Restoring Exam credits expired during COVID would help address CPA shortage
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Restoring Exam credits expired during COVID would help address CPA shortage

Mar 09, 2023 · 2 min read · AICPA Insights Blog

The accounting profession is confronted with a talent shortage, and reinstating CPA exam credits that have expired since January 1, 2020, could have an immediate impact on our CPA pipeline.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty that followed pandemic shutdowns disrupted the plans of countless students,” said AICPA CEO of Public Accounting Sue Coffey. “This initiative would offer thousands of students a chance to regain lost momentum and resume their path to CPA licensure.”

The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) recently reported it was establishing a task force to consider a proposed reinstatement. Any proposal would need to be reviewed and considered for adoption by each state board of accountancy.

“A proposal like this could allow for the reinstatement of credit for more than 15,000 CPA candidates and re-open the door for those candidates to complete their journeys to becoming licensed CPAs. I applaud NASBA for raising this possibility and exploring it with state boards of accountancy, since a comprehensive reinstatement effort could help offset hurdles to advancement that many CPA candidates faced due to circumstances outside their control,” said Coffey.

Pandemic restrictions forced the closure of Prometric sites for CPA Exam testing in April 2020. At the same time, many universities and colleges halted in-person instruction, switching to online courses. While state boards of accountancy granted many CPA candidates credit extensions on the 18-month period in which candidates must complete all four parts of the CPA Exam, some disruption was inevitable. The number of candidates passing their fourth and final section of the CPA Exam dipped in 2020 to below 20,000 for the first time since 2007.

“COVID was an unprecedented event that struck at a time when many professions, including accounting, were already encountering talent shortages,” said Coffey. “Strengthening the CPA pipeline and rebuilding from disruption requires a comprehensive, collaborative effort. Consideration of this credit restoration for candidates who were on the path to CPA licensure is one important step.”

The AICPA supports these efforts and is committed to addressing the many issues affecting the shortage of CPAs. The AICPA is working closely with many groups, including state CPA societies, accounting firms, academia, state boards of accountancy and NASBA on profession-wide, multi-stakeholder efforts to help fill the pipeline.

Separately, NASBA has proposed a permanent extension of the 18-month window to 24 months for a CPA candidate to pass all parts of the CPA Exam. The proposal would be a guide for state boards of accountancy to extend the window and also provide greater clarity on circumstances when state boards could allow additional testing time to candidates. Please consider commenting on this proposed change to the NASBA Uniform Accountancy Act Committee via by April 17, 2023. Your voice is important!

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