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Navigating the State's New Accountancy Law

Louis Grumet

Come July 26, thousands of CPAs throughout New York State will be covered by the newly enacted accountancy reform law. The law broadens the scope of practice of public accountancy to bring New York State's antiquated laws up to par with the rest of the country, and it brings a larger number of CPAs under the state's regulatory structure. The law now requires CPAs working in industry, for example, to register and to complete continuing professional education courses.

Do you work in government or education? You need to be registered as well.

Retired, but you still do a few tax returns on the side every season for friends and family? If you sign the forms as the preparer, you, too, need to be registered.

Under the new law, virtually all work that CPAs provide—not just attest services—now comes under regulation.

This new law is the most important thing to happen to the profession in decades.

Among other things, the new law also requires all types of firms (including sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLPs, LLCs, and PCs) to maintain a current registration with the New York State Education Department if the firm performs attest or compilation services, or if the firm uses the title “CPA” or “CPA firm” or “PA” or “PA firm.” In addition, as a condition of re-registration, firms must undergo a quality review of their attest services every three years. Sole proprietorships or firms with two or fewer professionals are exempt from the quality review requirement unless they perform services subject to Government Auditing Standards (the “Yellow Book”).

The new law is complex and covers a great deal. Sure, you can go to the New York State Education Department website, or to ours, to read all 30 pages of the new law—or you can let us help.

The NYSSCPA has always prided itself on being an advocate for the CPA profession and for CPA professionals. We worked for the better part of a decade to help bring about these comprehensive changes, not only for the profession but for the public that it serves. The profession remains the gatekeeper to public protection, and this new law helps raise the bar on standards.

We'll Come to You

Our outreach to CPAs throughout the state has already begun. We have given presentations on the new law to CPAs at Deutsche Bank and the New York City chapter of the Tax Executives Institute. At press time, sessions were also scheduled with the City of New York, Citigroup, AIG, as well as with professors and staff at the City University of New York.

We have also provided the same sessions to our committees, including the Industry Division Oversight, CFO, Tax Division Oversight, Investment Management, Entertainment & Sports, and Personal Financial Planning committees. And we will be providing the same sessions to our chapters.

There are still a number of CPAs who are unaware of changes in the areas in which they provide their services. That's why we intend to educate all professionals about the significance—and responsibility—of the accountancy reform law.

This new law is the most important thing to happen to the profession in decades. Think about it: The last time New York accountancy law was changed, it was signed into law by then-Governor Thomas Dewey in 1947. Many of the services CPAs provide today were not included within the scope of practice when that law was written.

As for Governor Dewey, well, we love his thruway, and we'll be happy to use it to come to you. Our one- to two-hour presentations, including a question-and-answer session, are free. If you'd like us to speak to your group, we would consider it not only our honor, but our duty.

The bottom line is this: The NYSSCPA is here to help.

Louis Grumet. Publisher. The CPA Journal, Executive Director, NYSSCPA, lgrumet@nysscpa.org.

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