A Summary of Institute Legislative Policy
By RALPH S. JOHNS Partner, Chicago Office
Presented before the Annual Meeting of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, New Orleans — October 1957
What is the Institute's policy with regard to state accountancy legislation?
Any brief answer to this question is likely to be unsatisfactory. The question itself immediately begets another: In what sense can the national society of CPAs be said to have a policy on state matters? Actually the American Institute does not have a "policy" in the sense that implies extensive public relations activity on the local level and lobbying in the state legislatures.
The Institute's policy is rather to work with the individual state CPA societies. It does not enlist the support of outside groups or sponsor the introduction of state legislation of any kind. However, in the interests of the accountancy profession on the national scene and with the hope of eliminating some of the diversity which now prevails among state accountancy
laws, the Institute has developed a legislative policy, implemented by a form bill, which it recommends to those state societies of CPAs seeking assistance.
EVOLUTION OF POLICY
Before attempting to state precisely what this policy is, I'd like to review briefly some of the steps in its evolution over the past twenty-five, years or so. The principal point over which CPAs have disagreed during this period is whether CPAs should seek legislation of the regulatory or of the permissive type.
Under a permissive law anyone may perform accounting, auditing, and tax services for whoever is willing to hire him. He may, if he chooses, hold himself out as a public accountant. But he may not use the title "Certified Public Accountant." This title is reserved for those who have met the prescribed standards of education and experience and who have passed the uniform CPA examination. The whole purpose of a law of a permissive type is to control the use of the CPA title, not to regulate the practice of public accountancy itself.
Regulatory laws, on the other hand, control in varying degrees the practice of public accounting. Cognizance is usually taken of two titles, "Certified Public Accountant" and "Public Accountant." In order to prac-