CPAs April Walker, Brandon Lagarde, and Kristin Esposito all attended last week's AICPA & CIMA National Tax Conference in Washington. Walker is a lead manager in the AICPA Tax Section, and Esposito is a director on the Tax Policy & Advocacy Team. Lagarde, a Louisiana firm leader, is chair of the Tax Practice Management Committee.
They each shared takeaways from the event and what practitioners can focus on in the future.
"You get an insight into what impacts your practice and things that you don't even know impact your practice that you learn," Lagarde said.
What you'll learn from this episode:
- The humanizing effect of the in-person sessions.
- Why the virtual nature of the conference can help in-person attendees.
- One takeaway from Lagarde about the IRS and collaboration.
- Four focus areas from Esposito for tax practitioners.
Play the episode below or read the edited transcript:
— To comment on this episode or to suggest an idea for another episode, contact Neil Amato at Neil.Amato@aicpa-cima.com.
Neil Amato: Welcome to the Journal of Accountancy podcast. This is Neil Amato. Coming up on this episode, we'll have a recap of last week's AICPA & CIMA National Tax Conference in Washington, D.C. We have three CPAs providing their takeaways, and that's coming up right after this word from our sponsor.
Amato: On this episode of the Journal of Accountancy podcast, we're going to summarize some of the key happenings and key takeaways from the AICPA & CIMA's National Tax Conference. It was the week that started with Halloween and went a few days into November; we're now a week later.
Joining me as the first guest to summarize some of those key takeaways is April Walker. April is a CPA. She's a lead tax manager in the Tax Section and the host of the Tax Section Odyssey podcast. April, tell me in a few words, I guess or maybe not if you've got a lot of takeaways, what are some things that came out of the tax conference that stood out to you?
April Walker: Thank you for asking that question. I'm fresh home from the conference, so I have several thoughts. First, you said it started on Halloween, which was interesting. We did have some Halloween costume participants. If you're watching a replay of the conference, which is actually one of my takeaways. The ability to be able to, there's multiple sessions going on at one time, so you can, if you miss something, and I felt like I've definitely missed a few sessions, I want to go back and look at them. If you're looking at a session that happened on Halloween, you might see some Halloween costumes. That is an interesting takeaway from a conference.
Another for someone like me that is a people person and likes to be around people, it was so wonderful to be in person around people again, to be able to interact with our members, and hear face-to-face what's on people's minds, what they're worried about. Then actually, I met a few people who I only know from social media, from Tax Twitter, I met them in person. That was pretty cool.
One last thing, I guess I would say is we do — one cool thing about the National Tax Conference is it's in Washington, as you said, Neil, so we're able to have some government speakers. We had IRS speakers there. I like to remind myself, even though we hear a lot about the IRS, problems with the IRS, IRS service, that sort of thing. It's always great to see them in person, and it helps remind me that they're people too, they're just employees and leadership trying to do the best that they can.
Again, just seeing them face-to-face humanizes them, and it makes me think, hey, just like me, they're trying to do their job and do their very best job that they can, and it's not perfect. But I really have hopes that it's going to improve. Those are some of my takeaways from my trip.
Amato: That's good. I will ask, I think the conference in previous years has been a little bit later in November so that maybe it was the first time that Halloween was even part of it, I guess.
Walker: It has, and actually usually the conferences after the election, so this is an interesting time that it was before the election so that we don't have the ability to say, "Here's what happened in the election, and that's what could happen with tax law."
Amato: Next on the podcast is CPA Brandon Lagarde. Brandon is a director at the firm Postlethwaite & Netterville. He is also the director of the firm's Tax Services Group. Brandon, thank you very much for joining us today.
Brandon Lagarde: Thank you for having me.
Amato: Brandon, you're also a member of the AICPA Tax Section, and you serve as chair of the Tax Practice Management Committee and recently attended the National Tax Conference in Washington D.C. I just want to ask you first, what are some of the things that stood out to you from the conference that you think tax practitioners should know?
Lagarde: It was this past week, it was on Halloween, and a two-day conference in D.C. where the top minds in tax get together. One of the great things about the National Tax Conference and being in D.C. is getting the IRS to come and speak to the group. There was one thing that was interesting is the IRS really wants to work with practitioners. They want to hear input from practitioners.
A takeaway from the conference, that was one thing. Certainly that the IRS is likes to work with the AICPA, enjoys working with practitioners, wants to hear what we have to say, wants to improve. We all have had our fair share of issues dealing with IRS, and now they have the opportunity to make a big difference with their budget increasing.
It's good to hear from them and just the top tax professionals in the country. We get together for two days and there's plenty of sessions to attend, and if you aren't able to attend a session, the beauty of it is you're able to watch it later. Like I said, during the conference, I tend to enjoy my Thursday and Friday nights watching an old CPE from the tax conference because you're able to really get some good insight into what we do, and learn about what's going on, trends, what's happening, all the new rules that get passed and all the new regulations that come out, you get an insight into what impacts your practice and things that you don't even know impact your practice that you learn.
Amato: Are there a couple of things that may be whether they came from the conference or just in general, what's next in the tax world, either for end-of-year or upcoming legislation, or what's new in 2023?
Lagarde: Yeah. We spent a lot of time talking to others, and the good thing about, again, attending these types of conferences, you're able to speak to others and get a sense of what they're dealing with, and the stresses that they're dealing with in and trying to game-plan for the following year. We don't know what's going to happen with legislation.
We heard from some great speakers and some great folks that had thoughts on what may happen legislatively. That's still up for debate. We'll see what happens in a few days with Congress. But the one thing that we can control is how to start preparing now for next year's tax season and getting prepared for that, and what are some of our plans and what are other people's plans on preparing for tax season.
