September 20, 2021

Proposal Would Let Retired CPAs Take Their Three Letters Off Into the Sunset

My CPA license is inactive. Has been for years. Maybe I could use some discounted life insurance, but otherwise, I'm fine.

CPAs who retire from the daily grind and don't keep up on their CPE are also inactive, however, some states (Arizona, Mississippi, Washington, among others) allow for a "CPA Retired" status with varying requirements. That status doesn't allow its holders to perform services or hold themselves out as a CPA without "retired" affixed to it.

The AICPA and NASBA are now proposing a "uniform status for CPAs" because its demand  "has been heightened by the Baby Boomer generation’s arrival at retirement age." It largely follows what the states are doing, but will allow its holders to:

  • Refer to themselves as “Retired-CPA” with appropriate registration with their state board.
  • Offer volunteer tax preparation services if competent.
  • Participate in government-sponsored business mentoring programs if competent.
  • Serve on the board of a not-for-profit organization if competent.

This is all fine and well and good. But what's kinda funny is that right below all these allowances is this sentence: "All of these activities can currently be offered by non-CPAs." Like, for example, a blogger who has an inactive CPA license! The language is in the exposure draft, too.

So my hunch is that lots of retiring CPAs want the cachet that "CPA" provides without technically holding themselves out as CPAs. This might give them a leg up on ne'er–do–wells who didn't stay up on their CPE or your run-of-the-mill non-CPAs. 

I mean, that's what this is, right? A way for CPAs who have retired to retain some of the prestige. Or maybe the state societies put them up to it to wrestle a few more fees out of their retiring members? I'll entertain other theories.

[JofA, Exposure Draft]

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