Members of the American Institute of CPAs have voted by an 81.39 percent majority to modernize the AICPA's admission requirements to allow more people to join the institute, even if they no longer practice accounting or were never practitioners.

Under the new admission requirements, individuals may join the AICPA as voting members if they hold or previously held a CPA certificate or license, and it was not revoked because of disciplinary action, or if they meet the requirements for CPA certification as outlined in the Uniform Accountancy Act, including passage of the CPA Exam.

“The diversity of our membership is a tremendous asset to the accounting profession,” said AICPA chairman Robert R. Harris in a statement. “Our members globally represent every industry, every financial segment, and together create a remarkable body of knowledge, experience and perspective. Sixty years ago, virtually all our members worked in public accounting. That’s no longer true. Roughly 50 percent now work in business and industry, government and academia. Our profession continues to evolve and expand its influence in the U.S. and international economies.”

As of Oct. 8, the date balloting closed under a 60-day voting period mandated by the institute’s bylaws, 86,484 votes were cast. Of those, 70,388 or 81.39 percent had voted “yes,” and 16,096 or 18.61 percent had voted “no,” according to an independent tabulator. The bylaws required two-thirds of those voting to approve the measure.

The new membership requirements also provide consistency for accounting professionals from any state by aligning AICPA membership with the criteria set forth for CPA certification in the UAA, which was approved by the institute and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. It additionally accommodates newer and future generations that would benefit from a closer, earlier association with the CPA profession and enables the profession to gain their insights and knowledge as it grapples with demographic changes and other challenges.

With the membership’s approval, individuals now may join the AICPA if they meet at least one of the following criteria:

•    They hold a valid, unrevoked CPA certificate issued by a legally constituted authority;
•    They at any time possessed a valid CPA certificate and the certificate was not revoked as a result of a disciplinary action (for example, they allowed the certificate to lapse because they ceased to  provide public-accounting services and, therefore, were no longer required by state boards of accountancy to maintain licensure); and,
•    They passed the CPA Examination, fulfilled the education and experience requirements of the UAA for CPA certification and are of good moral character, but never sought a right to practice; the UAA requires 150 hours of education, a passing score on the Uniform CPA Examination and at least one year of relevant experience.

The AICPA will begin taking applications for those eligible under the new provisions beginning in late December. Interested prospective members may check the membership section of for application materials at that time.

Individuals who join the AICPA under the new provisions must abide by the institute’s Code of Professional Conduct and meet the same continuing professional education requirements as current members. The AICPA bylaws prohibit CPAs who are not licensed by their respective state board of accountancy to hold themselves out as CPAs and cannot identify themselves as such strictly on the basis of their AICPA membership.

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