[IMGCAP(1)]A broad review of both proposed and existing measures emanating from the nation’s capital that would profoundly impact the accounting profession, accompanied by a continued focus on the inevitable meshing of U.S. and international reporting standards, headlined the opening sessions at the AICPA’s Fall Meeting of Council, here.

Aptly themed “One World” to highlight the growing internationalization and connectivity of the profession, the two-day confab kicked off with updates from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, a 90-minute “state of the institute” recap by president and chief executive Barry Melancon, and a Washington update detailing critical issues on Capitol Hill that affect the CPA community.

With the Securities and Exchange Commission recently revisiting the roadmap to adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards, Melancon revealed to the roughly 400 attendees the results of an institute survey that found about 65 percent of those participating in the poll favored the SEC to address its plans for adoption of IFRS by the end of the year.

However, Melancon cautioned that if IFRS were adopted, the profession would have to “create a mechanism to prevent the arbitrage of accounting standards.”

“The direction has clearly been set,” he said of IFRS. “But the issue of 360,000 professionals dealing with principles-based standards is going to be a huge change.”

Both he and Thomas Sadler, the 2008-2009 outgoing chair of NASBA, called for the preservation of the Financial Accounting Standards Board, with Sadler revealing that the average cost of transition to IFRS for U.S. filers will be in the vicinity of $35 million.

“The question is, has the IFRS train left the station, and is it a train wreck?” asked Sadler. “We think not. Globalization is inevitable, but there are many things that have to be evaluated. And where do private companies fit in?”

Institute executives outlined the organization’s position on a number of crucial issues in Washington, chief among them its push to get CPAs an exemption from the sweeping oversight of the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which when established would oversee everything from gift cards to mortgages.

Melancon said that Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chair of the House Financial Services Committee, has agreed to language that would exempt CPAs.

Tom Ochsenschlager, vice president - taxation, and Mark Petersen, vice president - congressional and political affairs, plied attendees with updates on Section 7216 of the Tax Code, which carries a criminal penalty for the misuse of taxpayer information. They also discussed the institute’s continued battle against tax patent registration and the lesser-known FACTA (Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003) and its “Red Flag Rules,” which require financial institutions or creditors to develop and implement identity theft prevention programs in connection with both new and existing accounts. The guidelines would extend to CPAs because a firm’s 30-day billing cycle is seen as extending credit.

Other updates included some 29 PhD’s who are currently enrolled in the first class of the institute’s Accounting Doctoral Scholars program and a proposed restructuring, or “evolution,” of CPE, featuring what Melancon termed an “integrated learning platform.”


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