Policy Advisory

Policy Advisory Board Policies and Guidelines (Accountancy)

Date: 12/11/2017
Referenced Sources: Division of Professional Licensure

Table of Contents

Board CORI Policy

Advisory Ruling Regarding the Practice Privileges of Out-of-State Licensees Pursuant to M.G.L. c. 112 section 87B (h)(1)

     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.

Policy#17-001 Massachusetts Board of Public Accountancy’s Position Statement

     Massachusetts Board of Public Accountancy’s Position Statement on Legal Marijuana

     The decision to provide professional services to the marijuana industry is a business decision for individual licensees and registered firms. The Board cautions that those licensees or firms that choose to provide services of any kind to this industry should diligently address the potential risks and uncertainties involved, including but not limited to the continued uncertainty surrounding enforcement of applicable federal drug laws and related provisions of the Internal Revenue Code.

     After careful consideration, the Board has determined that Massachusetts licensees and firms that elect to provide services to the marijuana industry legalized in any state in which the licensee practices will not face action by the Board based solely on the fact that the licensee or firm is providing such services. However, licensees are reminded that the federal government views such activity as a federal criminal offense. The Board’s position does not negate the possibility that disciplinary action may be taken by the Board should a licensee be found guilty of a federal criminal act.

     All licensees should be reminded that any and all professional services provided are subject to the same professional standards, laws and rules applicable to all other professional services provided by the licensee or firm.

     The Board of Public Accountancy unanimously approved this statement on January 19, 2017

Mandatory Professional Education for the Practice of Public Accountancy

     Rule 15A

     These rules may be cited and referred to as the "Public Accountancy Continuing Education Rules." They are subject to amendment, modification, revision, supplement, repeal or other change by appropriate action in the future. The purpose of these rules is to require all certified public accountants and all public accountants registered under the Massachusetts Public Accountancy Act to comply with continuing education requirements. This rule encompasses registered staff accountants in public practice. The Board anticipates that registrants will maintain the high standards of the profession in selecting quality educational programs to fulfill the continuing education requirement.

     Rule 15B

     The Continuing Education Rules become effective July 1, 1979.

     Rule 15C

     During the two-year period immediately preceding re-registration, applicants for biennial permit renewal who will engage in "public practicd must complete 80 hours of acceptable continuing education, except as otherwise provided by the Board. Effective for all licenses expiring on or after June 30, 2007, four hours of acceptable continuing education shall be in the area of professional ethics. Although 80 hours acquired in one of the two years covered by the registration period qualifies a registrant for the two-year period, no carryover is permitted from one two-year period to another Only class hours or the equivalent (and not student hours devoted to preparation) will be used to measure the hours of continuing education submitted by individual candidates to the Continuing Education Committee, appointed by the Board.

     Rule 15D

  1. The overriding consideration in determining whether a specific program qualifies as acceptable continuing education is that it be a formal program of learning which contributes directly to the professional competence of a registrant in public practice. It will be left to each individual registrant to determine the course of study to be pursued. Thus, the auditor may study accounting and auditing, the tax practitioner may study taxes, and management advisory services practitioner may study subjects related to such practice.
  2. The following are deemed to qualify as acceptable continuing education programs, provided the standards outlined in Rule 15D (3) are maintained:
    1. Professional development programs of national and state accounting organizations.
    2. Technical session at meetings of national and state accounting organizations and their chapters.
    3. University or college courses:
      1. Credit courses - each semester hour credit shall equal 15 hours toward the requirement.
      2. Non-credit courses - each classroom hour will equal one qualifying hour
    4. Programs in other organizations (accounting, industrial, professional, etc.)
    5. Other organized educational programs on technical and other practice subjects.
  3. In order to qualify under Rule 15D (2) a program must:
    1. require attendance,
    2. be at least one class hour (50-minute period) in length
    3. be conducted by a qualified instructor or discussion leader,
    4. require a maintained record of attendance, and
    5. require a written outline to be retained.
  4. Formal correspondence or other individual study programs which provide evidence of satisfactory completion will qualify with the amount of credit to be determined by the Continuing Education Committee. The Continuing Education Committee will not approve any program of learning that does not offer sufficient evidence that the work has actually been accomplished.
  5. Credit for one hour of continuing education will be awarded for each hour completed as an instructor or discussion leader to the extent that the particular activity contributes to the professional competence of the registrant as determined by the Continuing Education Committee.
  6. Credit may be awarded for published articles and books. The amount of credit so awarded will be determined by the Continuing Education Committee.

