2008 Legislative Session Wrap-Up

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FICPA Legislation Gains House and Senate Approval

While the only requirement for the 2008 legislature is the passage of a budget; at the top of the agenda for the FICPA were substantial legislative changes relating to when Florida candidates can begin sitting for the uniform CPA Exam, and an additional requirement before licensure as a Florida CPA. 

After more than 2,500 bills were filed during the 2008 legislative session, the Florida Legislature adjourned (Sine Die) at 6:02 p.m. on Friday, May 2, 2008, but not before passing legislation filed by the FICPA. 

Since August 1, 1983, s. 473.306(2), Florida Statutes, has required individuals sitting to take the uniform CPA examination as a Florida candidate to have a baccalaureate degree with a major in accounting or its equivalent plus at least 30 semester (45 quarter) hours in excess of those required for a 4 year baccalaureate degree, with a concentration in accounting and business as specified by the Florida Board of Accountancy.  As a trade off for increasing the number of hours needed to be eligible to sit for the uniform CPA examination as a Florida candidate more than two decades ago, the Legislature eliminated Florida’s one year work experience requirement needed after passing the uniform CPA examination before the Florida Board of Accountancy would issue the applicant their Florida CPA license.  

Almost 25 years later, with support of the Florida Board of Accountancy, the FICPA worked with Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Seminole and Rep. Doug Holder, R-Sarasota on legislation (HB 797 and SB 1206) that would allow Florida candidates to sit for the uniform CPA examination after completing 120 hours and require one year of work experience before being licensed as a Florida CPA.  Adding one year of work experience before licensure brings Florida in compliance with the Uniform Accountancy Act (UAA) Substantial Equivalency provision, and puts Florida in position to pass future legislation that would allow licensees who are licensed in a “Substantially Equivalent” state the privilege to practice in another substantially equivalent state without otherwise having to comply with that states licensing requirements.  

Uniform CPA Exam Eligibility

This proposed change to Florida law would allow individuals to sit for the uniform CPA exam after completing 120 hours of college education versus after the completion of 150 hours of education.  The additional 30 hours of post-baccalaureate education would still be required for licensure. 

  • There are currently 20 states that allow CPA exam candidates to sit after completing 120 hours of college education.  
  • After successfully completing 120 hours of college education, with a concentration in accounting and business courses, an individual could make application to the Florida Board of Accountancy to take the uniform CPA exam.

Work Experience

The second proposal would require an individual seeking initial CPA licensure in Florida to have completed one year of work experience while employed in public practice, private business, governmental or education.  This experience shall include providing any type of service or advice involving the use of accounting, attest, compilation, management advisory, financial advisory, tax or consulting skills, all of which must be under the direct supervision of a certified public accountant who is licensed by a state or territory of the United States.  

  • There are currently 49 of 54 jurisdictions that have a work experience requirement prior to licensure.   This change would bring Florida in compliance with the Uniform Accountancy Act Substantial Equivalency provision which sets forth the prescribed requirements for Education, Examination and Experience. 

Bill Track

House Bill 797

On Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008, the House Business Regulation Committee passed HB 797, sponsored by Rep. Doug Holder, R-Sarasota, by a vote of 11-0. Then on Thursday, March 6, 2008, HB 797 was voted favorably out of its final committee of reference, the Jobs and Entrepreneurship Council, by a vote of 15-0.  HB 797 unanimously passed the full House (114-0) on April 28, 2008. http://www.myfloridahouse.gov./Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=38270&SessionId=57

Senate Bill 1206

On opening day of the 2008 Legislative Session, the Senate Regulated Industries Committee passed SB 1206, sponsored by Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Seminole, by a unanimous vote of 10-0. Then, on Tuesday, April 1, 2008, the Senate Higher Education Committee passed SB 1206, by a vote of 4-0.  On April 23, 2008, SB 1206 was withdrawn from the Senate General Government Appropriations Committee before unanimously passing the full Senate (38-0) on April 28, 2008.  http://www.flsenate.gov/session/index.cfm?BI_Mode=ViewBillInfo&Mode=Bills&SubMenu=1&Year=2008&billnum=1206

The FICPA sponsored legislation now moves on to Governor Crist for approval or veto.  


Board of Accountancy Legislative News

Budget

The FY 2008-09 budget passed by the House and Senate on the final day of the 2008 legislative session includes important funding for the Board of Accountancy (BOA).

With support from the FICPA, the 2008-09 state budget includes $100,000 to fund the Board of Accountancy’s Minority Scholarship Program and $200,000 for the Unlicensed Activity Campaign. Both programs are funded from a portion of license fees:

  • $5 from each CPA license fee is earmarked to combat unlicensed activity.
  • $3 from each CPA license fee is earmarked for minority scholarships.

Since the passage of FICPA-supported legislation in 1998 that created the Minority Scholarship Program, the Board of Accountancy has approved $561,000 to 107 students who were enrolled in their fifth year of an accounting education program. 

FICPA Fights BOA Moving to Tallahassee

Presented as a cost-cutting measure to address recent state budget cuts, the House of Representatives passed legislation (HB 5053: 79 Yeas and 37 Nays) deleting the requirement that the Division of Certified Public Accounting be located in Gainesville.  The Florida Board of Accountancy and the FICPA had concerns about the possible unintended consequences of deleting this language from s. 20.165, Florida Statues, and believed that if enacted would seriously jeopardize the core mission of the Board.  Based on these concerns, the FICPA lobbied the Senate against the deletion of this language, and the House proposal was unanimously defeated in the Senate.  The Conference Committee agreed with the Senate position, and the Division of Certified Public Accounting will remain in Gainesville without any loss of positions. 

