CPAdirectory
Community Taxation Client Services News Revenue Opportunities Your Practice Home
Marketing | Supplies | CPE Credits | Support Services | Human Resources | Software | Job Center
Texas Legislature Considering Bills to Aid CPA Firms


The bill, introduced by Ken Armbrister, D-Victoria, in the Senate and Tom Uher, D-Bay City, in the House, amends the state's main accounting regulations to allow professionals of other disciplines to partner with accountants and hold minority ownership of a CPA firm. Partners must be actively involved in the CPA firm, hold a bachelor's degree and pass an examination of the accountants' rules of professional conduct.

Robert Owen, the regulation and legislation expert at the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants, has been busier than ever lobbying for the multiple bills that have circled the Texas Legislature. At least four bills would alter CPA regulation, with one making major changes to the Texas Public Accountancy Act passed in 1991.

"There's definitely been a heavier workload not only on staff but on the large cadre of volunteers who have relationship with legislators. They've had to make sure lawmakers understand what's before them," he said.

Changes in the profession brought on by technology, globalization of business and demands for a wide array of services are forcing state and federal regulators to better define accounting practices. Most measures discussed in recent weeks among state legislators have gone largely uncontested, except for SB 1358.

The bill, introduced by Ken Armbrister, D-Victoria, in the Senate and Tom Uher, D-Bay City, in the House, amends the state's main accounting regulations to allow professionals of other disciplines to partner with accountants and hold minority ownership of a CPA firm. Partners must be actively involved in the CPA firm, hold a bachelor's degree and pass an examination of the accountants' rules of professional conduct.

"The bill is good for Texas accountants, and it's good for their clients. It allows some firms to attract qualified people in other areas," Mr. Uher said. Similar regulations have passed in 28 other states, he said, and 14 more have proposals.

CPA firms provide greater services to their clients outside tax preparation and audits. As a result, they need to hire professionals with expertise in areas other than accounting, such as technology.

Those professionals will want to move up and take leadership roles, Mr. Owen said, and SB 1358 allows that.

The measure had been introduced in 1999 but died amid controversy. A small group of accountants -- Mr. Uher said they were mostly owners of smaller CPA firms -- feared the measure could compromise their ethical standards.

Proponents, however, convinced lawmakers of the need.

"The bill will allow our profession to move forward and enhance the services that we offer," said Ike Guest, a Dallas accountant who has spent hours lobbying area legislators.

While the bill is best known for its minority partner component, it also: makes it easier for CPAs to practice across state lines; requires CPAs to participate in a program on continuing professional education as determined by the board; strengthens the client confidentiality privilege; allows the Texas Society of CPAs' intervention in enforcement cases; and provides liability protection for enforcement volunteers.

"It's a lot, but this is also the first time we amended the Accountancy Act since it was passed in 1991," Mr. Guest said.

Other bills that would affect the accounting profession include:

HB 430, which authorizes the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy to offer computerized CPA exams. It allows the board to establish a new grading system based on the specific test and the material it covers. The target date for the first exam is November 2003.

SB 1037, which authorizes the comptroller to establish a certified audit program, modeled after Florida's program, that could increase voluntary compliance by taxpayers while decreasing state involvement in business. The program would allow a taxpayer to hire a CPA, not employed by the comptroller, to perform an audit of limited sales, excise and use tax (an activity usually conducted by the comptroller). The advantage to the taxpayer is that the comptroller would wave penalties and accrued interest. Proponents estimate that the program could save Texas $3.3 million. The bill would establish it in 2002.

SB 736, which corrects a constitutional flaw in SB 1438, passed in the 76th Legislature, which established the self-directed semi-independent agency pilot project that gave the Texas State Board of Accountancy (along with the Texas Board of Professional Engineers and the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners) greater budget flexibility. SB 736 amends the law to require all fees and funds collected by a project agency and any funds appropriated to the pilot project agency to be deposited in interest-bearing deposit accounts in the Texas Treasury Safekeeping Trust Company.

<< Back

Advertising Opportunities | About Us | Contact Us | Terms & Conditions | Privacy Policy
©2000-2019 CPAdirect Marketing, Inc. All rights reserved.