Call it what you like, but the first decade of the millennium has passed with many a whimper.

From the botched 2000 election to 9/11 to Enron to the financial crisis to the Great Recession, many people were happy to bid a not-so-fond adieu to the lost decade. Even the name of the decade was in doubt, with people variously calling it the Aughts, the Naughts, the Naughties, the 2000s, the 00s, etc. 2010 is shaping up to be similarly muddled, with some people pronouncing it “two thousand ten” and others as “twenty ten.” Some aren't sure whether the new decade properly begins in 2010 or 2011. It doesn’t seem time yet to call it the Teens or the Teen Decade, so maybe the Tweens would be more appropriate, at least until 2013 or so.

Accountants have certainly been going through a hectic decade, keeping up with the Sarbanes-Oxley rules from 2002 and the constantly changing “standards” coming out of the standards boards. While the Financial Accounting Standards Board and the International Accounting Standards Board have been on a convergence path going back to the so-called Norwalk Agreement in 2002, the path ahead is foggy as we still await word from the SEC on whether the proposed roadmap to International Financial Reporting Standards ultimately gets a thumb’s up or thumb’s down.

There’s no guarantee of certainty, even with the “date certain” that large accounting firms have been pleading for. Assuming the SEC does approve a roadmap sometime this year, a future decision is expected in 2011, or probably later, on whether the roadmap has passed enough milestones to be worthy of continuing, and whether FASB and the IASB have succeeded in ironing out their major differences.

For tax practitioners too, the past decade and especially the past year have brought more of a clampdown from the IRS in areas such as transfer pricing, foreign bank accounts, Earned Income Tax Credits, fuel tax credits and the like. Now with the IRS’s newly unveiled requirements for testing and regulating tax preparers, and requiring them to undergo the kind of continuing professional education that CPAs, enrolled agents and attorneys need to work into their schedules, we can expect further oversight of tax professionals in the decade ahead.

While groups like the AICPA and the National Society of Accountants have expressed support for the IRS’s new rules, the IRS has indicated that CPAs may be subject to some of the same testing and educational requirements they are currently exempted from if their tax return accuracy rates turn out to be less than desired, and that could mean more angst ahead for CPAs as well.

The future as always is unknowable, even for psychics. But we can only hope the decade ahead is a better one than the one we just survived.

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