Shouldn’t Ethics Be the same for all CPAs?
Does it make sense that each state has a different continuing education ethics requirement for its CPAs? Some states accept a behavioral ethics course--basic right and wrong stuff, conflicts of interest, etc. Others require the course cover ethics regulations--AICPA Code of Conduct and/or their state's accountancy regulations. I get it. I've been in the CPE business for over 25 years and I understand that each state has a different philosophy and approach to CPE requirements. But I have to tell you that practitioners are confused! They do not understand what they need to take to satisfy this requirement.
As a national CPE provider, CPE Link gets customer calls weekly asking whether a particular live webcast or self-study course will count to fulfill their requirement. Good question! Let's see, one state requires simply "ethics education." That sounds pretty broad. I'll give that a tentative, yes. Another requires specific subject matter (i.e., Code of Conduct) and real life case studies. Better look closely at the major topics on that one. Yet another state has one ethics requirement every license renewal period and a different one every third renewal cycle. Good luck with that one.
I hate to steer people wrong, so even when I'm pretty darn sure that a particular ethics course will count for them, my standard answer is still: "Check with your State Board. They have the final say." I'd like to see some simplification of the requirements. Give these guys a break, already. Can't ethics just be ethics?
by Sue Anderson - Based on 30 years of experience in continuing education for accountants. Currently program director for online CPE provider, CPE Link. Formerly with the California CPA Education Foundation managing key operational areas including marketing, program development, and distance learning.