The US is on the verge of
harmonising state CPA licensing and practice rules that will allow
professional accountants to practice freely interstate.

By the end of this year, mobility legislation
will be enacted in 49 out of 55 CPA jurisdictions as Washington DC,
New York and Alaska prepare to become the latest states to sign up.
California is the major jurisdiction that has not yet set a date
for enactment.

US firms widely support the mobility laws,
which first gained traction in 2007.

Prior to the legislation, CPAs and firms had
to be licensed separately in every state where they serve client
interests. Gaining a practice privilege differs greatly from state
to state and is almost impossible to keep up with across the
country.

The new mobility laws, which provide state
oversight bodies more power, is vastly more efficient for firms
serving interstate clients. They will save firms considerable time,
as the impractical notification requirement is scraped, as well as
provide savings on licensing fees and red tape.

Managing licensing issues costs considerable
man-hours for large national firms.

Grant Thornton US chief executive Stephen
Chipman said the mobility laws are long overdue.

“Our clients are national, they are global,
and we provide services across state borders and across
international borders,” Chipman said.

“When you are dealing with 50 separate CPA
licensing authorities in the US, it creates all kind of
complexities and challenges, which frankly, no longer align with
the operations of our clients. This is a big step forward in
helping the profession to be more in tune with the real world
today.”

Crowe Horwath does business in all 50 states
so the mobility laws are significant for the firm.

“We are moving people across state borders
every day and the more freedom we have to do that, the easier it is
for us to do business from a compliance standpoint,” chief
executive Charles Allen said.