1997 Regular Session
To: Business and Financial Institutions
By: Senator(s) Woodfield, Kirby
Senate Bill 2598
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 73-33-1, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO DEFINE THE PRACTICE OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTANCY AND OTHER TERMS; TO AMEND SECTION 73-33-5, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO AUTHORIZE THE STATE BOARD OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTANCY TO ISSUE PERMITS TO PUBLIC ACCOUNTANCY FIRMS; TO AMEND SECTION 73-33-7, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO AUTHORIZE THE STATE BOARD OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTANCY TO CHARGE ANNUAL CERTIFICATE, LICENSE AND PERMIT FEES; TO AMEND SECTION 73-33-9, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE THAT A HOLDER OF A RECIPROCAL LICENSE BE ASSOCIATED WITH A FIRM THAT HAS A PERMIT ISSUED BY THE BOARD; TO AMEND 73-33-11, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE THE PROCEDURE BY WHICH THE STATE BOARD OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTANCY MAY REVOKE, CANCEL OR SUSPEND CERTIFICATES, LICENSES AND PERMITS OR TAKE OTHER DISCIPLINARY ACTION AGAINST A REGISTRANT; TO AMEND SECTION 73-33-13, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO MAKE IT A MISDEMEANOR TO REPRESENT THAT A FIRM WITHOUT A CURRENT PERMIT IS LICENSED TO PRACTICE PUBLIC ACCOUNTANCY; TO AMEND SECTION 73-33-15, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE THAT A CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTANT BE ASSOCIATED WITH A REGISTERED FIRM TO PRACTICE PUBLIC ACCOUNTING; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 73-33-1, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
73-33-1. (1) As used in this chapter unless the context or subject matter requires otherwise:
(a) "Certificate holder" means an individual who holds a certificate as a certified public accountant issued by the Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy.
(b) "Firm permit to practice public accounting" means a permit issued by the Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy permitting a firm to practice public accounting, and "permit holder" means the firm holding such permit. A Mississippi located firm shall demonstrate that each person with an ownership interest in the firm holds a valid certificate and license issued as provided by Section 73-33-5. A nonresident firm shall demonstrate that each person with an ownership interest who practices public accounting for Mississippi domiciled client(s) holds a valid certificate and license issued as provided by Section 73-33-5.
(c) "License to practice public accounting" means a license issued by the Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy permitting a person to practice public accounting, and "licensee" means the person holding the license. A licensee shall be associated and registered with a firm. A license shall not be issued to anyone who does not hold a certificate or reciprocal certificate issued by the board.
(d) "Practice of, or practicing, public accountancy" means the performance, the offering to perform, or maintaining an office by a person or firm holding itself out to the public as a certificate holder and a licensee, for a client or potential client, of one or more kinds of services involving the use of accounting or auditing skills, including the issuance of reports on financial statements, or of one or more kinds of management advisory, financial advisory or consulting services, or the preparation of tax returns or the furnishing of advice on tax matters.
(2) Any person residing or having a place for the regular transaction of business in the State of Mississippi being of good moral character, and who shall have received from the state board of public accountancy a certificate of his qualifications as a certified public accountant as hereinafter provided, shall be styled or known as a certified public accountant, and it shall be unlawful for any other person or persons to assume such title or use any letters, abbreviations or words to indicate that such person using same is a certified public accountant.
(3) Any person who is not a certified public accountant (CPA) and has an ownership interest on July 1, 1997, in a firm which is otherwise entitled to receive a permit shall be entitled to retain such interest by registering with the Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy on or before January 1, 1998. By registering with the Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy, such individual submits to the jurisdiction of the board and may have ownership interest rights revoked by the board upon the commission of such misconduct as the board may identify by regulation. Such non-CPA owner may sell or otherwise transfer an ownership interest only to a licensed certified public accountant. In the event of the death of such non-CPA owner, the estate shall have one (1) year to sell or otherwise transfer such interest to a licensed certified public accountant.
