AICPA Spring Council: Report from the Hill
By Adrienne Gonzalez
This year’s congressional visits led the agenda on the first full day of AICPA Spring Council with CPAs from all around the country visiting the offices of their congressional representatives and senators armed with two great new tools from the AICPA.
Specifically for the Maryland Association of CPAs, this year’s Hill visits began with stopping by Congressman Elijah Cummings’ office  to thank him for his support of HR 2146 or the DATA Act, which passed the House at the end of April.
Meeting with Senators Cardin and Mikulski of Maryland, MACPA CEO Tom Hood took the opportunity to explain his organization’s support of XBRL and detailed its value in tracking and analyzing complicated financial data. He explained to Senator Mikulski how MACPA applied XBRL tagging to their own financial statements  to offer greater transparency to MACPA staff, members and anyone interested in understanding the value of data tagging. He suggested to his state’s senators that a similar project on a federal level would be incredibly insightful for our government and legislators.
This year’s official AICPA initiatives for Hill visits focused solely on positioning CPAs as resources and thought leaders available to offer expertise, knowledge and information to members of Congress. There were no major legislative “asks” this year.
Council and guests shared the AICPA’s brand new Total Tax Insights  calculator - a one-of-a-kind online tool that provides users with an approximation of their specific tax obligations - with members of Congress. The tool was on display throughout Council meetings this week, where participants could figure out their own estimated tax liabilities. AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon said in his opening remarks to Council  that his organization would continue to update the tool with the most current tax information going forward.
Council also offered members of Congress a free resource called What’s at Stake? A CPA’s Insights into the Federal Government’s Finances , a new video which concisely and objectively explains the importance of the U.S. government’s financial statements and why policymakers should consider this information carefully. The video tied in with this year’s thought leader initiatives which attempted to reiterate to Congress that CPAs are a valuable resource in an ever-changing financial landscape on the legislative level.
When Council attendees returned to the Grand Ballroom on Wednesday afternoon following Hill visits, it was clear the morning spent offering CPAs’ insight to legislators was the most appropriate way to launch the Spring meeting of Council. It was also an opportunity to celebrate the 125 year history of the AICPA as an important advocate for CPAs and resource for members of Congress.