CPE mid-year 2010 update: Rules, regulations, trends

By Dave Carr

Mid-year 2010 has arrived and accountants in approximately half the jurisdictions in the United States are facing compliance deadlines. Tax time is well behind us and crunch time for compliance is here.
 
Not only is it a big time for professionals taking education to meet their requirements, it is a prime time for regulation review and for new rules and regulations to either be passed or proposed. It’s also a busy time for boards and licensees alike, and there are several changes and developments, if you’re an education administrator, of which you will want to be aware:
 
2010 Jurisdiction changes
 
Florida has changed its reporting requirements so that licensees now must report their CPE by July 31, rather than December 31. Because the requirement for the laws and rules exam has been eliminated, there really was no point to having reporting by December 31. If one’s licensee does not meet his or her requirement, the grace period rules remain the same.
 
Virginia and Oklahoma are considering requirements based on whether professionals sign off on or supervise compilation reports. While this is not a new concept (Idaho has required this for years), might it be a trend or simply a coincidence? Both states would require eight hours of compilation education every year of the triennial. Oklahoma, however, would exempt professionals from the requirement if the firm is enrolled in an approved peer-review program.
 
Maine is rewriting its rules, including text changes for mobility, but the only real CPE-based change is to pro-rate new licensee requirements instead of simply exempting new licensees from the CPE requirement their first year.
 
Pennsylvania is going to have an ethics requirement due in the next biennial period, while Nevada is considering changes that we won’t know about for sure until they are posted online. Additionally, New Mexico is taking a look at how it determines what fields of study are considered technical and non-technical subjects.
 
There are a few other rules that are changing, but don’t have the same impact as the ones detailed above. Nebraska’s recent change to allow for half credits after the first full hour, and Maryland’s increase of teaching for a college or university from 40 to 45 credits a period come to mind.
           
We expect to see continued emphasis on ethics programs. With the continued news of poor accounting practices in major financial, insurance, and banking firms, ethics and ethical practices are very much in the public eye.
 
Mobility developments
 
By the end of the year it is likely that every state will have some sort of mobility legislation on the books or in the works. This does not mean that professionals can practice in various states without a license. There are still rules to follow, and there are many situations that will require a license for your professional to practice in another state.
 
At LearnLive Technologies we recently conducted an audit of jurisdictions with mobility. While we found that the joint rules by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) were used as a base guideline for making the mobility legislation, some states added their own regulatory action. For instance, Pennsylvania will allow professionals to practice in their state under mobility as long their home state also has adopted mobility legislation. So, for example, until New York passes its mobility legislation (which could happen before this goes to press) a New York CPA also must get a license in Pennsylvania in order to practice there.
 
There are additional considerations for licensees in California and Colorado, where 120 credit hours of college education are not required for licensing. If professionals in these jurisdictions have not obtained 120 hours of college education, they must be approved by NASBA’s Qualification Appraisal Service because their licensure was not obtained under guidelines substantially equivalent to the Uniform Accountancy Act’s (UAA) licensure rules. The good news is that California now has a process whereby future CPAs will be required to meet the 120-hour requirement so soon it will no longer be a problem for them (the UAA states that in order to be eligible for mobility, you must have been licensed with substantially equivalent UAA initial licensure requirements, which would include taking 120 semester hours of education).
 
Additionally, the majority of jurisdictions restrict the use of mobility to perform regulated actions, such as audits, to those individuals whose firms have a firm license in that state. As an administrator, one must be careful not to assume that mobility will solve all your multi-state licensee issues. Chances are, unless you work for a large firm, you will need to monitor rule and regulation changes as you are bound to have several CPAs who will still need licenses in several jurisdictions.
 
Happily, though, it looks like mobility legislation will be in every state by the end of the year. It certainly is superior to the old system of practice privilege in which every state had a fee and different process for applying, as well as different dates for renewal that needed to be managed annually. Rule and regulation changes will continue to help modernize the profession and aid accountants in educating themselves to provide the best services possible to their clients, both public and private.
 
About the author:
Dave Carr is one of the industry’s leading and most recognized experts on CPE/CLE professional compliance and state-based rules. As compliance manager for LearnLive Technologies, Carr is responsible for building and maintaining its system providing up-to-date compliance information for its legal and accounting professionals. From 2005 to 2009, Carr was compliance manager for REQwired (now Thomson Reuters), responsible for updating and maintaining text-based rule summaries of all U.S.-based jurisdictions in the accounting and legal industries.
 
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