• Apr 21, 2021

    CPA Evolution: What’s Next?

    Susan CoffeyBy Susan S. Coffey, CPA, CGMA

    CPAs are trusted professionals who enhance stability and opportunity among organizations while also protecting the public interest. The AICPA supports the CPA profession by maintaining, promoting, and advancing that trusted adviser role as the marketplace evolves. A big part of this effort is making sure entry-level CPAs have the requisite skills and competencies that the marketplace requires. That’s why we are working with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) to enhance CPA licensure through our joint CPA Evolution project. CPA Evolution aims to transform the CPA licensure model by recognizing the rapidly changing skills and competencies the practice of accounting requires today and into the future.

    Under the new CPA licensure model, all candidates will be required to demonstrate a core knowledge of accounting, auditing, tax, and technology. Then, each candidate will choose one of three disciplines – tax compliance and planning, business analysis and reporting, or information systems and controls – in which to demonstrate deeper skills and knowledge. Regardless of the discipline chosen, the model leads to full CPA licensure, with all the rights and privileges consistent with any other CPA.

    Chart illustrating proposed revisions to the CPA Exam

    This new licensure model will continue to place our profession in the best position to meet the needs of firms, organizations, clients, and the public we serve. It is also flexible enough to allow us to continue to evolve as market needs and our roles evolve in the future.

    Changes to exam and education requirements don’t happen overnight. For the next few years, we’ll be working with the accounting academic community, state boards, state CPA societies, students, practitioners, and other stakeholders to implement changes that ensure the successful rollout of the new licensure model.

    The Uniform CPA Examination

    The specific content within the core and the three disciplines will be determined by a CPA Exam practice analysis, which is currently underway.

    Practice analyses – gathering information about the current and future state of the profession and the work of newly licensed CPAs – are conducted periodically as part of our ongoing effort to make sure the exam is current and maintains its the validity and reliability. The current practice analysis will likely wrap up in 2022, and we will seek public comment on proposed changes to the CPA Exam in mid-2022.

    We expect to launch a new exam in January 2024.

    Students and CPA Candidates

    Aspiring CPAs who are college freshmen now will be among the first to take the revised CPA Exam when it launches in 2024. Current CPA candidates will be able to sit for the current CPA Exam until the launch of the new exam. A transition plan is being developed for candidates who will have started, but not completed, the CPA Exam process by January 2024. Under the new model, we expect to attract students that today wouldn’t necessarily choose the CPA route, but who are becoming more critical to the success of our profession. For example, depending on the educational requirements in their jurisdiction, students who major in management information systems and minor in accounting could focus on their area of interest while demonstrating knowledge in core business and accounting subjects.

    Accounting Programs and Educators

    Accounting educators play a vital role in preparing students to pursue the CPA under this new licensure model. The AICPA and NASBA will help educators every step of the way.

    In fall 2020, we launched the Academic Resource Hub, a free database of content from the AICPA, accounting firms, academics, and AICPA teaching-award winners to help faculty prepare students for the evolving demands of the profession. The hub contains over 200 resources for a range of topics, including data analytics and cybersecurity. They can be used in classroom instruction, in research, and for general guidance.

    Throughout 2021, we will hold a series of faculty webinars, including regular updates on CPA Evolution and deep dives into emerging topics to include in accounting courses. We’ve also formed task forces of accounting educators and practitioners to build a model curriculum that aligns with the new licensure model. This will launch this June.

    Moving Toward Change

    CPAs are vital to the effective operation of our economy. As a profession, we have a huge responsibility to the businesses and the public we serve. I’m proud of the steps we are all taking to help uphold our trusted adviser role as the marketplace continues to evolve.

    As we work through the next couple of years in defining the new CPA Exam, developing academic resources, and preparing students and CPA candidates, we want to hear from you. Please continue to ask us questions and share your feedback by reaching out at Feedback@EvolutionofCPA.org.

    Susan S. Coffey, CPA, CGMA, is chief executive officer – public accounting for the Association of International Certified Public Accountants in New York. She can be reached at Susan.Coffey@aicpa-cima.com.

    If you would like to hear more from Susan Coffey, join us at PICPA's Women's Leadership Conference on June 22, 2021, where Susan will be discussing The Future of Women in Public Accounting. 

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  • Feb 05, 2021

    CPA Skills Tests: Supporting the Next Generation of CPAs

    Richard Gallagher, CPABy Richard Gallagher, CPA

    A CPA acquires a vast amount of knowledge and a range of skills over a typical 30-year career. Technology advances, processes adapt, standards change, and new markets and service opportunities emerge. We grow as CPAs – moving along with our ever-evolving profession. Now, try to nail down what is most important for young accountants to know as they become CPAs.

    We may differ on our choices, but we all recognize new CPAs won’t have a large array of experience the moment they walk through the door. I think back to my career, which concluded as a professional practice partner in EY’s New York office. By the time I reached that position, I had accumulated knowledge and experience far beyond what I had upon earning my license. My professional growth was enhanced by the mentoring, training, and guidance I received from experienced CPAs − support that helped me expand upon the basic skills I had at the start of my career.

    Newly hired CPA working with experienced CPASo, I ask, what is most important for a newly licensed CPA to know as they enter the profession?

    We expect and require newly licensed CPAs to possess a foundational level of knowledge and skills from day one. And this is the purpose of the Uniform CPA Examination (CPA Exam) –assessing the minimum basics essential to the profession.

    While the CPA Exam verifies foundational competencies, the roles of newly licensed CPA continue to change with the profession. As I lead those who maintain the CPA Exam and interact with scores of volunteer subject matter experts, I reinforce the need to balance what may be considered the “foundation” with changes that must be introduced because of their relevance to a newly licensed CPA’s work.

    The AICPA recently published an updated CPA Exam Blueprint that reflects changes (eligible for testing beginning July 2021) related to our most recent practice analysis. Although previous practice analyses have led to major exam overhauls, the forthcoming changes will not impact the current four-section structure and will remain focused on concepts and skills that candidates should be familiar with given their work in the profession.

    Most importantly, candidates’ higher order skills will continue to be assessed, with an increased focus on skills such as understanding business processes from inception to completion, including IT processes and related controls. Topics such as International Financial Reporting Standards, which has not become widely accepted, and estate taxation are not typically relevant to a newly licensed CPA’s role, so they will no longer be covered by the exam. Adjustments such as these refocus attention on areas that are most important to a newly licensed CPA’s role in protecting the public interest.

    The exam will also address the need for today’s CPA to possess a digital and data-driven mindset. We’ve heard about the importance of this knowledge repeatedly from the profession. Concentrated primarily in the Auditing and Attestation (AUD) and Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) sections, candidates will be expected to understand procedures related to obtaining evidence, using data, and interpreting the results of analytical procedures.

    Other changes, also mostly in AUD and BEC, will reflect the profession’s growing reliance on System and Organization Controls (SOC) reports and the need for newly licensed CPAs to understand their impact on an audit.

    The forthcoming CPA Exam changes will represent a marked increase in the assessment of a candidate’s knowledge and skills related to technology and data analysis. These changes, along with a greater emphasis on foundational knowledge and skills, will keep the exam relevant and aligned with professional practice.

    The CPA Exam continues to address the basic “must-have” knowledge and skill repertoire. Training, mentoring, and on-the-job experience throughout the CPAs’ careers will further expand their capabilities.

    Even though new professionals have proven they have passed through the “gateway” to the profession, you, as experienced CPAs, must do your part to help them grow and succeed. By imparting knowledge, and hopefully a little wisdom, you will prepare them to do the same for the generation of CPAs to come.

    Richard Gallagher, CPA, is senior director, examination content, for the AICPA. He can be reached at richard.gallagher@aicpa-cima.com.

