Dec 21, 2012

State Board of Accountancy Adopts New Regulations

By Mike Colgan, PICPA Executive Director and CEO
New regulations related to continuing professional education (CPE) and minor violations of the Pennsylvania CPA Law were published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on Dec. 1, 2012. This marks the official implementation of the required four hours of ethics training as part of the CPE requirement to renew your biennial license to practice. This four-hour ethics requirement was previously announced by the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy and communicated to our members. The PICPA has been preparing for this, and we’ve developed numerous options for you to obtain these credits.

In addition to requiring ethics training as part of your 80-hour CPE license renewal requirement, the CPE regulations address several PICPA-driven initiatives. One is to allow the acceptance of CPE programs from non-Pennsylvania- or NASBA-approved sponsors if the program provider is approved in the state where it is headquartered, and that state is considered a mobility (substantially equivalent) state. Currently, only Hawaii is not approved as a mobility state. Many of our members who have had their CPE hours audited in the past may have had courses disallowed because the program provider was not approved by Pennsylvania or NASBA. The licensee would be fined and have to make up the deficient hours. With this new regulation, if the licensee took a course from a provider approved by a state board in any mobility state, the program will be accepted and the discipline averted.

The Pennsylvania State Board’s disciplinary process for enforcing the statute and regulations will be streamlined with the implementation of new civil penalty regulations. Under authority of Act 48, the Board is able to issue citations for certain minor violations in accordance with a schedule of civil penalties. The published schedule of civil penalties includes minor CPE violations and unlicensed practice. The citation process, similar to a traffic ticket, will allow the State Board to focus more time on meaningful professional issues and less on disciplinary matters.

Links to the new regulations are below:

In a related manner, PICPA also supports a bill in the Pennsylvania legislature that would provide an expungement provision for minor disciplinary violations from the Pennsylvania licensee database. Currently any licensee who has been disciplined by the State Board has a notice of the disciplinary action in their online record, searchable by the public. Last session’s House Bill 646, introduced by Rep. Kate Harper, would allow a one-time expungement after a four-year period for minor violations of the CPA Law or regulations. This legislation will be reintroduced in the new legislative session in 2013, and we will keep you apprised of its progress.

If you have any specific questions after reviewing these regulations, please feel free to respond to this post or contact me directly at mcolgan@picpa.org.

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Statements of fact and opinion are the authors’ responsibility alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of PICPA officers or members. The information contained in herein does not constitute accounting, legal, or professional advice. For professional advice, please engage or consult a qualified professional.