The Complicated Relationship of Accountants and Politics


It all boils down to one thing – how are we going to pay for that? Every law that is signed into legislation, every interpretation of the legislation, every ruling, every implementation of a new law; it is all about the money. We as accountants, and particularly as tax accountants, have a fundamental understanding of how our country can afford to operate that many people do not have. Our knowledge and training are resources to help guide our country forward.

Regardless of which political party a tax accountant associates with, we have been trained to do tax planning and tax minimization strategies. We know how to skirt the tax man completely legally. We know where the big loopholes are, how to take advantage of the credits, how to advise our clients to do business or make personal decisions to ensure they are not stuck with a giant tax bill, and we know where the imbalance is. I frequently identify tax sections that are completely unfair and applied to different industries differently based on who could afford the better lobbyist. Or which senator was willing to add in a special interest provision into the latest bill for a promise of a future campaign contribution.

Tax accountants see through the political subterfuge and have a direct line to the lifeblood of America – where the money comes from. We are in a unique position to hold our government accountable and to educate our neighbors.

Here are a few ways that we can use our knowledge for good and make an impact:

  1. Write to your Senators and your Representatives
    This is a rather mundane task to be honest. However, these people are depending on your vote and the louder you are about injustices are areas that can significantly impact you and your clients, the better the chance of positive change.
  1. Get involved in a professional organization
    The AICPA, State CPAs Societies, EA Organizations, and other professional boards have direct connections to Washington. There are opportunities to get involved in these organizations to influence policy. I even know a few people who have drafted some of the enacted tax laws that we have today. If you build strong relationships with the professional organization and the Washingtonians, you have an opportunity to directly influence change.
  1. Write about it and publish!
    If you are passionate about a misconstrued piece of legislation and you want to bring light to it – submit to us here. Use a formal publication as a platform to start conversations about the tax code you so passionately support or deplore.
  1. #TaxTwitter
    okay, this one does not actually have a direct line to making change, but it sure is fun to debate the other professionals and talk about what you are seeing! You might spark a big-name writer or journalist to pick up the story and publish it for you.
  1. Vote!
    Vote for candidates that you believe align with you. Vote for candidates that are intelligent. Vote for people to represent you that you can feel good about supporting. Mind you, they are going to have to read all your letters for years to come, so it’s important to elect someone that cares enough to read!
  1. Citizen Participation in local government
    Show up to public hearings. Show up to Town Halls. Speak! Let your voice be heard. You understand the implications of legislation on taxes and can break it down to other citizens in a way that they can understand. That is literally half of our jobs! We have been training for this for years!

There are plenty of productive ways to use your talent and knowledge to help move the country forward in a productive way.

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Liz Mason is a serial entrepreneur, a giant nerd, and an involved accounting vanguard. She is the Founder of High Rock Accounting, Rebel Rock Accounting, TheDepartment.Tax, and a few other related brands. Liz speaks on a national stage, guests stars on podcasts, and writes frequently. To further her passion for the advancement of the accounting profession, Liz currently serves as a Xero National Ambassador and as the Content Strategist for Tax Practice News. Liz started her career in tax at Grant Thornton (at 20) and automated a portion of her job landing her in the national tax practice. She spent a decade in large public accounting firms working on highly technical tax consulting before branching off on her own. Liz utilizes her creativity and passion at her company to uproot traditional practices and replace them with innovative concepts. She finds joy in efficient technology and her core belief is that everyone and everything can continuously improve (she says "be better" too often). When Liz isn't planning world domination in accounting, she is a die-hard skier, down for any adventure, plays the ukulele, reads everything, and has a good sense of humor. If you're looking for her, you can find her traveling the world and enjoying new food and cultures with her young son. Follow Liz and High Rock Accounting on Twitter at @LizzyNorMa and @HighRockCPAs.