We asked our Top 100 People candidates if they think we are likely to see large-scale tax reform in the next year. Their prognostications varied wildly.
Because this is an election year, in the short-term, it is likely that some tax cuts will be extended for a period of time -- at least for the majority of taxpayers. Even so, many people and businesses will see some level of increase next year. In the longer term, it is too soon to tell what form any tax reform will take. While both President Obama and Mr. Romney have touted large-scale tax reform, such action will likely need to be addressed within the larger framework of a deficit solution and the fact that our economy is still fragile coming out of the recession.
Joe Adams -- Managing partner and CEO, McGladrey LLP
No, Congressional gridlock will not be broken, so nothing pertaining to taxation will change. We have a history of using taxation to promote political, social and economic policies. All of a sudden throwing these all out the window will run in the face of sound reason and voter desires. Nothing is going to change, in my opinion.
Dave Albrecht -- Professor of accounting, University of South Carolina Upstate
No, I expect that though tax will be a large part of the discussion leading up to the November elections, little action will be taken before the end of the year. I do think that the next Congress will make reform a priority, however, as consensus is building that the current system is flawed. What direction that reform takes will vary widely depending on the outcome of the November elections.
Mark Albrecht -- CEO, XCM Solutions/Xpitax LLC
I do not believe so. Tax reform is like a balanced budget: Everyone says they want it but everyone wants a different version of it. In addition, lower rates mean giving up deductions, and surveys consistently show the public is not willing to give up deductions (home mortgage interest, for example), even for lower rates. Absent consensus, tax reform will be difficult to achieve.
John Ams -- Executive vice president, National Society of Accountants
I am skeptical about large-scale changes other than items scheduled for expiration. I don’t see the will to compromise in either political party. Maybe there will be a “mandate” based on the outcome of the elections.
Rick Anderson -- Chairman and CEO, Moss Adams
We might have better odds at a Black Jack table in Las Vegas then getting the answer to this question right. There are several factors that influence the answer. The first, and most important, is the outcome of the 2012 presidential election. There are three scenarios:
• Republicans win. If the Republicans win we will certainly see cuts in the corporate tax rate and most likely the continuation of the “Bush-era tax cuts.”
• Democrats win, but don’t sweep the Congress. This would be a status quo scenario and we would not see any tax reform for at least the next two years.
• Democrats win and sweep the Congress. This would provide the Democrats with an opportunity to revise the current tax situation. You would see some reduction in the corporate rate, an increase in the capital gains rate. The challenge will be to reform the Tax Code so that it encourages economic growth and at the same time bring in more revenue.
The election is only one part of the equation. There are several tax policies set to expire or take effect in 2013. Those include:
• American Opportunity Tax Credit expires.
• Child Tax Credit reduced from $1,000 to $500 per child.
• Reduction in marriage penalty expires.
• Alternative Minimum Tax patch expires.
• Estate tax increase.
• 100 percent business expensing expires.
• New health care taxes take effect.
Being a betting man, I would think that unless the economy really picks up, there will be minimum tax increases. If all the Bush-era tax cuts were reversed immediately, it would have a draconian effect on the U.S. economy.
August Aquila -- President and CEO, Aquila Global Advisors, LLC
The tax landscape is extremely unstable right now for political and economic reasons and there is no way to know whether major tax reform will be enacted. The fact is that regardless of the outcome of the election and regardless of whether the government makes any move or not, change will occur.
We’ve been talking to our clients about this since the fourth quarter of last year. We know the Bush tax cuts, which have been extended by two years, are due to expire at the end of this year. If Congress fails to act on reform, which is possible, the consequences will still be automatic and tremendous. The corporate tax rate will go up to 38.6 percent; dividends will be taxed as ordinary income instead of at capital gains rates (and capital gains rates will increase from 15 to 20 percent). The estate tax exemption will plummet to $1 million and the amount you can gift will also decrease to $1 million. These changes are automatic and are currently prescribed by law. Locally, there is also a lot of uncertainty around the question of what will happen in California with Governor Brown’s push to increase taxes.
If the federal government does act, the question becomes one of magnitude. What will they change and when? Our clients are sophisticated enough to understand that uncertainty is part of the landscape nowadays. We are preparing them by offering scenarios and strategies to match those scenarios. We will implement these when things become clear or at least clearer.
Andrew Armanino -- Managing partner and CEO, Armanino McKenna
Yes. I think we are likely to see some type of large-scale tax reform over the next year. But predicting what kind of reform we might get really comes down to projecting who will win the presidential election, and I don’t think anyone’s in a position to make that call yet.
Erik Asgeirsson -- CEO, CPA2Biz
There will be some type of reform but not as sweeping as some are predicting.
Kenneth Baggett -- Managing principal and CEO, Reznick Group
I subscribe to economist David Ricardo’s statement that “Taxation under every form presents but a choice of evils.” Thus, I’m a huge proponent of a flat tax, and was naïve enough in my youth to believe it was possible. I’m much less sanguine now. Congress doesn’t want to give up the power the Tax Code gives it to dole out goodies for votes. I see no political leadership on the horizon -- in either party -- that leads me to believe we’ll get anything more than mere tinkering with the Tax Code. It’s a shame, but one must live in Realville, not Utopia.
Ron Baker -- Founder, VeraSage Institute
Most certainly the next year will require many changes. After the election and hopefully before the end of the year we will see some level of extension of the Bush tax cuts, although it is hard to determine currently the form that will take. In 2013, I think that the chance of large-scale reform is low, given the current partisan polarization in the House and Senate. Of course the outcome of the November elections can change that. Regardless, we will see many changes next year, but contrary to what many are saying, I don’t believe that they will be a complete overhaul of our tax system. I believe that we are a long way from that.
Jonathan Baron -- Managing director, Professional Segment, Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting
President Obama put forth a “framework” for business tax reform earlier this year and Gov. Mitt Romney, the GOP’s presidential candidate, promises a “fairer, flatter and simpler” tax if elected. Each has his own proposal, but with the current partisanship in Congress, I remain unconvinced that sorely needed tax reform will take place within the next year, although there may be some shared appetite for revisiting the corporate tax rate. Any attempt at “reform” will not work unless the entire system is overhauled. The last time we saw major federal tax reform, in 1986, it was a product of Democrats and Republicans from both houses working together to effect change. No such working relationship currently exists between the parties, and as long as each party controls one house I expect the stalemate to continue at the expense of the American taxpayer.
