Greensboro News & Record: CPAs: Wanting Reform, Awaiting Details

By Travis Fain

North Carolina CPAs are pushing tax reform as a priority, but if you’re looking for their detailed analysis of proposals, we’re just not there yet.

Even though Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger stood in front of a crowded press room yesterday to announce the basics of the tax plan he and other Senators will push, we don’t feel any further along the road to reform.

The House is likely to put forward a plan. The governor will obviously have his say. Things are so likely to morph, radically, that it feels like a waste of time to hash out what the Senate rolled out Tuesday.

Especially since it hasn’t actually been written into a bill.

Put it this way: N.C. Association of Certified Public Accountants CEO Jim Ahler called Berger’s press conference yesterday “a fairly significant sound bite.”

“It’s difficult to even react or think about it,” he said. “Because the devil’s in the details.”

Ahler and his group are in Greensboro for an annual conference, and he was in Raleigh Wednesday morning for a press conference on tarheeltaxreform.com, the NCACPA’s push to gin up support for “urgent, “critical” and “desperately” needed reform.

There’s a pretty wide consensus that North Carolina needs reform, and significant support for lowering income tax rates in the state. But who wants to raise grocery taxes or slap a new sales tax on services, including visits to the CPA? Fewer people. It is a long and difficult road from here to major tax reform, as past efforts have shown. As we travel that road, the NCACPA says it will keep updates flowing on its website. As proposals get a bit more solid, they’ll analyze their impacts without taking a position on individual proposals, Ahler said. Group members have already been consulted by state Sen. Bob Rucho and others driving the tax reform bus, so it seems like a resource worth checking in on as the debate kicks into high gear.

“There will be a flurry of activity once (Berger’s) bill happens,” Ahler said. “We’re hoping for a robust dialogue. … You can count on every trade and profession being represented.”