September 23, 2020

Are Accounting Firms Getting Cheated by the PCAOB?

You may have forgotten, but last year the PCAOB established some new rules that require its members to file annual reports on Forms 2, 3, and 4 with the Board. These annual reports aren’t the glossy paged marketing tools filled with smiling faces that you may be thinking of, nor do they contain an financial information. They mostly consist of information that the PCAOB wants to know in case a firm changes its address, whether your firm hires shady characters, or finds itself in some serious legal trouble (take note Big 4).


Because all this reporting is a pain in the ass for the Board, a modest charge has been established to “recover the costs of processing and reviewing applications and annual reports,” according to a statement released by the PCAOB.

Now before you get all huffy about it, this is allowed by Michael Oxley’s favorite piece of legislation and now that the Board is getting around to requiring firms to submit the annual reports (inaugurals are due June 30), a fee only seemed appropriate and necessary.

Starting this year, registered firms will be charged the following:

Firms with more than 500 issuer audit clients and more than 10,000 personnel – $100,000

Other firms with more than 200 issuer audit clients and more than 1,000 personnel – $25,000

All other firms – $500

PLUS! The minimum registration fee is being increased to $500 because “The Board believes it is appropriate at this time to raise that fee to $500 to align it more closely with the minimum annual fee.”

In the grand scheme of things, the new annual fee and the increased registration fee aren’t really worth getting too worked up over but does make you wonder if accounting firms are getting the most bang for their buck vis-à-vis the PCAOB.

Oh sure, the annual inspections are a hoot and they’ll nail a shiesty accountant here and there but what about the guidance the Board has been issuing lately?

If the best the Board can do is churn out a reminders about bizarro transactions that belittles auditors (but don’t bother giving any examples) and proposals on how auditors should carry on a conversation, some people might start demanding a little more substance out of their watchdog.

PCAOB Release No. 2010-002 [PCAOB]

You may have forgotten, but last year the PCAOB established some new rules that require its members to file annual reports on Forms 2, 3, and 4 with the Board. These annual reports aren’t the glossy paged marketing tools filled with smiling faces that you may be thinking of, nor do they contain an financial information. They mostly consist of information that the PCAOB wants to know in case a firm changes its address, whether your firm hires shady characters, or finds itself in some serious legal trouble (take note Big 4).


Because all this reporting is a pain in the ass for the Board, a modest charge has been established to “recover the costs of processing and reviewing applications and annual reports,” according to a statement released by the PCAOB.

Now before you get all huffy about it, this is allowed by Michael Oxley’s favorite piece of legislation and now that the Board is getting around to requiring firms to submit the annual reports (inaugurals are due June 30), a fee only seemed appropriate and necessary.

Starting this year, registered firms will be charged the following:

Firms with more than 500 issuer audit clients and more than 10,000 personnel – $100,000

Other firms with more than 200 issuer audit clients and more than 1,000 personnel – $25,000

All other firms – $500

PLUS! The minimum registration fee is being increased to $500 because “The Board believes it is appropriate at this time to raise that fee to $500 to align it more closely with the minimum annual fee.”

In the grand scheme of things, the new annual fee and the increased registration fee aren’t really worth getting too worked up over but does make you wonder if accounting firms are getting the most bang for their buck vis-à-vis the PCAOB.

Oh sure, the annual inspections are a hoot and they’ll nail a shiesty accountant here and there but what about the guidance the Board has been issuing lately?

If the best the Board can do is churn out a reminders about bizarro transactions that belittles auditors (but don’t bother giving any examples) and proposals on how auditors should carry on a conversation, some people might start demanding a little more substance out of their watchdog.

PCAOB Release No. 2010-002 [PCAOB]

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