There was lot of discussion around getting client expectations in line with what we are able to deliver, making sure that everyone's on the same page. Year-end planning is coming up, so we're making sure that we're mindful of the fact that there may be changes, we don't know what they are, but we need to stay ahead of planning and helping our clients.
That's a great thing, again, just a collaboration that happens at these conferences and just working together, getting ideas of what are other firms doing, what are other people doing to deal with year end, and getting prepared for next tax season because we all have to think about it, but Oct. 17 just passed and there was an interesting end to a tax season, and we have to be better prepared next year.
We're always learning. We are always trying to be better. We are trying to improve processes, and hear from others what's working, what's not working. That's one thing that we're focused on is, what are things we can do in the next two months to get ready for January and try to control what we can control, and if Congress passes new laws that changes that, we'll deal with it. But let's focus on what we can control and work from there.
Amato: You mentioned the word collaboration and hearing ideas at the conference. How nice is it that it can truly be an in-person event again?
Lagarde: It is fantastic to be in person and, one, meet some of the, we have celebrities in tax world, you may not know that, but we actually have some celebrities within our tax ranks and to be able to meet some of those folks and shake their hand and say hello, and meet the great minds of the tax world, and to, not only that but also sit next to someone who may be challenged with the same challenges you're facing. It's great to be able to have these cocktail hours and the collaboration and talking to one another.
That's the part that we really have missed out on the last couple of years, I find. It's great to be back in person. It's great to be in D.C. It's a great town. They are the heart of it all, and it was a great opportunity to learn from one another, learn from the best, can't put a price tag on that.
Amato: That's well said. Brandon, thank you very much. We're glad to have you on the podcast and hope we can follow up maybe in 2023 with a repeat engagement. Thanks.
Lagarde: Thanks, Neil.
Amato: Up next on the Journal of Accountancy podcast is Kristin Esposito. Kristin is a colleague of mine, a CPA. She is a director on the AICPA Tax Policy & Advocacy team. First, Kristin, we're glad to have you on the podcast. Thanks for being here.
Kristin Esposito: Thanks for having me, Neil.
Amato: In your world, which is the tax advocacy world, what would you say are the key takeaways for practitioners to know from the AICPA & CIMA National Tax Conference.
Esposito: That's a great question. There is a lot of value in that conference. Not only did it provide participants with up-to-the-minute need-to-know tax technical information, but really also highlighted all of the important tax policy and regulatory advocacy initiatives focused on by the AICPA. And participants learn how the results of these initiatives actually influence their tax practice in a positive way. Now, in terms of top takeaways, for me, they can be put in two buckets and one bucket, topics that have been around for some time, and also then new topics. I'll give you an example of an oldie but goodie: IRS services.
There were quite a few sessions that touched on how IRS services need to improve dramatically. I mean, everybody knows that. IRS knows it. Practitioners know it. We know it. But at the conference, we actually were able to hear directly from the IRS on how they plan to use some of that $80 billion of funds from the Inflation Reduction Act to add staff to start to focus more on customer service. Even beginning with next tax season. We also heard that the IRS has already hired about 4,000 employees to help with that initiative, not from the $80 billion, but just to help with staffing in terms of customer service, to man the phones for next tax season. We're hoping folks can get trained, then work on that customer service.
Speaking of the Inflation Reduction Act, there was a whole session devoted to the new corporate minimum tax, which was passed as part of that legislation. While the tax, it's really only going to affect the largest corporations. But the rules are definitely going to have some twists and turns that tax practitioners are going to need to be aware of to actually determine if some companies that may be on the fence meet the book income threshold and are subject to the tax. This is another area where we've been really active in letting the IRS and Treasury know which items they should focus on in terms of providing timely guidance on the corporate minimum tax so that practitioners can better help their clients. They need to work on financial statement presentation. They need to work on estimated tax payments, and that's for 2023.
Another interesting session was the work-from-anywhere session. Even before COVID, some progressive employers were testing the waters and allowing employees to work from home some days. Once the pandemic hit, that way of working became more the norm, especially in our line of work. It looks like remote and hybrid working is here to stay, and there are both federal and state consequences that have to be ironed out. I thought the mix of presenters from both the federal and state perspective. In that session, I thought it was really effective in delivering the message that we should keep our eyes out for some new rules over the next year or two.
The AICPA just submitted a comment letter to the IRS and Treasury on this very issue on the federal side. In our letter, we let them know that tax practitioners are currently relying on rules governing fringe benefits and remote workers that have been out there since the 1950s and it's really time for a refresh. That message was worked into the presentation because one of the drafters of the letter was actually one of the presenters. She was able to give the technical aspect and what to look out for maybe on the horizon.
Then the last technical area I want to mention is we can't forget about the session on K-2/K-3, because if you want to talk about up-to-date, up-to-the-minute information, new form instructions were released several days before the conference, the week before the conference or the week or two before the conference. The speakers were able to walk session participants through those changes. Again, one of those presenters have been working on the advocacy initiatives related to K-2/K-3 schedules. He really knew from the technical side and also from what the AICPA has been asking for and what we were able to get in through our advocacy. I think that it's important for attendees to not only have walked away with the enhanced technical knowledge that they did, but also they came away from the conference knowing how the AICPA is really working to get them the answers they need to help their clients. I really think also our conference married old issues and also new issues for a really overall well-rounded experience for attendees.
Amato: I think that's a really good summary between remote work, K-2/K-3, corporate minimum tax, and IRS services. They are all hot topics that the Journal of Accountancy is covering and I know you're paying close attention to and they will continue to be on the minds of tax practitioners into the new year.
Amato: Thank you very much for that summary.
Esposito: You're welcome.