Senate committee hears about need for CPA exam reform

OSCPA staff report 

In an active week both for Ohio legislators and our advocacy team, the Senate Transportation, Commerce and Workforce Committee this week heard from OSCPA and students about the need for reforms to the CPA exam. 

Ohio Statehouse

OSCPA Vice President of Government Relations Barbara Benton, CAE, joined accounting students Nov. 17 in asking lawmakers to allow students to sit for the CPA exam after completing 120 semester hours of the required 150 hours of coursework. House Bill 442 would make Ohio consistent with 37 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing students to sit for all four parts of the exam after completing the 120 hours, Benton said. 

“Another seven states, including Ohio, allow some exception to the 150-hour rule for certain circumstances,” she said at the Ohio Statehouse. “Of these, Indiana and Illinois are also looking to move to testing at 120 hours. If enacted, HB 442 would make Ohio the 38th state to allow testing sooner.” 

She said the bill also eliminates a punitive provision in Ohio law that doubles the experience requirement for those who start the exam process sooner than 90 days prior to completing their education. The bill reduces the experience requirement from two years to one year. 

Students Christian Dawe and Caroline Drinko – both majoring in accounting at The Ohio State University – said a survey of Ohio accounting students found that 58.5% did not want to wait as long as Ohio law requires to take the exam, 48.6% plan to transfer scores sent out-of-state for licensing back to Ohio so they can work here and 89% would be more likely to transfer scores back to Ohio if it became a 120-hour state. Additionally, 80% of respondents said they think the current exam system is a disincentive to practice as a CPA in Ohio. 

Benton said OSCPA has studied the issue at length. 

“In 2017, our board formed a task force of educators and CPA employers; the consensus of this group was they could support sitting at 120, but we needed to keep 150 for licensure,” she told legislators. “A subsequent deep dive in 2018-2019 by OSCPA’s Young CPA Board found very strong support for the proposed changes before you.” 

She went on to say that a study by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy found little statistical difference in pass rates in students who test with a bachelor’s degree vs. those who have an advanced degree – though “in some Ohio universities, those with just the bachelor’s degree have a significant advantage. Why? Again, common sense will tell you that the closer you are to your schooling on a topic, the better you will do on a test.” 

Read Benton’s testimony in its entirety Senate committee and floor votes are expected soon. Members interested in seeing Ohio adopt this law change are urged to contact their state senator ASAP. OSCPA makes it very fast and easy to identify your senator and send a message with our Take Action letter-writing program.  Go to https://www.ohiocpa.com/advocacy/Take_Action#/ and within five minutes your message can be composed and sent! 

Plus, be sure to join us on Dec. 4, when you can learn more about the legislative process at OSCPA’s Advocacy in Action event

Hannah News Service contributed to this report. 

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