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  • Oct 22, 2020

    Thank You, Julian Brodsky! Generous Donation Supports CPA Exam Candidates

    Jerry Maginnis, CPABy Jerry J. Maginnis, CPA

    The barriers to entry in the CPA profession are high, and the cost of taking the CPA Exam is one of the many things that makes achieving the CPA designation so challenging. Unfortunately, that cost – which includes both fees to sit for the exam and, typically, a prep course – can keep many qualified potential CPAs from reaching their ultimate goal. To address this issue, the Pennsylvania CPA Foundation is awarding $25,000 in CPA Exam Scholarships this year. That’s 25 potential CPAs who will receive $1,000 each to help cover the costs of taking the exam.

    As chair of the Pennsylvania CPA Foundation Board, I know the strategic importance of filling the profession’s pipeline with bright, motivated, young professionals. CPA Exam Scholarships play a crucial part in ensuring that talent continues to develop. Julian Brodsky, co-founder of Comcast Corp. and life member of the PICPA, agrees: in fact, Julian has generously donated $25,000 this year to provide these scholarships. We are extremely grateful and proud to have a role model member such as Julian in the Foundation donor family. His generous donation will enable 25 future CPAs the chance to achieve their dreams.

    If you are currently studying for and taking the CPA Exam, I urge you to review the requirements for the scholarships and apply by Dec. 31. If you are already a CPA, I hope Julian’s generosity inspires you to see how you can help future CPAs and, in turn, give back to the profession you love. Supporting the Pennsylvania CPA Foundation’s many efforts is a great place to start, and I would be thrilled to discuss with you further opportunities to make a significant impact.

    I’ll leave you with a few testimonials from previous CPA Exam Scholarship recipients who share what the award meant to them. Thanks to the support of Julian Brodksy and more than 1,000 of your fellow PICPA members, the future of accounting is in good hands with these young CPAs and the generations to follow.

    PICPA Thank You on blackboard 

    “I believe the CPA Exam Scholarship is an effective and gracious means of acknowledging the achievements of successful CPA Exam candidates, of making new entrants to the profession feel welcome, of providing fledgling accountants with a professional distinction to burnish their résumés, of encouraging new accountants to network with others in their field through the PICPA, and, not least, of helping job candidates and new hires cover basic costs – such as the price of a good interview outfit – while transitioning into the profession.”

    Edward Frede, Gelman & Pelesh PC

    “The CPA Exam Scholarship helped me focus more on studying for the exam than worrying about the cost of study aides and exam fees. Being able to focus on the material helped me to not only pass all four parts of the exam, but also win the Elijah Watt Sells Award. Having the CPA title gave me the confidence to seek out a new role in my company. I was able to move positions and open myself up to a range of new opportunities that were not possible before passing the exam.”

    Michael Janenko, Olympus

    “Although my firm has an amazing benefit to pay up to a certain threshold of expenses, I had long ago expended that amount. The CPA Exam Scholarship helped me offset exam costs and keep moving toward my goal of becoming a CPA and advancing my career. Thank you for your contributions to this very important fund and for the impact it has made on my life.”

    Meghan Freidhof, Wessel & Company

    Jerry J. Maginnis, CPA, is a board member and audit committee chair for inTEST Corp. in Mount Laurel, N.J., independent director and chair of the audit committee for Cohen & Steers in New York City, executive in residence for Rowan University in Glassboro, N.J., and chair of the Pennsylvania CPA Foundation Board. He can be reached at jerrymaginnis@outlook.com.

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  • Oct 07, 2020

    Coaching vs. Mentoring Your CPA Candidates: The Choice Is Clear

    Erin Daiber, CPABy Erin Daiber, CPA, PCC

    More CPAs are retiring than are entering the profession, creating a growing need for young talent. Building a pipeline of talent is critical to your firm’s longevity and succession. If you’re looking for ways to support your employees in passing the CPA Exam beyond providing study materials, CPA coaching may be a solution.

    It’s important to note upfront that coaching is not tutoring, nor is it technical support with the content of the exams. Yes, tutoring and mentoring can be critical tools, but coaching for the CPA Exam is a unique blend of executive coaching techniques and customized solutions specific to the exam. It provides a structure to build and sustain momentum throughout the process, and helps candidates balance studying with an already busy schedule. Candidates receive support with planning, accountability, study effectiveness, and test-taking strategies, to name a few benefits.

    Experienced CPA coaching younger coworkerMost importantly, coaching helps candidates conquer the mental side of passing the exam. The discovery process that happens through coaching can remove blocks, barriers, and other deeply held beliefs that may be holding candidates back from performing at a high level on exam day and throughout the process.


    An ideal candidate for coaching is one who is committed to passing the exam, open to new approaches, and interested in making changes to improve his or her overall effectiveness. Most often, candidates who participate in coaching are high performers who have put off or are struggling to pass section of the exam and are now at risk of missing a promotion.


    From a candidate’s perspective, coaching is a unique benefit that goes above and beyond what most firms do to support staff. Coached candidates get the individualized support they need to achieve their CPA goal and develop skills that will help them as they progress through leadership and in their careers.

    Programs like this show a true commitment to and investment in the future of your organization. Many firms have made the CPA license a prerequisite to taking on a manager role. While well-intentioned, requirements like this sometimes cause otherwise qualified, yet discouraged, CPA candidates to seek other employment if they’re struggling with portions of the exam. Making additional support available can foster increased loyalty to the organization and help retain ideal talent.


    The way these programs are instituted, piloted, and rolled out is generally dictated by the size of the firm. The larger the firm, the more formal the process. Generally speaking, there should be a process by which firm leaders identify potential candidates for CPA Exam coaching and offer the resource to those individuals. This often corresponds with performance reviews where a candidate’s progress is already being evaluated. However, there should be a process where candidates can evaluate whether coaching is a good fit for their needs, and formally opt in or out.

    To be successful, the firm must address and remove any stigma that may exist with regard to asking for help or seeking support in the licensing process. This stigma could reside in the firm culture, but more often than not it is a deeply held belief with high-performing personalities. These team members believe that they should be able to do this on their own, and they’re afraid that asking for help is a sign of weakness. It would be nice for candidates to take the initiative in seeking support, but many are not likely to do so because of their internal barriers. However, once support is offered, high-performers are often keen to dive in.

    Return on Investment

    If you have candidates in your organization who are struggling to pass the CPA Exam, there is a real risk that they will leave for a job that doesn’t require the CPA credential or for one that provides an environment that supports their efforts to pass. Replacing an experienced team member after three or four years can easily cost a firm $15,000-plus in recruiting fees alone (30% of the first year’s salary). These costs skyrocket when you consider the training investment, impact on morale, the experience that leaves, and the lack of available talent to replace them.

    Let’s assume you charge an additional $25 per hour for a licensed CPA compared with an accountant. At 2,000 billable hours, you’re bringing in an additional $40,000 to the top line once an individual is licensed. Not all of that amount makes its way to the bottom line, but if 25% did, coaching pays for itself in less than three months. In some cases, passing the CPA Exam results in an immediate promotion and a further increase in the candidate’s billable rate. In these cases, firms recognize positive return on investment from CPA coaching programs within weeks of licensure.

    Candidates need more support than ever to pass the CPA Exam if we want them to remain in public accounting. Balancing studying for the exam with increased performance expectations in the workplace is not easy. Offering coaching support for candidates who are pursuing the CPA license helps you retain top talent and protect the investment you’ve already made into the training and development of these individuals.

    Erin Daiber, CPA, PCC, is chief executive officer for Well Balanced Accountants LLC. She can be reached at erin@wellbalancedaccountants.com.

