Advocating for our members and the profession is a continued priority, and there’s no better way of doing so than meeting directly with our state’s representatives on Capitol Hill.
This May, state societies across the country made the trip to Washington, D.C., as part of the AICPA Spring Meeting of the Council and Annual Members Meeting. INCPAS president & CEO Courtney Kincaid, CAE, chief operations officer Stacey Wilson, CAE, and vice president – advocacy Sherrill Rude, CAE, joined the advocacy event alongside our immediate past chair Barry Hall, CPA, CGMA, outgoing board chair Diane Sturek, CPA, MAcc, and incoming board chair Carrie Minnich, CPA, MAcct.
In addition, INCPAS members Caleb Bullock, CPA, CGMA (AICPA council member), Amanda Horvath (INCPAS GRAC member), Tom Wadelton, CPA, and Ben Smith, CPA, CGMA, made the trip as advocates.
It was a good opportunity for us to meet our representatives and voice our concerns. It allowed us to make ourselves available to them as an expert and resource.
“It was a good opportunity not just for us to be able to meet our representatives and voice our concerns, but for them to get to meet us,” Minnich said, noting there are likely everyday issues related to areas of expertise for CPAs that legislators don’t have the knowledge about. “It allows us to make ourselves available to them as an expert and resource.”
The trip also had value for its emphasis on federal legislation and not just what’s happening at our statehouse.
“Visiting Capitol Hill allowed us to further strengthen our presence among our elected officials and voice support for national legislation that can make a difference not only for our members, but the profession, the nation’s business environment and everyday citizens,” Kincaid said.
The AICPA provided guidance and talking points for the key issues at play, including:
- Expanding 529 Plan Usage. The Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act (H.R. 1477 / S. 722) would amend the Internal Revenue Code to broaden the allowable use of 529 savings plans to cover the cost of certain workforce training, credentialing programs, certification exams and maintenance of certification credentials. With CPA Exam preparation and registration costing some over $3,000, this bill will help provide more flexibility for funding the pursuit of a CPA license.
- Federal Tax Extension Safe Harbor. The Simplify Automatic Filing Extensions (SAFE) Act would allow taxpayers the ability to calculate and rely on a safe harbor of 125% of the prior year tax to be paid in by the original due date to avoid penalties. This would reduce burdens on practitioners and individuals preparing their own returns, minimize the processing of penalties by the IRS and simplify the work surrounding the filing of federal tax extensions.
- Fiscal State of the Nation. The Fiscal State of the Nation Resolution would establish an annual, joint hearing of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate Budget Committees to receive testimony from the U.S. Comptroller General on the federal government’s consolidated financial statements. All Members of Congress would be invited to attend this yearly hearing. Enacting this resolution would ensure Congress is made aware of the information contained in the federal financial statements and better understands how current and/or future policy may affect the nation’s long-term fiscal health.
In addition to these tax and fiscal issues, one of the key conversations we focused on was a federal STEM designation for accounting.
The Accounting STEM Pursuit Act in the House and the STEM Education in Accounting Act in the Senate have bi-partisan support to establish accounting as a STEM pathway and increase the availability of high-quality accounting education for K-12 students, especially in underrepresented groups. Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.), a former CPA, helped originally introduce the House bill alongside Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Mich.) in 2021.
According to the AICPA, “Officially recognizing accounting as a STEM curriculum will signal to the public markets that the accounting profession is ready and qualified to assess the technological world businesses are in today.”
Minnich noted this was a “huge opportunity” to position accounting as a tech field, especially since many see accounting as just math.
“We use technology in our everyday work including data analytics and AI and making sure we understand all the controls and processes around all the technologies, not only that we use, but that our clients use,” she said. “Those are continuously evolving, and we need to know what’s going on to be able to do our job properly.”
In addition, a STEM designation would increase grant funding opportunities in K-12 classrooms for accounting awareness and educational programming, expanding the profession’s reach and helping to strengthen the pipeline. This means a chance to plant the seed in younger minds of what accounting can offer — especially that it’s a field that embraces tech and isn’t only spreadsheets and tax returns.
“It means we can show that yes, this is a pretty cool career,” Minnich said. “It shows that we’re moving with the times.”
You don’t have to be on Capitol Hill to make a difference in the profession! Explore the resources below to learn more about how INCPAS advocates for members every day,
You don’t have to be on Capitol Hill to make a difference in the profession! Explore the resources below to learn more about how INCPAS advocates for members every day, how our legislative agenda process works and how members like you can be involved in everyday advocacy for the profession.