Committees Play a Role in Shaping Policy

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DECEMBER 2005 - When President Bush’s Advisory Panel on Tax Reform issued its report last month, I was struck by the similarities to the NYSSCPA’s Simple Exact Transparent (SET) proposal, created by our Committee on Practical Tax Reform. I wasn’t entirely surprised. The NYSSCPA’s tax reform committee, chaired by David A. Lifson, was ahead of the curve on certain points. For example, it made a persuasive case for discontinuing the alternative minimum tax (AMT); it proposed modifications to various tax credits; and it recognized that a value-added tax (VAT) simply will not work. These are all changes that the NYSSCPA’s committee was calling for months before the President’s Panel completed its work, and the Society sought out opportunities to share its input with legislators and the media.

Hard Work Ahead

The NYSSCPA’s positive response to many recommendations in the President’s Panel report notwithstanding, some proposed changes would have significantly negative consequences for New York State and New York City. For example, the proposed lower cap on the deduction of mortgage interest will have a disproportionate effect on homeowners in expensive real estate markets, like the New York City metropolitan area, and could potentially affect real estate values and the broader economy.

The President’s Panel also proposed eliminating the deduction for state and local taxes, which will disproportionately affect residents in New York, California, and other so-called “blue states” with higher tax rates. We can probably expect a long, uphill struggle to engage lawmakers at both the state and national levels in constructive dialogue on these points.

The NYSSCPA’s Tax Policy Subcommittee, chaired by Richard Hecht, began to analyze the President’s Panel report as soon as it was released. The SET proposal, the report of the President’s Panel, and other relevant materials can be downloaded from A broad-ranging panel discussion focused on the President’s Panel, the SET proposal, and tax policy in general will be the subject of an article in the February CPA Journal. For now, the Exhibit on the following page presents a brief comparison of the Panel’s proposal and the NYSSCPA’s SET proposal.

The Genius of Committees

Those of you who serve on NYSSCPA committees should know that your work is important and that it has impact. Assuming a leadership position on an issue often requires time and patience, so it’s important to recognize that committee work has value and to always take the long view. Because we cannot always measure a committee’s effectiveness on an issue in one year or over the term of a single chairperson, perspective, dedication, and level-headed perseverance are important qualities.

Many NYSSCPA committees demonstrate true and active leadership; their members develop and maintain a dialogue with government officials, agencies, and regulators and shape policies and regulations that affect the profession, their firms, or their industries at both the local and national levels. The Committee on Practical Tax Reform and the Tax Division Oversight Committee are two examples of the NYSSCPA’s committees at their most effective: highly intelligent, focused, and articulate people with a clear sense of purpose and a commitment to serving the general public as well as the accounting profession.

The work of tax reform has only just begun. For everyone on NYSSCPA committees who believes in the work despite the obstacles, believe me, it’s worth it. And on behalf of the non-CPA public who will benefit, thank you.

Louis Grumet
Publisher, The CPA Journal
Executive Director, NYSSCPA




















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