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  • Jul 08, 2020

    What's New with the CPA Exam: All-Year Availability!

    By Meg Killian, PICPA vice president – member relations

    The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) announced that, as of July 1, 2020, the black out windows for CPA Exam testing have been eliminated. That means the CPA Exam now will be administered all year – an increase of 75 more days each year to take the exam.

    Become a CPA in Pennsylvania GuideIn addition to this good news comes the announcement that scores will be released on a rolling basis. Not only will candidates have more options and flexibility to schedule their test dates, but they will also be able to retake a part (if need be) without waiting for the next testing window to open. Yes, the 18-month deadline to pass all four parts is still in place, but the new open schedule format gives candidates more options to take the exam during that time, increasing the chances of getting all four parts passed in the 18-month window.

    Details on this and the list of states where continuous testing is available can be found on the NASBA website. Currently seven states do not offer year-round testing, but six of them are working on legislative fixes to change that.

    The latest improvements to the exam process continue to create a more flexible and convenient path toward CPA licensing and will help the profession modernize of the CPA credential.

    More resources on the CPA Exam and licensing are available on PICPA's website.

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  • Apr 30, 2020

    Navigating the CPA Exam in Times of Crisis

    By Meg Killian, vice president - member relations

    In the midst of the dire coronavirus pandemic, we all could use some good news. Here’s a bit about our future CPAs: the AICPA recently announced the 2019 Elijah Watt Sells Award winners. Five of the winners are from Pennsylvania and are among our state’s top 10 scorers. Congrats to all these top candidates! The Elijah Watt Sells Award has been given out since 1923 in honor of Sells, who was one of the country’s first CPAs. It’s given to those who passed all four parts on their first attempt and completed the exam with a cumulative score of 95.

    Who would have though those taking the exam in 2019 had it easy, huh? Taking the CPA Exam in 2020 has proved to be much more challenging. But don’t let delays, extensions, and coronavirus uncertainty throw you off course. The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) is still accepting and processing applications. Its processing time is still around four weeks, but delays in getting transcripts from universities have been extending the total time. Candidates should email cpaexam@nasba.org with any questions.

    Here are a few more details about testing to keep in mind.

    Notice to Schedule Extensions

    Cover of PICPA's CPA Exam BookAll notices to schedule with expirations between April 1 and June 30, 2020, have been extended until Sept.30, 2020. Candidates whose exam credits expire during the time of the emergency disaster declaration (signed by Gov. Tom Wolf on March 6, 2020) will be granted an extension that lasts for the duration of the emergency plus an additional 180 days from the end of the emergency.

    Scheduling an Exam

    Some testing centers will open on May 1, depending on the location of the center and directives from state and local authorities. The 2020 second quarter testing window will be extended from June 10 to June 30, 2020. Continuous testing for CPA Exam candidate will begin July 1, 2020, allowing candidates to take the exam year-round. When testing centers do open, spots will fill up quickly, so don’t delay.

    The most recent announcement from Prometric was that testing centers are closed through May 31, however NASBA is working to get some testing centers reopened sooner. Specific social distancing procedures, including fewer testing appointments and additional operating guidelines will be implemented. 

    Continuous testing (mentioned above) will be launched in July as planned. The exam will be offered year-round with no testing windows. One major benefit is that candidates will be able to retake sections as soon as they receive their score. This will also shorten the exam completion time for highly motivated candidates who are able to take all the exam parts in a shorter time frame.

    Pass/Fail Effects

    Many colleges switched to a pass/fail grading system for the disrupted spring 2020 semester. Some have been concerned about what this means for exam eligibility requirements. Pennsylvania is one of NASBA's CPA Examination Services (CPAES) states and does not require a certain GPA to sit for the exam. In that regard, pass/fail will not affect a candidate’s exam application. Other states’ requirements may vary, so check with your state board of accountancy for its requirements.

    Remote Testing

    One big question is whether the AICPA will offer remote testing. The AICPA is working on a white paper considering this option, but it will not be released and reviewed until next May. There are several logistical, technological, and security issues to resolve, but it sounds like this may be an option in the not-so-distant future.

    Don’t Give Up!

    If you are starting or are currently in the exam process, Pat Hartman from NASBA offers the following advice: “Keep studying, keep testing. We are monitoring the situation. We’ve extended NTSs and are working with boards on extending credit. The process to change credit extension dates is very manual, so don’t panic if you don’t see it changed on your NASBA account. We know who you are and will get your records updated as appropriate, just know it will take us time.”

    The PICPA will also continue to monitor the situation and post news and updates. Good luck to all the exam candidates out there!

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  • Mar 09, 2020

    The Evolution of the CPA Credential and Licensing

    By Michael D. Colgan, CAE

    Technology continues to have a profound impact on all aspects of everyday life, from home to business. The CPA profession is not exempt. Over the past 18 months, the AICPA and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) have been discussing a new CPA licensure model designed to future-proof the profession. The model is a combination of core subject requirements with a targeted discipline in a specific area of the profession (see chart).

    Chart illustrating proposed revisions to the CPA Exam

    The draft overhaul of the CPA licensing requirements starts with a strong foundation in accounting, auditing, tax, and technology. Then, each candidate would choose a specific discipline in which to demonstrate deeper skills and knowledge. Regardless of the chosen discipline, achieving the standards of this proposed model would lead to a full CPA license, with rights and privileges consistent with today’s CPA. A discipline selected for testing on the CPA Exam does not mean that CPA would be limited to that practice area. Just like today, many CPAs start in one area of practice and subsequently learn new skills on the job.

    Many colleges and universities are already embracing the technology skills needed by the profession and incorporating more programs in these areas into their existing curricula. The AICPA and NASBA believe the draft model will address the expanding body of knowledge required of newly licensed CPAs, which includes a deeper understanding of systems, controls, SOC engagements, and data analytics.

    “The model we are proposing reflects the realities of practice today. When you look at the profession 20 or 30 years ago, it’s evident that the demands of CPAs have grown,” explains Bill Reeb, CPA, chair of the AICPA. “For example, today there are three times as many pages in the Internal Revenue Code, four times as many accounting standards, and five times as many auditing standards as there were in 1980. As our body of knowledge has expanded, we’ve stretched the exam and curriculum to cover more and more material, but that approach is not sustainable. We need a licensure model that is flexible enough to evolve with our profession.”

    PICPA Council has provided feedback to the AICPA throughout the exposure process on the proposed model, as have many stakeholders throughout the profession. The AICPA and NASBA are considering all feedback, and plan to come back to their respective governing bodies in spring 2020 with a plan to finalize a new licensing model.

    If you have thoughts or feedback on this proposal, please reach out to me.  

    This column also appears in the spring 2020 issue of the Pennsylvania CPA Journal.

    Michael D. Colgan, CAE, is CEO and executive director of the PICPA. He can be reached at mcolgan@picpa.org.

  • Jan 20, 2020

    CPA License Renewal: What Do You Do if CPE Falls Short or You Face an Audit?

    By Lori Braden, vice president – strategic marketing and communications

    Pennsylvania CPAs’ biennial license renewal and reporting period ended Dec. 31, 2019. If you fulfilled your CPE requirements, submitted your renewal, and received your renewed license, congratulations! If you fell short of your education requirements, forgot to renew, or got selected for an audit, I’ve provided some helpful instructions on what to do next.

    What happens if I didn’t meet the 20-credit-hour CPE minimum per year?

    While Pennsylvania CPAs are required to earn 80 hours total over the two-year licensing period, they also must earn a minimum of 20 hours of CPE each year. Failure to complete 20 hours of acceptable CPE each year comes with disciplinary action: for the first offense there is a fine of $300, and for second or subsequent offenses there is formal action.

