September 28, 2020

Can an Ambitious Future Massachusetts CPA Sit in New Hampshire To Get It Over With?

If you have a CPA exam specific question for me or just don't want to deal with Colin's attitude, get in touch and I'll do what I can.

Hi Adrienne,

I have a question regarding transferring scores that I was hoping you could answer.

I'm in an MSA program with an offer from one of the Big 4 to start after I graduate this August. The program I am in focuses on liberal arts undergrad majors, so I do not have all the required courses (business law) to sit in my home state of Massachusetts until I graduate. I was trying to get a head start on the CPA, so was considering sitting in New Hampshire because they don't require business law to sit, and then I was going to transfer the scores to MA. Finding definitive info on this has really been a crapshoot, but I've read that many states require you to have their required qualifications as of the date you took the exam in another state for the scores to transfer. Is this something you have dealt with before? My reading of it seems to indicate that I won't be able to transfer any scores to MA until after I graduate and qualify to sit per MA rules. The reciprocity requirements require 5 years of full-time work in the other state as a CPA, so that option seems like a no-go for me. Any experience you could give me on this would be greatly appreciated. I definitely don't want to take it in NH and just have to sit again starting in the fall. If that's the case, I'll just plan to start in October rather than this summer. I know many people in my program are dealing with the same issue.

Thanks!

CPA Hopeful

I have said it before and I will say it again: it's easier to transfer a license than it is scores and candidates like you are a perfect example. You'd think in the age of CPA mobility and with it being a "uniform" exam and all this wouldn't be an issue. Alas, since each state board sets its own rules to sit and be licensed, they don't exactly want future guardians of the profession bucking the rules and sitting in "easier" states just so they can skip out on some required courses. Not saying that's what you're trying to do here – seems more like you're trying to do the responsible thing and get the exam over with as soon as possible – but if it were easy to sit in whatever state you wanted, why would anyone sit in their own?

NASBA allows you to transfer scores on their website here but that doesn't mean you'll actually be able to do it. Sounds like you've looked around both state board websites but have you spoken to an actual person?

The problem here is that even if you sat in NH, passed, got your license and waited around for 5 years to be licensed in MA, they would not consider your NH license valid, which I discovered when I peeked at the reciprocity license application:

REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS: CPA must have at least 5 full years of experience in the practice of public accountancy after certified or licensed in a substantially equivalent (SE) state, and within 10 years immediately preceding this application. At this time, MA does not consider the following jurisdictions to be SE; Colorado, Delaware, New Hampshire, Vermont, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

What do those states have in common? Well they're all 120 states (except Puerto Rico).

So I guess there goes the reciprocity idea. I would call the MA board (617-727-1806) even though they'll just direct you to NASBA; email CPAES as well just to be sure. Generally speaking, if you're dealing with reciprocal states (Massachusetts identifies Rhode Island as its only "New England" homie in that respect and openly disses New Hampshire) with equivalent requirements, there may not be a problem transferring scores. In your case, however, I would assume MA won't allow it unless someone actually at the Board of Accountancy or NASBA tells you otherwise.

And that still leaves you in a bind. As far as I know, MA allows you to sit before you've met your educational requirements as long as you're currently enrolled in classes and will be all caught up within 90 days of taking your first section. Just how many units do you need? If you're short on all nine required business units, you can easily apply for the exam on the day you graduate (even if you don't have your degree in hand yet) as long as you are registered to catch up on those other units at that time. Load up on a couple classes while you're waiting to hear back about your application, sit for one part by then you may have everything in order.

Anyone else had this problem? How'd you get around it?

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