It was my privilege to represent SCACPA last week as Charleston played host for a conference of the Eastern Regional Division of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). I have often read and heard about the works of NASBA, and I know each of the CPAs on our state board. But this was the first time that I had first hand, official contact with NASBA. It was an enjoyable and “educational” experience. (Hopefully I will get ample CPE for my attendance).
All too often we may see our licensing board as a group who police our profession. And this is a major portion of their charge to protect the public. As I attended a best practices session, I gained substantially more respect for their work. It came to light how we CPAs might come to the attention of the SC Board of Accountancy and any other state board under which we are licensed. I would categorize at least three groups that come to their attention as follows.
- I will call the first group the “Oops Group.” This group consists of the CPAs who simply forget to cross a “t” or dot an “i.” Perhaps a CPA simply failed timely to mail in their CPE report. Oops! Missing that December 31st deadline is not like robbing a bank. But it is still a violation of the law. Oops! And if the truth be known, I do believe that our BOA is very sympathetic to this group.
- Then there seems to be the “Shoots for the Edge Group.” We probably all have these types of clients who seem to want to bend the tax law just enough without breaking it. Somehow there seems to be a game out in the business world and perhaps many of us play this game at some point or another. For example, just how far over the speed limit can one drive on I-26 without seeing a blue light in our rear view mirror? Our BOA surely has that group that wants to push the definitions of acceptable CPE courses or definitions of ethics. Public court records have recorded some CPAs who stated (paraphrasing) that they did not know they were subject to the ethics rules because they performed on no “audits.” Come now! Do we need to join North Carolina and require an annual refresher course in ethics?
- The third group I will identify are those that openly challenge the law. They simply do not like certain applications of the accountancy law and are willing to sue our state. This group will attempt to challenge and exhaust the resources allowed our board. While we are each constitutionally provided the right to challenge in court, it is a challenge to those in the system. The merits of any case are subjective. It is my understanding that our legislature is the means by which to change the law. But some would choose to first break the law and then hope that the court system will support their decisions to violate same.
May I remind each member of SCACPA that there are many thankless jobs in this world? It is now my opinion that being a member of the SC Board of Accountancy (BOA) is one of those jobs. And may I also remind my fellow CPAs that we have been granted the privilege of monitoring ourselves. Although the BOA is a function of the state government, the truth is that CPAs are the main influence upon passing the laws by which we are governed. If this process were overtaken by the state, the US government or a global body, I would fear such an environment. Just step into your library and glance at the books you will find. It is my guess that far and away you will find 10 to 15 tax guides (government accounting system) for every accounting guide (self-drafted and voluntarily imposed upon ourselves).
I would encourage all of us to increase our appreciation for the SC Board of Accountancy and to shoot for the middle of the target, avoiding the edge, while we cross our “t’s” and dot our “i’s.” And a special “thank you” to Bobby Creech, CPA, current chairman of the SC BOA, and all that serve (and have served) on the SC Board of Accountancy.
Blogger: Charles ‘Eddie’ Brown, CPA