More than 400 AICPA Leaders Meet with Federal Lawmakers to Stress Need for Taxpayers' Financial Literacy

June 13, 2012

CPAs from the Colorado Society of Certified Public Accountants on their way to meet with members of their Congressional delegation on May 16.  From left to right are Marc C. Hendrikson, CPA, COCPA Vice Chair, Sidny K. Zink, CPA, a past COCPA Chair and current member of AICPA Council, Mary Medley, CEO, Colorado Society of CPAs, and Mark T. Solomon, CPA, immediate past Treasurer and current Educational Foundation of COCPA Board of Trustees member.

More than 400 leaders of the American Institute of CPAs  from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam met with their lawmakers in Washington, D.C. at the beginning of the AICPA Spring Council meeting in May. 

A key message of the meetings was the need for greater transparency in government finances.  Their aim was to promote better public understanding of the federal government’s fiscal health.  AICPA leaders also explained how its just-launched online tax calculator could help taxpayers gain insights into their fiscal health by enabling them to estimate their total federal, state and local tax obligation.

“Making visits to legislators' office on Capitol Hill is important advocacy work,” said Jim O'Hallaron, CEO of the Missouri Society of CPAs.  “Missouri CPAs make similar visits to state legislators in Jefferson City each year, and taking our messages to Capitol Hill is important for the federal issues that affect our members as well.”

Deborah Curry, CEO of the Florida Institute of CPAs, added that “Florida Representatives’ and Senators’ offices were very interested in the Total Tax Insights™ calculator and the video about understanding federal financial statements.  Showing elected officials and their staff the important thought leadership of CPAs from Florida and across the country is a great way to grow relationships between CPAs and Capitol Hill,” she stated.

“As the AICPA marks its 125th anniversary, and as part of our longstanding commitment to transparency and financial literacy, we have developed two new resources to help taxpayers better understand not only their own fiscal health, but also that of their government,” said AICPA President and CEO Barry C. Melancon, CPA, CGMA.  “We believe it is important to provide taxpayers with resources that are neutral, nonpartisan and objective, to help them make informed financial decisions, as part of our commitment to serve the public interest.”
CPAs discussed a video produced by the AICPA that explains why understanding the nation’s fiscal health begins with reading the U.S. government’s financial statements.  Narrated by AICPA chairman Gregory J. Anton, CPA, CGMA, the video encourages Americans to gain better insight into the federal government’s financial future by reading and understanding the financial statements published by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. 

The videoWhat’s at Stake: A CPA’s Insights into the Federal Government’s Finances – explains that the U.S. government’s annual financial statements provide a more accurate assessment of the government’s fiscal outlook than the more commonly discussed federal budget.  “The budget describes the top target for government spending each year,” Anton said.  “The financial statements provide a multi-year look, taking all of the federal government’s existing obligations into account.  As a result, the financial statements provide a much more complete – and sobering – analysis.”

The CPAs also talked with lawmakers about the importance of tax transparency and visibility – a principle for which the AICPA has long advocated – and introduced the Total Tax Insights calculator, the AICPA’s new resource to help taxpayers by giving an estimate of the amount they pay each year for the most common federal, state and local taxes.