoers, according to U.K. authorities. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack.

Members of the AICPA Council are visiting Washington to lobby lawmakers on tax reform and other legislative priorities. They heard from lawmakers, including former accountants, during the annual meeting. After Ellison-Taylor spoke, she introduced Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., who has served in Congress since 2009. A member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, Jenkins has announced plans to retire at the end of the congressional term and return to her CPA practice.

“There is no professional title I’m most proud of,” said Jenkins. “I’ve been called state representative, state senator, Congresswoman, state treasurer, but it’s CPA that I’m most proud of, and it’s in part due to the work you guys do.”

Jenkins hopes to work on tax reform before her term ends and she returns to Kansas as a CPA. “I can still make an honest living,” she said. “I just renewed my permit, so I’ll be ready to roll. One of the reasons why I’m leaving after 10 years is that a lot of the skill sets necessary to be a CPA are not the skill sets necessary to be successful in politics. It has been particularly frustrating in this town, but I want to tell you how thrilled I am that you all are here, and I hope that you will go over to the Hill and do your Hill visits and develop a relationship with your members of Congress and your senators because that has such value.”

Jenkins sees CPAs as a resource for legislators. “You all need to be the go-to experts in your state when it comes to all things accounting and tax,” she said.

She noted that the Ways and Means Committee where she is a member is currently working on tax reform. Jenkins recalled visiting Capitol Hill back in 1986 the last time a comprehensive tax overhaul passed. “I remember wasting a whole lot of time back then thinking, ‘Wow, what were those nitwits thinking when they came up with this provision or that provision?’ Now I’m on the other side of the table and I will tell you don’t waste any time doing that, because many times there is no such logic and no such answer,” she said. “This is just a huge puzzle that we’re trying to put together. We’re committed to revenue neutrality. We’re committed to having it be at least fair when it comes to income distribution so we don’t affect anybody in a distribution table differently than we would in another class. We’re working with the administration. We’re working with the Senate. The Republicans are working with the Democrats, so many times we will make a decision because it’s the puzzle piece that fits right there. It has nothing to do with logic. No common sense involved. It’s just what makes it work. Be mindful of that. Be patient with us. But it is ‘go time’ on taxes.”

She was followed by Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., who also spoke about tax reform plans in Congress, including proposals for repatriating corporate profits from overseas, along with the ribbing he often receives about Colorado’s marijuana laws. He was followed by Tony Sayegh, who was recently named Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Treasury Department. He promised tax reform and health care reform by the fall. On Monday, the AICPA heard from two freshman lawmakers who are also CPAs: Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., and Rep. Tom Suozzi, D-N.Y.

Mark Peterson, executive vice president of advocacy at the AICPA, closed Tuesday’s session by telling Council members about their legislative priorities for their Capitol Hill visits. They include two sets of proposals for reforms in the tax laws and at the Internal Revenue Service. The AICPA is also pushing for a bill known as the Fiscal State of the Nation Resolution to address the fiscal condition of the federal government. It was introduced in the House by Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio, a CPA who is a member of Congress’s CPA Caucus. The AICPA is looking for more co-sponsors on the bill. The Institute is also again pushing for passage of the Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act, which has been re-introduced repeatedly in Congress in an effort to simplify the tax reporting requirements of people who work outside their home state.

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