The Account Balance - Newsletter of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation - Board of Public Accountancy

chairman's Welcome
H. Terry Hancock

H. Terry Hancock, Board ChairmanJust a few short months ago I greeted you with Happy New Year. Now after a few blizzards and a long winter, I am very excited to greet you with Happy Spring. Here are a few things of interest and a word about personal responsibility.

New CPA Swearing-In
Are you a newly licensed CPA? Or do you know of a new CPA? Don’t miss the fourth annual Swearing-in Ceremony on the evening of June 28th at the BWI Hilton Hotel, 5:30pm – 8:00pm. The ceremony begins at 6:00pm and will be followed by a cocktail reception. This event was initiated in 2008 and has become a major event that recognizes the accomplishment of newly licensed CPAs in Maryland. It also offers a chance to emphasize the public interest responsibility that goes with the license. All new CPAs are invited to take the official oath, administered by chief regulators from the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation.

New CPAs can RSVP as a complimentary guest of MACPA by contacting the MACPA Member Service Center at 800-782-2036 or registrar@macpa.org. Please register your family and friends online for $25 per person to join the celebration.

H.B. 1137 (the 120/150 Bill) 
This bill would have allowed the taking of the CPA Exam with 120 credits, while licensing requirements would still require 150. This new concept is sweeping the country and was supported by all of the interested parties in Maryland: students, educators, firms, businesses, MACPA, MSA, etc. For more information, please see our recap of the legislative session.

Personal Responsibility
Presenting yourself as a CPA indicates that you hold yourself to a higher standard and are committed to the good of your profession as well as the public. If you fail to renew on time and then request that the Board waive the late renewal fee, you are behaving in a manner unbecoming a CPA. If you let your active license lapse, the reinstatement fee is $120 in addition to the $80 renewal fee. (View a comprehensive fee list.) There are no fee waivers. This is a matter of professionalism.  You wouldn’t fail to renew your driver’s license on time, and your CPA license should be treated with the same amount of respect.

Have a great Spring and I’ll talk to you again in the Summer.
Terry

tips and tricks: online searches

In our increasingly wired world, it can be tough to know how to search effectively online. We’ll show you how to find what you’re looking for, whether it’s a law or regulation.

  • Annotated Code of Maryland (laws): The Board’s Law page links to Michie’s Legal Resources. Click on “Maryland Code” (left-hand sidebar), then the Business Occupations & Professions folder. Title 2, right at the top, governs accountants and contains all laws pertaining to CPAs. You can also enter “Public Accountancy” into the search box at the top—just remember to click on “Maryland Code” first, or you’ll get an error message telling you to select a publication.
  • The Maryland Register: The Register is where you’ll find proposed regulations, regulatory changes, and meeting notices. Think of it as a supplement to the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR). The six most recent issues of the Register are available online. Click on the issue you want to search, then type “Board of Public Accountancy” in the Search box at the top of the page. In the April 9, 2010 issue, you would find that while the Board published no regulations, the May 4, 2010 Board meeting was advertised.
  • Code of Maryland Regulations: Search all regulations on the main page, or go straight to regulations governing CPAs (anything with the 09.24 prefix).

We hope this helps you navigate the ever-changing digital library.

exam candidates, read this 

Thanks to Mother Nature, we ran into a few snags with this winter’s exam administration. Candidates, NEVER cancel your test date until extreme weather or any other natural emergency actually happens! If you pre-emptively cancel and the emergency doesn’t materialize, we can’t help you and you’ll need to re-register and pay the appropriate fees. Please wait for the test center to officially cancel examination operations. Until that moment, you should be prepared to get to the test center to take your exam. Call Prometric if your center closes—in the case of the recent blizzards, we were able to coordinate schedules so that the exam window was extended an extra week, to March 8th.

Information and policies about rescheduling or canceling of an examination appointment can found on pages 11-13 in the Uniform CPA Examination Candidate Bulletin (PDF document, download Adobe Acrobat for free).

If you receive your exam score and decide to request either a review or an appeal, please make sure you have a solid case before taking those steps. Be advised that there is a non-refundable fee of $200 ($150 for BEC) for a review and non- refundable fees of $500 plus $100 for each question challenged during an appeal.  Neither the Board nor NASBA or AICPA can make any guarantees about the outcome of either process.

Prospective exam candidates: We know you’re anxious to move on to the next phase of your career, but you cannot submit your exam application until all your grades have posted to your official transcript! No matter how much the Board would like to, we are unable to process your exam application without a complete transcript. Enjoy graduation, take a few weeks off, check your transcript, and send it to us once your final grades have been added. Congratulations!