    The State Board of Accountancy has a schedule of civil penalties for CPAs who fail to meet their CPE requirements. For first offenses, the fines are as follows:

    • 1-20 hour deficiency - $300
    • 21-40 hour deficiency - $600
    • 41-60 hour deficiency - $800
    • 61-80 hour deficiency - $1,000

    If audited, what do I need to send to the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy?

    After each renewal deadline, the State Board of Accountancy selects a random number of renewals for an audit. The audit will require you to provide documentation of individual CPE hours. You will need to send copies of your signed certificates of completion for the reporting period totaling a minimum of 80 credit hours. Certificates of completion must contain the information found in the State Board of Accountancy’s regulations, including the signature of the CPE sponsor.

    If you take CPE with the PICPA, you can print signed certificates for individual courses as well as a signed summary transcript at www.picpa.org. Just follow these steps:

    • Visit the My Account section of PICPA’s site.
    • Select “CPE History.”

    Screen shot of PICPA's My Account welcome page

    • Use the calendar to select the timeframe for the last reporting period.
    • Select “Print State Board Report” for a signed transcript of the courses and credits you’ve taken with the PICPA. You can also print certificates for individual courses.

    Screen shot of PICPA's CPE course tracking and print options

    When should I receive my license in the mail?

    The State Board will verify that your renewal application has been accurately completed and then reissue permits to practice. Allow seven to 10 business days for the printing and mailing of your license; however, this may take longer during peak renewal times. You will receive an email confirmation when your license is renewed. You can also visit the State Board's PALS site to check the status of your license.

    The PICPA does not issue licenses, but we can provide guidance and support during the renewal process. Should you communicate with the State Board during your renewal, we suggest that you maintain a copy of any correspondence with the State Board.

    You can email the State Board of Accountancy or call (717) 783-1404. If you have questions for the PICPA, email us or call (215) 496-9272.

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  • Oct 07, 2019

    Occupational Licensing Reform Needs a Guard Against Mishap

    By Peter N. Calcara, vice president – government relations

    State lawmakers across the country are scrambling to remove barriers to a person’s right to work in numerous occupations and professions. And rightfully so. For many years, state legislatures have expanded control over more and more occupations and professions: some say the reason is to protect the public, others think it is to raise state revenues. In the early 1990s, 800 occupations required licenses in at least one state. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, that number increased to about 1,100 by 2016. Arizona, Delaware, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, and Rhode Island have all undertaken efforts to deregulate licensing requirements in their state. Some have taken the path of outright elimination, while others have opted to create a new process.

    Pennsylvania General AssenblyPennsylvania is not immune to this deregulation trend. In October 2017, Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order directing his Department of State (DOS), Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA), which oversees professional licensure, to conduct a comprehensive review of the state’s processes, fees, training requirements, criminal history policies, reciprocity or interstate agreements, and continuing education requirements for occupational and professional licensure.

    A final report was issued June 11, 2018. According to the report, Pennsylvania ranks 24th in the country in terms of percentage of total workforce licensed or certified. The percentage of workforce professionally licensed in Pennsylvania is slightly lower than 20.2%. The report provides recommendations for the best ways to remove unnecessary restrictions that prevent Pennsylvanians from gaining employment without compromising the health and safety of residents.

    In addition, the Pennsylvania legislature recently enacted Act 41 of 2019. This law, which took effect Aug. 30, 2019, establishes an endorsement process for all the boards and commissions under the BPOA for the issuing of licenses to applicants who are licensed to practice in another state. The goal is to make licensure more accessible to those arriving in Pennsylvania who already have the skills and training to do their jobs effectively.

    You may be wondering what this has to do with CPAs. While the focus of this deregulation effort is not focused on professional licensees like CPAs, engineers, doctors, and lawyers, collateral damage is always a risk in the legislative process. Depending on language used when drafting a bill, how definitions are crafted, and a host of other potential shenanigans, CPAs may or may not be included in a bill. The PICPA is taking an active role in protecting the CPA designation so the profession will not be caught flatfooted when legislation is brought up for a vote in the state House or Senate.

    The PICPA hosted a panel discussion at our recent annual Leadership Conference on this national trend. Take a few moments and view that session. The panel discussed this threat and what is being done to protect your hard-earned credential. This session provides a good primer on the issue and how, if left uncheck, it can easily take on a life of its own.

    Additionally, the PICPA has joined with the AICPA and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) in supporting the newly created Alliance for Responsible Professional Licensing (ARPL). The ARPL is a coalition focused on educating policymakers and the public about the importance of rigorous professional licensing standards.

    ARPL members include the American Institute of Architects (AIA), American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB), the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES), and the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE).

    As always, the PICPA has boots on the ground in the state capital. The PICPA government relations team educates our state lawmakers, the Wolf administration, and other stakeholders on the importance and need to maintain high standards for complex, technical occupations like the CPA profession, which rightly requires rigorous and ongoing education, examination, and experience.

    We need your help. Learn more about the importance of professional licensing by visiting ARPL’s website, and stay current on legislation in Harrisburg via Legislative Update, PICPA’s government relations e-newsletter. Finally, communicate your concerns to your state representative and senator. State lawmakers want to hear from you, their constituents, on issues that have an impact.

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  • Sep 30, 2019

    Time to Renew Your CPA License

    By Megan Killian, vice president – member relations

    All current Pennsylvania CPA licenses expire Dec. 31, 2019, and should be renewed before that date.

    The Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy will email you a renewal notice in the coming weeks, and renewals should be done on the PALS website. The email from st-accountancy@pa.gov will contain your username and the “registration code” for your license (be sure to check your junk mail or spam folder if you did not see it in the near future). If you don’t get one, there is an option on the login page to recover your UserID.

    Log into PALS

    You will need to log into the PALS website to start your renewal.

    CPA License Renewal: PALS Login Options

    Complete the Renewal Application

    Once you log in, there will be a dashboard showing your account information. Look for the “Professional License Details” panel, locate your CPA license, and click the “Renew” button to begin the renewal.

    CPA License Renewal: PALS Renew Screen

    The first page of the renewal will ask you to review or complete personal information, and the second page will ask a series of questions for the renewal. Here are a few tips for completing these pages:

    • Make sure you have a valid, permanent email address listed. Most licensure correspondence from the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy is sent by email, and you do not want to miss important updates regarding your license.
    • Make sure you answer all the questions. The question form is dynamic, meaning some answers will result in an additional question being displayed. For example, you will only be asked if you met the CPE requirements once you indicate that you did not pass the CPA Examination in 2018 or 2019.
    • Do not indicate that you have met the CPE requirements until you actually have completed all necessary courses. If you have courses scheduled, but not yet completed, to meet the minimum CPE requirements, then you cannot complete your renewal until those courses have been taken. Don't forget that new CPE requirements went into effect this reporting period. View the current CPE requirements.
    • Be mindful of the questions about performing audits or reviews. When renewing your individual license, the questions about whether you performed an audit or review after Dec. 31, 2017, are specifically asking if you performed an audit or review as a sole practitioner. If you performed audit or review engagements as part of a licensed CPA firm only, then you would answer “no” to these questions.
    • Read each question carefully. Do not guess on the answers, and do not ask support staff to complete this form on your behalf. False or misleading answers on this form can lead to disciplinary actions against your license.

    Don’t Forget to Check Out

    After you “sign” the renewal application and click “Continue,” there are several more steps to submit the renewal for processing:

    • Do a final review. You have an additional chance to review your application and make changes before submitting it. Once you submit the application and payment, you will not be able to make any changes.
    • Click the “Add to Cart” button. This will place the signed renewal application in your shopping cart.
    • Select the renewal application and proceed to payment. In the shopping cart, you need to check the box in the left-most column to indicate you want to pay for that renewal and check the "All fees are nonrefundable..." box. Once you check both boxes, you will see the “Proceed to Payment” button.
    • Provide payment information and complete checkout. The fee for the renewal is $100, which can be paid using any major credit card.
    • After completing the submission, save a copy of your receipt and download a copy of your completed renewal application.