Joanne Barry -- Executive director, New York State Society of CPAs
Predicting what tax reform legislation may become law in the next year is difficult. With a presidential election approaching, the two national political parties are fiercely debating the merits of extending the tax cuts enacted during the administration of George W. Bush. Though the current corporate tax rate won't change directly under current law, many tax incentives that lower the tax paid by U.S. corporations are already expired or set to expire, meaning Congress and the president must act or current law will bring tax increases for U.S. corporations. Whether Congress and the president will agree on tax reform before scheduled rate changes occur or agree on broader-based tax reform is difficult to predict any time, but even more so in a presidential election year. Predicting the particular reforms contained in such an agreement is even more difficult, leaving the future of income tax rates in the United States very uncertain.
Wayne Berson -- CEO-elect, BDO USA LLP
Congress is so polarized and non-functional that it’s highly unlikely to do anything constructive for the country.
Chandra Bhansali -- President, AccountantsWorld
The upcoming elections will play a big role in determining the scope and type of tax reform next year. The conflicting beliefs as to how increased taxes for higher income brackets would impact the economy drive that debate. Regardless of the outcome of the elections, I believe there is a relatively high likelihood of some level of tax reform next year.
The range of possibilities could be as simple as extension of the existing plan, providing for some level of participation by more economic tiers, lowering tax rates, to raising taxes on higher earners.
Ken Bishop -- President and CEO, NASBA
In the end, I do not think we will see large-scale tax reform because it is too risky. We probably need significant changes to our tax system, but to do so in our current economic climate would be completely reckless and irresponsible because our standard economic models cannot predict the end results. To reform our tax system now would be comparable to spinning the roulette wheel, betting all one’s money on double zero. The results could be disastrous or we could end up big winners. I, however, do not believe in miracles with finances, steer to the side of caution, and always stand ready for the worst. In other words, I like to hedge my bets.
I believe our elected leadership, when it comes down to it, will take the safer course and defer tax reform to better economic times.
Parnell Black -- CEO, NACVA
I do not believe so. Tax complexity protects jobs (political and private) and thus is viewed as unnecessary. Many talk about reducing the complexity of our current tax system, but I don’t believe it can be accomplished without first eliminating the Internal Revenue Service. It seems that will never happen. However, with the creation of smarter and smarter technology, the complicated work of tax preparation and planning can often be done within software systems, and ultimately accurately completed by the IRS. So the IRS may take compliance into their own hands in the years to come. Then, CPAs will be left with the most complicated tax preparation and planning issues. We may see tax transformation, but not tax elimination. I’m not really sure if you call that reform or not.
Jason Blumer -- Chief innovation officer, Blumer & Associates CPAs PC
The November elections will be an indicator of whether the country is in for more entitlement (taxes) or entrepreneurism. Personally, I do not believe we will see large-scale changes. Entrepreneurs create value through leadership, relationships and creativity. If entitlement wins we will see significant tax changes, especially at the state and local level. If entrepreneurism wins we will see less push for increased regulation and new taxes. (The AICPA’s Total Tax Insights Calculator is a great educational tool.)
L. Gary Boomer -- CEO, Boomer Consulting
I don’t think we are going to see large-scale tax reform in the next year simply because both parties can’t seem to agree on the direction reform should take. Regardless of the outcome of the election, we will likely see a “Band-Aid” approach for a while to alleviate the pressures that will come with the expiration of the Bush-era tax breaks. In other words, I do think we will see some reform but it’s anyone’s guess as to what form that will take. It will probably be short-term in nature until America gets fed up with lawmakers.
Jim Boomer -- CIO and shareholder, Boomer Consulting
It depends: I would like to say yes, but my feeling is no. So many components of the exiting code put us, as CPAs, in a difficult position with it comes to long-range planning with our clients. For example, in our technology niche practice we have a significant number of clients that take advantage of the research and experimental credit. This credit, like many other areas of the code, has frequent sunsets or expiration dates that cause significant issues when it comes to advising clients about long-range planning and investing within their business. Large-scale tax reform should take these annoying sunset provisions out of the law, but in a post-election period, large-scale tax reform could only be accomplished with a change in party.
Jim Bourke -- Partner, WithumSmith+Brown
There is general agreement on the need to make U.S. corporate tax policy more competitive globally, but there isn't agreement on whether it must be accomplished along with individual tax reform.
When thinking about what reform might look like, revenue neutrality is a major issue that may be gaining traction if you look to recent proposals. Revenue neutrality means there will be winners and losers, so each of us has to pay close attention to where this may be going.
Beth Brooke -- Ernst & Young
I think it is very likely that we'll see some tax reform in the next year. What form it takes will probably depend greatly on the outcome of the elections. But with "Bush tax cuts" set to expire, the mandatory reductions enacted in the Budget Control Act on deck, the need to raise the debt ceiling again, and other tax provisions set to expire, you can almost guarantee that there will have to be action of some kind.
Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk -- President, BBR Marketing
We will definitely see large-scale tax reform after the 2012 election. Both presidential candidates will leverage the election results as a mandate on their tax initiatives. Romney will stimulate the economy by extending the Bush tax cuts. He will also repeal portions of the health care “taxes” as defined by the Supreme Court. Obama will address the deficit by repealing some of the Bush tax cuts on the upper income brackets and increase capital gains and estate taxes. Obviously, if he wins, the new health care “taxes” will go through. ??I do not think Congress will be able to overcome the “mandate” perception and thwart the victor’s tax reforms.
Peyton Burch -- Senior channel executive, Intacct
2012 brings us a politically charged and incredibly social-issue-motivated election year. With it we see more powerful and passionate discussions and concerns regarding taxation, tax reform and related issues on both sides of the political spectrum. I can only imagine that large-scale tax reform will most certainly be attempted by both sides of politics in the next year, to address many of the issues that are discussed daily by taxpayers, business owners, political pundits, billionaires and the poor alike.
As many complex viewpoints go head to head in an attempt to support various agendas and outlooks on tax reform, it remains to be seen what will be accomplished and how it will affect Americans. There most certainly will be some big changes ahead, no matter who we find in office in January of 2013.
