CPAs chide Obama for offshore tax comments

A group of accountants said Friday that they’re tired of being blamed by President Obama for a rash of new offshore tax deals.

Scott Adair, president of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants, said that Obama should be looking closer to home if he was seeking to hold someone responsible for so-called corporate inversions.

“If President Obama wants to point fingers, perhaps he should point them at Congress for creating the very loopholes he vilifies. Sustainable corporate tax reform is the elephant in this room,” Adair said in a statement.

“President Obama’s goals would be best served by looking to his fellow lawmakers if he wants a solution to this problem. The accounting profession stands ready to help.”

At a Wednesday press conference, Obama chalked up at least some of the corporate interest in the deals to accountants. Under the deals, U.S. companies generally buy smaller, foreign competitors — then reincorporate in a lower-taxed country abroad.

“These accountants are saying, you know what, we found a great loophole — if you just flip your citizenship to another country, even though it’s just a paper transaction, we think we can get you out of paying a whole bunch of taxes,” Obama said.

Obama and Democrats have increasingly lashed out at those sorts of deals in recent weeks, calling for legislation and making the offshore moves a part of the Democrats’ midterm message.

In his statement, Adair, whose group has more than 29,000 members, said accountants ensure their clients follow the law and were becoming increasingly relied upon because the U.S. tax system is so complex.

“It is a CPA's unique ability to legally navigate an extraordinarily complex tax code that makes CPAs' services so valuable to their individual and corporate clients,” Adair said.