Magazine article The CPA Journal

In Recession or Recovery, CPAs Face Challenges and Opportunities

Magazine article The CPA Journal

In Recession or Recovery, CPAs Face Challenges and Opportunities

Article excerpt

Americans are still feeling the harsh impacts of the recession despite the fact that its unofficial arbiter, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), recently announced that the recession ended in June 2009. Economists evaluated 10 types of indicators - including manufacturing and trade sales, payroll, gross domestic product (GDP), and gross domestic income (GDI) indices - in reaching their conclusion that the economy is no longer contracting.

The longest recession since World War II may be over (NBER pegged a December 2007 start date), but with a listless economy and a national unemployment rate at 9.5%, surveys indicate many Americans are far from enjoying the fruits of recovery. According to the Census Bureau, the number of those living in poverty rose to 43.6 million in 2009 from 39.8 million in 2008. And in a recent Investment News survey of financial advisors, half the respondents said their clients' financial situations are about the same as they were a year ago, in the middle of the recession.

The recession's start and end dates don't necessarily reflect the beginning and end of the hardship experienced by individuals, of course, nor is NBER claiming that they do. In a statement, NBER said it does not assert that economic conditions since June 2009 have been favorable or that the nation is back to operating at normal capacity. Rather, the organization's data on real GDP and real GDI indicate that a recovery-albeit a slow one - began in June 2009.

Growth has been more sluggish than both the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) earlier projections and in previous recoveries, according to the CBO, which is not surprising given the severity of the recession and the fact that it was triggered by a financial crisis.

New York is a state that relies heavily on tax revenue from the financial sector - the industry hit hardest by the recession in terms of layoffs and capital losses - to balance its budget. The top one-half of 1% of income earners paid about 30% of New York State's personal income taxes during the 2009 fiscal year, while capital gains tax payments from all households accounted for more than one-quarter of all income taxes, according to a recent report in the New York Federal Reserve's Current Issues in Economics and Finance. And those high-net- worth individuals suffered some big losses in bonuses last year, which resulted in a $1 billion loss of tax revenue for New York State in 2008. If the recent dearth of income and revenues from the financial sector is prolonged, the report suggests New York State's budget problems - such as those we've seen during the past two years-could also become long-term problems for New Yorkers. …

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