Emily Alexandria Burns -- E-marketing communications specialist, Freed Maxick CPAs
Large-scale tax reform will not occur in the next year, but it will most likely occur in the next four years. Large-scale tax reform will require simplification and compromise on political agendas. The current Tax Code has been embedded with social, political and economic interests, and accomplishing consensus on reform will take several sessions of Congress.
Reform will not be radical. The basic income tax, pay-as-you-go system with specialty taxes will still be the norm. Our Tax Code has almost 100 years of precedent that provides stability to the system. Reform will most likely be a modification to our system that will reduce complexity for lower income taxpayers and provide economic business incentives, including those that encourage “U.S.-based” international businesses to invest in interests that will propel the U.S. economy. Congress will have to sort out how to encourage corporations to repatriate cash back to the U.S. and discourage American businesses from moving overseas.
What will most likely emerge in the next 10 years is a universal approach to many state tax issues, in particular sales and income taxes related to interstate commerce. E-commerce will continue to expand, and the government will develop a federal solution to address competition issues. Local businesses are at a price disadvantage under the current system, and states continue to lose revenue from interstate e-commerce. Look for Congress to level this playing field in the next 10 years.
Jim Buttonow -- Co-founder and vice president of product development, New River Innovation Inc.
Major tax reform simply has to happen -- the stakes are too high to continue to kick the tax can down the road.
Paul Caron -- Publisher and editor-in-chief, TaxProf Blog
I do not believe we will see large-scale tax reform in 2012. Between the presidential election and a Congress which is deeply divided over what tax reform would like, there doesn’t seem to be enough of consensus at the moment for it to work.
Richard Caturano -- Incoming chair, AICPA
I believe it is highly unlikely that we will see a large-scale tax reform in the next year given the current political and economic landscape. Although many (including myself) have called for such a change, it’s very difficult and tricky to execute such a plan when we’re operating at an annual budget deficit which will likely be $1.2 trillion dollars in 2012. In my opinion, there is no silver bullet that will get us out of the situation that we’re in today -- not even major tax reform. Instead, we need a well-thought-out plan that could take years to execute which includes spend reductions, ongoing tax reform and most importantly reform that benefits small businesses by encouraging growth and new job creation. Today’s small business is overburdened by growing expense and paperwork tied to government regulations. This, combined with the ongoing fear of higher taxes (at both the small business and individual level) has stunted small-business growth. Since small businesses generate the majority of net new jobs and employ half of the private sector, it’s critical that we pass legislature that helps them get back on a growth trajectory.
Connie Certusi -- Executive vice president and general manager, Small Business Solutions, Sage North America
I don’t think large-scale tax reform is likely in the next year because the country is too polarized for Congress to make strong headway on this issue in the current political environment. Tax reform initiatives are not likely to take on steam until well after the presidential election, and even then, the extent that we see tax reform will depend on what happens during the elections.
Richard Chambers -- President and CEO, The Institute of Internal Auditors
Large-scale tax reform will be one of the leading issues in 2013 and I am optimistic that reform will be enacted in 2013 or 2014. However, this will not be an easy task for the next Congress and it is impossible to predict what shape it may take. Certainly, the anti-competitive effects of our high statutory tax rates on business should be addressed. Hopefully, this will include rate relief for all businesses, regardless of whether they are organized as corporations, partnerships or sole proprietorships.
Stephen Chipman -- CEO, Grant Thornton
I’d love to see large-scale tax reform in the next year. It’s definitely overdue and would provide significant benefit to U.S. taxpayers. But I don’t believe that politicians on either side of the aisle have the political will to make it happen.
David Cieslak -- Principal, Arxis Technology
Ahhh … Tax reform. If I’ve learned anything from co-producing our Double-Taxation Tax Blog, it is that the Democrats and Republicans have chosen to ignore the foundations for reform. To quote Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who previously advised presidential candidate John McCain on economic policy, “Neither has a snowball’s chance in hell of being passed.”
The IRS code needs simplification. In order to rejuvenate our current economy and promote job growth, any reform needs to target small businesses. We just see more complexity, more uncertainty and more provisions benefiting huge corporations in the current reform offers.
Sarah Marie Cirelli -- Senior marketing coordinator, Interactive Marketing WithumSmith+Brown, PC
I do not believe we will see large-scale tax reforms. We will see changes in rates and short-term relief in special circumstances.
E. Martin Davidoff -- Firm manager, E. Martin Davidoff & Associates CPA
I think significant tax reform, if it ever occurs, will be at least a few years away. At this point, the national election seems to be a toss-up. Without knowing which party will control the White House and which will control the Congress -- or if Congress will be split between the two parties -- it’s impossible to be sanguine about tax reform. And if one party controls the executive branch and another the legislative, we will be in for several years of struggle over tax reform.
Loretta Doon -- CEO, California Society of CPAs
Large-scale tax reform is not likely until 2013. Even then, the priorities and impact on a new tax code will need to be assessed in the context of the country’s entire fiscal situation. There is no question that large-scale tax reform is needed; the question of timing and the political will to take on this national need remains open.
Joe Echevarria -- CEO, Deloitte
The possibility of large-scale tax reform is high for a number of reasons. Probably the most important reason for corporate tax reform is the perceived need to reduce the corporate tax rate because it is relatively high compared to other countries. However, given the current economic climate (large deficits, sluggish economy, expiring Bush-era tax cuts), simply reducing the rate is unlikely. Rather, it would need to be coupled with other reform to maintain the tax base. On the other hand, the current political climate does not bode well for any agreement on major tax reform.
George Farrah -- Executive editor of Tax and Accounting, Bloomberg BNA
I’m not a tax expert, so I’ll leave a detailed discussion of how tax reform might be approached in 2013 to others. But as a policy maker -- and taxpayer -- I am concerned about approaching a “fiscal cliff” on January 1, when a number of temporary tax cuts, tax credits and other tax breaks are due to expire. It remains to be seen how Congress will resolve the short- and longer-term fiscal policies issues that our nation is facing. Let’s hope our elected officials can find middle ground so that investors, and the capital markets, aren’t shaken as a result.
Cynthia Fornelli -- Executive director, Center for Audit Quality
Yes, we will see large-scale tax reform in the next administration, regardless who wins the presidency. We will have to raise taxes, particularly on the wealthy, as they are at historic lows and the government cannot function without additional revenue. Otherwise we have to cut military expenditures and social security, neither of which are popular.
Obamacare will not be overturned -- it's already too far ingrained.
