Alaska Governor Bill Walker signed the profession's comprehensive definition of attest into law on August 2. Alaska is the 49th state to adopt the comprehensive definition.
The bill signing is the culmination of a multi-year process initiated by the Alaska Society of CPAs and the Alaska Board of Public Accountancy. Crista Burson, executive director of the Alaska Society of CPAs, said the bill passing “further protects the public interest and ensures that all CPA licensees in Alaska meet the appropriate standards of competency.”
James Cox, AICPA associate director for state regulation and legislation said, “The definition of attest is a cornerstone of what defines the CPA profession. Only a CPA operating within a CPA firm can issue attest reports.”
In May 2014, the AICPA and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) approved changes to the UAA to include a more comprehensive definition of attest. Previously, non-CPAs could perform certain attest engagements using the AICPA promulgated standards known as the Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAEs).
The AICPA and NASBA agreed that there is a very real set of risks to the public interest associated with non-CPAs issuing reports using profession standards with no regulatory oversight.
As such, the profession and its regulators promoted public protection legislation that states that only CPAs operating in a CPA firm may perform attest services using AICPA developed standards.
The market for attest services is ever-evolving, and the profession must modernize its laws in this area. Non-CPAs should be able to offer other assurance services if they desire, but not those defined under the accountancy statutes' definition of attest.