CPAs lobby Congress on tax and accounting issues

The American Institute of CPAs dispatched hundreds of CPAs to lobby their state and local lawmakers on Capitol Hill this week in conjunction with the AICPA’s Spring Meeting of Council in Washington, D.C.

At the top of the list of priorities for the AICPA is modernizing the Internal Revenue Service’s approach to taxpayer services and the establishment of a Practitioner Services Division at the IRS. The AICPA also wants to change the trigger used by the IRS to grant deadline extensions for taxpayer relief when natural disasters happen, the growing importance of taxation of the digital economy and hopes for a congressional resolution on the fiscal state of the nation.

“The AICPA is committed to supporting Congress, Treasury and the IRS in their efforts to ensure a service-oriented, modernized tax administration system,” said AICPA president and CEO Barry C. Melancon in a statement. “We believe that one of the best ways to improve taxpayer service is to consolidate existing IRS units into an IRS Practitioner Services Division so that taxpayer issues can be resolved more efficiently.”

AICPA CEO and president Barry Melancon addressing the 2018 Engage event

The AICPA hopes to give tax professionals an easier way to communicate with the IRS to help clients with their tax problems. Melancon pointed out that tax practitioners rely on many different IRS programs, processes and tools to resolve clients’ tax issues and that the operating systems for them don’t easily communicate or integrate with each other and don’t have access to the same taxpayer information. Under the current IRS structure, they’re instead located throughout the agency.

Congress can also assist taxpayers by enacting legislation that would give the IRS the authority to postpone deadlines, such as for tax filing, when a national disaster is declared by a state’s governor, often days before the disaster occurs, instead of waiting for a federal disaster declaration.

“The current process delays the IRS’ ability to provide federal tax relief to impacted businesses and disaster victims until after the disaster occurs,” said Melancon. “While the AICPA and state CPA societies have long supported a set of permanent disaster relief tax provisions, this legislation will allow the IRS to provide more timely assistance.”

The CPAs visiting Capitol Hill are also lobbying lawmakers to support a fiscal state of the nation Congressional resolution calling for the Government Accountability Office’s Comptroller General) to make a presentation to a joint session of the House and Senate Budget Committees on the GAO’s auditor’s report of the U.S. government’s financial statements.

“The accounting profession has long held the view that the federal financial statements provide important information that should be considered by policymakers in making key decisions,” Melancon stated. “Enacting this resolution will ensure Congress is made aware of the information contained in the federal financial statements and that it better understands how current or future policy may affect the nation’s long-term fiscal health.”

The CPAs are also advocating for sound tax policy as they talk with lawmakers about the complicated tax challenges presented by the digital economy.

“The existing international concepts of permanent establishment, physical presence and significant people functions were not designed to address digital transactions,” said Melancon. “Virtually every business, both domestic and multinational, either now has, or within the next five years will have, a digital component to its business model. The AICPA is actively engaged in the discussions taking place within the international tax community on these issues and continues to develop positions and recommendations on the various proposals as they are developed.”

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