Chris Frederiksen -- Chairman, The 2020 Group
It is unlikely that large-scale reform on the order of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 is in our future in 2013. However, it does seem likely, if not necessary, that some less extensive reforms will take place to reduce the gap between revenues and expenditures. Beyond that, I try to avoid engaging in speculation or predicting the future.
J. Russell George -- Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration
I would certainly hope that there would be large-scale tax reform within the next year, as the current environment makes it extremely difficult to advise and assist clients. Reform is needed in some many areas, but unfortunately, if the executive branch, the Senate and the House continue to be controlled by different parties (which I used to think was a good way to govern the country), I do not see significant tax reform, because the two major parties do not seem willing or able to compromise.
Robert Goldfarb -- Managing partner, Schoenfeld Mendelsohn Goldfarb LLP
We won’t see tax reform of any kind before the election. Given the current pace of economic recovery and the potential for a new administration after the first of the year, I think we can expect to see increased tax rates. The current rates are low from a historical perspective, and it’s not clear we can afford to keep rates at this current level. Of course, if tax rates increase, history suggests we will see increased deduction opportunities as well.
Jeff Gramlich -- President, CCH Small Firm Services, a Wolters Kluwer business
The November election is big. May have to have a one- to two-year extension of key Bush-era law to give time to completely overhaul the Tax Code. An example is the AMT exemption.
Larry Gray -- Government liaison, NATP
I think it is coming but it may not be in the next year. I think we will see it in the next five years. The last serious tax reform effort took place in 1986, meaning we are overdue. In terms of the form it will take, I am not sure. I think that both political parties should commit to evaluate how to improve our situation with an eye on deficit reduction and growth of the economy. This is critical but may take some time.
Angie Grissom -- Executive vice president and COO, The Rainmaker Consulting Group
While I practice on the audit side of public accounting, I expect to see some action during the lame duck session of Congress to extend the various tax provisions referred to as the “Bush-era tax cuts.” It is unfortunate that such matters have been allowed to sit without action until the expiration date approaches. Businesses and individuals need some element of certainty in the tax policies and laws to plan for their financial future, but this has been lacking in the current political climate.
The election this November will determine what tax changes may take place in 2013 and beyond. I would expect that the political pressure would be to increase the tax rate on capital gains and to tax the higher income individuals at higher rates.
William Hancock -- President, Mayer Hoffman McCann PC
No, our country seems unfortunately polarized and unable to enact this type of large-scale reform, regardless of the political party in office.
Calvin Harris -- National president and chairman of the board, NABA
I do not believe so, but please ask again on November 7. There will be some extension of the Bush Tax Cuts. However, an extension or modification of some provisions and resolution to the uncertainty in estate tax matters would not rise to the level of “large-scale reform.” The Supreme Court surprised us in determining that key health care act provisions are a “tax” and the repeal or modification of that act by Congress could have “large-scale” implications.
Mark Harris -- Chair, NASBA Board of Directors
Call me a dreamer if you want, but I do think we will see tax reform next year or maybe shortly thereafter. Our tax system has gotten so complicated that is difficult for anyone to defend the current system. From Simpson-Bowles to the individual politician, we hear the idea of lowering rates and broadening the tax base … I believe this is the approach we will see pursued next year.
There are potential problems with this approach however; First, unless we get lower individual rates and not just lower corporate rates, small business could suffer under this method because much of their income is taxed on their individual return. Unless we lower individual rates, small businesses could face a broader base without lower rates. If individual tax reform is attempted, I feel they will first try and take back the deductions and credits used by high-income taxpayers. Unfortunately, unlike the tax reform in the 1980s, it is going to be difficult to find the needed revenue by just taxing high-income taxpayers. Without everyone giving up some of their current deductions and credits, it is going to be very difficult to lower individual rates and see much of an increase in overall revenue. Despite these potential problems, I don’t see the Republicans allowing additional revenue to come to the federal government except though tax reform and the Democrats will not allow spending cuts without additional revenue. Therefore my conclusion is that we will get tax reform sooner than later, but we should not confuse reform with simple, fair, or less expensive.
Roger Harris -- President and COO, Padgett Business Services
Not likely -- there are no political leaders who can effectively communicate how and why this needs to be done and the special interests are so entrenched, making any changes slow and incremental.
Tom Hood -- CEO and executive director, MACPA
While I hope so, I think not. Big ships turn slowly.
Trey James -- CEO, Xcentric
Yes, expect positioning to accommodate health care changes, movement towards more balanced tax and spending ratios. If elections make for sweeping changes, there will be sweeping legislation. If elections don’t make for sweeping changes, there will be actions forced by the fiscal cliff provisions.
Randy Johnston -- Executive vice president and partner, K2 Enterprises
Notwithstanding the importance of tax reform, the likelihood of the passage of large-scale reform in the next 12 months is extremely remote. 2012 promises to be an interesting and uncertain tax year, particularly with the intersection of a presidential election year and the host of tax breaks enacted under the Bush administration that are set to expire December 31. Also adding to the uncertainty is if and when Congress will extend the many provisions that expired at the end of 2011, or how Congress will deal with deficit reduction measures mandated by last summer’s debt ceiling negotiations. Finally, Congress will need to make a decision on the 2 percent payroll tax cuts that were extended in February to the end of 2012. All of this sets the stage for a lame duck session of Congress that could be busier than the entire 112th Congress put together.
The interest in corporate and international reform will continue but little will be accomplished through the end of 2012 -- setting the stage for more serious activity in 2013. Congressional hearings on corporate and international reform are likely to take place in the first half of 2013 but passage of legislation is unlikely until the latter stages of 2013 or possibly in 2014.
Edward Karl -- Vice president of taxation, AICPA
I don’t believe we will see much as it is an election year and the moves of any president/candidate will be towards appeasing voters. I would expect some radical cuts in programs or tax impacts on the wealthy, but don’t believe that there will be substantial changes to the Tax Code as the economy is still fragile.
Roman Kepczyk -- Director of consulting, Xcentric
I believe that I, like a lot of Washington observers, often feel like Charlie Brown with the football that Lucy keeps pulling away at the last minute. For years we have believed that tax reform is imminent, yet at the end of the year, we end up flat on our backs when Congress once again kicks the proverbial can down the road in the form of last-minute extenders of one sort or another.