Board of Accountancy Appointments

Governor Charlie Crist announced the reappointment and appointment of two to the Board of Accountancy.

Maria E. Caldwell, of Miami, audit director, Deloitte & Touche LLP, reappointed for a term beginning March 12, 2008, and ending October 31, 2011.

Cynthia D. Borders-Byrd, of Fort Lauderdale, certified public accountant, C. Borders-Byrd LLC, succeeding Tanya I. Davis, appointed for a term beginning March 12, 2008, and ending October 31, 2011.


Other News

Taxation and Budget Reform Commission – CP0002

Since 1987, the FICPA has been a key opponent of taxing services. Since 2001 there have been three attempts by proponents of a services tax to amend Florida’s constitution and completely revise our tax code – all three attempts were defeated.

In 1988, the Legislature proposed, and voters approved, a constitutional amendment to create the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission (TBRC). Voters authorized 25 Floridians to be appointed to the TBRC: 11 appointed by the governor and seven apiece by the House speaker and Senate president. Every 20 years, the TBRC examines the state’s budget process, revenue needs and expenditure processes, and the appropriateness of Florida’s tax structure. The TBRC also is charged with reviewing state’s governmental productivity and efficiency, and reviewing the ability of state and local governments to tax and adequately fund governmental operations. 

On March 16, 2007, the 25 TBRC members held their initial organizational meeting, selecting former House Speaker Allan G. Bense as chair, and former Senate President Jim Scott as vice-chair. As prescribed in the state Constitution, the TBRC has full authority to place amendments on the ballot without legislative approval. Constitutional amendments approved by the TBRC will appear on the 2008 general election ballot.

With expert testimony and input from the public hearings completed, the members of the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission passed a Constitutional Proposal (CP0002) that will be on the November 2008 ballot and opens the door for a possible services tax. 

CP002  phases out the required local effort for school property taxes and requires raising sales taxes by one cent, and could result in a combination of more than a one cent increase in sales tax, cutting spending, removing exemptions, and instituting a services tax to make up for the lost revenue. The proposal does include a 5% cap on non-homestead property.

Future Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne, is fighting back to let taxpayers know the consequences of CP0002 and has created a website to educate the citizens of Florida:  www.protectfloridasfuture.com 


Other Bills of Interest

Department of Business and Professional Regulation (Passed)

Requires that hazard insurance be based upon replacement cost of property to be insured as determined by independent insurance appraisal or update of prior appraisal; changes name of Division of Florida Land Sales, Condominiums, & Mobile Homes to Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, & Mobile Homes & changes name of Division of Technology, Licensure, & Testing to Division of Technology, etc.  EFFECTIVE DATE:  07/01/2008 HB 601

Residential Properties (Passed)

Provides specified supervision &  regulation exemptions for homeowners' association swimming pools;  requires residential pools & spas built after specified date to have  certain features; revises provisions relating to homeowners' association  board meetings, inspection & copying of records, reserve accounts of  budgets; prohibits salary or compensation of certain association  personnel; provides exceptions; revises lien restriction, etc.  EFFECTIVE DATE: 07/01/2008 HB 679

Community Associations (Passed)

Revises membership of Regulatory Council of Community Association Managers; provides responsibilities of council; provides requirements for community association management firms; requires DBPR to investigate certain complaints and allegations; provides duties of officers, directors, and agents of a condominium association and liability for monetary damages under certain circumstances, etc.  EFFECTIVE DATE: 10/01/2008. HB 995 Signed by the Governor

Money Services Businesses (Passed)

Changes the name of money transmitters to money services businesses. Requires licensure rather than registration. Revises provisions relating to the powers of the Office of Financial Regulation and the Financial Services Commission. Revises provisions relating to examinations and investigations conducted by the office. Revises the list of prohibited acts by a money services business, etc.  EFFECTIVE DATE: 01/01/2009 SB 2158

Corporate Income Tax/Water’s Edge Group (Failed)

Prohibits certain deductibles for certain water's edge group members. Requires such members to use a certain group income reporting method. Replaces or deletes provisions relating to consolidated returns for affiliated groups to conform to water's edge group requirements, etc. SB 2766

Tax Administration (Failed)

Revises provisions of law relating to administration  of taxes; revises procedures for actions contesting a tax matter; revises provisions relating to administration of tourist development  taxes, tourist impact taxes, the transient rentals tax, convention development taxes, indigent care surtaxes, the documentary stamp tax, ad valorem taxes, the state sales tax, local option fuel taxes, & the corporate income tax, etc. HB 7147

Corporate Income Tax Credit (Failed)

Creates New Markets Tax Credit Program;  provides for qualification & sale of investments that provide tax  credits; provides for nonrefundable, on transferable tax credit for  taxable year in which credit allowance date falls; provides for  calculating credit amount; limits amount of tax credit; provides for  carryover of tax credits; provides for redemption of tax credits;  provides for calculation of amount of tax credits available, etc. HB 293

Financial Management by Local Governments (Failed)

Revises requirement that sheriff & clerk of circuit court keep specified financial statements & books of accounts; requires clerk of circuit court, as county auditor, to prepare annual report of county; authorizes clerk of circuit court to perform specified reviews & tests; provides that clerk of circuit court is accountant to board of county commissioners; increases amount of filing fee & election assessment for qualification of members of boards of supervisors of community development districts; increases amount of compensation for members of such boards of supervisors. HB 399

Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement (Failed)

Revises various provisions relating to the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement, etc. HB 962

For more information about legislative or regulatory issues, please contact the FICPA’s Governmental Affairs team at (850) 224-2727, Ext. 203 or via e-mail at govaffairs@ficpa.org.