State CPA Policymakers Meet in Chicago to Discuss New Model Attest Definition, CPA Firm Mobility

October 23, 2014

Compass with workshop textState CPA society staff, members of state boards of accountancy, representatives of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), and CPA policy advocates from across the country convened in Chicago, Ill. last month at a workshop sponsored by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) to review updates to the Uniform Accountancy Act (UAA) concerning the definition of attest and CPA firm mobility.  The UAA is the profession’s model state accountancy act.

Last May, the AICPA and NASBA approved changes to the UAA to include a more comprehensive definition of attest encompassing all engagements performed under the AICPA’s Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAE).  Previously, the only SSAE included in the UAA definition of attest was examinations of prospective financial information, allowing unregulated non-CPAs to perform certain attest engagements and issue reports regarding those engagements. The updated language ensures only CPAs operating within a CPA firm can perform attest functions.

Twenty-two U.S. jurisdictions already have adopted the more comprehensive definition, and the AICPA is encouraging the remaining 60 percent to update their state accountancy statutes in order to close this loophole and better protect the public interest.

“The workshop was a great opportunity for attendees from across the country to study, discuss, and debate the new proposals in detail, learn how they will impact the profession on a day-to-day basis, and discuss strategies for implementing changes in their own state statues,” said Mat Young, AICPA vice president–State Regulatory & Legislative Affairs.  Young added that several state profession leaders already plan to push for a new attest law in their states in 2015.

Workshop participants also discussed new UAA language that expands existing CPA firm mobility provisions to incorporate attest services.  The new language would allow CPA firms to operate across state borders under a “no-notice, no-fee, no-escape” regime.  Firms registered in one state would be able to provide attest services to clients in another state without registering or paying additional fees in that mobility state, just as individual CPAs can already do in 52 of the 55 U.S. jurisdictions. In exchange for this practice privilege, CPA firms would be subject to the laws and regulations of both their home state and the mobility state.  They would also have to meet the peer review and CPA firm ownership requirements of any mobility state in which they are seeking to perform attest services.  CPA firms will continue to have to register in any jurisdiction in which they have a physical office.

Nearly one-third of the country already has statutory provisions that allow for CPA firm mobility for attest services.  Given the newness of the CPA firm mobility provisions and the need to account for other state-specific factors, the AICPA and NASBA will support state leaders who wish to expand their CPA firm mobility provisions, but neither will undertake a concerted national campaign at this time.

Workshop attendees received a variety of resources designed to assist state CPA societies and state boards of accountancy that are interested in incorporating the updated UAA provisions into their state statutes.  For copies of these resources, contact Mat Young. For more information on the UAA, visit the AICPA’s UAA resources website.