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“Men and women make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership society stands still.” – Harry S Truman

The true history of the California Society of Enrolled Agents is the story of the dedicated men and women who contributed so much to the success of this organization: the Enrolled Agents who decided that there are certain ideals worth striving for and that those ideals are more readily attainable as a group than as an individual. These ideals are summed up in the Society’s stated Mission: to foster the professionalism business development and personal growth of its Members to protect their individual interests and to enhance the awareness and role of the Enrolled Agent among members of the public other professions and with governmental agencies. John W. Gardner said that “History never looks like history when you are living through it and I am certain that none of the men and women who worked so hard to create and sustain this Society stopped to think of whether or not posterity would remember them. It is to those individuals who actually wrote the history of this association and who continue to write it every day that this retrospective is respectfully dedicated.

Click on a link below to read the year-by-year history of CSEA.

I. Pre-1980

In the Beginning…

In 1972 through the pioneering efforts of David Smollan EA the Founding Chapter of an organization dedicated to Enrolled Agents was established in Los Angeles. Within one year it was the largest organization of EAs in the country. This organization eventually became the National Association of Enrolled Agents.

Any history of CSEA would be incomplete without expressing our acknowledgment and appreciation of Mr. Smollan and his work on behalf of Enrolled Agents.

1976 In recognition of the need for a statewide organization of Enrolled Agents to effectively coordinate efforts on behalf of EAs and the eight California Chapters a meeting is held in Sherman Oaks on December 15 to establish a “California Enrolled Agents Organization.” It is agreed that the key areas of attention for the Society will be Legislation Education Professional Standards and Mutual Support of its Members. Ken Drake EA is elected first President of the new Society; Mr. Drake who is unable to attend the meeting accepts the nomination by telephone.

1977 The California Society of Enrolled Agents is incorporated. As there is no structure for Society dues the Members of the new Society use their own funds to pay for incorporation fees stationery and other expenses (these funds are later reimbursed). In May the first CSEA convention is held in Santa Clara; 25 EAs attend. The new CSEA Board successfully lobbies against proposed California legislation that might give special benefits to tax preparers employed by the Tax Corporation of America.

1978 A Chapter Relations Committee is formed to assist in fostering greater cooperation between northern and southern state Chapters. In November the first issue of The California Society of Enrolled Agents Newsletter is published; it details a bill introduced in the State Senate to allow the formal recognition of EAs and the use of the initials “EA” as a professional designation (through the efforts of the Society the bill passed and was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in April 1979).

1979 At the Society’s third annual convention in Oakland Frank Lehman EA is elected Society President. At his first Board meeting Mr. Lehman states the Society’s goals would be Member education improvement of the public relationship of Members to clients and advocacy at regulatory and governmental levels. For the first time dual membership in CSEA and NAEA is mandated by a change in NAEA bylaws.

II. 1980-1989

1980’s History

1980 The Society becomes the umbrella organization in dealing with the various educational accreditation agencies previously the responsibility of each Chapter. At the fourth annual convention in San Diego the establishment of a permanent headquarters for the Society in Sacramento is proposed. The first TV spots promoting Enrolled Agents are aired by the Sacramento Chapter. CSEA dues increase for the first time since the Society’s founding: a one-year membership now costs $20.

1981 CSEA’s Bylaws are changed to designate that each Chapter would be entitled to one seat on the Board of Directors; Chapters of more than 100 Members are entitled to two seats (previously the Board was constituted to ensure that the northern and southern parts of the state each held an identical number of seats). CSEA enrollment stands at over 1http://www.csea.org000 Members and the Society’s Newsletter is upgraded to a monthly publication entitled The California Enrolled Agent.

1982 The Board of Directors decides to produce a series of seminars to raise much-needed operating funds for the Society; Tom Hess EA and Hayden Wisdom EA volunteer to personally produce the seminars. The Society lacks the money to even promote the seminars (scheduled for May as “Education Month”) and relies upon funds loaned by the Chapters and some of the Directors. The “road show” seminars reach from San Diego to Redding and are a tremendous success instituting a new era for the Society. Following that accomplishment the Society increases its Member benefit package to include insurance and discounts on tax research manuals hotels and rental cars. The first computer for the Society’s use (a gift from the Chapters) is installed for then-Executive Director Bill Sprague.

