It has come to the attention of the Board of Public Accountancy ("Board") that there are several states that have adopted mobility legislation, which allow Massachusetts individual licensees to practice in these states without having to obtain licenses, permits, and/or registrations in these states. However, it has also come to the Board's attention that several of these states, under their mobility legislation, have adopted the Uniform Accountancy Act ("UAA") §§ 23 and 7(a) , which require Massachusetts licensed firms to obtain permits and/or register in these states in order to practice and issue attest reports in these states.
Please be advised that:
Chapter 22 of the Acts of 2010 amended M.G.L. c. 112 section 87B (h)(2) to state:
"A person whose principal place of business is outside the commonwealth shall be deemed to have qualifications substantially equivalent to the commonwealth's requirements for the practice of public accountancy and shall be authorized to engage in the practice of certified public accountancy in the commonwealth, including offering and rendering professional services, whether in person or by mail, telephone or electronic means, if such person…"
M.G.L. c. 112 section 87D (a) was also amended to state:
"No person or firm not holding a valid license issued under section eighty-seven B or eighty-seven B½ shall issue a report on financial statements of any other person, firm, organization or governmental unit. This prohibition does not apply to an officer, partner or employee of any firm or organization affixing his signature to any statement or report in reference to the financial affairs of such firm or organization or subsidiary or franchisee of said organization with any wording designating the position, title or office that he holds therein; nor does it apply to any act of a public official or employee in the performance of his duties as such; nor does it apply to the performance by persons other than licensees of other services involving the use of accounting skills, including the preparation of tax returns, and the preparation of financial statements without the issuance of reports thereon; nor shall it apply to an individual qualifying to engage in the practice of certified public accountancy pursuant to paragraph (2) of subsection (h) of section 87B."
M.G.L. c. 112 section 87B (h)(1), however, makes it clear that the practice privileges afforded to out-of state licensees practicing in Massachusetts are limited to those licensees whose licensing state affords all of the same practice privileges to Massachusetts licensees practicing in that state, including but not limited to the ability to practice in that state without obtaining a license, permit, and/or registration. Specifically, M.G.L. c. 112 section 87B (h)(1) states:
"Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, a person shall not engage in the practice of certified public accountancy pursuant to paragraph (2) unless such person holds a valid license as a certified public accountant from a state that permits a certified public accountant licensed by the commonwealth to qualify for substantial equivalency and to engage in the practice of certified public accountancy in that state and have all the privileges of a certified public accountant in that state without the need to obtain a certificate or license from that state."
Therefore, the Board issues this Advisory Ruling to inform all out-of state-licensees of the Board's intent to strictly enforce the statutory mandate of M.G.L. c. 112 section 87B (h)(1 ). As such, any practice of public accountancy in Massachusetts by an out-of-state licensee whose licensing state does not allow Massachusetts individual licensees and/or firms to practice public accountancy, and provide CPA services including financial statement audits, prospective financial information, PCAOB audit engagements, etc., in that state without having to obtain a license, permit, and/or registration in that state shall constitute unlicensed practice in Massachusetts for which sanctions may be imposed. ( See M.G.L. c. 112 §87D½ and M.G.L c. 112, §65A)
The Board is not aware of all state Board's Statutes and Regulations, but in the New England area (including New York state), only Rhode Island appears to allow "no notice, no fee" for all CPA services, and thus, only Rhode Island CPAs can enter our state with full mobility privileges. All other CPAs must inquire with their state Board of Accountancy for verification of full mobility privileges for MA CPAs in their state before coming to MA and providing all CPA services. Without such reciprocal privileges, CPA individuals or firms from these other states need a MA CPA license, and applications are available at our web site.
This Advisory Ruling is issued pursuant to a determination made by a majority of members present at the duly called meeting of the Board of Public Accountancy on June 24, 2010.