New York — The American Institute of CPAs has ramped up its mobility efforts to allow CPAs to practice in other states, with mobility bills enacted now in 12 states and legislation pending in 22 other states.

Seven states — Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Texas — approved mobility legislation in 2007, and New Mexico enacted it this year. Meanwhile, Washington State, Idaho and Utah have passed such legislation and are awaiting the signatures of their governors.

“We’ve made more progress in the last 18 months in this area than in the last 120 years,” said Barry Melancon, the president and chief executive of the AICPA, in a briefing with editors from Accounting Today.

Interstate mobility would make it easier for CPAs to practice in states other than the one in which they are licensed.

California may pass legislation in 2008 or 2009, and Florida and the Carolinas in 2009. Legislation is also pending in many other states, including Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

“It’s hard work by a lot of people,” said Melancon. “But it’s a priority for us and we’re putting a lot of resources into it.”

The AICPA and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy began collaborating on mobility back in the mid-1990s. In 1998, they issued a revised joint model in the third edition of the Uniform Accountancy Act.

BEYOND MOBILITY

Another major priority for the AICPA is education. Melancon said that the institute is working on encouraging more colleges and universities to expand their accounting education programs, and plans to provide funding for several Ph.D slots in 2009. He also said that the accounting education effort would include a greater push into community colleges.

Melancon has high expectations of the generation of accountants graduating from college nowadays, and he anticipates seeing many of them starting their own accounting firms at some point. “The people coming out of school now want to be leaders,” he said.

He expects 2009 will see a significant amount of tax legislation going through Congress, with several key provisions scheduled to expire in 2009 and 2010. One key piece of legislation that he wants to see approved is tax patent reform.

Melancon also addressed the convergence of U.S. generally accepted accounting principles with International Financial Reporting Standards. “Sometime in the not-too-distant future, U.S. GAAP will be international GAAP,” he predicted. The AICPA plans to provide various forms of training to help CPAs cope with the eventual move to international standards.

With regard to the recent restructuring of the Financial Accounting Standards Board, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board and the Financial Accounting Foundation, Melancon noted that the AICPA had sent proposals to the boards, some of which were adopted.

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