As professionals we serve our clients in both direct and indirect methods. We believe that both are important.
We directly serve our clients when we assist them with their specific needs. In the area of taxes that generally means assisting them with the preparation of a tax return, providing advice on what the tax ramifications will be on decisions they must make, or handling a representation issue following their receipt of a letter from a tax authority of the government.
We indirectly serve our clients when we work to change the tax environment that our clients and community must live and work in. To aid in this process, we co-labor with colleagues through professional organizations. In California, that organization is the California Society of Enrolled Agents (CSEA). At the federal level it is the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA). We are involved in supporting and lobbying on legislation that we believe is in the best interest of our clients. We also work with state agencies to address systemic issues to address client issues.
Stern-Mulak Advocacy Week
In 2022, Stern-Mulak Advocacy Week was held January 18th & 19th. Working with Aaron Read & Associates, CSEA secured zoom meetings with legislators and staff who are members of the Senate and Assembly tax committees. To kick off the event, CSEA held an orientation that included insights from the Senate and Assembly tax committee consultants and overview of CSEA’s policy priorities for the year. The week is wrapped up with a virtual Debrief Happy Hour where participants share the highs and lows of the week and feedback from the meetings. This event gets stronger every year. Legislators and staff enjoy meeting EAs and having tax pros they can consider a resource.
CSEA’s Profile Raised
Due to the Stern Mulak event, and CSEA’s ongoing legislative advocacy efforts, CSEA is now a resource for legislators and staff when they have tax policy questions. For instance, this year the legislature reached out specifically to CSEA regarding AB 1249 and SB 1246. These two bills pertain to fire victim settlement income exclusion. The legislature sought CSEA’s insight regarding outreach as the FTB attempts to implement the bills!
Additionally, Assemblymember Irwin, Chairwoman of the Assembly Revenue & Taxation Committee, introduced a bill regarding increasing taxpayer use of the CA Earned Income Tax Credit (AB 1863). CSEA provided valuable insight regarding the CA EITC and some of the impediments in the program and requested amendments to the bill, which the author took. Additionally, the Chairwoman’s office sought CSEA’s insight for an informational hearing on the CA EITC.
Conformity in the State Budget
During Stern Mulak Advocacy Week CSEA advocated for additional PPP conformity through spring of 2021. This advocacy was successful and the issue was addressed in the state budget (SB 154)!
State Tax Agency Liaison Meeting "STALM"
The other pillar of CSEA’s advocacy program is STALM – the State Tax Agency Liaison Meeting – held every fall. CSEA invites the state agencies to meet with EAs to address a variety of topics and in turn, the state agencies get practitioners’ insight into systemic problems in the agencies.
Prior to the meeting, CSEA gathers questions and concerns EAs have expressed about working with the various tax agencies (FTB, CDTFA, EDD, BOE and SOS). CSEA submits those questions and concerns to the tax agencies for a response and invites the agencies to join CSEA at STALM to address and discuss the issues.
This event is a huge help to EAs. Those who attend greatly appreciate the networking with the agencies and resolution of the issues they raised. Also, for recurring items or items that cannot be handled administratively – CSEA is then aware of potential legislative changes that are needed. CSEA can then work with the legislature to address those items, which are usually brought through Stern/Mulak Advocacy Week.