Change is good

October 11, 2013

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

In standard association models, it’s common for strategic planning and programming to focus on the common good; that is, where can we move the needle on behalf of a majority of our members or a significant faction of them fairly quickly?

That model has sound business implications because associations, like for-profit companies, have limited resources, making a targeted approach absolutely crucial for achieving results that members or stakeholders can point to when it’s time to join or renew.

But we also know that membership in The Ohio Society of CPAs is largely a personal, one-to-one decision in terms of what we offer of value to you, a CPA who might be working in any number of industries or disciplines across Ohio.

And that’s where I think The Ohio Society’s sweet spot is – striking that critical balance between being focused and strategic so we continue to drive the CPA profession and Ohio business environment forward while serving the important needs of individuals who rely on us as a resource for their career.

To that end, your Executive Board has begun the process of identifying what we believe are the top opportunities to move the needle on behalf of the profession over the next several years. That process kicked off in August at the Executive Board retreat, and out of that emerged four broad-based areas of focus we think are the right direction for our future. These are:

Knowledge: OSCPA will be a leading source for ideas, tools, and resources for the accounting profession.

Learning: Those in the accounting profession will attribute their enhanced performance to OSCPA’s learning experiences.

Advocacy: Ohio’s legislative and regulatory climate is favorable to business and the finance community, and the role that CPAs play in advancing the public interest is recognized as valuable.

Community: OSCPA will be a preferred community of value for CPAs and those who engage with the accounting profession.

Over the next several months, the Board and staff will undertake a strategic planning process to identify specific strategies and initiatives that fall into each of these domains. We will be aligning our priorities and lines of business around emerging issues that are directly affecting CPAs today and over the next 3-5 years.

The goal will be to build on OSCPA’s past successes while ensuring we are remaining relevant to growing segments of members who are the future of the profession. This includes young CPAs, women and other currently underrepresented populations. This will be important as we seek to widen our reach and impact for CPAs everywhere.

Bottom line, we want to be the preeminent resource and professional society for all CPAs in Ohio. That means we’ll need to change, and for the better. I look forward to bringing you news of our progress as we embark on this important journey. And I hope you’ll join us as we build the OSCPA of tomorrow for you.


Network and volunteer your way to a bright future

October 1, 2013

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

If you are majoring in accounting or are in the early stages of your career, you have a great opportunity. The demand for well-prepared accountants is high, so your chances for getting and keeping a job are great.

However, you can have much more than a job. You have the chance to embark on a rewarding career that makes a difference in the communities you care about. If you want your work to matter beyond the numbers, the financial statements and the spreadsheets, you can make it happen.

Here’s how: start now. Your 20s are your developmental sweet spot and the perfect time to advance your education, build your professional networks and engage with people who share your values.

Seek mentors within and outside your current organization. Start by asking for advice from an experienced, trusted professional in your industry. Select someone who is a good role model, listens well and is willing to be honest with you. It’s also helpful to find someone who is unlike you in a key way.

As your relationship develops, ask the person if he or she would be willing to meet regularly. You might be surprised to find how willing successful people are to share their knowledge and experience.

You can also learn from people you don’t even know yet. You can meet new people through what are called our weak ties, our friends of friends of friends. That’s where your membership in OSCPA can be so valuable. One good conversation could have an enormous effect on the rest of your life. With 21,000 members and affiliates, there are many good conversations to be had here. So make a phone call, send an email or get involved in our Facebook or LinkedIn pages.

Another great opportunity is to be part of one of these programs from OSCPA and The Ohio CPA Foundation.

FETCH!® Financial Education Teaches Children Healthy Habits®

It’s never too early to teach kids the connection between managing money and future success. On Nov. 13, OSCPA members will visit elementary classrooms throughout Ohio to help students understand that connection through FETCH! This game, which was created by The Ohio CPA Foundation, mobilizes CPAs to teach kids basic financial literacy concepts now so they can better manage their money later in life.