Ultimately, though, as economist Herb Stein’s famously quipped, “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” I believe we are (finally) getting to the point that this can go on no longer. So, yes, we’ll get reform of some sort and in all likelihood it will occur in the next year. My best guess is that Congress will punt once again this year and temporarily extend most of the current and recently expired code provisions (e.g., AMT patch, marginal tax rates, estate tax rates) but will probably allow the FICA cut to drop. What it looks like when the dust settles will largely depend on the outcome of the upcoming elections.
Robert Kerr -- Senior director of government relations, National Association of Enrolled Agents
In this year of presidential elections, tax reform will be hotly debated. However, debate does not equal reform. In a global economy, we have, perhaps, taken our eyes off of American corporations. Tax cuts for personal earnings, coupled with elimination of double taxation of certain income streams, may be in play.
Dr. Dan Kneer -- President, Dr. Dan C. Kneer Advisory Group
Allan Koltin -- CEO, Koltin Consulting Group
While I am not a tax expert, it is my general sense that we’re more than a year away from any serious large-scale reform. Once the elections are over, I think we’ll have a better sense of how serious the two parties are about tax reform.
Mark Koziel -- Vice president of firm services & global alliances, AICPA
Predicting what Washington will do is always dangerous, and the outcome of the November national elections will have a significant impact on the future direction of tax policy reform. Practically speaking, given the continued concern about the overall strength of the U.S. economy and the risk that certain less stable economies abroad present to the U.S. economy, moderate change in tax policy -- versus large scale overhaul -- is the most likely outcome in the short term. Large-scale overhaul that too dramatically slows investment in the United States is too risky. Will it be status quo and another simple extension of the Bush-era tax cuts? Very unlikely. Will all the tax rate reductions disappear? Again, not likely. We’re expecting that there will be some increases in the highest marginal individual rate and to the estate tax rate and/or exemption levels. There may also be increases in the capital gains and dividend income tax rates.
Gordon Krater -- Managing partner, Plante Moran
Uncertainty in the tax laws creates a hardship for practitioners, tax software companies and taxpayers. Congress needs to react to tax laws changes in a timely manner. The tax laws that are about to expire will probably get extended; large-scale tax reform will happen after the presidential election. Most likely the corporate tax rate will be reduced to encourage companies to bring jobs back to the U.S. Depending on who wins the election, will influence the structure of tax reform. Obama will fight for increasing tax rates for individuals with income over $250,000 and Romney will fight to reduce the rates for individuals with income over $250,000.
Lana Kupferschmid -- President, NCCPAP
No. Even with the Supreme Court upholding ObamaCare, there is no effective surgical procedure to remove a congressman’s head from inside his ass.
Greg Kyte -- Controller, Utah Valley Medical Offices
Getting large-scale tax reform done is hard in the best of times, as it requires clear points of views from our leaders, as well as agreement among politicians and the general populous. Unfortunately, we just don't seem to have any of these conditions present today. As a nation, we should have seized the opportunity to act on the Bowles-Simpson Plan last summer. However, as long as the minority opinion has the influence it has today, we will not get significant tax reform done. We will most likely get the non-action plan which is the non-renewal of the Bush tax cuts, instead of something like the Bowles-Simpson plan. Complicating this stalemate is the influence that special interest groups have; these groups may indeed be our biggest roadblock to enacting major reform. Without the emergence of a clear political voice or an exceptional leader, the unproductive noise of the special interest groups will be all we will continue to hear in the next year, with no major reform in sight.
Rene Lacerte -- Founder and CEO, Bill.com
I think the chances are remote that we will see large-scale tax reform. Regardless of the composition of Congress or the next president, tax reform will take a back seat to other high-profile issues, especially working through the next iteration of health care and immigration. I have met with our congressional staff members numerous times on various tax and business-related bills, and it is clear to me that the Tax Code as a whole is not front and center. Working around the edges is where they can best meet their constituency objectives.
Beth Kieffer Leonard -- Managing partner, Lurie Besikof Lapidus & Co. LLP
No. Tax reform is a non-starter unless there is a significant change in Washington.
Taylor Macdonald -- Vice president of channels, Intacct
I do not believe that we will see large-scale tax reform in the next year. The remainder of 2012 will be absorbed with the elections and taxes are popular to “pontificate” on, but not popular to change before the voters make their decision.
The rate of change in 2013 depends largely on who is running the country come January.
Teresa Mackintosh -- Executive vice president and general manager of tax, CCH
I do not believe it is very likely in the next year. The issue is very politically charged and serious reform would not likely begin to take shape until after the election -- and even then would likely be a long process.
Janice Maiman -- Senior vice president of communications and media channels, AICPA
Yes, there will be political momentum for tax reform, but large-scale reform will require a super-majority. Even if Congress does nothing, the tax landscape in 2013 will drastically change due to the expiration of the Bush-era tax rates, coupled with the tax consequences of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Look for Washington to revisit some of the proposals of the president's own Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction commission. Depending on the outcome of the election, reform could include a broadening of the tax base and lowering of rates, including the corporate tax rate, and/or the elimination of some loopholes as well as special rates for capital gains and dividends.
Eric Majchrzak -- Director of marketing, BeachFleischman, PC
Both President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney have such different plans for both income and estate taxes, so the outcome of the election will have a significant impact on tax reform in 2012. No matter which candidate wins, I don’t think we’ll see their plans come to fruition as is, there will be a lot of compromise needed.
Thomas Marino -- CEO, J.H. Cohn
I do not believe we will see major tax reform in 2012 due to the upcoming election. We could see major tax reform occurring in 2013, depending in large part on the outcome of the current election (both in the White House and in Congress). For example, if one party wins the election, we could see an attempt to increase taxes and thereby reduce the deficit by implementing various tax reforms, such as the proposed “Buffett Rule.” If the other party wins, we could see an attempt to reform and simplify the Tax Code, such as restructuring the corporate tax system, lowering tax rates, broadening the base and subsequently bringing down the deficit.
Brian McGuire -- Associate dean, College of Business, University of Southern Indiana
Obviously, the outcome of November’s election will indicate the direction of tax changes. But that uncertainty aside, there is one area where consensus is building. Our corporate tax rate is one of the highest of the developed economies, and both sides acknowledge the need to lower that rate -- we’re pushing too many jobs overseas. As a trade-off to a lower rate, the tax base will be broadened by eliminating many of the specialized industry and exporting incentives, such as LIFO and the Section 199 production deduction.
