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CPAs eye international reporting standards, workload compression

These are busy days for the Mississippi Society of Certified Public Accountants (MSCPA) with new leadership, board meetings and putting the final touches on the yearly budget. There are also new professional issues facing the membership and an effort to bring more CPAs under age 35 into the association.

“We at the MSCPA love to see some of our important accounting issues in print,” says president Jan F. Lewis upon sharing information with the Mississippi Business Journal. “Things are going well with my presidency although it’s a busy time with our first board meeting and finalizing our budget for the year.”

Lewis, a CPA with the Jackson firm of Haddox Reid Burkes & Calhoun, is the third female president in the MSCPA’s 88-year history. She follows Linda Keng of Watkins Ludlam Winter & Stennis law firm, who served last year, and Dr. Dora Herring of Mississippi State University, who served in 1990-91. The organization currently has 2,600 members.

Focused on members

Lewis says her primary goal is to serve members and ensure that the organization has another successful year. Two specific goals are to engage younger CPAs in the association and to encourage CPA members working in industry to become more involved.

“These are two initiatives that were recommended by the Society’s recent long-range planning task force,” she said. “We will be kicking off a new Young CPA Network for MSCPA members under age 35, and we are working to make sure all of our committees, continuing education courses and society activities are benefiting these younger CPAs and CPAs in private industry as well as our members in public accounting.”

Executive director Jack Coppenbarger says approximately 250 members are involved with the work of 16 committees. “In an effort to make their committee service easier, we are encouraging more committees to meet by teleconference, which saves time out of the office and energy costs,” he said. “For members from Tupelo to the Gulf Coast, it is making attending meetings much easier.”

There are several current issues of interest to members, including making it easier for CPAs to practice from state to state, workload compression; complying with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and tax concerns relating to natural disasters.

“Mobility of CPAs is extremely important for CPAs who work across state lines, and our Society is working on this issue with the Mississippi State Board of CPAs,” Lewis said. “Workload compression continues to be an issue in public accounting. With more and more businesses required to use the calendar year as their tax year, the March 15 and April 15 deadlines make for a very busy spring with so many tax returns due at that time.”

She goes on to say that the international reporting standards are a major issue of the American Institute of CPAs. “In today’s global economy, the establishment of accounting standards to be used in preparing financial statements for companies with multi-national business activities will be relevant to many MSCPA members,” she said.

For members in public practice, the tax aspects relating to recent natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, spring tornadoes and other tropical storms, Lewis says, are very complicated. “As CPAs, we want to be knowledgeable on all such tax relief provisions, including calculation of bonus depreciation, deductibility of casualty losses and the use of GO Zone tax incentives by our clients,” she said.

Continuing professional education (CPE) is required for CPAs each year and is an important part of what the MSCPA does. “It is a topic that is reviewed each year by our CPE committee and our board of governors,” Lewis said. “The MSCPA works hard to ensure that our educational programs are meeting the current needs of our members. As new issues arise during the year or if tax laws change, we try to adjust our educational offerings to cover those new areas.”

Integrating technology

The organization’s redesigned website is helping CPAs continue their professional development. In the first major update since the site went live in the spring of 1997, it now allows members to log on and update their own information and register for classes. It also has advanced search functions, not only for members, but also for the public to find CPAs throughout the state.

“We plan to include online learning opportunities as future enhancements to the website,” Coppenbarger added.

The classroom at the MSCPA’s building on Highland Colony Parkway is used year round, too. This month marks the third anniversary of being in the new facility.

The MSCPA does not directly bring issues of interest to legislative bodies, but the membership is always watching the state and federal political processes for changes in tax laws.

“Each year, our executive committee and board of governors discuss any current legislative activity with our legislative committee,” Lewis said. “The members of the Society’s legislative committee monitor current legislation that could affect MSCPA members.”

For more information, visit the MSCPA’s website at www.ms-cpa.org.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.

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