    Monitor Your Renewal

    Once you have completed and submitted your renewal application, please note that the renewal is not automatic. Processing time is needed, and if the State Board has questions about your responses it may need additional information before renewing your license.

    If there are questions, you should receive follow-up communication from the state. But regardless of whether or not you receive any follow-up, it remains your responsibility to make sure your license is renewed.

    You should receive an automated email once your license is renewed, but you can verify the status of the renewal at www.pals.pa.gov/verify. If the record indicates your license expires Dec. 31, 2021, then your license has been renewed. You will receive the new license in the mail, but there is some lag time to print and mail the licenses.

    Visit PICPA’s license renewal page for more details and some FAQs about license renewal, or contact our team at (215) 496-9272, via email, or @PaCPAs. If you are having technical issues with the PALS website, submit a technical support request. For specific questions about your license, contact the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy at st-accountancy@pa.gov or (717) 783-1404.

    This blog is an update of a similar posting in the last reporting cycle.

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  • Sep 23, 2019

    What You Need to Know to Reactivate Your Pennsylvania CPA License

    By Meg Killian, PICPA's Vice President of Member Relations
    Picture of Reactivate Your License checklist
    Download the Checklist
    Maybe you decided to open a coffee shop, or trek one of the world’s greatest mountains, or you spent a few years surfing in southern California. Whatever the reason you decided to place your CPA license on inactive status, it’s time to get your license reactivated and join the business world again.

    Certainly there are forms, CPE requirements, and fees involved in the process, but reactivating your CPA license doesn’t need to be daunting. Follow this handy checklist from the PICPA for step-by-step instructions.

    As you gather your forms and make your plan, keep these things in mind:

    • If you let your license expire (rather than changing it to inactive status), when you reactivate you will be subject to additional fines as well as inquiries regarding your work while your license was lapsed. Be prepared for follow up contact from the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy.
    • You must confirm that you have not been performing attest work or holding yourself out to the public as a CPA to perform accounting services during your inactive period. If you were, then you could be subject to an investigation, fines, and possibly the rejection of your reactivation application.
    • Consider the timing of your reactivation. If you apply prior to October of the odd year in the biennial reporting period (currently 2019), then your reactivated license is only valid until the end of that calendar year and will be subject to renewal at that time. For example, apply in June 2019 and you’ll need to renew in December 2019. Apply in October 2019, and you won’t need to renew until December 2021.
    • Make sure all your professional education has been attained through a NASBA or Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy approved provider. Annual renewals are subject to random audits, but activations are individually scrutinized. A free webinar that nabbed you that last credit hour may not be approved, and you don’t want to come up short on CPE requirements. The PICPA is an approved sponsor which offers thousands of courses, plus you can track your CPE history online in My Account.
    You worked hard to earn your CPA credential, and you want to be able to use it. Whether or not you are performing attest work, there are many benefits to keeping your CPA license active. No matter what type of work you do, having CPA after your name gives you instant credibility and respect.
  • Aug 29, 2019

    CPA Exam Offers Quicker Retesting Schedule

    Troy Cannode, CPABy Troy Cannode, CPA

    The Uniform CPA Examination (CPA Exam) is often altered to accommodate a changing accounting environment. Sometimes it is as basic as reflecting new accounting pronouncements; other times it is to reflect a changing focus within the profession. This year, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) board of directors approved changes as to when and how qualified candidates can sit for the exam.

    Illustration of Exam studying materialsThis blog highlights some of the recent updates.

    Retaking the CPA Exam

    The Uniform Accountancy Act Model Rule 5-7, “Retake and granting of credit requirements,” details when candidates can retake the exam and for what period of time credits for passing sections would be valid. Paragraph (a)(2) had stated that a candidate cannot retake a failed test section(s) in the same testing window. A testing window is equal to a calendar quarter. Candidates were not able to test less than two months out of each testing window. On April 26, 2019, the NASBA board of directors approved changes to this paragraph: candidates will now be allowed to retake failed test sections once the grade for the previous attempt(s) has been released. The expectation is that the continuous testing model will be in place by June 30, 2020.

    Content Changes

    There also have been several content changes to three of the four sections of the CPA Exam. (There were no revisions to Financial Accounting and Reporting.) The alterations highlighted below were effective July 1, 2019.

    Auditing and Attestation – Revisions to this section, per the AICPA summary of revisions, expanded or added detail to content already included within the blueprint and eligible for testing. The focus of the additional detail was audit data analytics. The blueprint now includes audit data analytic verbiage in multiple section introductions. For example, the section introduction for assessing risks and planning further procedures includes the updated language “… understanding and calculating materiality and considering specific engagement risks, as well as incorporating concepts such as audit data analytics.”

    In addition to section introductions, new representative tasks were included. The blueprint area on assessing risk and developing a planned response was updated with the following additional representative task: assess risks of material misstatement using audit data analytic outputs (e.g., reports and visualization) to determine relationships among variables and interpret results to provide a basis in developing planned audit procedures. The topic titled Performing Further Procedures and Obtaining Evidence now includes the representative task of determining the attributes, structure, and sources of data needed to complete audit data analytics procedures.

    Business Environment Concepts – Approved updates in this section clarify the introduction and reorganize the Information Technology area. While the content remains largely intact, some minor changes have occurred. The descriptions of Areas I and IV have been streamlined to provide additional clarity. In Area I, multiple redundant references of internal control and enterprise risk management frameworks have been altered to single bullet points covering each of the two frameworks. In Area IV, specific topics such as understanding the role of IT and systems (including the use of data in supporting business decisions) replaced references to governance of information technology used in business. COSO-issued application material, thought papers, and guides related to internal control and enterprise risk management framework are now in the reference material.

    The update also reorganized many of the representative tasks, both understanding and application, to better align these tasks with the new topics in Area IV: Information Technology. For example, recognizing the risks and controls associated with protecting sensitive and critical information within an organization’s IT environment (previously under the topic of information security/availability) is now listed under the topic of risks associated with IT. This reorganization provides better alignment of tasks to topics.

    Regulation – The approved update to this section added an assumption discussion to the introduction. The assumption discussion provides insight on the relevance of the material in each question. The discussion also details how to proceed with questions that could have different tax treatments based on matters of timing. The discussion states that candidates will be given clear indication of the timing so they can apply the appropriate Internal Revenue Code provisions, and without such clear indication of timing candidates will assume the transaction or event took place in the current year. The update also provides minor language revisions to representative tasks in the area of related party transactions and estate and gift taxation.

    Overall, the content changes do provide some new wrinkles for candidates, but the change that has a far greater impact is the allowance to retake the exam within the same testing window. This change allows unsuccessful section test-takers to retake that failed section up to six weeks earlier than previously allowed.

    Troy Cannode, CPA, is an assistant professor of accounting at Lycoming College in Williamsport. He can be reached at cannode@lycoming.edu.  

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  • Aug 23, 2019

    CPA Exam, Licensing Among Factors Affected by Emerging Technology

    William HayesBy William J. Hayes, managing editor, Pennsylvania CPA Journal

    Developing technologies such as blockchain, data analytics, and artificial intelligence are having a major impact on the accounting workplace, but for individuals just entering the profession, the rising technologies will affect more than their work assignments. For instance, these advancements will bring changes to CPA licensing as well as alterations to the CPA Exam. To go into detail on these changes, we sat down with PICPA members Amanda Marcy and Ashley Stampone of the University of Scranton. Marcy and Stampone are the authors of “Emerging Technologies Will Impact More Than Office Duties,” which will appear in the upcoming fall 2019 Pennsylvania CPA Journal.