New regulations

As its April meeting, the Board took final action on the regulations we told you about in our last issue. They will go into effect on May 17, 2010, so take a look:

  • COMAR 09.24.01.09: A reinstatement fee of $240 will be assessed firms whose permit lapses.
  • COMAR 09.24.02.02 D: The number of CPE hours that may be earned by teaching a course will be increased to 45 hours per renewal period. Additionally, teachers or lecturers at an accredited college or university may receive three credits for every one credit they teach the first time they teach the qualifying course.
  • COMAR 09.24.02.02 F: Maryland licensure candidates who apply for licensure four or more years after passing the exam will be required to document 80 hours of CPE. This includes four hours of professional ethics, in addition to the experience requirements and successful completion of the AICPA’s comprehensive ethics course.

If you have questions about these regulatory changes, feel free to contact the Board at cpa@dllr.state.md.us.

 

UPDATE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS


Missed the last issue of The Account Balance? Read it here.

 

legislative update

The end of the legislative session has brought good and not-so-good news for Maryland CPAs and examination applicants.

  • H.B. 407 passed. The Board will be authorized to impose a civil penalty on CPA firms found to be in violation of the Maryland Public Accountancy Act. Currently, the Board can only reprimand, suspend or revoke the permit of a CPA firm. This bill also allows the Board to pursue disciplinary action by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) and other private-sector, non-profit corporations that are created by federal and state governments to oversee the accounting industry as grounds for discipline by the Board of Public Accountancy.  This bill will take effect on October 1, 2010.
  • Unfortunately, time ran out on the last day of the legislative session before the Senate could take final action on H.B. 1137, also known as the 120/150 bill. The bill passed in the House of Delegates, was approved by the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Matters Committee, and was poised for passage when the clock ran out. It would have permitted individuals to apply for candidacy for the Uniform CPA Examination upon the completion of 120 semester hours and the attainment of a degree in accounting or its equivalent. Individuals would have to earn an additional 30 hours to qualify for licensure. We discussed 120/150, which has become law in several surrounding states, in our Winter 2010 and Spring 2009 issues. The Board will reintroduce this bill in 2011.

dllr secretary sanchez addresses msa scholarship recipients

DLLR Secretary Alexander Sanchez and Board member Raymond Speciale, Esq. CPA

Secretary Alexander M. Sanchez was the keynote speaker at the Maryland Society of Accountants’ Scholarship Foundation awards ceremony on February 22, 2010 at Annapolis’ Governor Calvert House. The Scholarship Foundation, a non-profit division of MSA, was established in 1988 to assist accounting students in achieving their educational and professional goals. In 2009, 57 scholarships were awarded. More information on the Scholarship Foundation is available. Congratulations!

a cpa By any other name

When you’re searching for an accountant, CPA or not, please be advised that many printed guides and online search databases, including the Yellow Pages, frequently list ALL accountants under “CPA.” This is due to no fault of the persons listed, but can cause a great deal of confusion. The Board has received complaints against non-CPA accountants whose information was indexed under “CPA”; however, the Board can only investigate complaints against CPAs. Before you give someone your business, check to see if he or she is really a CPA!

License verifications: no, we won't send them to you

Recently, a Sun article entitled “Faking It” highlighted DLLR’s investigations of purported engineers and architects who were, in fact, falsely representing themselves. In less than six months, DLLR investigations have led to criminal charges in three separate cases. As you know, practicing any trade without credentials is dangerous; in addition to putting the public at risk, it undermines confidence in the profession. No profession is immune to unscrupulous practitioners, but DLLR is cracking down on such abuses of public trust. The Board of Public Accountancy hopes to restrict opportunities for falsifying or altering documents by continuing its policy of sending license verifications directly to the appropriate licensing agency. We will not send you an original verification of your license and examination history. We will send an unofficial copy to you upon request. This policy is for your protection as well as that of the public, and we thank you for understanding. Remember, the fee for license verifications is $25.

2010 First Quarter Exam

The First Quarter 2010 Examination Window examination scores have been reported to the Board. Ninety-one candidates successfully completed the exam this quarter.

1st Qtr Examinations Administration Window

  ADMIN PASS FAIL %PASS HIGH LOW MEDIAN
AUD

175

77

98

0.440

99

11

72

BEC

190

97

93

0.511

93

24

66

FARE

181

93

88

0.514

94

17

63

REG

172

100

72

0.581

99

5

71

 

718

367

351

0.511

     

Successful Candidates by Year through 1st Qtr 2010Individual licenses and firm permits issued by the Board

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

74

166

194

236

291

383

91

individual licenses and firm permits issued by the board (as of April 29, 2010)

CATEGORY

CURRENT

ACTIVE C.P.A.

13,543

INACTIVE C.P.A.