1983 The second annual “Education Month” is a resounding success; a one-day “Super Seminar” held at Lake Tahoe draws more than 200 attendees twice the number expected. CSEA membership tops 1http://www.csea.org500. At the Society convention in Monterey the Director of Practice announces he is considering drafting proposals to require the continuing professional education of all Enrolled Agents. The first CSEA Long Range Plan is adopted; one of the goals is for the purchase of a building “to house the Executive Office and headquarters of the Society” (at that time the Society was housed in a spare room in the Executive Director’s home).

1984 “Education Month” is expanded as Las Vegas and Reno are selected as sites for the Super Seminars now a 2-day event. The CSEA Scholarship Fund is created.

1985 The Society creates the Legislative Action Fund which successfully combats the proposed so-called “Model Accountancy Act” sponsored by the California Society of CPAs. In February the Society unveils its new official logo. Dues are raised to $40 the first increase in four years. Membership exceeds 2,000 for the first time.

1986 The Super Seminars expand to a third day enabling EAs to fulfill their annual IRS requirement. In addition sixteen one-day seminars are held throughout California in May. The California Enrolled Agent publishes its first annual “Good Stuff” issue with a wealth of information about the Seminars and other useful information. After two years in a small office the Society relocates renting space at its current location on Ramos Circle in Sacramento. The Thomas P. Hess Award is established to recognize extraordinary contributions to the educational goals of CSEA and its local Chapters. The 10th annual convention is held in San Diego and – after two years of discussion – new Bylaws are approved.

1987 At the annual convention in Sacramento outgoing President Hayden Wisdom EA expresses the necessity of purchasing a permanent headquarters for the Society and makes the first donation to a Building Fund.

1988 A series of four television programs entitled “The Tax Professionals” air on PBS and are extremely successful in informing the public about EAs; additional programs would be produced and aired over the next few years. CSEA receives the IRS’s “Meritorious Public Service Award” recognizing the Society’s contribution to greater understanding of federal tax laws and for CSEA’s creation of the PIES (“Problem Identification for Early Solution”) program. The Society begins its “We SpEAk Tax” promotion and for the first time utilizes a toll-free number to promote Members’ Services. The Society’s Scholarship Fund is expanded.

1989 A third Super Seminar is added. The Society’s Building Fund passes $100,000 and a search begins for a permanent headquarters. Many CSEA Members provide tax assistance to victims of the devastating Bay Area earthquake.

III. 1990-1999

1990’s History

1990 CSEA Members provide assistance to victims of the Santa Barbara fires which destroy more than 400 homes in June. The CSEA Public Disaster Service Task Force is formed.

1991 CSEA media efforts which includes updated “The Tax Professionals” programs for PBS and the distribution of 1,500 press kits result in widespread interest and awareness of Enrolled Agents. Members donate hundreds of hours to assist taxpayers involved in Operation Desert Storm.

1992 The Society purchases its building in Sacramento with mortgages totaling $199,000. The Board approves acquisition of a computer system capable of handling all records reporting and fiscal needs of the Society. The 11th Super Seminar is expanded to four locations Las Vegas Reno Anaheim and Sacramento; it is the largest gathering of tax practitioners in America. When Yucca Valley and Big Bear are shaken by earthquakes in June CSEA Members again rush to the aid of victims.

1993 The Society awards its first Distinguished Service Awards to recognize “outstanding contributions to the enhancement of the reputation recognition and success of the California Society of Enrolled Agents.” The first honorees are Tom Hess EA Nancy Nesbitt EA and Jim Stern EA. The first CSEA Legislative Day is held in Sacramento.

1994 The Society’s Executive Committee is formed. The Super Seminars expand to five locations including the first Super held outside the United States at Puerto Vallarta Mexico.

1995 A series of three Leadership Workshops are held throughout the state covering a range of topics that include the history of associations parliamentary procedures and how to recruit and motivate volunteers.

1996 The Society’s “Flat Tax Worksheet” garners nationwide media interest and the first statewide radio advertising campaign increases public awareness of EAs as “The Tax Professionals.” The first Tax Boat which provides an educational program aboard a Caribbean cruise is a success. Meanwhile to ease overcrowding the Super Seminar schedule is changed to back-to-back programs in Las Vegas followed by one program in Reno. The 20th annual CSEA convention is held in Riverside.

1997 Following an updating and expansion of the Society’s computer system the website premieres in February. Officers Directors and Members sponsor the site.