    The CPA Evolution Working Group is a major focus of your piece. Can you give a bit of background on this group and what it is looking to accomplish?

    Ashley StamponeStampone: The CPA Evolution Working Group is a joint task force between the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy and the AICPA. What they are trying to do is explore potential changes to CPA licensure requirements that incorporate skills and competencies in the areas of technology and data analytics. Since November 2018, this group – which also has representatives from public accounting firms, state CPA societies, and academia – has been examining current licensure requirements and discussing ways to integrate technology into this model.

    What does the CPA Evolution Working Group believe needs to be done with the CPA Exam to better prepare emerging CPAs for the future of the profession?

    Amanda MarcyMarcy: The group has not actually proposed any exam changes, but it has released three concepts about the exam supporting its guiding principles. First and foremost, it calls for an exam that tests the common core related to both accounting and technology. This will allow exam candidates to demonstrate their skills in this area. Second, while still using the same exam structure, it wants to modify the breadth and depth of some concepts based on future-looking practice analysis. And third, it acknowledges that certain accounting and auditing techniques might only be applicable for some CPAs, but the knowledge of some technological components – such as system controls and emerging technologies – is important for all practicing accountants.

    The CPA Evolution Working Group has a set of five principles to meet a new model for ensuring technical expertise in the profession. Do any of the principles jump out to you as having the potential to deeply affect the profession?

    Stampone: The principle that stands out the most to us is that the profession, and therefore entry into the profession, must be redesigned to attract individuals with technological and analytical expertise. Going forward, we are going to see a shift to attract non-CPA professionals who have competencies in technology and analytics to perform assurance and other services. I also think that we are going to see more efforts to attract nonaccounting majors. For us at the academic level, we are going to see accounting programs include more technologically based classes, either in the curricula through electives or directly in the accounting core, if they haven't done so already.

    Marcy: The profession, specifically public accounting firms, is actually requesting that schools provide degrees specializing in data analytics. For example, KPMG has collaborated with nine colleges across the nation (one being Villanova University in the Philadelphia region) in developing its KPMG master of accounting with data analytics program. This program is entering its third year this fall. After participants have gone through this program, for which KPMG provides a full scholarship, they receive an internship in a KPMG audit or tax program and will receive a full-time position upon graduation. If that doesn't show you the importance of attaining these skills, I don't know what will.

    At the University of Scranton, you both come into contact with a lot of accounting students. Do they worry about the growth of technology in the profession, or do they welcome it? And what do you say to them to keep them working toward their goal of becoming a CPA despite all the technological growth?

    Stampone: Incoming students are really comfortable with technology. Because of this, I feel that it is welcomed. We were receiving a ton of questions about data analytics and how a student can be more prepared. At Scranton, we have a new minor in business analytics, so we recommend that students pursue this minor to gain exposure to these areas. But we also stress that students need to be proficient in core accounting courses to have success in passing the CPA Exam. They should also focus on their communication, teamwork, and critical-thinking skills to have success in the profession.

    Marcy: Our students coming back from their internships are very eager to learn more in this area based on what they have experienced in the field. They are coming to us and asking, "Can we have more advanced Excel classes? Can we have more topics related to data analytics?" These are the things they are being asked to do when they are working.

    Ashley L. Stampone, CPA, is a faculty specialist in accounting at the University of Scranton in Scranton, Pa. She can be contacted at ashley.stampone@scranton.edu.

    Amanda S. Marcy, CPA, an assistant professor of accounting at the University of Scranton, can be contacted at amanda.marcy@scranton.edu.

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  • Jun 19, 2019

    CPAs: Tailor Your Support of Exam Takers to Their Needs

    Jessica M. Dunlap, CPABy Jessica M. Dunlap, CPA

    If you’re a CPA, I’m sure you have a horror story or two from when you were studying for the CPA Exam. I know I do. And as a manager, then partner, in a firm, time and again I saw staff stress and struggle to find their unique way to slay the exam dragon. It doesn’t have to be that way. Every knight in shining armor had a team of support before setting off on their quest. Partners, managers, and coworkers need to be the blacksmiths and squires to each CPA Exam taker as they prepare their personal journey toward success.

    Young accountant gaining CPA Exam advice from experienced coworker.Recently, I transitioned to a career in teaching at the collegiate level. In my new role, one of my goals included providing a course that encompassed a CPA Exam review. But it wasn’t going to be “my” advice. The first assignment I gave to students was for them to create their own study plan. When I was in public accounting and I would hear someone tell a staff accountant what they needed to do to pass, I would think, “What if that doesn’t work for their life?” With my course, I was insistent that each student needed to look over the material and determine for themselves the order in which they would accomplish all of the sections and be able to take a simulated exam by the end of the semester. You see, sharing your own methods and tricks may not be the right path for everyone. The goal of CPA friends, colleagues, and mentors – at work or at school – should be to help the prospective CPA develop the tools he or she needs to pass each part of the exam, each with his or her own flavor. If a particular plan is developed that fits their life and will get the job done, roll with it – even if it seems an odd path to you.

    This doesn’t mean you should be hands off. Each week my students check in with me to determine if they need to alter their plan. Sometimes they require guidance or a refresher on a specific point. Create a support network to help the prospective CPAs work through concepts they may have forgotten or may have never learned. Establishing an environment that supports study and that emphasizes how failing to plan is courting failure have been key aspects of my class, and should be incorporated into your professional support program.

    People seeking to pass the CPA Exam must plan up front with the end in mind, but they also need support, encouragement, and sometimes someone to hold them accountable to their plan. When passing the exam, we all slay the dragon in our own due time. Supporting each individual, and each individual plan, as they travel their path to becoming a CPA is, one might say, chivalrous.

    Jessica M. Dunlap, CPA, is a professor of accounting at St. Francis University in Loretto, Pa., and served on the PICPA Board from 2017 to 2019. She can be reached at jdunlap@francis.edu.

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  • May 14, 2019

    Self-Care Is Essential for CPA Exam Readiness

    Mylin Batipps Jr.By Mylin Batipps Jr., PICPA public relations coordinator

    You’ve studied hard and are confident that you know all that’s needed to take the CPA Exam. But to truly be prepared, you need more than just knowing the material. You must also take care of yourself—both mentally and physically. Are you getting enough sleep? How are your eating habits? Do you have what you need for exam day?

    I spoke with Patricia Hartman, director of client services for the National Association of State Board of Accountancy (NASBA), on the steps CPA Exam candidates should take—literally and figuratively—as they prepare for the rigors of exam day.

    Q: Should CPA Exam candidates study for the CPA Exam the day/night before their exam?

    Pat HartmanIn my opinion, late night cram sessions are not a very effective way to study. I recommend using the night before the exam for reviewing any notes you may have created during your study sessions.

    Did you know that sleep is critical for memory formation? Give your brain a chance to rest. Studying until the last minute may lead to you having a harder time remembering the material you studied. It’s important to get a good night’s sleep, so don’t study too late! Aim for a full eight hours of sleep; you want to be refreshed and well-rested the day of your exam.

    Q: Do you recommend any kind of exercises that will help candidates physically and mentally prepare for the CPA Exam?

    Walking is great exercise and it can decrease stress and anxiety. It also improves your quality of sleep, so take a walk early in the evening the day before your exam. Go outside and get some fresh air. If you’re studying, remember to get up and move around at regular intervals. Sitting for long periods of time decreases blood flow and can impair your performance. During the exam, make use of your break time to stretch.

