As we enter our 125th year of representing and advocating for CPAs, I can’t help but be struck by the footprint we have made on the profession over multiple generations. From the moment our founder, Charles Waldo Haskins, championed new legislation defining and refining the nascent profession, the NYSSCPA has always been the voice of the profession in Albany, serving the interests of our members, the accounting profession, and society as a whole.
Some of our advocacy has fundamentally changed what it means to be a CPA in New York in ways that younger generations now take for granted. We were the midwife of mandatory continuing professional education (CPE) in the 1980s, ensuring that CPAs remain updated on relevant issues in a way that accommodates professionals’ busy schedules.
We were also the prime movers of the 2009 accountancy reform law that was passed in the wake of the global financial crisis. It is this law that expanded the scope of practice to include CPAs in all walks of the profession and required all to register with the New York State Education Department and fulfill CPE requirements. It also broadened experience requirements to include CPA-supervised work in industry, government, nonprofits, or academia.
The Society was also a major force in pushing forward cross-border practice mobility, allowing professionals from out of state to practice in New York, as long as their licensing requirements were substantially equivalent to the ones here. The Empire State was late to the game, being one of the last states to approve it, which had caused innumerable headaches for firms until we prevailed on this issue.
The Society also ensured accountability by advocating for the mandatory quality review law, which eliminated the exemption for firms with one or two CPAs when it came to attest work. Attest service engagements come with one of the highest levels of risk; undergoing peer review hedges against that risk and helps CPAs attain better results. It’s good for your business, your clients, and the profession.
But between all these landmark reforms have also been scores of smaller advocacy victories that have made life easier for CPAs in many different ways. We worked with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance to make the power of attorney form simpler. We worked with New York City to address problems with Forms J-51 and TC-309. More recently, it was our advocacy that pushed Albany to accept e-signatures on tax forms, declare accounting an essential profession, move the state tax deadline when the IRS moved its own, and mitigate the effect of the SALT deduction cap with the new pass-through entities tax.
This is to say nothing of the innumerable fingerprints we’ve left on a diverse array of measures both state and federal through our comment letters and testimony, as well as the presence of our professionals on important regulatory bodies. The Private Company Council’s founding cohort, for example, sported three NYSSCPA members, and we maintained our presence afterwards with another member in the next term.
Of course, the NYSSCPA does much more for our members than advocacy, we publish The CPA Journal, The Trusted Professional, TaxStringer, and NextGen—all valuable resources for our members. Our allied organization, the Foundation for Accounting Education—celebrating its 50th anniversary this year—continues to provide top-notch CPE courses for our members. The Moynihan Scholarship Fund works to strengthen the all-important CPA pipeline by overseeing the Career Opportunities in the Accounting Profession (COAP)—turning 35 this year—and the Excellence in Accounting Scholarships.
And we’re not done yet. For your benefit, we continue to fight for permitting non-CPA owners in firms, allowing e-signatures on power of attorney forms, letting CPE credits transfer from state to state, and much more. We will continue moving forward, as new leaders and new issues enter the conversation. After all, there was no “CPA” 125 years ago, until a cadre of dedicated professionals founded a new society to secure formal recognition from the state. The collective efforts of our members have always been instrumental in earning the respect of regulators and the trust of the public. I don’t doubt that future generations will continue this tradition, and the Society will continue to amplify their voices in Albany and beyond.