Plain paper dies, but options remain.

Plain Paper: Gone But Not Forgotten

On October 13, 1997, the American Institute of CPAs accounting and review services committee (ARSC) voted to withdraw Proposed Statement on Standards for Accounting and Review Services (SSARS), Assembly of Financial Statements for Internal Use Only , and concluded that CPAs should not be permitted to issue plain-paper financial statements. After years of debate, these committee decisions may seem to put an end to a contentious issue, but the problems plain-paper was supposed to address remain. (See " SSARS Hearing Yields No New Answers ," JofA, Nov.97) "Even the CPAs who didn't want plain-paper statements realized this," ARSC chairwoman Wanda Lorenz told the Journal . "The committee is starting with a clean slate."

According to Lorenz, ARSC may now expose for comment a draft statement the committee had approved but was holding until the plain paper issue was resolved. This statement covers CPAs who serve as controllers-for-hire for companies. "Those CPAs effectively become part of management and could find themselves reporting on their own assertions." She hopes the statement will clarify various controllership issues.

The committee also is considering drafting amendments or interpretations to SSARS that cover applicability and submissions, including the so-called inadvertent compilation. "When the AICPA first issued SSARS, firms and companies used computer processing services or an in-house mainframe for their accounting needs. Now, PCs have changed the accounting environment." She cited one CPA who received financial statements from clients on disks, posted and adjusted items and sent them back. "She didn't realize you needed to do a compilation on the information on those disks. The medium doesn't matter."

At Journal press time, the committee was planning to meet again in December 1997.


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