1998 Following two years of meetings CSEA establishes affiliation with Japanese Tax Accountants through NP News a publisher of tax information in Japan by creating a category of “International Associate” Membership. The Society introduces a new educational program called C-STAR (California State Tax Agency Representation) to offer tips and techniques for practitioners to effectively represent their clients before California tax agencies. The second Tax Boat sails to Alaska. The mortgage for the Society headquarters in Sacramento is paid in full.

1999 At the annual convention in Redding the mortgage for the CSEA office is burned to tumultuous applause. After 18 years of serving the Society Executive Vice President Bill Sprague retires; Catherine A. Apker CAE is introduced as the new EVP. In November the online referral program is launched on the website; the first day there is already a request from a taxpayer seeking an EA.

IV. 2000-2009

2000’s History

2000 CSEA’s Legislative Affairs Committee successfully negotiates a safe harbor cover letter for Members to use with financial statements. Super Seminars attract attendees from 44 states and one foreign country. CSEA dues increase to $105.

2001 The Board of Directors approves a new Vision Statement including a Core Purpose Core Values BHAG and Vivid Description. The Society’s website is updated and revamped with new Members-only areas including a timely legislative update and a bulletin board. The third Tax Boat sails in October destination: the Panama Canal. Membership benefit offerings are increased to provide dollar savings to members far in excess of current dues. Membership stands at approximately 4,000.

2002 Celebrating its 25th Anniversary the Society presents its Charter Members with special pins at its Annual Meeting in Pleasanton. It’s a year of milestones as the 20th annual Super Seminars are held in Las Vegas and Reno. Additional educational and professional benefit programs are offered including C-STAR (a 2-level seminar devoted to representation) and Next Step which offers Members assistance in developing business plans. CSEA successfully leads the fight against mandatory e-filing. California Enrolled Agent magazine is revamped and redesigned and now includes monthly articles about Member benefits PIA efforts and website expertise.

2003 California passes mandatory e-filing legislation but CSEA’s efforts provide a number of protections for tax professionals including a client “opt-out” clause. The Next Step program is expanded to include seminars in Hiring Acquiring and Training Staff and Office Procedures. A new category for Student Associates is approved by membership at the Annual Meeting in Bakersfield and thousands of posters and brochures are sent to schools colleges and adult education centers across the state. Extensive radio advertising runs throughout tax season on the popular Bob Brinker MoneyTalk program; the ads are read by Mr. Brinker himself. The Tax Boat dodging two hurricanes sails to New England. The Society provides its Members with a free Client Tax Newsletter intended to be an annual event.

2004 It’s a year of membership records for the Society. Approximately 400 Enrolled Agents join the Society the best one-year total since the mid-1980s. Membership now stands at more than 4http://www.csea.org100 Members Associates and Affiliates. At the Annual Meeting in Garden Grove membership approves a new Professional Associate category to allow tax professionals who are not governed by Circular 230 to join the Society. CSEA’s new TV ad premieres on the colossal 300 sq. ft. screen at the L.A. Marathon and over the four-day event is seen by 1.2 million visitors. Nearly 250 tax professionals attend the first Super Seminar in Hawaii and the Tax Boat is scheduled to sail for Alaska. CSEA signs a formal agreement making the Japan Society of Enrolled Agents an Affiliate Chapter. Outgoing President Lonnie Gary EA creates a Major Media Marketing Fund with the approval of the Board; the MMM Fund will be used to fulfill his presidential charge to “think LARGE” when planning public information and awareness campaigns.

2005 FTB Tax Amnesty affects thousands of Californians. Tax Boat sails to Alaska. The Solano-Napa Chapter is approved and begins operation. New awards are created for Student Associates and Professional Associates categories. First Internet auction nets about $5,000 for Scholarship Fund. Jim Stern Legislative Day in January is a tremendous success as CSEA Legislative information is distributed to every state legislator. CSEA attends a Federal Conformity meeting held by the staff of the Assembly and Senate Revenue and Taxation Committees. Ten CSEA Past Presidents gather at the Annual Meeting in Reno; the theme of the Annual Meeting is “The GrEAt Gold Rush” hosted by the Golden Gate Chapter. Society approves a Marketing Plan to define create and maintain future Public Information & Awareness campaigns. CSEA’s Disaster Services Program is busy throughout the year and Disaster Workshops are hosted in Marysville for 1986 Yuba County flood victims who received their settlement checks following a lengthy lawsuit. Members of the Japan Chapter visit CSEA and a number of Member offices. Society kicks off new at-home CPE program “Audio Tax”.

