With myriad issues ranging from green accounting,differential standards, technology advancements tax preparer registration, IFRSadoption and regulatory reform, the role of the CPA will be even more criticalgoing forward, according to American Institute of CPAs chairman Robert Harris.

"We are clearly dealing with a changinglandscape," said Harris, 2009-2010 chairman of the institute and principal at Harris, Cotherman, Jones, Price &Associates, in Vero Beach, Fla. "Perhaps at no other time have there beenas many issues affecting the profession."

Harris kicked off the second day of the AICPAPractitioners Symposium & Tech+ Information Technology Conference with anoverview of critical issues and trends, as well as institute initiatives.

Harris outlined for attendees the roster of regulatoryissues circulating around Capitol Hill, including financial and health carereform; the institute's battles against the disclosure of uncertain taxpositions, which he said has the potential to undercut the integrity of thefinancial statement process, as well as increase the burden and cost ontaxpayers; and the institute's advocacy in seeking exemption for CPAs from the"Red Flags" rules on protecting clients from identity theft.

Other regulatory proposals that he said are currentlygaining some traction are the repeal of LIFO, the codification of the economicsubstance doctrine and the AMT "patch."

With regard to the adoption of IFRS, Harris said,"We are one world united; what happens in Chicago happens in Greece. Onehundred and twenty countries currently use some form of IFRS. But we've had twovery different styles of SEC chairs. If Chairman [Chris] Cox was still here,this would have been done. Clearly it is not as high on the radar for Chairman[Mary] Schapiro. But [IFRS] will be on the CPA Exam in 2011, and the educationprocess is currently in place for students."

Harris said that the Blue Ribbon Panel formed earlierthis year to address the 30-year-old issue of whether there is a need for aseparate GAAP for private companies will have its report due by the end of2010.

At last month's Spring Meeting of the institute'sGoverning Council, Harris said that attendee roundtables there overwhelminglycited the need for differential standards. "We're going to get this donethis year. For the first time they're [the panel] talking about specific issueslike goodwill and revenue recognition. That's an encouraging sign to createU.S. GAAP for private companies."

Harris also addressed the emerging issue of sustainabilityand urged attendees to get involved: "Engineers are all over this. If wedon't grab it, someone else will. We need to ask, 'How do we get involvedhere?'"

He said that the institute has scheduled a sustainabilityworkshop for the end of September.

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