Krista McMasters -- CEO, CliftonLarsonAllen LLP
About as likely as we are to see Herman Cain make a third-party bid for president.
Caleb Newquist -- Founding editor, Going Concern
There will be large-scale tax reform regardless of who the next president is. This will be a double-edged sword, as tax reform usually stimulates more work for CPAs. However, if the existing administration prevails I fear a continued lack of growth and confidence in the economy, causing clients to need or want less services and more fee-resistant. So I expect some radical tax reform legislation regardless of which political party prevails.
Jay Nisberg -- President, Jay Nisberg & Associates
With the Supreme Court ruling that the individual mandate is a tax and allowing the health care act to stand, more attention will be paid to taxes. However, the outcome of the elections will determine whether Congress can work together to achieve meaningful reform. I don’t think we will see large scale reform -- more likely is some nibbling around the edges.
Judith O'Dell -- Chair, FASB Private Companies Financial Reporting Committee
I don't believe tax reform will be major in the next year. I think the biggest issue is how the IRS is going to implement the health care law and how that will affect the profession.
Jody Lee Padar -- CEO and principal, New Vision CPA Group
Globally, we are seeing a clear trend from direct to indirect taxes, as well as other attempts by governments to use taxation to attract investment, job creation, and economic growth at home. The current political situation makes it difficult to make predictions regarding the U.S. tax legislation. It seems likely that we continue to see an evolution of, in particular, the indirect tax system, as well as taxation of internationally operating companies.
Brian Peccarelli -- President, the Tax & Accounting business of Thomson Reuters
I seriously doubt that tax reform is on the immediate horizon, but there's no question that something is going to have to be done by Congress sooner rather than later. For now, I believe we'll see some sort of extension of the so-called Bush tax cuts and action on some of the other pending dimensions of the code that are scheduled to expire, but major reforms are not likely unless the November elections create single-party control of the U.S. House, Senate and the White House.
J. Clarke Price -- President and CEO, Ohio Society of CPAs
Given that Dodd-Frank has largely stalled, it seems unlikely that the federal government will be able to enact large-scale tax reform. There will be small-scale change -- as the current shift regarding online sales tax seems to indicate. But large-scale tax reform seems to be out of reach of a divided Congress, even as both sides are calling for reform, if only because Democrats and Republicans have vastly different perspectives on what taxes need reforming.
Steven Pugh -- CEO, UNIT4 CODA Inc.
The budget deficit is one of the biggest issues facing our country and Congress cannot ignore it regardless of how the fall election turns out. It is illogical to think we can overcome the deficit strictly through expense cutting. At the same time, the Republicans have staked their legacy to not raising taxes. Therefore, anything simple that would raise revenues, such as an increase in rates for the wealthiest, is a non-starter. Therefore, in order to make additional revenues politically palatable, any increase will come in the form of tax reform. Likely candidates are reducing itemized deductions, allowing special credits to expire, some increase in the rates for investment income (like dividends most likely), and possibly a change in the carried interest treatment for investment partnerships. The amount of tax reform could be widespread but is unlikely to result in simplification or a change to a different basis for taxation such as a value added tax.
Terry Putney -- CEO, Transition Advisors LLC
There are many important issues that Congress must focus on in the next year. Though I do not think a large-scale tax reform will occur, there are obvious short-term tax issues, such as capital gains, that must be addressed.
James Ratley -- President/CEO, Association of Certified Fraud Examiners
It is highly unlikely we will see large-scale tax reform because of the way our politicians are currently conducting themselves along party lines. If the parties would work together to make the Tax Code simpler, more efficient, more pro-growth, while raising the necessary revenue to lower the government’s debt, it would be a monumental improvement for our country. But unfortunately, the two parties will not come together and achieve success because it does not promote their perceived need to differentiate in order to get re-elected. We will see on-going minor changes to the Tax Code because today’s politicians cannot compromise for the good of the country.
Robert Reid -- CEO, Intacct
Only if Romney is elected. If he is elected, I would expect to see changes in estate and capital gains as well as the Bush tax cuts issues resolved.
Rick Richardson -- Managing partner, Richardson Media & Technologie
While the probability of large-scale tax reform is dependent on the outcome of the presidential election, the problems with the current tax system are becoming so apparent that there will be a growing push for tax reform in the coming year. However, the consensus-building and cooperation necessary to achieve fundamental reform seem to be too absent from the picture to think that the atmosphere for fundamental reform will be present. Regardless of the election outcome, neither party will have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, and cooperation and compromise will be a necessary part of major tax reform. The last major tax reform effort in 1986 involved just such cooperation and compromise between the parties. That atmosphere seems to be totally lacking now and will be hard to reestablish within a year.
Kevin Robert -- CEO, Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting
I don’t like to guess at questions like this. If anyone knew the answer to this question, they would be rich beyond belief. From what I hear from my clients, the only thing that looks reasonably certain is that taxes are going up.
Marc Rosenberg -- President, The Rosenberg Associates
It depends on the outcome of the November election. If one party (Republicans) gets control of all branches of government (House, Senate, president) then I think you will definitely see some kind of major tax reform occur. If there is still divided government between the two parties, then major change will be more difficult to accomplish, although even then we are likely to see some kind of change, but probably not as dramatic.
John Sharbaugh -- CEO and executive director, Texas Society of CPAs
I believe large-scale tax reform is imminent, but not likely next year. I feel that there will be too many other key agenda items to allow focus on taxes.
David Sibits -- President, Financial Services, CBIZ Inc.
Everything taking place currently in the legislative process is useless banter. President Obama is holding to his tax cuts for everyone but the wealthiest 1 percent (or those with incomes above $250,000). He has vowed to veto anything that does not include this provision. He cannot get the votes to get anything through. The Democrats are blaming the Republicans, arguing the Republicans are watching out for the rich to the detriment of the middle class. The Republicans argue that a tax increase is not the answer but, rather, Washington needs to cut back on spending and trim the debt. The Republicans also argue that if additional burdens are put on the wealthy, they will not invest to create jobs. Both parties recognize that the economy is a huge problem, but have differing opinions on how to resolve it. All of them, Obama, the House, the Senate, Republicans and Democrats, are looking out for their political skin and deep down would probably prefer to retain the status quo for now so that they can blame each other heading in to the election.