2006 The Society celebrates its 30th anniversary with commemorative pins for the membership. The 30th Annual Meeting is hosted by the Big Valley Chapter and held in Reno Nevada. CSEA Members reach out to students via extensive training for the VITA program. An Honorary Membership category is approved by membership; longtime CSEA Executive Vice President Bill Sprague CAE is the first to be so honored. Additional tax workshops are held for Yuba County flood victims and CSEA volunteers are recognized for their efforts by Congressman Wally Herger. The Society keeps its Members advised about the new changes to enrollment and the SEE procedures.

2007 California passes new Domestic Partner tax regulations. CSEA’s 31st Annual Meeting hosted by the Channel Islands Chapter is held in Ventura Beach. The Society approves a Practice Preservation Plan to assist Members in the case of disability or death. California Enrolled Agent magazine goes color and adds new regular features devoted to ethics. Super Seminar celebrates its 25th anniversary with events in Las Vegas and Reno. Jim Stern Legislative Day is held in Sacramento and Member volunteers spread the EA word to California representatives. The Society’s monthly electronic newsletter is revamped and CSEA BEAcon is born. As wildfires devastate areas of Southern California CSEA volunteers again make themselves available to serve. The CSEA Tax Boat sails to Turkey and Greece.

2008 In January CSEA is invited to attend an open dialogue with representatives from the GAO regarding the federal licensing of tax preparers. The Education Foundation Task Force completes the paperwork required to accomplish the formation of a new entity. The CSEA Education Foundation receives its IRS letter of determination as a 501(c)(3) in December. Our Super Seminar attendance is appreciably higher this year but due to the exorbitant food and beverage and audio visual costs closes in the red. The unique nature of Audio Tax brings CPE right to the participants via telephone. In an effort to make quality CPE available “on the fly” we also annually update our CPE Online offerings on our website. CSEA’s 32nd Annual Meeting is held in Sacramento and hosted by the Sacramento Valley Chapter. The CSEA/IRS New EA Workshops grow with two sessions held in October for a combined attendance of 156 new EAs. C-STAR (California State Tax Agency Representation) is held in Sacramento in June. We monitor legislation of interest to tax professionals and taxpayers and participate in FTB interested parties meetings IRS Practitioner groups the Assembly/Senate Budget Subcommittees on State Tax Agencies and FTB and BOE Board meetings. CSEA Members continue to represent us on both EDD and FTB advisory groups. Coordinated efforts around the state for our annual Jim Stern Legislative Day encourage Members to visit their local representatives’ district office and introduce themselves and the EA designation. CSEA is invited to speak at the IRS Western Area Stakeholder Liaison Meeting regarding program offerings and the needs of Members. The IRS presents a special Certificate of Appreciation to CSEA.

2009 Between economic woes and the intricate Budget negotiations it is a particularly painful year for many in California. The interests of CSEA Members are represented at the Capitol through our Legislative and PAC efforts and Members are kept apprised of breaking Budget news through ongoing electronic alerts and California Enrolled Agent magazine. CSEA representatives attend the IRS Open House and participate in the FTB’s annual Legislative Proposals interested parties meeting. Throughout the year staff and CSEA representatives attend FTB Board meetings and FTB Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights hearings. We work hard with Steve Baker our lobbyist to ensure passage of AB 129 (confidentiality for EAs). Two new websites open for business (to promote our most important education event and to serve attendees) and (a website set up for the CSEA Education a separate 501(c)(3) organization. The CSEA CPE SEArchlight and HEAlthy WEAlthy & Wise electronic publications are created to provide unique information to CSEA Members. The Society’s 33rd Annual Meeting is hosted by a consortium of Chapters and held in Torrance CA with a theme of “OcEAn’s ’09”. The host Chapters are: South Bay Chapter Los Angeles Chapter Inland Empire Chapter and San Fernando Valley Chapter.