    The AICPA provides study materials that allow candidates to study the exam blueprints, take sample tests, and view the features and functionality of the exam. I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the functionality of tools, resources, and navigation found in the exam, and practice with the sample tests.

    Q: What are the kinds of foods that students should eat the day before and the morning of the CPA Exam?

    Avoid junk food! Go for protein and complex carbohydrates. Protein helps with alertness, and carbohydrates provide sustained mental energy. Your mom was right – you should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. The night before the exam, I suggest you sit down with your family or friends and enjoy a relaxing meal. You’ve studied hard, so take a break and relax before the big day. On the day of the exam, start with a healthy breakfast or a protein shake if you’re not up to a big breakfast.

    Q: What must CPA Exam candidates bring with them to the testing center that they may not be aware of? What else should they know about exam day?

    All you really need is your identification and Notice to Schedule. Your Notice to Schedule has a list of acceptable forms of identification as well as a list of prohibited items. Visit www.prometric.com for information on what to expect and how to prepare for exam day. Prometric also offers you an opportunity to do a “test drive” so you know exactly what to expect on exam day.

    Q: What steps should candidates take if an emergency occurs that prevents them from being able to take the exam on their scheduled day?

    In the event of weather-related issues, the first thing you should do is check to see if the center will be open. Sometimes, the test center may have to close due to weather conditions. You can do this by visiting www.prometric.com.

    If the test center is open, you will need to contact your state board of accountancy or its designee to let them know why you will be unable to take the exam on your scheduled day and receive next steps.

    Q: Who should CPA Exam candidates contact if they have any questions regarding the logistics of exam day?

    I encourage all candidates to read the Candidate Bulletin available on NASBA’s website. It is a comprehensive guide to everything you can expect before, during, and after the exam. In addition, NASBA’s call center (1-800-CPA-EXAM) is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Eastern, and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern. If you prefer, you can also email us at cpaexam@nasba.org.

    For more information on CPA Exam study tips, check out Episode 2 of the Pennsylvania CPA Foundation’s “Work Your Way to CPA” podcast series. All episodes of the series, as well as additional resources to help you successfully reach CPA status, can be found on www.picpa.org/workyourway.

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  • May 07, 2019

    Three Study Tips to Help Prepare for the CPA Exam

    Galina IvanivBy Galina Ivaniv

    CPA Exam preparation is a multistep process. I was determined to pass the exam, and becoming a graduate student at Temple University helped me accomplish my goal. Not only had I access to a Becker CPA review course, but I also had enough time allotted to studying for the exam full time. After passing all four parts of the exam within 10 months, I am happy to share my three study tips to prepare for the CPA Exam.

    Tip 1. Make sure to choose the right CPA review course provider.

    We all tend to have different learning styles. Some people need visual information to better comprehend the material, others learn better by listening, and some learn through experience (doing exercises and performing procedures to gain a better understanding of the process/concept). CPA review course providers have different approaches to preparing candidates for the exam, so finding the right provider that fits your needs is crucial. Some companies offer free trials of their review courses, so make sure to take the opportunity and sign up for them. After you find the one that fits, choose the provider that will best help you pass the CPA Exam.

    Tip 2. Create a study plan and stick to it.

    Use the CPA review course provider's schedule to determine the approximate number of hours needed to study for each chapter. Then, based on your schedule, set up the exam date. Having a due date in mind is helpful for keeping yourself organized; there will not be any room for procrastination. In addition, devote every day to studying so you can easily retain information learned in the beginning. Practice exams, which can be taken at the end of studying for a particular section, are useful in assessing the preparedness. If you stick to the study plan, you will have plenty of time to work on the weak areas and be ready when it comes time to take the exam.

    Tip 3. Maintain a balanced life.

    Even though studying for the exam is going to be your top priority, devoting attention to other areas of your life is important for your mental health. Do not skip your morning workout, Sunday brunch with the family, or shopping with a friend. Try to reserve some time for yourself to keep the stress away. By taking time off from studying, you will gain more energy and your loved ones will not be affected by your busy schedule. A well-balanced life is essential if you plan to pass the exam.

    Yes, preparation for the CPA Exam is time-consuming, but the reward is worth it!

    For more tips on choosing the right CPA Exam review provider for you, check out Episode 1 of the Pennsylvania CPA Foundation’s “Work Your Way to CPA” podcast series. All episodes of the series, as well as additional resources to help you successfully reach CPA status, can be found on www.picpa.org/workyourway.

    Galina Ivaniv is a staff accountant with Kreischer Miller in Horsham, Pa.

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  • Feb 04, 2019

    I Just Passed the CPA Exam. When Do I Need to Take CPE?

    By Megan Killian, vice president, member relations

    Becoming a CPA is a challenging process, and by passing the CPA Exam you’re almost there! This is a huge achievement. Congratulations, my friend!

    The learning isn’t over, though. Staying informed and educated on all the rules and regulations and learning from your peers are important parts of what make the CPA profession stand out among other professions. That’s why continuing professional education (CPE) is a requirement for keeping your license active.

    Applying for Your Initial License

    When you passed the exam will determine whether or not you’ll need to have completed CPE when you apply for your initial license. Generally, preparation for and taking the exam is considered your professional education IF (notice this word is capitalized, underlined, and italicized because this is a big IF) you passed the exam during the time when you would have otherwise taken CPE.

    Let’s back up a moment: CPE is required education needed to get or renew a CPA license that’s valid for the next biennial period. Here’s an example of the cycle:

    • Take CPE during Jan. 1, 2018, to Dec. 31, 2019.
    • Renew your license December 2019.
    • License is valid through Dec. 31, 2021.
    • Take CPE during Jan. 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2021.
    • Renew license December 2021.
    • License is valid through Dec. 31, 2023.
    • And so on.

    So, when you passed the exam and when you apply for your license will determine whether you’ll need CPE for that initial license (see chart below). If you’re unsure, I would advise that you confirm with the State Board of Accountancy as to whether or not you need CPE.


    What Are the CPE Requirements if I Am Applying for My Initial License?

    Passed the CPA Exam prior to 2016:

    • Applying for initial license on or after Oct. 2, 2017: Required to have 80 hours of CPE in previous 24 months.
    Passed the CPA Exam between Jan. 1, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2017:
    • Applying for initial license between Jan. 1, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2017: No CPE required for initial license or to renew the license at end of 2017. Will need to take CPE during 2018 and 2019.
    • Applying for initial license between Jan. 1, 2018, and Oct. 1, 2019: No CPE required, but will need CPE to renew license at end of 2019.
    • Applying for initial license on or after Oct. 2, 2019: Required to have 80 hours of CPE in previous 24 months.
    Passed the CPA Exam between Jan. 1, 2018, and Dec. 31, 2019:
    • Applying for initial license between Jan. 1, 2018, and Oct. 1, 2019: No CPE required for initial license or to renew the license at end of 2019. Will need to take CPE during 2020 and 2021.
    • Applying for initial license between Jan. 1, 2020, and Oct. 1, 2021: No CPE required, but will need CPE to renew license by end of 2021.
    • Applying for initial license on or after Oct. 2, 2021: Required to have 80 hours of CPE in previous 24 months.


    Renewing Your License

    Meeting the CPE requirements for the first renewal is where some licensees can get tripped up.

    The time of year you apply for your initial license and the valid dates on that initial license will determine whether you need to be taking CPE for the next renewal. Look for the expiration date on your initial license (or look it up here). If it expires at the end of the current biennial period, then you need to have your 80 hours by the expiration date. (And don’t forget the annual 20-hour minimum!)

    You worked hard to pass the CPA Exam, and you don’t want to put your license status at risk. Contact the PICPA or the State Board with specific questions, and don’t take any chances that you won’t meet the requirements for initial licensure or renewal.

