Passing the Financial Services Regulatory Relief Act of 2006 was among the final actions taken by the 109th Congress before adjourning a week earlier than expected. The bill, passed unanimously by both chambers, includes a provision exempting certified public accountants (CPAs) from the Gramm-Leach-Bliley (GLB) Act’s annual privacy notice requirement. The bill, which is also intended to provide regulatory relief for insured depository institutions, will go into effect as soon as it is signed by President Bush.
“This is wonderful news and a win for both CPA practitioners and their clients. The disclosure statements are often confusing to clients and they are expensive and time-consuming for CPAs to prepare,” said Barry C. Melancon, President and CEO of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), in a prepared statement. “Since the President is expected to sign the bill into law, all those CPAs who are now preparing this year’s privacy notices can stop. They won’t have to send Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act privacy notices out this year. They can instead put that time into serving their clients.”
The GLB exemption is possible because CPAs are certified or licensed by state board’s of accountancy and subject to state laws and regulations prohibiting disclosure of non-public personal information without the expressed consent of the client.
“The Gramm-Leach-Bliley requirement was redundant for CPAs, as well as a regulatory burden,” Melancon said. “We thank Representatives Mark Kennedy (R-MN) and Colin Peterson (D-MN) for taking the lead in the House to correct this inequity. It was their efforts to exempt CPAs that caused the provision initially to be included in the Financial Services Regulatory Relief Act of 2006. We also appreciate the support of Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), who championed the exemption in the Senate."