... way off base
The column you regularly publish
by profs. miller and bahnson has finally
reached the point where it can no longer be
ignored. While i cannot be labeled a regular
reader, i do gaze at it just to see who or what
they have decided to flagellate.
it now seems evident that their urge to
bash is the dominating factor, supplanting
usual considerations in learned works such
as accuracy, objectivity and fairness. i have
identified articles that i know are inaccurate
and have concluded that the professors don’t
let facts get in the way of the story they want
to tell. a case in point involves a column they
published a few years back where their cho-
sen target was the american institute of cpas.
The article contained inaccuracies, demon-
strably incorrect statements and misleading
assertions that to me, as a past chair of the
aicpa board of Directors and a member of its
governing council, were simply inexcusable.
since one of the authors, professor miller, and
i live in colorado springs and we know each
other, i contacted him to offer my assistance
in helping him fill the void in his knowledge
about the aicpa. more important, i offered
to consult with him if he ever felt moved in
the future to write about the aicpa. he did
not take me up on my offer; indeed, from that
point forward he stopped communicating.
now fast-forward to the present and the
column authored by the professors that appeared in the December 2011 issue of
Accounting Today (“Some evidence that the
AICPA’s management has lost its focus,” page
20 ). This article is riddled with misstatements,
inaccuracies and erroneous assertions. To
use the current jargon of fact-checkers, some
of their claims merit the designation, “pants
on fire.” since the professors have proven that
they have no interest in educating themselves
about a subject before they write about it, i
believe i have no choice now but to do publicly what i previously offered to do privately;
hence this letter.
1. The AICPA’s mission. The authors assert
that, “Without question, the aicpa’s justify-
Miller & Bahnson are ...
ing mission is serving its members, first, foremost, always and only.” of course the aicpa
serves its members, but that is certainly not
its singular mission. if the professors had
bothered to read the aicpa mission statement, they would have found first and foremost a “strong commitment to serving the
public interest.” moreover, if the professors
had done their homework, they would have
found innumerable examples of the aicpa
and its members serving the public interest
in countless ways, including an award-winning financial literacy program and serving as
non-partisan advisories to congress on such
things as social security and medicare.
2. The obsession with the AICPA’s management. had the professors done their
homework, they would have learned that
the aicpa is truly a democratic organization
in which members and their broad range of
representatives have significant input. indeed, most of their misdirected references
to management actions regarded actions that
had been approved by members and their
representatives in a democratic process, and,
in fact, many of them originated at the grass-roots of our profession.
proof of the aicpa’s effectiveness can be
found in the record-high membership number (nearly 380,000) and retention rate (
approximately 95 percent).
3. Sharing the profession’s perspective
on Capitol Hill and beyond. member surveys
reflect a high level of interest in the aicpa’s
advocacy efforts. over the past few years, the
aicpa and state cpa societies have worked
together to achieve cpa interstate practice
privilege in 48 states and counting. This year,
the aicpa helped to: repeal expanded 1099
reporting requirements that would have been
onerous to small-business owners and rental
property owners; prevent mandatory with-
holding of taxes ( 3 percent) from government
contractor payments; and ban further pat-
ents on tax strategies. The institute worked
with the irs as the registered tax return pre-
parer program took shape to prevent dupli-
cative and unnecessary oversight over cpas
who prepare tax returns and to ensure that
the term “registered tax preparer” does not
endanger the cpa brand. additionally, the
aicpa was able to work with congress on an
agreement to recognize cpas’ “customary
and usual” services under the consumer Fi-
nancial protection bureau, in light of existing
regulation of cpas’ advice and counsel.
“Since you put it that way, it just might be a deduction.”
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