5,510

CPA CORPORATION

512

CPA PARTNERSHIP

37

CPA LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY

218

CPA LIMITED LIABILITY PARTNERSHIP

56

TOTAL

19,876

ifrs: what it means for you
Elizabeth S. Gantnier, CPA

On February 24, 2010, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) held an open meeting to discuss the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) roadmap. At this meeting, the SEC approved a Commission Statement on Global Accounting Standards and directed the SEC staff in the Office of the Chief Accountant to execute a Work Plan. The purpose of the Work Plan is to aid the Commission in its evaluation of the impact that the use of IFRS by issuers would have on securities market participants. View the SEC Statement and related staff Work Plan (PDF document, download Adobe Acrobat for free). 

The SEC expressed support for a single set of high-quality, globally accepted accounting standards and decided that IFRS appeared to be best suited to serve as that standard. They noted that commenters on the 2008 SEC Proposed Roadmap generally supported the goal of a single set of high-quality standards; however, the commenters differed in their views on whether and how to achieve further use of IFRS in the United States. The SEC stated that it will decide in 2011 whether to incorporate IFRS into the U.S. and, if so, when and how.

The staff Work Plan identifies six key areas that will play a significant role in determining whether to incorporate IFRS into U.S. reporting:

  • Sufficient development and application of IFRS for the U.S.’ domestic reporting system
    • This area focuses on the quality and comprehensiveness of IFRS. It will highlight the importance of the convergence efforts between the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and the U.S.’ Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB).
    • Additionally, this area focuses on the consistency in which IFRS is applied, as well as its auditability and enforceability.
  • The independence of standard setting for the benefit of investors
    • This area evaluates whether the IASB’s funding and governance structure supports the independent development of accounting standards for the ultimate benefit of investors.
  • Investor understanding and education regarding IFRS
    • This focuses on assessing investor understanding and education regarding IFRS. It will provide the SEC staff with insight into any actions that need to be taken to increase investor understanding.
  • Examination of the U.S. regulatory environment that would be affected by a change in accounting standards
    • This examines the impact that changes to accounting standards could have on information provided to regulatory authorities that currently rely on financial reporting using U.S. accounting standards.
  • The impact on issuers, large and small, including changes to accounting systems, changes to contractual arrangements, corporate governance considerations and litigation contingencies
    • This focuses on the logistics of making these changes, operationally and financially
  • Human capital readiness
    • How ready are all parties involved in financial reporting:  preparers, investors, auditors, regulators and educators?
    • Are there enough accountants to handle this task?

The SEC emphasized that FASB must continue to play an important role in global standard setting. Additionally, they will explore how other countries or jurisdictions have adopted IFRS. Even if a decision is made in 2011 to shift to IFRS reporting, issuers would be given four to five years to prepare for the transition and early adoption would be considered in the overall approach. Be advised that IFRS is not just a public company issue. Private companies are expected to follow suit too. In addition, IFRS has a “small to medium-sized entity” set of standards that are less intensive than the “regular” standards and may be appealing to the smaller company.

It is clear that both the IASB and FASB are committed to converging accounting standards. As with most projects, however, it seems that the most difficult accounting issues remain to be resolved. It will be interesting to watch this evolve. Stay tuned!

IFRS Questions to be Included in the CPA Exam

Beginning January 1, 2011, questions concerning IFRS will be included in all four sections of the CPA exam. The addition of questions that relate to IFRS and other international standards in the CPA Examination will be gradual. Questions regarding accounting practices and standards in the United States will remain part of the exam.

Many multinational organizations located in the United States or owned by companies located in other countries are subject to IFRS. One of the first assignments for an entry-level CPA is the conversion of IFRS standards to U.S. standards such as GAAP. Additionally, CPAs must be familiar IFRS when they are assigned to audit international companies or subsidiaries who must file according to IFRS.

Other international standards, such as the International Standards on Auditing (ISAs), International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants, and International Accounting Standards, are material from which questions contained in the CPA Exam may be created. 

Information concerning the subject matter tested on the CPA Exam can be found in Content and Skill Specifications for the Uniform CPA Examination (PDF document, download Adobe Acrobat for free), published by the AICPA Board of Examiners.  

Automatic Audit Notification Launched

If you’ve renewed your license online lately, you may have noticed a change to the final screen. The Board is pleased to have incorporated an automatic selection process for CPE audits, effective April 5th. If you have been randomly chosen to have your CPE audited, your renewal confirmation screen will notify you that it’s your lucky day. You will then have 30 days to present your CPE certificates to the Board for review. Refresh your familiarity with reporting procedure.

Remember: You may not be selected for a random audit, but the Board can choose to review your CPE any time. Make sure your CPE is up to date, and that you have the paper-work to prove it! The Board views, very seriously, misrepresentations made by applicants on license applications. Such misrepresentations may result in license denial, suspension, revocation and or a civil penalty of up to $5,000.