SECTION 2. Section 73-33-5, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
73-33-5. The Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy is hereby authorized with the following powers and duties:
(a) To adopt a seal;
(b) To govern its proceedings;
(c) To set the fees and to regulate the time, manner and place of conducting examinations to be held under this chapter. Beginning February 1, 1995, a total of one hundred fifty (150) collegiate-level semester hours of education including a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent at a college or university acceptable to the board shall be required in order to sit for the examination by candidates who have not previously sat for the examination. The total education program shall include an accounting concentration or the equivalent as determined by the board to be appropriate by rules and regulations. The examination shall cover a knowledge of the "theory of accounts," "accounting practice," "auditing," "business law as affecting accountancy," and such other branches of knowledge pertaining to accountancy as the board may deem proper;
(d) To initiate investigations of certified public accountant and certified public accounting firm practices;
(e) To notify applicants who have failed an examination within one hundred twenty (120) days of such failure and in what branch or branches deficiency was found;
(f) To adopt and enforce such rules and regulations concerning certified public accountant examinee and licensee qualifications and practices and certified public accounting firm permits and practices as the board considers necessary to maintain the highest standard of proficiency in the profession of certified public accounting and for the protection of the public interest. The standards of practice by certified public accountants and certified public accounting firms shall include generally accepted auditing and accounting standards as promulgated by the Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy;
(g) To issue certificates under the signature and the official seal of the board as provided in this chapter;
(h) To issue licenses to practice public accounting to any certified public accountant who has obtained a certificate or reciprocal certificate issued by the board and to issue permits to practice public accounting to certified public accounting firms pursuant to such rules and regulations as may be promulgated by the board;
(i) To employ personnel;
(j) To contract for services and rent; and
(k) To adopt and enforce all such rules and regulations as shall be necessary for the administration of this chapter; provided, however, no adoption or modification of any rules or regulations of the board shall become effective unless any final action of the board approving such adoption or modification shall occur at a time and place which is open to the public and for which notice by mail of such time and place and the rules and/or regulations proposed to be adopted or modified has been given at least thirty (30) days prior thereto to every person who is licensed and registered with the board.
SECTION 3. Section 73-33-7, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
73-33-7. The Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy shall be authorized to charge a fee to applicants for a certificate and a license. In addition, the board shall be authorized to charge a fee to applicants for a firm permit to practice. All fees shall be in such amounts as * * * determined by the board, and paid when the application is filed.
On or before January 1 of each year hereafter, each holder of a certificate issued by the Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy and each firm holding a permit to practice public accounting shall register with the Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy, and shall pay a reasonable annual registration fee in such amount as to be determined by the board. If any certified public accountant or firm fails to register and pay the annual registration fee, on or before January 1, notice of such default shall be sent to the registrant by certified mail to the delinquent registrant's last known address as shown by the records of said board. The certificate of any certified public accountant and the permit to practice of any firm who fails to register and pay the annual registration fee within ten (10) days after notice is given * * * shall be automatically cancelled, and the board shall enter the cancellation on its records.
Any person or firm who has lost a certificate, certificate and license to practice, or a firm which has lost a permit to practice in this state by failure to register and pay the annual registration fee, may be again certified or licensed to practice, or a firm permit be reinstated by said board without reexamination, provided such person or firm shall again comply with the requirements of this chapter, file application for registration and pay all fees due said board according to law or regulation of the board.
Out of the funds collected under this chapter shall be paid the expenses of the members of the board, including mileage, hotel expenses and per diem compensation as provided in Section 25-3-69, for the time expended in carrying out the duties of the office; provided, however, no expense incurred by said board shall ever be charged against the funds of the state in excess of amounts collected under this section.
SECTION 4. Section 73-33-9, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
73-33-9. The Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy may, in its discretion, issue a reciprocal certificate or license to practice to any holder of any certified public accountant's certificate or license issued under the law of another state, which shall entitle the holder to use the abbreviation, "CPA," in this state provided that the state issuing the original certificate or license grants similar privileges to the certified public accountants of this state. The fee for registration shall be in such amount as to be determined by the board. Such certificate shall not allow the holder thereof to engage in the practice of public accounting as a certified public accountant, unless the holder has also obtained a license to practice public accounting as a certified public accountant and is associated with and registered with a firm and meets the requirements of the Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy.
SECTION 5. Section 73-33-11, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
73-33-11. The Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy may revoke, suspend or take other appropriate action with respect to any certificate, * * * license or permit issued by virtue of any provision of this chapter and/or may cancel the registration of any certificate, * * * license or permit registered by virtue of any provision of this chapter for any unprofessional conduct of the holder of such certificate, * * * license or permit, or for other sufficient cause, provided * * * notice was received by the accused at least twenty (20) days prior to hearing on such action by the board. Notice may be achieved by certified mail (with the addressee's receipt required) or by personal service upon the certificate, license or permit holder * * *. Notice shall consist of an order of the board or a letter from the executive director stating the cause for such contemplated action and appointing a day and a place for a full hearing thereon by said board. * * * No certificate or license may be cancelled or revoked until a hearing has been given to the holder thereof according to law. * * *
The members of the board are hereby empowered to sit as a trial board; to administer oaths (or affirmations); to summon any witness and to compel his attendance and/or his testimony, under oath (or affirmation) before such board; to compel the production before it, of any book, paper or document by the owner or custodian thereof; and/or to compel any officer to produce, at such hearing a copy of any public record (not privileged from public inspection by law) in his official custody, certified to, by him. Such board shall elect one of its members to serve as clerk, to issue summons and other processes, and * * * certify copies of its records, or the board may delegate such duties to the executive director; and shall elect another member to serve as president of the board.