     Rule 15E

     Candidates for biennial permit renewal must provide a signed statement, under penalty of perjury, supported by documentation disclosing the following information pertaining to the educational programs submitted for qualification under the Public Accountancy Continuing Education Rules:

  1. school, firm or organization conducting course,
  2. location of course,
  3. title of course or description o, content,
  4. dates attended, and
  5. hours claimed.

      The Committee on continuing education will verify on a test basis, information submitted by registrants. If a Continuing Education Statement submitted by an applicant for biennial permit renewal as required by this Rule is not approved, the applicant shall be so notified and he may be granted a period of time by the Continuing Education Committee in which to correct the deficiencies noted.

      Rule 15F

      The Continuing Education Committee will make exception from the Public Accountancy Continuing Education Rules where:

  1. reasons of health, certified by a medical doctor, prevent compliance by the registrant,
  2. the registrant is on extended active duty with the Armed Forces of the United States, or
  3. other good cause exists.

     No exception shall be made solely because of age.

     Rule 15G

     The Board shall establish a biennial fee not to exceed $20.00 for processing and maintaining registrants for Continuing Education Statements and other related documents.

Policy Regarding Approval of Continuing Professional Education Hours for Correspondence or Individual Study Programs and for Presentations

     The Board of Public Accountancy (“Board”) issues this policy to clarify its standards for approval of formal correspondence or other individual study programs and for time presenting programs as Continuing Professional Education (“CPE”) under 252 CMR 2.14. Although the Board does not require preapproval of CPE, it offers this guidance to help licensees determine what activities qualify and for how many hours.

     Formal Correspondence or Other Individual Study Programs

     Under 252 CMR 2.14(3)(d), any “[f]ormal correspondence or other individual study programs which provide evidence of satisfactory completion may qualify [for CPE hours]. . . . The [Board] will not approve any program of learning that does not offer sufficient evidence that the work has actually been accomplished.”

     To receive approval of CPE hours for a formal correspondence or other individual study program, the licensee must show to the Board’s satisfaction that:

  • The program is “a formal program of learning which contributes directly to the professional competence of a licensee in public practice.” 252 CMR 2.14(3)(a).
  • The licensee actually completed the program. For example, a licensee may pass an examination at the end of the program.
  • That the work was actually accomplished. To claim a specific number of hours of learning time from a formal correspondence or other individual study program, a licensee must log the subject matter studied, the number of hours spent studying that subject matter, and the date(s). This log then must be submitted to the Board. The licensee also must obtain a guideline for the amount of time a student should study for the program from the program provider. If a log and guideline from the program provider are not submitted to the Board, the Board only will grant a maximum of 20 CPE hours for any one program. 

     If the formal correspondence or other individual study program is offered by a national or state accounting organization that designates the number of CPE hours awarded for completion of the program, the Board will not award more CPE hours than what is designated.


     Licensees may receive CPE hours for presenting “a formal program of learning which contributes directly to the professional competence of a licensee in public practice,” 252 CMR 2.14(3)(a), and for preparing to present such programs for the first time. Licensees may receive a maximum of two CPE hours of preparation time for each hour of presentation time. Licensees may receive CPE hours for preparing for and presenting a specific hour of a program the licensee previously claimed CPE hours for if the content of that program hour has substantially changed.

     In no event will a licensee be granted more than 40 CPE hours each renewal period for presenting or preparing to present programs.

This policy is effective on July 1, 2019.

Referenced Sources: