NASBA, AICPA announce online mobility tool designed to help CPAs practice across state borders

By Anne Rosivach
 
The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) have launched CPAmobility.org – an online tool designed to help CPAs navigate the new practice privilege requirements, commonly referred to as mobility laws, that allow CPAs to practice across state borders.
 
A joint project of the AICPA and NASBA, the new Web site provides information, updated regularly, on state practice privilege requirements for CPAs for all fifty states and five U.S. jurisdictions.
 
Mobility statutes that recognize CPA licenses granted by other states and jurisdictions have been enacted in forty-seven of the fifty-five U.S. jurisdictions, most recently in Massachusetts, where mobility became effective on June 30. In New York, a bill is currently being formatted for the governor's signature. The Uniform Accountancy Act model has been used as the basis for these statutes.
 
Mat Young, AICPA vice president of state regulation and legislation, described what a CPA might go through before performing work in another state: "In the past, before the concept of CPA mobility gained widespread acceptance and states passed mobility legislation, there was a patchwork of laws governing practice across state lines. A Michigan CPA with a client who wanted to open a business in Ohio would need to research Ohio's rules for filing notification of intent to practice and for reciprocal licensing, a process that in itself could consume a large number of man-hours. In some states, applying for a reciprocal license could also entail other complications, such as taking additional continuing professional education."
 
The complex laws also influenced firm decisions, Young said. "Because gaining practice privilege had become so complicated, a firm might select an individual to perform an attest service in another state for a client because he or she was licensed to practice in that state, but that person might not have been the best person for the job."
 
With mobility, eligible CPAs do not have to file or give notice, either physically or via e-mail, when they are traveling into a new state to work. If the service they will perform rises to certain levels of attest standards, however, they will be required to meet firm registration requirements and pay fees depending on the size of the firm. In many states, sole proprietors must register as a firm but do not have to pay a fee.
 
CPAmobility.org has a simple visual format, and the information is presented in clear and precise language. "Although the interface is very user-friendly," Young said, "there was a lot of labor-intensive collaboration necessary to make it appear so seamless. The AICPA and NASBA intend for the mobility tool to be as simple and clear as possible, but there is an incredible backstory for this product. We performed an enormous amount of due diligence, researching the fifty-five jurisdictions for the four services that require firm licensure under the AICPA/NASBA Uniform Accountancy Act. In all, over 12,000 different responses had to be researched by our joint NASBA/AICPA legal research team in order to formulate all of the potential responses – fifty-five home state jurisdictions times fifty-five target jurisdictions times four different services."
 
On the CPAmobility.org home page, the user will be asked three questions:
 
  • Where is your principal place of business?
  • Where are you going to perform services (target state)?
  • What type of services will you perform?
 
The site yielded the following information for a search performed by a Michigan CPA who wishes to conduct an audit or other engagement in accordance with Ohio's SAS:
 
Individual Requirement
Individual mobility is available (with no further filing or fee) if you hold an active unrestricted CPA license in your principal place of business.
Firm Requirement
Performance of services by an eligible individual will not require a firm permit from the state board of the target state.
A search completed by a New Jersey CPA who wishes to perform an audit or other engagement following the SAS in Pennsylvania received a slightly different result:
 
Individual Requirement
Individual mobility is available (with no further filing or fee) if you hold an active unrestricted CPA license in your principal place of business.
Firm Requirement
Firm registration is available on a quid pro quo basis and will depend on whether or not the CPA's home state allows no notice/no fee mobility privileges to Pennsylvania CPAs and firms. Firm registration requirements may be applicable to sole proprietorships.
Even though CPAs will not be required to register or pay a fee in the state they are planning to practice in, they will fall under the jurisdiction of that state board when it comes to discipline. "Charges also can be filed against the CPA or firm in their home-domiciled state as well, or in both locations," NASBA states.
 
Young emphasized the significance of the joint effort. "It is important, too, that CPAmobility.org is a product of the AICPA and NASBA working together – the profession's voice and the regulators' voice, committed to promoting cross-border mobility."
 
"CPAmobility.org is a valuable service that allows CPAs to take advantage of the benefits associated with state mobility laws with confidence, said Ken L. Bishop, the executive vice president and COO of NASBA. "We are happy to offer a free tool that will assist CPAs in determining whether or not they can exercise mobility in a particular jurisdiction at the click of a button on their laptop or mobile device."
 
"Mobility has become a reality for CPAs and accounting firms from coast to coast, and it is now time to open the system for business," said Barry Melancon, the president and CEO of the AICPA. "We are very pleased to be able to offer this free service to CPA firms together with NASBA, which was a key partner in developing the technology and information to power CPAmobility.org."
 
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