Professional Ethics

PCAOB Opens Discussion on Audit Firm Rotation

The PCAOB on Tuesday launched a new phase of its examination of potential limits on audit firm tenure with public companies. The board voted to issue a concept release on the topic. It plans to gather feedback by mid-December and hold a public forum on the issue in March 2012.

Improving the Code of Professional Conduct

The AICPA’s Professional Ethics Executive Committee (PEEC) is undertaking a project to recodify the Institute’s ethics standards. The Ethics Codification Project’s primary focus is to improve the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct so that members and others can apply the rules and reach correct conclusions more easily. To achieve this,

Proposed Changes to GAO's Yellow Book Promote Harmonization of Auditing Standards

In August, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued proposed standards revising Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards (GAGAS), commonly known as the “Yellow Book.” The update revises the July 2007 Yellow Book and is expected to be effective for audits beginning after Dec. 15, 2011, with the exception of the financial

Ethics Story Wins Best Article Award

Martin A. Leibowitz and Alan Reinstein received the JofA’s Lawler Award for the best article of 2009. Their article, “Help for Solving CPAs’ Ethical Dilemmas” (April 2009, page 30), discussed the AICPA’s guide to help CPAs comply with rules 102–505 of its Code of Professional Conduct. Leibowitz is a faculty

Highlights of Finance and Accounting Ethics Research

Ethical behavior is difficult for any researcher to measure and analyze, especially in real-life situations. Results are often imprecise due to the challenges inherent in quantifying what is ethical and what is not. Much of the work done is theoretical, and involves either creating or applying ethics models. To draw

Comparing the Ethics Codes: AICPA and IFAC

Sharp increases in the number of multinational audits being performed by U.S. accounting firms means that more CPAs are performing services under the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) audit and attest standards. Although auditors must comply with the specific standards adopted in each jurisdiction, familiarity with IFAC’s International Ethics Standards

Test Your Knowledge of Professional Ethics

Many AICPA members have expressed confusion about provisions covered under Interpretation 101-3, Performance of Nonattest Services, of the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct. For example, what nonattest services can a CPA perform for an attest client? What are the requirements involving management responsibilities to oversee the project? This quiz is

Test Your Knowledge of Professional Ethics

Periodically the JofA publishes questions on ethics topics that have been raised by AICPA members via the Institute’s Ethics Hotline. This set of questions and staff answers deals with the application of the Code of Professional Conduct (AICPA Professional Standards). 1. A CPA firm has a partner who is “semiretired.”


The AICPA Professional Ethics Executive Committee (PEEC) released exposure drafts of revisions to guidance regarding the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct (the Code). The EDs make clarifying revisions to an ethics ruling under Rule 301, Confidential Client Information, and to two interpretations and one ethics ruling under Rule 101, Independence.

Understanding Internal Control and Internal Control Services

This white paper written by Thomas A. Ratcliffe and Charles E. Landes and prepared by the AICPA Audit and Attestation Standards and Professional Publications teams seeks to clear up confusion among practitioners relating to the concept of internal control over financial reporting. It describes the concepts of internal control (specifically

AICPA to Release Proposed Revisions to Ethics Rules

The AICPA Professional Ethics Executive Committee (PEEC) voted on Thursday to release exposure drafts of revisions to guidance regarding the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct (the Code). The EDs, which will be released this month for a 60-day comment period, make clarifying revisions to an ethics ruling under Rule 301,

International Board Releases Revised Ethics Code

The International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) on Friday issued a revised version of its Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants that strengthens auditor independence requirements. The IESBA is an independent standard-setting board of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC). The revised code, which is effective Jan. 1, 2011:

Strengthening Tax Services' Foundation

The AICPA’s Statements on Standards for Tax Services (SSTSs) have been updated, clarified and streamlined in proposed revisions now available for study and comment by AICPA members. They can be found on the Tax Division pages of the AICPA Web site at The SSTSs are enforceable rules of conduct

Help for Solving CPAs' Ethical Dilemmas

Company controller Plony, CPA, prepared his employer’s 2007 financial statements knowing that they misstated revenues. The company’s CEO, who could fire Plony at will, “strongly urged” Plony to record sales at full invoice prices despite customers’ rights to return merchandise long after a normal return period. Plony’s brother-in-law, a company

Madoff Auditor Charged with Securities Fraud

Federal officials filed criminal and civil charges against Bernard Madoff’s auditor on Wednesday, and the AICPA expelled him from the Institute after concluding its own ethics investigation. In a civil complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan, the SEC alleges that from 1991 through 2008, David G. Friehling and his

Ethics as Recruiting Tool

The ethical—or unethical—behavior of an organization is a critical factor for new college graduates seeking jobs, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. The NACE’s 2008 Graduating Student Survey found that current graduates are much more likely to avoid employers they perceive as engaging in unethical behavior than

Refocusing on Reliability

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Current technical literature precludes CPAs from performing review engagements when independence is impaired and requires modifying reports to disclose lack of independence in compilation engagements. The AICPA Reliability Task Force asserts that the conceptual foundation regarding the services CPAs provide to clients should be modified to refocus on


FASB issued a revised exposure draft of a Proposed Statement of Financial Accounting Standards, Earnings per Share—an amendment of FASB Statement No. 128. The proposed statement is intended to improve financial reporting by clarifying and simplifying the method of calculating earnings per share. As part of international convergence efforts, the


The SEC signed protocols to share information on the application of IFRS with financial regulators in four European countries. The arrangements with regulators in Belgium, Bulgaria, Norway and Portugal are in line with the plan previously agreed to between the SEC and the Committee of European Securities Regulators (CESR). These

Fair Treatment of Fair Value?

The Journal of Accountancy ’s May 2008 discussions of fair value “accounting” (“The Role of Fair Value Accounting in the Subprime Mortgage Meltdown,” page 34), more correctly described as fair market valuation, are interesting. Each opinion on this subject presents a compelling argument. Fair Value vs. The Audit Debates on


Why cybercriminals are targeting CPAs

This free report expands on the most commonly found scams, why education and specialized IT knowledge help to lessen security vulnerabilities, and why every firm should plan carefully for how it would respond to a breach.


How tax reform will impact individual taxpayers

Amy Wang, a CPA who is a senior technical manager for tax advocacy at the AICPA, answers to some of the most common questions on how the new tax reform law will impact individual taxpayers.