October 23, 2018

Let’s Cool It With All the ‘CPAs Should Run for Office Because Taxes’ Talk

cpa run for office

Crazy enough to think that people will care that he can look at a 1040 and not soil himself.

Should CPAs run for office? According to this gushy post at the AICPA, the answer is a resounding: YAAAAS.

When you’re a CPA, you have a solid understanding of the many issues that power government: taxes, their assessment and collection and the rules that govern them; small business challenges and needs; financial literacy and responsibility; and myriad details of budgeting, responsible record keeping and the impacts of financial decisions.

CPAs’ expertise gives them a distinct advantage over other candidates, making them uniquely qualified to serve as thought leaders in government. As the country ponders the effects of the first major tax overhaul in more than 30 years, now more than ever, there’s a need for tax and fiscal expertise in our public servants. Who better to serve the community and protect the public interest than CPAs?

Oh, brother. Yes, CPAs understand taxes and spreadsheets and stuff, so that’s nice, but that does not equal MR. SMITH, CPA GOES TO WASHINGTON.

In case you haven’t noticed, the vast majority of the 535 people who make up the U.S. Congress don’t seem to care one iota about tax or fiscal expertise. They passed a sweeping, fiscally destructive tax law at breakneck speed, making parts of the system vastly more complicated that even the most knowledgeable CPAs are struggling to understand. Does any sane person think that a couple more CPAs in the House of Representatives preaching financial prudence will turn this whole thing around?

Not to mention the fact that “I’m a CPA and I’ll bring fiscal responsibility back to Washington” is a lousy platform to run on. The average American voter, while laughably gullible, is not falling for that shit anymore. If you’re a CPA and you want to run for national office, by all means, make this the theme of your campaign if you would like to lose.

Qualifications at the national level boil down to this:

1. Republican candidates should support Donald Trump.

2. Democratic candidates should oppose Donald Trump.

Now, if you are a CPA and you do fall into buckets 1 or 2, can vote how you’re told, and don’t mind grossly neglecting your family, you may have a future in national politics. Those are the essentials. Sure, your acute tax knowledge might fit nicely into arguments for either camp, but the parties already have the talking points figured out. Anything wonky will be overkill and a snoozefest.

CPAs who are serious about running for office should only consider it at the state or local level. This is where your fancy tax brains may actually come in handy and the dog and pony show is milder. Or, hey, here’s an idea — if you really want to perform a public service, go work for your local city, county, or state government. You won’t need to ask a single person to vote for you and your life won’t be ruined. If that doesn’t adequately satisfy your ego, however, then you’ll want to revisit points 1 and 2 above.

I’m glad we had this talk.


Image: iStock/shironosov

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