    CPE Requirements in Pennsylvania

    Every state has different requirements. In Pennsylvania, you need 80 credit hours every two years, with a minimum of 20 credit hours each year. The biennial reporting period ends on Dec. 31 of every odd numbered year (2019, 2021, 2023, etc.). Here are additional important points about the requirements:

    • There are four categories of CPE: tax, A&A, ethics, and other.
    • As part of the 80 hours, all licensees need four hours of ethics credits. If you work in attest, then you need 24 A&A credits as part of your total.
    • A maximum of 40 credit hours can be self-study.
    • When you renew, you don’t need to submit your CPE records as part of that process. However, you should keep all your records because the State Board does audit about 10 percent of licensees to verify compliance.
    • Verify with your CPE provider that it is an approved provider by the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy and/or National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. The PICPA is a Pennsylvania-State-Board-approved provider.

    There’s a helpful CPE requirements-at-a-glance guide on the PICPA website. You can find professional education requirements for other jurisdictions here.

  • Nov 23, 2018

    Zero or 24? Understanding the New A&A CPE Requirements

    By Michael D. Colgan, CEO and executive director

    The PICPA has received inquiries from several firms regarding the interpretation of Pennsylvania’s new CPE requirements, which were effective Jan. 1, 2018. Specifically, firms are asking for clarification on which licensees are now required to obtain 24 CPE hours of accounting and auditing (A&A).

    Figuring out A&A education requirementsGenerally, the new regulations eliminate the minimum eight-hour tax requirement for all licensees, but require 24 hours (increased from 16) of A&A credits for those CPAs participating in attest activities. Licensees not participating in attest activities will have no A&A minimum. The four-hour biennial ethics requirement remains in place for all licensees. The changes allow licensees to select and complete CPE in the areas most related to their own professional development needs. The question firms have raised, however, is how to define “participating in attest activities” to determine whether or not licensees need to meet the expanded A&A requirement.

    Examples raised have included a licensee who is a tax professional, but audits the tax provision included in the financial statements of a company; or a tax professional who completes an uncertain tax position checklist for a pass-through entity, corporation, or nonprofit, and may perform an analysis to determine if any uncertain tax position exists.

    The PICPA requested clarification from the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy (SBOA) as to how to interpret the new regulations with respect to A&A. Here is the response, but in brief the SBOA is relying on the definition of attest activity in the CPA Law, but does not define the term “participating.”

    From our discussions with the SBOA prior to these changes being adopted, I am confident that its intent on eliminating the minimum CPE requirements for A&A and tax for most licensees was to allow CPAs to determine which CPE would best help them maintain and build competencies in the areas in which they practiced. The SBOA included the 24 hours of A&A CPE for those participating in attest activities due to changes in the experience requirements to become a CPA, which no longer required a portion of the experience gained to come from the attest area. The intent, I believe, is not to require licensees who do not work in the attest area to increase their required A&A CPE from 16 to 24 hours.

    The SBOA has verbally communicated that “participating” will likely be a firm-by-firm interpretation. Some firms may conclude that any service charged to an audit code defines participation, and will require their licensees to get 24 hours of A&A; others may deem the review of a tax provision as incidental and not fully participating in attest activity, so they will not require their licensees to get 24 hours of A&A.

    The PICPA will work to add more clarity to the next revision of the CPA regulations, but that will not arrive prior to the end of the licensing period that concludes in December 2019.

    Licensees will self-report on their license renewal applications in December 2019 on whether they participated in attest activities, which would trigger the 24-hour A&A requirement.

    If you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

    For A&A courses provided through the PICPA, visit our Accounting & Auditing CPE page. 

    From now until Dec. 1, PICPA is offering an A&A Survival Kit at a discounted rate. Get webcasts of the A&A Conference and two seminars - totaling 24 credits - for just $599. That's a $280 savings! Purchase by Dec. 1 to save >>

  • Feb 01, 2018

    Expungement May Soon Be Available for Pa. Licensees

    By Peter Calcara, vice president – government relations

    The legislative process can be unpredictable, frustrating, and painfully slow. Such is the price to pay for democratic institutions. But, on occasion, the process can shock you when, almost out of nowhere, an issue or specific piece of legislation breaks your way and starts moving almost uninhibited through the process.

    A case in point is the recent passage of Senate Bill 354 (SB 354). The bill, sponsored by Sen. Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bucks), started out as a way to address misconduct by those licensed under the Pennsylvania Department of State’s Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs’ (BPOA) 29 professional and occupational licensing boards and commissions, which includes the State Board of Accountancy. Tomlinson introduced a similar bill in the 2015-2016 legislative session, but it died during the legislative process.

    Erasing a MistakeAs Tomlinson’s bill was moving through legislative committees this session, the House Professional Licensure Committee added an amendment that would allow licensees to “expunge” their records under certain, limited conditions, a PICPA legislative priority for several years. Rep. Kate Harper (R-Montgomery) sponsored legislation to address this in each of the past three sessions, only to be thwarted in the process.

    Expungement is already a legal concept under Pennsylvania’s criminal statutes. An expungement is a legal order that removes a criminal record from public view and restricts access to law-enforcement agencies.

    SB 354 defines expunge/expungement as the “removal of a disciplinary record, accomplished by: (1) permanently sealing the affected record from public access; (2) deeming the proceedings to which the affected record refers as not having occurred; and (3) except with respect to any subsequent application for expungement, affording the affected party the right to represent that no record exists regarding the subject matter of the affected record.”

    Under the bill, the BPOA commissioner would be required, under certain circumstances, to expunge the disciplinary record of a licensee if the imposition of discipline was for a violation involving failure to complete continuing education requirements or practicing for six months or less on a lapsed license, registration, certificate, or permit. PICPA’s support for expungement is predicated on the fact that most of these violations are of the “traffic ticket” variety, and are not criminal or fraudulent in nature.

    To have your record expunged, the following must apply:

    • The record must be at least four years old.
    • The record must be the only disciplinary record the applicant has.
    • The applicant must not be the subject of an active investigation related to professional or occupational conduct.
    • The applicant must not be in a current disciplinary status, and any fees or fines assessed must be paid in full.
    • The applicant must not have had a disciplinary record previously expunged.
    • The licensee, registrant, certificate holder, or permit holder shall pay all costs associated with the expungement as established by the commissioner by regulation.

    As of this blog posting, SB 354 needs to clear one more legislative hurdle (the state Senate) before it is sent to Gov. Tom Wolf and hopefully becomes law in Pennsylvania.

  • Jan 15, 2018

    Modernization of the CPA Exam Continues

    Meg Killian, VP Member RelationsBy Megan Killian, vice president – member relations

    Exciting changes are coming to the CPA Exam in 2018. New software and tools will be added to the exam experience in April, one year after the launch of the most recent updates to the exam content and format.

    Cover of Become a CPA bookletThe AICPA and a consulting firm used feedback from test takers over the course of the year to evaluate the platforms. The result is a more user-friendly, modern system that reflects the work environment of most CPAs. In addition to an updated testing interface, new features include a highlighting tool, cut and paste functionality, and the ability to work on two documents on the same screen. And, finally, an addition that candidates have been waiting for – the CPA Exam will now make Microsoft Excel available!

    In a big step for inclusion, the exam will introduce technology to assist visually impaired candidates.

    As with most changes in the past, the new features will delay the release of scores for the last three testing windows in 2018. This delay allows the psychometric experts time to ensure the testing has been fair and accurate.

    New versions of sample tests and simulations are available on the AICPA’s website.

    Read more about the CPA Exam updates in the Journal of Accountancy.

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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.
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