* * *
The accused certificate holder or licensee may appear in person and/or by counsel or, in the instance of a firm permit holder through its manager and/or counsel, to defend such charges. * * * If the accused does not appear or answer, judgment may be entered by default, provided the board finds that proper service was made on the accused.
* * *
The minutes of the board shall be recorded in an appropriate minute book permanently maintained by the board at its office.
In case of a decision adverse to the certificate holder, licensee or permit holder, appeal shall be made within thirty (30) days from the day on which decision is made * * * to the circuit court of the county in which the misconduct and/or unprofessional conduct was alleged to have been committed, and the order of the board shall not take effect until the expiration of said thirty (30) days.
In case of an appeal, * * * bond for costs in the circuit court shall be given as in other cases; and * * * shall not take effect until such appeal shall have been finally disposed of by the court or courts.
The board may, at any time, reinstate a certificate, * * * license or permit, if it finds that such reinstatement is justified.
In addition to the reasons specified in the first paragraph of this section, the board shall be authorized to suspend the license of any licensee for being out of compliance with an order for support, as defined in Section 93-11-153. The procedure for suspension of a license for being out of compliance with an order for support, and the procedure for the reissuance or reinstatement of a license suspended for that purpose, and the payment of any fees for the reissuance or reinstatement of a license suspended for that purpose, shall be governed by Section 93-11-157 or 93-11-163, as the case may be. Actions taken by the board in suspending a license when required by Section 93-11-157 or 93-11-163 are not actions from which an appeal may be taken under this section. Any appeal of a license suspension that is required by Section 93-11-157 or 93-11-163 shall be taken in accordance with the appeal procedure specified in Section 93-11-157 or 93-11-163, as the case may be, rather than the procedure specified in this section. If there is any conflict between any provision of Section 93-11-157 or 93-11-163 and any provision of this chapter, the provisions of Section 93-11-157 or 93-11-163, as the case may be, shall control.
SECTION 6. Section 73-33-13, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
73-33-13. If any person shall: (1) falsely represent himself or a firm in which he has a financial interest to the public as having received a certificate, license or firm permit as provided in this chapter; or (2) falsely assume to practice as a certified public accountant; or (3) falsely use the abbreviation, "C. P. A.," or any similar words or word, letters or letter to indicate that the person using the same is a certified public accountant * * *; or (4) * * * continues the practice of public accounting after losing his certificate and license through revocation or suspension as provided by this chapter; or represent that a firm with a suspended or revoked permit in which he has financial interest is entitled to perform such practice, * * * he shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not less than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) or of not more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), or by imprisonment in the county jail for not longer than six (6) months, or by both such fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court for each such an offense.
SECTION 7. Section 73-33-15, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
73-33-15. (1) It shall be unlawful for any person, except a certified public accountant, who holds a license to practice public accounting and is associated and registered with a firm permit holder, and/or for any firm that does not hold a valid firm permit to practice public accounting issued pursuant to this chapter, to:
(a) Issue, sign or permit his name to be associated with any report, transmittal letter or other written communication issued as a result of an examination of financial statements or financial information which contains either an expression of opinion or other attestation as to the fairness, accuracy or reliability of such financial statements;
(b) Offer to perform, or perform, for the public, public accounting, tax consulting or other accounting-related services while holding himself out as a certified public accountant or as a firm of certified public accountants; or
(c) Maintain an office or other facility for the transaction of business as a certified public accountant or certified public accountant firm.
(2) Any person violating subsection (1) of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and may, upon conviction therefor, be punished by a fine of not less than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) nor more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), or by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than ten (10) days nor more than six (6) months, or by both such fine and imprisonment in the discretion of the court.
(3) The provisions of paragraph (a) of subsection (1) of this section shall not be construed to apply to an attorney licensed to practice law in this state; to a person for making statements as to his own business; to an officer or salaried employee of a firm, partnership or corporation for making an internal audit, statement or tax return for the same; to a bookkeeper for making an internal audit, statement or tax return for his employer, whose books he regularly keeps for a salary; to a receiver, a trustee or fiduciary as to any statement or tax return with reference to the business or property entrusted to him as such; to any federal, state, county, district or municipal officer as to any audit, statement or tax return made by him in the discharge of the duties of such office.
SECTION 8. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.