The American Institute of CPAs passed a resolution at its Spring Council meeting voting to recognize the International Accounting Standards Board in London as the international accounting and financial reporting standards-setter.

The amendment to the AICPA rules gives AICPA members the option to use International Financial Reporting Standards as an alternative to U.S. generally accepted accounting principles. The IASB was designated as the body authorized to establish professional standards in the U.S. with respect to international financial reporting principles.

The measure, which passed unanimously, is another step in the gradual convergence of IFRS and U.S.  GAAP, as the IASB and the Financial Accounting Standards Board continue their roadmap and cooperation. However, the IASB will be joining several organizations already recognized by the AICPA as standards-setters.

Other bodies designated by the AICPA Council to promulgate accounting standards are FASB, the Governmental Standards Accounting Board, and the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board. The Council’s action now adds the IASB to the list of designated accounting bodies. FASB will continue to set standards in the U.S.

To help accountants make the transition to IFRS, the AICPA and its CPA2Biz subsidary have created a new Web site, The site provides information about the main differences between the two sets of standards, including videos and training programs. In addition, the AICPA presented results from a recent survey of members about their attitudes toward IFRS. The AICPA posited that the SEC may set a date certain for U.S. adoption of IFRS as soon as 2013, reflecting recent comments by FASB Chairman Bob Herz.

When asked what would be a sufficient transition time for accountants and their clients to learn about and implement the new rules, 34.4 percent of the 1,240 respondents said three years, while 19.9 percent said five years, 16.9 percent said two years and 11.5 percent said four years.

AICPA senior vice president Arleen Thomas noted that 42 percent of the individuals who participated in the survey said that they know about IFRS but said, “Don’t get rid of U.S. GAAP.”

Barry Melancon, president and CEO of the AICPA, noted that the institute is working with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy on internationalizing the CPA Exam to include questions on IFRS. He said that he thinks that for private companies, there are various possible scenarios, but the most likely is that IFRS will be used for private as well as public companies.

“Other countries have kept open GAAP for private companies,” he noted. “Others are basing it on IFRS. We will be able to have a dialogue with FASB. Fewer people believe in maintaining a separate set of U.S. GAAP for private companies.”

Also at the conference, the institute made a number of other education-related announcements. David E. Stout, a professor at the Williamson College of Business Administration at Youngstown University, won the Distinguished Achievement in Accounting Education Award. Stout teaches in the area of cost/managerial accounting.

In addition, the institute named Jeannie Patton as vice president of students, academics and membership. She is currently CEO of the Utah Association of CPAs.

On the government front, the AICPA is holding a breakfast to raise money for its political action committee. “We hope to raise $600,000 from CPAs to give to candidates,” said AICPA Chairman Randy Fletchall.

The institute has also been lobbying against tax patents and the alternative minimum tax, but AICPA senior vice president of public affairs James O’Malley believes that the measures “could get caught up in presidential politics” and will probably not be decided this term. The AICPA has been dealing with near-historic turnover in Congress, particularly in the crucial House Ways and Means Committee, he noted.

The institute has been having more success with equalizing the tax return preparer penalties to the standard that applies to taxpayers. It was included in a bill passed by the Ways and Means Committee last week and will probably be taken up by the full House this week (see Ways and Means Committee Approves Eased Tax Preparer Provision).

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