V. 2010-2019

2010’s History

2010 Scarlett D. Vanyi, CAE is hired as CSEA’s new Executive Vice President in January 2011 as former Executive Vice President Catherine A. Apker, CAE retires. CSEA and NAEA team up to coordinate a membership drive from November 1, 2010 through January 31, 2011 resulting in 140 new members, and CSEA’s Membership Committee launches a second membership drive on May 1, 2011. Super Seminars feature the first-ever New Member Meet & Greet Reception that welcomes new Members by introducing them to seasoned Members and staff as well as Society programs and services. The Business Partner Program is successfully launched and staff is busy negotiating agreements with several partners to provide Members with enhanced benefits and discounts. CSEA Members actively participate in the legislative process by becoming involved in grassroots advocacy on behalf of their Society and their profession at CSEA’s Jim Stern Legislative Day in January 2011. CSEA Members attended a series of NAEA meetings in Washington, DC in April 2011 including the Fly-In Day. The California Enrolled Agent magazine revises its publication schedule from nine to six issues per year and launches its first edition printed in a full color format. A new media kit that includes new advertising opportunities and a revised pricing structure is also finalized. CSEA merges the BEAcon and the SEArchlight into one new electronic newsletter called CSEA News & Events. CSEA promotes the Enrolled Agent image through a myriad of media including radio advertising, press releases and social media site postings. CSEA begins rolling out the new logo on all Society collateral, on the website, and on the exterior of the headquarters building.

2011 Since July 1, 2011, the Society’s staffing structure has evolved to more effectively meet Member needs and several talented staff have been recruited to serve the Society. Meanwhile, the CSEA Headquarters conference room has been transformed into a technologically equipped classroom that is used to host several events throughout the year. CSEA’s membership brochure gets a much needed face lift, with the new brochure focusing on the Society’s three primary purposes: to Advocate, Educate and Promote. The Society expands its Business Partner Program to include several new offerings for Members. CSEA membership invoices and cards are revised, and the Society launches online membership renewal for the first time this year. CSEA is poised to launch its Online Learning Portal in July 2012 featuring the same fantastic content presented at Super Seminar in an on-demand webinar format. For the first time, CSEA will be able to offer tax professionals the ability to learn whenever and wherever they want to get their CE.

2012-2013 The 36th Annual Meeting includes 22 hours of educational programming in addition to many social and Society business events. The August and September CSEA-IRS Federal Representation Workshops are offered at four locations, and the September State Tax Agencies Liaison Meeting is standing room only. CSEA launches its Online Learning Portal in January 2013 featuring the same fantastic content presented at Super Seminar in an on-demand webinar format, offering tax professionals the ability to learn whenever and wherever they want to get their CE. Jim Stern Legislative Day welcomes new and returning attendees, and many CSEA Members take part in the NAEA Fly-In Day at the nation’s Capital. CSEA’s new website debuts in April 2013 with a more modern look, better organized menus, improved integration with social media. New excitement is injected into Super Seminar 2013 through several special events. The Board approves a new five-year Strategic Plan in May 2013 to guide the Society into the future. 

2013-2014 CSEA continues to implement its Strategic Plan, for which it receives the 2014 NAEA Affiliate Governance Award. The Society launches the “Just Ask One” membership recruitment campaign focusing on Members as citizens of a community rather than customers, and the Board approves CSEA’s Marketing Toolkit to facilitate the Strategic Plan. CSEA unveils a fully digital interactive California Enrolled Agent magazine. The first-ever online Board meeting is attended by approximately 80 Members throughout the state. At Jim Stern Legislative Day, Member advocacy generates interest and support from legislators resulting in two CSEA-sponsored bills. In January 2014 the CSEA Board of Directors adopts “Powering California’s Tax Experts” as the tagline for CSEA as a Society. CSEA hosts its first statewide walk-in Tax Help Day in March 2014 with nine Chapters participating at 14 locations. In May 2014 the Board approves a new Mission Statement to accompany the Strategic Plan as it guides the Society into the future. Super Seminar 2014 features a “Lights, Camera, Action” themed tradeshow and educational programming is captured for CSEA’s Online Learning Portal, while digiTAX more than doubles its live educational webinar presence hosting a total of 15 webinars.

Henry Ford said “The only history that is worth a tinker’s damn is the history we made today.” While it is appropriate – and vital! – to review the Society’s past appreciate the effort expended and celebrate the goals achieved it is more important to rededicate ourselves Members and staff to building upon this foundation and ensuring that the greatest part of our contribution to the history of the Society is the future!