Sometimes it almost restores your faith.

As many of you probably noticed, this issue comes with our annual ranking of the Top 100 Firms, as well as the top Regional Leaders. This is the 12th edition of that annual feature that I've been privileged to be a part of, and I'm delighted to say that over the several-months-long process it takes to compile the exhaustive data, I did not receive one e-mail from a firm asking about the criteria for inclusion. In the two-plus decades we've done the Top 100, the criterion predicated solely on firm revenue has never veered, and it's heartening to know that those guidelines may finally have reached the farthest outposts of the profession.

But keeping the celebration short, let's move on to the issues of the day, of which there are a few. First, a few words - okay, maybe more than a few - about January's State of the Union Address and tax reform. The word "taxes" came up in the speech almost as many times as the pronoun "I," and encompassed such areas as tax breaks for companies that don't outsource jobs overseas, the tuition tax credit, the R&D credit, and tax relief for small business, as well as a call for an extension of the payroll tax cut.

President Obama called for a change in the Tax Code, but emphasized that reform should follow the so-called Buffett Rule, in that if you make more than $1 million per year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes. I'm happy to report that's one less thing that I will have to worry about.

Obama addressed expanding tax relief for small-business owners, but then proposed raising taxes on those over the $250,000 threshold, proclaiming, "Everyone should pay his or her fair share of taxes." As an aside, apparently "fair share" is synonymous with "no share" when it comes to the president's executive staff, 36 of whom owe an aggregate $833,970 in back taxes.

Even I know that it will be difficult to ram through any type of significant legislation in a presidential election year. Nevertheless, there's sure to be a modicum of discussion on the future of the payroll tax cut and the frequently patched Alternative Minimum Tax.

Another topic de jour is financial standards for private companies, as 2012 promises to be the year of some movement on the 30-year-old and often-polarizing matter.

Over 6,500 comment letters have been received on October's proposal by the Financial Accounting Foundation calling for the creation of a Private Company Standards Improvement Council - as opposed to an independent board - that would remain under the purview of the Financial Accounting Standards Board.

The FAF proposal weathered heavy criticism from many in the profession - particularly the American Institute of CPAs - which, like others, saw the PCSIC as a recycled version of the five-year-old Private Company Financial Reporting Committee. Although to be fair, the PCFRC was not able to siphon staff resources from FASB and did not engage at a high level of interaction with the board.

At press time, the FAF was expected to issue a decision on the structure of the new council early this month, following a series of four roundtable meetings across with country with stakeholders and users of financial statements.

Once filing season breaks, tax reform and private standards will likely usurp W-2s and 1040s as top-of-mind concerns.

Whether more is said on them than done is another matter.

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