While we all have ideas about changing the world, there are very few individuals with the resources and capacity to actually bring these ideas about on their own. This is why instead we rely upon organizations like the NYSSCPA, recognizing that the strength of many is far greater than the strength of one. This has been proven through the many advocacy efforts that have succeeded through the collective efforts of our membership for the benefit of the entire profession.

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Over the past year, the Society has attained numerous victories in addressing the rapidly evolving needs of the CPA profession, none of which could have happened if not for our members working together for the common good. The Society determines its annual legislative agenda and time-sensitive priorities by hearing from members about issues that are affecting you and your clients and employers.

When the pandemic first hit and the IRS extended last year’s tax deadline, it was through the NYSSCPA’s advocacy efforts that Governor Cuomo agreed to extend the state deadline as well, ending uncertainty and providing much-needed breathing room for tax professionals. While the Society focuses on New York State issues, we also worked with the AICPA to push for federal guidance. In all, more than 24 filing deadlines were addressed on both the state and federal levels.

It was these same efforts that resulted in the accounting profession being included as an essential service when the lockdowns began; this allowed CPA firms to remain in operation so they could continue to serve their business clients, large and small. These actions were prioritized due to member input.

They have also borne fruit in Executive Order 202.31, which allowed electronic signatures to be accepted for e-file authorizations on tax returns, a provision that had been long sought by the Society. This order was ultimately made permanent through landmark legislation (S.8832) signed in August 2020.

Our efforts are also responsible for nonprofit organizations being included as authorized recipients of Paycheck Protection Program loans; we achieved this through lobbying Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and Senator Kristen Gillibrand, who ultimately inserted the provision into the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

And how about some long-sought tax relief? You may be aware that the budget bill signed by the governor in April included pass-through entity election provisions that offer a workaround to the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions for individuals holding shares in partnerships or S corporations. The NYSSCPA’s lobbying efforts, fueled by the energy of our members, were a pivotal part of this provision being included in the budget—we tapped our contacts in the Assembly and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance to let them know, over the course of several conversations, that this measure was critical.

This is only a small sample of what we have done and are capable of doing together. Overall, the State Society worked on more than two dozen separate issues as part of its 2020 legislative agenda, and we have no intention of slowing down. We plan to fight for a number of issues in the 2021 legislative year, including e-signatures on power-of-attorney forms and liability protections under New York’s False Claims Act. You can find out more about what we’re working on at http://nysscpa.org/legagenda.

Society members should feel confident that when you speak, we listen. After all, even a single CPA possesses diligence and intellect in generous amounts. When you get 23,000 of them in a single organization, there is little they cannot do.

Joanne S. Barry, CAE. NYSSCPA Executive Director/CEO.