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2012 Presidential Election and the CPA Profession

Election 2012The 2012 presidential election is just around the corner. While it’s not clear who will win the White House, there are many reasons you should be paying close attention. And we’re seeing indications that you’re doing just that. In a CPA Letter Daily poll on Oct. 16, 65% of more than 3,200 respondents said they would be watching that night’s presidential debate.

There is no shortage of issues affecting CPAs and our clients or employers. Highlighted below are some of the important financial issues facing our country:

  • “Fiscal cliff.” The uncertainty surrounding potential tax increases and spending cuts, as well as related issues, has brought Washington to a stand-still. Uncertainties include extension of the Bush-era tax cuts, a fix for the Alternative Minimum Tax, tax increases attached to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and a package of mandatory federal spending cuts totaling $1.2 trillion over 10 years.

The AICPA understands the effect such uncertainty has on tax planning. We will continue to serve as a guiding voice, providing timely and relevant resources for our members, including a dedicated webpage, for all issues relating to the fiscal cliff. 

  • Changes in regulators. Regardless of who wins the presidency, we could see changes in some of the country’s top regulatory posts. Speculation has surrounded Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro, for example. Current IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman announced he is departing effective Nov. 9. The AICPA has always worked to serve as a resource for regulators and will continue to do so with whoever holds those positions.
  • New legislators. Races for Senate seats and the House of Representatives may usher in new faces. The AICPA has been a successful advocate for the profession and the public with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. We will continue our bipartisan approach to serve our members and the businesses and individuals they work for or serve.
  • Impact on small business. Both President Obama and Governor Romney have focused on small business throughout their campaigns. Each has proposed tax and economic plans that would impact small businesses in myriad ways. The complex proposals, combined with an already-complex economic environment, give CPAs an opportunity to reinforce their role as trusted business advisers. New regulations, changes in tax law and continued economic uncertainty will mean businesses will need CPAs’ objective expertise more than ever.  
  • Tax reform – A concerted attempt at tax reform is likely beginning early next year regardless of who wins the White House. The AICPA has been engaging Congress regarding tax simplification. We’ve created a list of 10 important simplification issues and have started meeting with congressional tax committees, and will continue to act as a resource for Congress in this critically important area of law.More information and resources are available on our tax reform webpage

All told, the range of issues before us underscores the impact of regulations on our profession. It also demonstrates the need for more CPAs to get involved in the process. Currently, 8 CPAs serve in Congress, and one governor and one lieutenant governor are CPAs. In addition to the record 8 CPAs in Congress, 2 others have emerged from the primaries to the general election. Topping the record of 8 would be a great outcome. CPAs have invaluable insights, experience and business acumen that make them uniquely qualified to serve as our state and national leaders and we need more of those skills on the political scene. Now is the time for CPAs to begin thinking about congressional candidacies in 2014.

Please share your thoughts about the ramifications ahead. Have you considered how these changes could affect you?

Barry C. Melancon, CPA, President and CEO, American Institute of CPAs.

Election 2012 image via Shutterstock


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