Of accountants and agriculture

Years ago, I attended a conference at which one of the speakers talked about accountants. He praised them as smart and dedicated, and spoke glowingly about their critical role in helping individuals, businesses and government entities keep accurate financial records.  But the speaker also said too much time and effort is spent on tax accounting. If our tax laws were simplified, he said, we wouldn’t need so many accountants and some of the smart, talented people now working as tax accountants would be freed for other, more productive occupations.

Through the years, I’ve passed along his thoughts to relatives and friends who are accountants. They like the part of being smart and talented (which they are) but they grumble about simplifying tax laws — which, of course, would mean less demand for their skills.

I thought of that speaker this morning, when I attended the annual Income Tax Management for Ag Producers video conference. Sponsored by the North Dakota State University Extension Service, the event looked at tax law changes relevent to ag producers and their accountants.

Monday’s meeting reinforced two of my longstanding beliefs:

—  Tax laws are really complicated.

—  Tax accountants are smart and dedicated. Their profession isn’t for the faint of heart.

You can read my story on the NDSU event at www.agweek.com