Sales tax effort a good model for action

August 13, 2013

By Robert Zunich, CPA/ABV
2013-2014 Chair of the Executive Board

One of the best things about serving as chair of The Ohio Society of CPAs is meeting with talented, intelligent CPAs from around Ohio to discuss the timely issues important to our profession.

But what is it like to be part of these discussions?

Having served on the board and as chair-elect, I thought it would be helpful to explain how the dialogue materializes as we work to promote and protect the profession.

A good example is OSCPA’s work to remove a proposed sales tax on services from the state’s biennial budget.

As proposed in February, H.B. 59 called for an expansion of the sales tax base to potentially thousands of services, including accounting, legal and consulting.

OSCPA members were justifiably concerned. Such a plan would have harmed Ohio’s business environment, and by extension, all taxpayers.

We surveyed members, and more than 80% of you opposed an expanded sales tax on most services. Almost two-thirds of you thought the negative impact of the sales tax proposal overshadowed any gains that would have occurred from the income tax reduction.

OSCPA’s governmental affairs team worked behind the scenes, finding out why similar tax efforts had failed in other states, and getting important information to governmental leaders.

On March 5, after considering the facts and your input, the OSCPA Executive Board voted to formally oppose the sales tax expansion and to offer OSCPA as a resource to help lawmakers find alternatives that were better for Ohio. OSCPA representatives also testified on March 6 about the harmful implications of the expanded sales tax.

I’m happy to say that the budget bill that Gov. Kasich signed into state law in June did not include an expanded tax on services, in no small part because of concerns raised by OSCPA.

The bill did include several things OSCPA supported, such as $2.7 billion in tax cuts, including a phased-in 10% reduction in personal income taxes. This helps Ohio be more competitive with nearby states.

The expanded tax on services is just one example of the issues the OSCPA Executive Board tackles. Every issue has its own challenges and opportunities.

I am looking forward to having deeper discussions with my fellow board members about their goals for the Society. I also look forward to discussing those ideas with you – both in person and here in CPA Voice. It’s not about what I want to do; it’s what do we as an organization want to do. Send your thoughts to cpavoice@ohio-cpa.com.

Robert G. Zunich, CPA/ABV with Barnes Wendling CPAs, Inc. in Sheffield Village, is The Ohio Society of CPAs 2013-2014 Chair of the Board. 


CPAs can lead by translating the technical

August 13, 2013

Scott D. Wiley, CAE
President & CEO
The Ohio Society of CPAs

In the July issue of CPA Voice I discussed OSCPA’s commitment to providing quality CPE to meet your needs in a changing world.

This month I want to address the other side of the education equation, and it’s something I’ve heard mentioned repeatedly this year by leaders in the accounting profession: the importance of being a constant learner. It’s a habit that will make you not only more competitive and employable, but also a better citizen and well-rounded person.

This is an issue that extends beyond CPE, and it isn’t just for those interested in another certification or an advanced degree. Professional education for CPAs – and anyone else – should be constant and self-motivated.

Just by earning your CPA you’ve proven you have the knowledge and skills needed to be a business leader: financial savvy, strong ethics and an analytical mind. Spending time working in a particular business area also gives you expertise in that domain.

Are you developing skills that go beyond your technical expertise and underscore your value to your employer or clients? These could include communications skills, leadership, the ability to pitch and close a sale, customer service knowledge or strategic planning.

One good example is communication skills. A course on how to make financial presentations to non-financial people could provide an edge in today’s business world. The ability to relate the numbers to a strategic direction, and then explain them is a valuable skill to any organization.

Why is this important to you? Because it can position you as someone who does much more than crunch numbers, open doors you don’t even know exist, get you in contact with more people and elevate your chances of taking your career to the next level.

It’s critical to stay on top of technology. Laysha Ward, president of community relations at Target, said, “We know that, with the rate of technological change, (a career in the 21st century economy) will require a lifelong commitment to learning.”

Leaders have to be able to go even farther beyond that technical business and financial information and be able to communicate it in such a way that audiences of varying knowledge and experience understand and can internalize.

That’s just one possibility for improvement, and I am sure you can think of others. Though the CPE requirement is a cornerstone of the accounting profession, learning is lifelong and shouldn’t stop at the 120-hour requirement every three years. Its true value is intellectual development; it’s an investment that improves our work, elevates our profession and makes our lives more enjoyable.


Continuing education is getting better

August 6, 2013

By Scott D. Wiley, CAE
President & CEO
The Ohio Society of CPAs

Providing quality continuing education has always been a top priority for The Ohio Society of CPAs. As some of the state’s leading business and financial executives, CPAs must remain knowledgeable and competent in a wide range of tax, accounting and business topics. And it’s a requirement of maintaining a CPA license in Ohio.

That’s where OSCPA believes there’s a potential disconnect and a huge opportunity for the Society to provide more value in education delivery.

In our discussions with the Accountancy Board of Ohio and with our own members, it’s clear that some in the profession are far too focused on simply meeting the 120-hour CPE reporting requirement rather than viewing it as an opportunity for ongoing learning that makes them a better professional. This is in direct contrast to the intent of the rule and a point of concern for the ABO and the Society’s Executive Board and staff.

Some CPAs now think of CPE as a commodity and a chore. The proliferation of ‘all you can consume’ CPE for very low prices is feeding this trend but is not, in our opinion, a model that best serves the future of the CPA profession even if it satisfies a short-term need.

We must move beyond the mindset that easy-to-earn CPE is sufficient for maintaining a strong professional competency and edge.

Consider this fact: over the past three years, Ohio CPAs who are not members of OSCPA were nine times more likely to receive disciplinary action ranging from fines to revocation of their CPA license from the ABO. We believe there is a direct correlation between these findings and the continuing education CPAs choose to take.

As your professional society, we understand that education needs are changing. Every year, CPAs are asked to absorb and master a long list of new and complex tax laws, standards and government regulations. And taking time away from your everyday responsibilities to attend a full or two-day class to get up to speed on these changes isn’t always possible.

That’s why OSCPA continues to evolve our educational products, giving CPAs more choices for what they take and how it’s delivered – all while ensuring that it meets higher standards for content, quality and learning.

So what does that mean for you?

The Ohio Society of CPAs is committed to providing an optimal learning experience, recognizing that every CPA’s needs are unique and preferences for learning styles and formats vary from person to person.

For those who learn best in face-to face environments, we will continue to offer many live, in-person seminars and conferences each year. Many sessions from these events are available afterward in the OSCPA online store.

We’re expanding online learning opportunities to accommodate busy schedules and tighter budgets. OSCPA’s video classroom increases the variety of programs we can offer to more CPAs through webcast. High definition video and an interactive chat feature for remote participants ensures those tuning in have a quality experience similar to those sitting in the video classroom. These programs are taped and available on demand afterwards for the convenience of those who can’t participate in the live broadcast.

Finally, OSCPA will soon introduce a new series of on-demand educational courses that move beyond our traditional online CPE models. They are developed by a panel of recognized subject experts and designed to develop core competencies in key areas like tax, A&A, technology and professional development. The content is in-depth and robust, and delivered in a curriculum-based format. Successive courses will allow CPAs to define a clear cut educational plan for achieving higher competency and professional success in specific areas depending on career goals.

Best of all, you can take these courses on your own time, not just when and where they might be offered.

OSCPA is confident this direction will encourage more CPAs to embrace CPE as an opportunity for lifelong learning and building the knowledge base needed to address today’s business challenges. And we’ll continue to keep our ear to the ground so that we are continually responsive to members’ needs. What do you think?


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