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California Might Ditch the Attest Requirement for CPA Licensure

Before you get excited, note this is a big fat might.

Here's the news release from the Board of Accountancy:

The California Board of Accountancy (CBA) will be launching a study to determine whether it should continue its present attest experience requirement for prospective Certified Public Accountants. At issue is whether the current requirement is necessary in supporting the CBA’s mission to protect consumers.

Attest experience includes audits, reviews of financial statements, or examinations of prospective financial information. Currently, those qualifying for a CPA license in California may do so under the “general experience” requirement or “attest experience” requirement.

According to CBA President Michael Savoy, the CBA will be performing this study on both a national and state level during 2015.

“This study, both in length and breadth, is designed to aid the CBA in determining whether to maintain, modify, or eliminate the attest experience requirement,” said Savoy. “At the end of the day we need to answer the question ‘What is in the best interest of California consumers?’

”The CBA has contracted with Sacramento – based CPS HR Consulting to conduct the preliminary work developing the study. The consulting firm is a self-supporting public entity with strong expertise in working with the public sector for federal, state, and local governments.

We have previously discussed the attest requirement (rather, lack thereof for many states) when Pennsylvania considered ditching it and some of you didn't like the idea of lowering the bar and opening the floodgates on the barrier to entry that keeps the riff raff from sharing your prestigious certification. Except, uh, as is, California's requirement is not a requirement at all. Want to do audits after you are licensed? Cool, then you need attest hours. Simple enough.

The Pennsylvania proposal to drop the attest experience requirement was signed into law last year.

The AICPA/NASBA Uniform Accountancy Act supports a year of experience providing "any type of service," even in industry if you can believe that:

An applicant for initial issuance of a certificate under this Section shall show that the applicant has had one year of experience. This experience shall include providing any type of service or advice involving the use of accounting, attest, compilation, management advisory, financial advisory, tax, or consulting skills all ofwhich was verified by a licensee, meeting requirements prescribed by the Board byrule. This experience would be acceptable if it was gained through employment in government, industry, academia, or public practice.

We will keep you in the loop on this one as it develops. I'm sure the CBA would love to hear your thoughts in the meantime, especially those of you licensed in California.