Peer Review: Now Fully Online
In our last issue, we explained the peer review requirements for individual CPAs. Recently, we added a new feature to our online renewal system: peer review acknowledgement. Now, when you renew, all you have to do is check a box to let us know whether you have undergone a peer review or that you are not required to have a peer review at all. This functionality has been in place for firms for some time now, and we’re glad that individual licensees can now take advantage of it as well.

We Shouldn’t Have to Say It, But…
…make sure we have your correct contact information! The Board cannot communicate important licensing information to you if we don’t know where to send it. If we mail your renewal reminder to an outdated address, and you don’t receive it, it won’t be our fault if your license lapses and you’re hit with a reinstatement fee. Email, snail mail, phone, whatever—make sure you keep us updated. You can handle all sorts of clerical details with Interim Changes.

Maryland Tax Preparers Board Holds First Meeting

The Maryland Individual Tax Preparers Board met for the first time on March 31st. Established by Maryland Legislature in 2008, the Board will license and regulate organizations and individuals in the business of preparing individual tax returns. Ms. Patricia Snell, a member of the CPA Board from 2000 to 2003, was elected Chair of this new Board.

In Maryland, actively licensed CPAs are exempt from the licensing and regulatory requirements of the Maryland Individual Tax Preparer’s Act. However, we remind CPAs on inactive status that they are not permitted to use the “CPA” designation on tax returns that they prepare. Inactive CPAs may have to choose between reactivating their license and obtaining a separate license as a tax preparer in the near future.

The IRS Proposes to Register, Regulate Tax Preparers

The scope and future policies of the Tax Preparers Board may be affected by recent regulations proposed by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. On January 4, 2010, the IRS outlined the contents of their expected regulations. These future regulations will affect anyone, including CPAs, who, for compensation, prepares federal tax returns. Among the key IRS proposals are requirements for registration, competency testing, and continuing education for federal tax preparers. These proposed changes are anticipated to impact 2010 tax returns. Currently, January 1, 2011 is the expected date by which all federal tax preparers will be required to obtain and use a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). It is anticipated that beginning September 1, 2010, individuals will be able to register with the IRS online. Competency testing is anticipated to commence later in 2011.

What does this mean for Maryland CPAs? Although we do not know the full impact of the proposed IRS regulations, we do know some things:

  • CPAs will not need to obtain a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) unless they prepare all or substantially all of a federal tax return for compensation or sign one or more federal tax returns for compensation.
  • CPAs who are active and in good standing with their respective licensing agencies are exempt from competency testing.
  • Inactive CPAs and CPA licensees whose licenses have expired and who prepare federal tax returns will be subject to the IRS registration, competency testing, and continuing education requirements. 

More information about the IRS’ proposed tax preparers’ regulations is available on the press release and FAQs for tax professionals.

Focus on the Board: Marjorie Root

Marjorie Root, Consumer Board MemberMarjorie Root joined the Board as a consumer member in July 2007. 

Marjorie has worked in the biotechnology and construction industries. She has experience in accounting, marketing, information technology, web analysis and content management, and international business. Her experience has led her to work in San Diego, California for several years and travel frequently to Europe.

She is a past member of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, having held numerous local offices and serving as secretary to the Maryland Jaycees Executive Board. She is active in Scouting, having served as a den mother for several years and currently serving as a committee member for her local BSA troop in New Market, Maryland.

A native of Maryland, Marjorie earned her BS in Business Administration from Towson State University and MBA from Frostburg State University. In her spare time, Marjorie enjoys traveling, gardening, and attending her son’s extracurricular activities. She and her son live in New Market, Maryland.

Board Members
H. Terry Hancock, CPA, Chair, Industry Member (Baltimore County)
Elizabeth S. Gantnier, CPA, Industry Member (Frederick County)
Thomas J. “Tim” Murphy, CPA, Industry Member (Prince George’s County)
Raymond C. Speciale, Esq., CPA, Education Member (Frederick County)

Ella H. Pierce, Consumer Member (Baltimore City)
Marjorie A. Root, Consumer Member (Frederick County)

Division Personnel
Stanley J. Botts, Commissioner, Occupational & Professional Licensing
Harry Loleas, Deputy Commissioner, Occupational & Professional Licensing

State Board of Public Accountancy Staff
Dennis L. Gring, Executive Director
Matthew A. Lawrence,
Board Counsel
Linda L. Rhew,
Administrative Officer
Bert Fenwick,
CPE Consultant
Barbara Hardy, Office Service Clerk
Alicia Coar,
Office Secretary
Shannon Davis,
Outreach Coordinator

Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation / Maryland Board of Public Accountancy / 500 N. Calvert Street / Baltimore, MD 21202

Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation / Maryland Board of Public Accountancy / 500 N. Calvert Street / Baltimore, MD 21202
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