The California Board of Accountancy is requiring CPAs licensed in California to take additional ethics education classes starting in the New Year, and all accounting firms in the state will be subject to peer review.

Under new regulations set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2010, the CBA will implement changes to its continuing education regulations in order to heighten ethics awareness for CPAs and increase consumer protection. CPAs licensed in California will need to take additional ethics education in order to renew their active- status licenses.

CBA president Manuel Ramirez said the regulation changes are part of an increased focus by the CBA on ethics and education. “I believe the newly approved continuing education requirements are an important step to increasing the CBA’s consumer protection mandate, while also reestablishing CPAs’ reputations as one of the most ethical professions in the country,” he said in a statement.

In addition to the increased ethics requirements, CPAs will be required to complete coursework specific to the laws and rules governing the practice of public accountancy in California, as well as a minimum number of hours of continuing education yearly. Previous regulations allowed CPAs to take continuing education at any time during their license renewal period.

Also beginning in January, accounting firms in California will be required by law to undergo peer review, and consumers will be able to watch live webcasts of CBA meetings. The new laws are part of a focus on enhancing consumer protection and increasing government transparency.

Under the peer review law, all California firms providing accounting and auditing services will be required to undergo a periodic peer review, a systematic review of a firm’s accounting and auditing practice by an independent CPA to ensure the work performed conforms to professional standards.

The live webcasts of CBA meetings will begin with the first meeting of the year, which will be held Jan. 20-21, 2010, in Irvine. Ramirez said the webcasts will give both consumers and CBA licensees a “window” into important issues and how decisions are made. The CBA meetings have been open to the public in the past, but visitors had to attend them in person.

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