March 1999 Issue


On January 9, 1999, in Atlanta, the National Society of Accountants (NSA) held their first annual "UAA Boot Camp." The conference is the first in a series of events sponsored by the NSA to train its members across the country in methods for defeating the UAA.

NSA has joined with the National Association of Enrolled Agents, the National Association of Tax Practitioners, the Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation, and H&R Block to form a Coalition for Affordable Accounting. "NSA has pooled its resources with other national organizations to fight the UAA on a state by state level," said Richard Fein, NSA general counsel and director of legislative affairs. "We fully intend to be successful in every state where our members' livelihoods are threatened."

The NSA has raised the following three objections to the UAA:

* The UAA categorizes compilations as an attest function, thus requiring a CPA license to perform. However, compilations are commonly performed by non-CPAs because they do not require the practitioner to attest to the veracity of the information. If left to stand in its current form, NSA believes this provision would raise liability costs to CPAs and non-CPAs alike, increase peer review costs, and have a negative impact on the ability of small businesses to afford competent compilation services.

* Under the UAA, only CPAs and grandfathered Public Accountants would be allowed to use their credentials. The coalition is seeking to allow credentials issued by other accredited organizations to be permitted, something ignored by the legislation.

* The UAA legislation requires non-CPAs to use what some consider to be demeaning and humiliating disclaimer language accompanying their product, suggesting that the non-CPA is unqualified and incompetent.

Opposes Maine Legislation. As an example of what it has in mind, the NSA recently voiced its opposition to pending legislation in the state of Maine. The NSA is working with the Maine Association of Professional Accountants in an attempt to amend the bill to protect non-CPAs. The Maine Society of Public Accountants has backed the legislation. The legislation uses the term "defined services," and categorizes compilations as a defined service requiring a CPA license. It also does not allow for credentials besides the CPA and does not provide for a non-CPA to sit on the Maine Board of Accountancy, which is how it currently stands. The NSA objects to all of these provisions, which are designed to bring Maine licensing requirements more in line with the UAA. GA

"The proponents of this legislation have argued that their bill is necessary to protect the public," Fein said. "They are attempting to make the claim that the public will benefit by 'raising the standards' of the profession. But we have yet to see a shred of evidence that non-CPAs are any more likely to exhibit professional misconduct or perform any less admirably than CPAs."

The NSA is a professional organization of more than 17,000 members that provide auditing, accounting, tax preparation, financial and estate planning, and management services to approximately 4 million individuals throughout the United States. *

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