With that as a backdrop, I don’t see a major tax overhaul happening for some time. I believe most lawmakers recognize that the Internal Revenue Code is too complex, too unfair, too difficult to administer and needs to be overhauled. However, the political parties are so polarized that the clout does not exist to get it done. Also, the special interest groups and lobbyists carry too much weight and have too much influence on the elected officials.
We will most likely see two periods of tax law changes. One, during the lame duck session after the November election but prior to the installation of our new representatives, senators and possibly a new president. The second will occur after the installation of the new legislators. The outcome of the November election is paramount. I see six scenarios:
1. Obama is re-elected with a Democratic controlled House and Senate.
2. Obama is re-elected with a divided House and Senate.
3. Obama is re-elected with a Republican controlled House and Senate.
4. Romney is elected with a Democratic controlled House and Senate.
5. Romney is elected with a divided House and Senate.
6. Romney is elected with a Republican controlled House and Senate.
The races and polls seem to be too close to even anticipate what may happen. At a minimum, during the lame duck session, I believe we will see an extension of some of the basic provisions that are taxpayer friendly -- possibly bonus depreciation, IRC Section 179 expensing, Social Security payroll tax cut extension, R&D credits, AMT patch, etc. After that it is wide open:
• If Obama wins and would get a Democratic controlled House and Senate, there will be a tax increase. Most likely we will see a top tax bracket of 39.6 percent on taxpayers with incomes above $250,000, a 20 percent or more capital gains rate, dividends taxed at ordinary income rates, an estate tax exclusion amount of something less than $5,000,000, among other changes.
• If Romney wins and would get a Republican controlled House and Senate, there could be a tax cut and the repeal of several of the provisions of Obamacare. Income tax rates may be lowered even below the present rate structure, capital gains and dividends would retain a favorable tax rate and the estate tax exclusion amount would most likely remain at a minimum of $5,000,000.
• If the president, the House and the Senate remain divided, we could see the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts and a return to higher tax rates for all, capital gains tax rates at 20 percent, dividends taxed at ordinary income rates and the estate tax exclusion would drop to $1,000,000 with a top rate of 55 percent, among other changes. Any other changes would be slow in coming. The polarization would continue with neither party willing to cooperate with the other. Their focus would return to getting re-elected at the next election and blaming the other party for the failure to accomplish anything.
James Sikich -- CEO and managing partner, Sikich LLP
I don’t think we can expect any substantial tax changes until we get past the election in November. That said, the budget deficit will force the president in 2013 to start making changes, as the borrowing cannot go on forever. Thus, cutting spending alone won’t be enough and we will see tax reform but without knowing which party will sit in the Executive Branch and Congress, I wouldn’t hazard a guess as to what kind of tax reform to expect.
Joel Sinkin -- President, Transition Advisors LLC
I doubt we’ll see a significant tax reform in 2013. If the Republicans win the presidency and keep control of Congress, I expect to see progress, but the battles will be heated and deadlocked most of the year. They will work on spending first, and tax reform second.
Douglas Sleeter -- Founder and president, The Sleeter Group Inc.
With the upcoming election, this is going to be quite an interesting year. There are many notions to this potential reform -- many argue that a large scale tax reform is necessary in the U.S. so that all corporations -- small, medium-sized and large -- can have a level playing field. Others say that the goal should be to create a Tax Code that doesn't put U.S. companies in a weak position versus their overseas competitors. We know it will take form -- to the extent, we cannot speculate.
From Intuit’s perspective, we believe that tax education is actually equally, if not more important as tax reform. A recent article in Accounting Today by Roger Russell found that as taxpayers filed their tax returns a few months back, nearly 70 percent of them used at-home software. And close to a third of those didn’t know the difference between a tax deduction and a tax credit.
Brad Smith -- President and CEO, Intuit
Changes to the Tax Code are expected, but a large-scale tax reform is not likely. Congress simply cannot move fast enough.
Jamie Sutherland -- President of US operations, Xero Inc.
I’m sure that I’m not alone in the opinion that we definitely won’t see any movement on taxes until after the election. After we determine who our next president will be and who will control both the House and Senate, there’s a possibility that we could see an extension of some or all of the Bush tax cuts or the payroll tax cut during the lame duck session of Congress, but I can’t envision large-scale reform involving tax rates, loopholes, the AMT and a host of other tax issues. The political environment has become too toxic. The last time we achieved meaningful tax reform was during a period of divided government, but tax reform is going to be a much harder lift for either of the parties this time, and I believe makes it nearly impossible to achieve.
Ralph Thomas -- Executive director, New Jersey Society of CPAs
The chance of large-scale tax reform is small. The Tax Code is, unfortunately, political. With the deficit as large as it is and the economy still growing slowly, as well as the partisan polarity and desire to get re-elected, nothing major will happen. There likely will be some tweaking with corporate “loop-holes,” but again, nothing big.
Excessive taxation is generally a concern of mine, especially for small, medium and private entities. Typically, small businesses represent a significant portion of net jobs growth. It is important that we have a Tax Code which is equitable from a societal perspective but does not strangle the lifeblood out of entrepreneurial growth engines like small businesses.
Jeffrey Thomson -- President and CEO, IMA
I think this will depend heavily on the November election. We have an extremely unfriendly business environment.
Therese Tucker -- CEO and founder, BlackLine Systems
No. We don’t expect to see large-scale tax reform before year end and certainly not before the election. The U.S. now has the highest corporate tax rate in the world and a Tax Code that has not been updated for nearly 30 years. Real and significant reform is needed to both increase certainty in our tax system and to keep the United States competitive globally. The U.S. worldwide system of taxing multinationals may adversely affect its ability to attract capital and business investment relative to other developed economies. Globalization has made capital more mobile, magnifying the significance of international tax differences.
Additionally, the Fiscal Cliff must be dealt with, or else another recession is likely. Resolving these issues in a way that secures our future requires compromise, sacrifice, and long-range thinking. If current spending and revenue trends are allowed to continue without intervention, crisis management may become the driver of reform over sound policy.
Policymakers cannot continue to put off tough policy choices for a more favorable political climate. We need for our leaders to commit to action that breaks the cycle of debt and deficits, secures our nation’s future in the global economy and reinstates the promise of a solid economic foundation for future generations.
James Turley -- Ernst & Young
We’re in an election year, so I think widespread tax reform will be difficult to accomplish in 2012-13. However, because federal tax reform is such a huge issue with voters and corporate America, I believe there will be quite a bit of discussion over the next 18 months to lay the groundwork for something to occur in late 2013/early 2014.
