CPAs Head to the Hill to Discuss Reform, Economy, Taxes

CPAs wrapped up the 2009 AICPA Spring Meeting of Council in Washington on Tuesday with visits to Capitol Hill to discuss regulatory reform, the economic crisis and tax issues.

Before heading into discussions with legislators, the group heard briefings from members of Congress. “We have a lot of work before us,” House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., said during a speech about the roots of the financial crisis and how to nurse the economy back to health. Steering financial markets back to solid ground, Cantor said, will require a fix for critical banking challenges, such as valuing so-called toxic assets. Regulation of the industry must be smart, not burdensome, and should reward calculated risk, he said.

The U.S. must work to stave off unemployment, Cantor said, adding that lowering taxes would fuel job creation and entrepreneurship. Getting qualified homebuyers to begin buying again is also essential to recovery, he told CPAs at the meeting.

Both Cantor and freshman legislator Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., who is one of five CPAs in the House, said the administration needs an exit strategy to eventually remove government from private business. Jenkins says the budget Congress ultimately passes needs to focus on immediate issues including slowing government spending, reducing the tax burden on individuals and businesses, and reducing government debt.

House Ways and Means Committee member Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., told Council members in a Monday address at the three-day meeting that reducing the federal deficit will hinge on controlling rising health care costs as well as finding ways to fill government coffers—such as potentially restructuring the tax code for individuals with annual income of more than $250,000. Crowley said tax reform is high on the agenda for Congress, as is financial regulatory reform, which could including debate on a systemic risk regulator—an entity that would have wide-ranging oversight of the financial system.

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., a senior member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, spoke to attendees at a legislative breakfast Tuesday.

Regulatory areas the AICPA is focusing on during the legislator visits include broker-dealers and investment and hedge fund advisers. The AICPA is also urging lawmakers to ban patents for tax planning methods.

The Institute is also voicing support for a mobile workforce proposal introduced by Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., that would establish a uniform national standard on nonresident state taxation for short-term workers.

CPAs at the Council meeting were urged to share with legislators what the profession is doing to guide businesses through the economic crisis.



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