ACAP-Ohio Accounting Careers Awareness Program

Inspire minority high school students to major in accounting and consider careers in the CPA profession. Through ACAP-Ohio, the Foundation partners with the National Association of Black Accountants to provide a week-long residential college experience for minority high school students to help attract talented individuals and foster a more diverse and inclusive profession.

Financial Fitness Ohio

Train Ohioans how to whip their personal finances into shape. Through this public service campaign, CPAs provide tips and advice for taking charge of personal finances and meeting goals. We’ll provide the resources, you provide the expertise, and together we’ll work to improve the financial outlook for Ohioans.

Young CPA Initiative

Last fall, The Ohio Society of CPAs Young CPAs sent one or more YCPA volunteers to nine Ohio college campus career fairs. The group is now planning outreach activities for this fall.

In addition to OSCPA’s CPA Day of Service, the Young CPAs will:

  • Participate in American Heart Association Heart Walks.
  • Serve meals to families in need.
  • Collect donations for charity at group events.

The Ohio Society of CPAs is here to help you solve problems, give you a competitive edge and connect you with like-minded people – people who want to be more.

Municipal tax reform: Are you in or out?

October 1, 2013

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

The past two years have been a battleground in the fight for municipal income tax reform. On one side: representatives in many of Ohio’s nearly 600 municipalities fighting to preserve a costly and inefficient system that’s stunting business growth in Ohio. On the other: a number of forward-thinking state legislators and 30 organizations in the Municipal Tax Reform Coalition. Led by The Ohio Society of CPAs, Ohio Chamber and NFIB-Ohio, this group is pushing for a more equitable system that eliminates inefficiencies and red tape in return filings and spurs business investment.

It would be an understatement to say it’s been anything but an uphill climb the entire way.

While we had hoped for a truly collaborative process, it’s resembled more of a negotiating tug of war with opponents waging an all-out misinformation campaign, and painting an exaggerated picture in the media of Ohio post municipal tax reform. Despite that, we believe we’ve landed on a piece of legislation, H.B. 5, that will help improve Ohio’s local tax compliance climate and therefore our state’s economic development attractiveness.

The substitute version of H.B. 5 will require every city and village to follow the same definitions for not only filings, appeals, audits and assessments, but also NOLs (five years), partnerships (taxed at the entity level) and occasional entrants (moving from 12 to 20 days – with withholding in the “other” city starting on day 21), reporting to a single city per day and eliminating tracking for employers earning $1 million or less in gross receipts. Simplifying the system will also help to cut compliance costs for governments.

We knew it wouldn’t be an easy row to hoe when we set out to form a coalition and drive for reform. But we did so knowing we had the strong support of a majority of our members. In a survey last year, 90% of respondents agreed that adopting more uniform rules governing Ohio’s municipal tax structure was critical.

We’ve worked hard to keep you informed and engaged in the process. A small group of CPAs worked with the coalition to draft and revise legislation, taking cities’ concerns into account. Others provided testimony during nearly 40 hours of hearings held over the past year.

Despite progress made, we need many, many more voices in the chorus. We’ve reached a critical juncture and we need hundreds of members to speak out publicly to help counter the howls of opposition coming from dozens of city officials across the state.

H.B. 5 is very close to a vote in the Ohio House – we may well see a House committee vote in early October, hopefully followed by a floor vote soon thereafter. But there are still many legislators on the fence about municipal tax reform.

It’s not for lack of education by OSCPA and our Coalition partners.

But it’s difficult to rise above the din of a consistently vocal opposition. Legislators have told us time and again that they hear plenty from municipalities on why H.B. 5 is bad for cities and bad for Ohio. But they aren’t hearing the other side of the story from local CPAs and businesses.

If you think municipal tax reform is important, you can’t afford to sit back. Don’t expect your peers or someone else to make the contacts required to help pass this bill. Speak up now. We have a short window to make an impact—just a few weeks. With 21,000 CPAs, I know we can move this bill out of the House and on to the Senate.

Call or write to your local legislators today to ask for a yes vote on H.B. 5. OSCPA can give you all the tools you need to get your message delivered.

It matters to Ohio’s future. Are you in or out?

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