Taxes and the Cannabis Business
The legal availability and use of marijuana is on the rise. More than half the states in the country allow its use for medical purposes, eight of which also permit it for recreational purposes. The manufacture, sale, and use of marijuana is largely a cash business because it is still against the federal Controlled Substance Act. Most banks will not allow such businesses to open a bank account as a result. This case addresses the ethical issues faced by a CPA who is asked to accept the client's request to hold back reporting 25% of the cash sales as taxable income, arguing that since it is a cash business no one would be the wiser. The tax accountant does not want to go along with the firm's request as she knows it would be wrong to do so. She values honesty and integrity in tax reporting and is concerned about violating the AICPA rules of professional conduct, especially the acts discreditable rule. In preparation for a meeting with her superiors, the tax accountant considers ways to effectively voice her values by responding to the likely reasons and rationalizations she might encounter. The associate teaching note addresses the stakeholders, how to build a coalition to support her position, and the most powerful and persuasive responses she can make to positively influence her superiors.