Pascal Van Dooren -- Executive vice president of sales & marketing, Avalara
Tax reform may make for colorful news sound bites, but our clients repeatedly tell us in surveys and conversations that they believe that nothing significant will happen on the corporate or personal tax front before 2013 -- and I agree. When Congress finally takes up tax reform, the contours of that debate will be uncertain and dictated both by election results and the country’s fiscal situation. While I don’t expect a repatriation holiday, I do expect that the taxation of multinationals will be addressed during corporation taxation reform discussions in 2013. The overarching reality is that major tax reform will not happen quickly -- and regardless of the particulars of the final decisions, the only certainty is that we will see an outcome with winners and losers.
John Veihmeyer -- Chairman and CEO, KPMG
Until through elections we somehow change the perception of what we expect from our congressional leaders, large-scale tax reform is not likely to take place. We need leadership that is focused on the country, not political affiliation. For this to happen, we need a mindset shift in the electorate. We are starting to see signs of that shift.
Gordon Viere -- CEO, CliftonLarsonAllen LLP
Given that the last large scale U.S. tax reform was over 25 years ago (in 1986) and we find ourselves in the midst of tough economic times (and a huge deficit), I believe that it is extremely likely we will see large-scale tax reform in the coming year. Although the various political parties are advocating for different approaches to the much-needed reform, I am hoping we see a balance of spending cuts, tax increases and changes to some of the top tax breaks. I believe if we focus on only one of these areas, the savings (or revenue) resulting will not be enough to make a meaningful dent in the U.S. deficit. Instead of focusing on massive change to just one area, I think if we made smaller changes across all areas, it would lead to a healthier economic climate.
Jennifer Warawa --Vice president of partner programs & channel sales, Sage North America
Historically, large-scale tax reform is unlikely in an election year.
However, tax professionals will be watching the multitude of tax measures that either expired at the end of 2011 or are scheduled to expire at the end of 2012. Whether these measures expire, are reinstated or extended will impact TY12 returns for individuals and small business, Intuit will ensure that our TY12 products are ready to handle any kind of tax scenario when the season officially begins in January 2013.
Jill Ward -- Senior vice president and general manager, Accounting Professionals Division, Intuit Inc.
No, I don’t think we will see it. Congress is too polarized to get anything done on this right now.
Troy Waugh -- CEO, The Rainmaker Companies
Regrettably, those in Washington seem to care more about being re-elected than the real, long-term fixes our nation needs. Not only do I not see large-scale tax reform; I don’t see an end to the political gridlock in the immediate future.
Dr. Joseph Wells -- Founder and chairman, ACFE
No -- Congress is mired in politics. I don’t expect anything “large-scale” to happen.
Geni Whitehouse -- Countess of communication, Brotemarkle, Davis & Co. LLP; CMO, Yupana Inc.
Yes, I do believe that tax reform will happen, but I believe that this large-scale change will be a process -- not a single event -- that will begin to roll after the election in late 2012. There is no way to predict what the actual changes will be until after the election takes place. Politics as usual are alive and well in our world!
Sandra Wiley -- Shareholder, senior consultant and COO, Boomer Consulting
Tax policy issues belong at Treasury. Obviously, tax complexity is a huge burden for taxpayers, tax preparers and the IRS. Our goal is to work with tax professionals to ensure they have the information they need to prepare accurate returns for their clients.
David Williams -- Outgoing director, Return Preparer Office, IRS
No, I do not believe that we will see large-scale tax reform in the next year, because (sadly) I don’t believe that our nation’s policymakers are presently capable of working together to get much of anything truly meaningful done. While facing the “Fiscal Cliff” at the end of 2012 may be what these policymakers need to pull together and generate some solutions to our long-standing tax system issues, I fear partisanship and the mudslinging distractions of the November elections will keep collaboration and bright solutions development on the back burner, so that any measures taken to address the Cliff prior to year end will be hasty and short-term. I wrote a blog in early July on my disappointment with our political in-fighting and the damage it is doing to our nation (and in firms around the country, too). I want to believe that we can come together and pass long-term tax reform, but the issues are gigantic and elected-official self-interest will draw out any process to get there well beyond this year.
Jennifer Lee Wilson -- Co-founder and owner, ConvergenceCoaching
Because of the deeply partisan politics in Washington I am doubtful that agreement will be reached on large-scale reform. If we do see reform, it may be in the form of higher taxes on capital gains and dividends, reduced corporate income taxes, and possibly a reduction or elimination of certain preference items such as the deductibility/excludability of home mortgage interest and/or employer provided health insurance. Any reform of tax policy, however, will need to be part of a larger discussion about the size and role of government and social entitlements as tax policy alone will not address our grim fiscal outlook.
David Wyle -- President and CEO, SurePrep
I think there will be some major changes. The fiscal condition of not only the federal government but also of the states has to be addressed. Unfunded pension liabilities at the state and local level are at unmanageable levels, which increases the economic risks. I don’t think we will see a massive change in the form of the taxes but I do think we will see rate increases and eliminations of deductions that predominately benefit the upper income taxpayers.
Diane Yetter -- President, Yetter
I think there will be many attempts at tax reform, but I believe that the serious work will begin after the elections.
Sanford Zinman -- President, Sanford E. Zinman CPA PC
No, I don’t believe so. Despite continued talk of a flat tax or tax simplification, there is simply too much behavior which Congress wants to promote or deter by using the Tax Code. Whether it is the purchase of health insurance, encouraging donations to charity or supporting home ownership, the complexity of the Tax Code exists for a reason -- to encourage action. With respect to more short-term changes, regardless of which party wins the November election, I think there will be pressure to keep the existing Tax Code and rates intact or as close as possible to their current state. I believe that if the Republicans win the executive and legislative branches, you may see the Bush tax cuts become more entrenched -- effective for several years or made permanent. If the Democrats win the White House and Congress, you may see a one- or two-year extension of the current tax structure.
Janine Zirrith -- Firm administrator, Wilkin & Guttenplan PC
Tax reform depends upon the elections in November. Even if the Republican Party gains control of the White House and both houses of Congress, I don’t believe that we will see large reform in the next year. I believe at best we will see stop-gap measures.
Mark Zyla -- Managing director, Acuitas Inc.
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