Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bill To Change California CPA Certification Standards Passes Committee

A bill that would simplify the educational requirements for California CPA candidates to earn their certification unanimously passed a state Senate committee earlier this month. Senate Bill 691 passed the Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee. But Bill 691 is potentially still months away from becoming law. The bill would eliminate a 120-hour educational option for certification. Candidates may currently fulfill their training and educational requirements by either 1)completing 120 hours of college coursework, including 24 hours apiece of accounting and business classes, and having two years of work experience, or 2)by having 150 hours of coursework and one year of job experience. The 150-hour option is the only standard in at least 46 states. That has created problems for some veteran California-trained accountants who are trying to serve clients with headquarters or interests in other regions. Certain states have become more reluctant to accept certification from California accountants, says Conrad Davis, a partner at Sacramento-based Ueltzen & Co and supporter of the bill. Davis says that accounting groups nationally have been seeking to create a more uniform standard for certification – something akin to a state driver’s license usable nationally. California has already tried on at least one occasion over the past decade to adopt the one-option, 150-hour rule. But the effort stalled. The latest initiative has the support of a number of prominent CPA and business organizations in the state, including the California Board of Accountancy, The California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce and the California Society of CPAs. Among their goals, the groups want to remove an obstacle for accountants to practice freely across state borders. “What we’re worried about is that it is becoming progressively more difficult to get into other states because we’re so outside the norm,” says Davis. “As a CPA, if we have to go through additional hoops (to be accepted), it may be expensive and time-consuming. The issue is that everyone (nationally) is going to one standard.”

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