September 1998 Issue


New Yorkers are beginning to react to the opening of the first American Express Tax and Business Services (TBS) office in New York with the acquisition of the Goldstein Golub Kessler & Company P.C. nonattest assets in July 1998. In some ways, the reaction has been generational--the older has been reacting negatively. "Why did the state regulators give up without a fight?" is a commonly expressed question. Some are also questioning the appropriateness of GGK partner Stuart Kessler remaining in office as AICPA chair. The younger generation, on the other hand, seems to feel it will open the door for increased flexibility in the operations of all CPA firms. One younger CPA was overheard asking whether this means his firm can now accept commissions.

The New York State regulators' opinion that the TBS acquisition (and, by implication, the operation of a TBS office for nonattest work and a GGK LLP practice for attest services) did not violate New York law relating to the practice of public accountancy is based on the very broad statutory definition of public accountancy. As a result, there is a heightened interest on the part of many, including the New York State Society of CPAs, to see if the provisions of the new Uniform Accountancy Act (developed by the AICPA and NASBA) is a better framework for the practice of public accountancy in New York.

TBS still has no presence in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, or Vermont. A spokesperson for TBS would not comment on any present plans to enter those markets. *

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