Public companies and their auditors will have some added leeway to ensure compliance with still unfinalized Public Company Accounting Oversight Board rules restricting the kinds of tax services auditors can provide.

The board adopted the auditor independence rules last July. In November, it adopted a number of amendments aimed at streamlining the final approval needed from the Securities and Exchange Commission. At that time, the board set a date for some of the new rule's pre-approval requirements to be enacted, which could have kicked in after March 31.

But because the SEC just published the PCAOB rules for comment on March 13, and the rules can't go into effect for at least 60 days after receiving actual approval from the SEC, the pre-approval requirements will be delayed for considerably longer than this Friday. Alongside the auditor independence rules, the board will also extend the implementation schedule of a rule restricting audit firms' provision of tax services to people in public companies who have financial reporting oversight roles, such as chief financial officers. That rule was to have gone into effect June 30, if approved by the SEC.

The full release from the PCAOB is available at www.pcaobus.org/rules/docket_017/2006-03-28_release_2006-001.pdf .

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