MNCPA PERSPECTIVES

Legislative change: Did you plant in time for harvest season?

Sep. 25, 2017  |  Geno Fragnito

A few months ago, as winter was giving way to spring, I wrote about the similarities between agriculture and legislative changes, and the importance of planting seeds to maximize yields. Now summer is giving way to fall, school has started, and it’s time to assess how well you did with the seeds you chose to plant. What will future harvests yield?

Did you contact your state legislators to share your thoughts on issues? More importantly, did you share your insights based on your experience as a CPA? Legislators value constituent input, and your experience and knowledge has a significant impact on the final product produced at the Capitol.

This year, the MNCPA spent hundreds of hours tending to the garden in St. Paul, looking to maximize the return for the CPA profession and the businesses and clients you work for. Not everything worked and a few weeds had to be pulled along the way, but seeds planted years ago finally matured and yielded positive results.

Two examples of how this process worked are changes to the Department of Revenue (DOR) residency factors and changes to Minnesota’s estate tax.

Changes to the DOR residency factors were four years in the making before finally being signed into law this year. There were several bumps in the road along the way but, ultimately, the MNCPA’s and members’ consistent efforts led to positive changes. These changes wouldn’t have happened without a large, strong group of legislative supporters who understand the profession and why these issues are important.

As you know, Minnesota’s estate tax laws don’t conform to federal estate tax laws. Nonconformity adds to the complexity of the tax code, reduces the efficiency of administration and increases the cost to comply. Not to mention, estate tax nonconformity creates another variable to consider when a taxpayer is trying to determine whether to remain in Minnesota. Changes in 2017 now bring Minnesota closer to federal conformity. We are not yet at full conformity, but the changes are a great example of how seeds planted many years ago are yielding positive results.

These results were possible because of many meetings throughout many years, extensive outreach to legislators and support from CPAs who engaged with elected officials. I know summer schedules are busy and you might not have had a chance to connect with your local elected officials. You need not worry -- there is still time to make that connection before legislators start the 2018 policy debates in February. A simple way to engage a legislator is to invite them to your business or office.

Thank you to those who were involved. For those of you who may not have engaged this time, don’t worry -- there will be future opportunities.

New and (sometimes) unexpected issues will continue to develop, but preparing early and meeting your elected officials can influence future decisions affecting your business or your clients. You already have the knowledge and talents needed to influence change. Don’t stand on the fence post and watch others decide what is best for the profession.

Have a question or want more information about how to engage legislators? Let me know in the comments below or email me at gfragnito@mncpa.org.

Topics: Legislative, Tax

Geno Fragnito

Geno Fragnito is the MNCPA’s government relations director, advocating on behalf of the CPA profession. His days consist of last-minute meeting changes, building relationships with lawmakers, helping CPAs navigate state government, and putting in more than 15,000 steps per day walking the halls of the Capitol. Geno unwinds with a little golf and traveling with his family. If he weren’t a lobbyist, Geno would perfect his cast and be a professional fisherman. Geno can be reached at 952-885-5550 or gfragnito@mncpa.org.

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