By: Jim Ahler
One cannot access media these days that you don’t hear or see someone speaking about tax reform or tax modernization. If you walk the halls of the NC General Assembly, you have been hearing a lot more about it since last summer. It’s been discussed for many years, but the sense of urgency is heightened in 2013. If you watch or listen to political talk shows or review economic forecasts about North Carolina State Government, you are left with a feeling change must happen and is coming. From what we have learned from folks trained in economics, change must happen to protect the future of North Carolina. If nothing is done to alter NC’s Tax Code, within three to five years, they predict the state’s revenue base eroding even further, which will lead to potentially devastating results. It’s been described to me as a “tipping point” in this state. If you read the insightful book, “The Tipping Point,” by Malcolm Gladwell, you know I am referring to a point in time, beyond which, the state may not be able to take necessary steps to alter its course. The proverbial clock is ticking and we have a short time to find solutions.
Economists from many organizations agree the state’s tax code, based heavily on personal and corporate income tax, must be changed. That’s where agreement ends, however. It’s difficult to find many who agree on how it should change. To make matters worse, there are many voters in this state completely unaware of the need for tax reform. News from state government and the legislature generally gets limited attention in our state. In fact, it’s not always easy to get up-to-date information in Wake County about decisions being made in the NC General Assembly. In addition, to many knowledgeable voters in the state, tax reform is very complex and overwhelming.
Our profession has a wonderful opportunity to provide a public service in this vital area. This profession was founded on core concepts of accuracy, objectivity, honesty, and independence. Who better to make sense out of difficult and complex financial information, and share it with NC taxpayers? NC Certified Public Accountants are “financial translators” and can uniquely help the public, clients, and employers understand tax modernization. The need is great for candid, objective information about why the debate is even going on.
Jim is the chief executive officer of NCACPA and works directly with the board of directors. A registered lobbyist, he works with the lobbying team at the NC General Assembly and represents the association with the State Board of CPA Examiners. Jim presents a “Professional Issues Update” annually around the state. He serves as liaison director for the Government Relations and Taxation committees as well as the Professional Ethics Advisory Group. A true blue Kentucky Wildcat fan, Jim knows his basketball. Just ask him.