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Ohio bill makes commonsense change to become a CPA

Written on May 1, 2020

Legislative move comes after OSCPA member requests, 2 years of study

OSCPA staff report

Ohio CPA candidates could choose to sit for the CPA exam after the completion of a bachelor’s degree or its 120-hour equivalent – as already permitted in 37 states – under an OSCPA-supported bill introduced this week in the Ohio House.

Ohio now requires that a candidate be within 90 days of completing 150 hours of college education before being eligible to take the CPA exam. In contrast, most other states and Washington, D.C. already have a lower threshold of 120 hours of education or a bachelor’s degree to be eligible.

House Bill 442, jointly sponsored by Reps Bill Roemer, R-Richfield, and Thomas West, D-Canton, and cosponsored by 15 other state representatives would bring Ohio in alignment. Under the bill, 150 hours of college education and one year of work experience would still be required to obtain the CPA license.

OSCPA began studying its long-term advocacy position on 150 hours for the exam in 2017 based upon feedback from employer visits and member forums. A task force including representatives from employers and the academic community conducted an initial review, and the concepts were then exposed to the membership in subsequent Advance programs.

Following member exposure, OSCPA’s Young CPA Advisory Board developed a position paper which was presented to OSCPA’s Executive Board in September to support such a change in Ohio law. The Society’s Executive Board voted to support the legislation’s passage with members of the Ohio General Assembly.

“OSCPA’s members – particularly our young professionals and students – spoke, and we listened,” said OSCPA President and CEO, Scott Wiley, CAE. “Ohio needs to join the 37 other states that already allow CPA candidates to start taking the CPA Exam when they have 120 semester hours of college education, rather than wait months or even years longer.”

“Advancing the state of business is not only OSCPA’s tagline, it’s our mission. Ensuring Ohio has a full pipeline of CPAs is a critical component and having a higher threshold for sitting for the CPA exam than most states is putting our pipeline at risk.”

Young CPA Leadership Board Chairman Colin McHugh, CPA, senior manager of assurance and financial reporting at Rehmann in Toledo, noted the change will not detract from the rigor of the accreditation.

“I know many people who are testing outside their home state of Ohio and transferring their license,” McHugh said. “This law will make that an unnecessary step, simplify the process and help bring parity across state boundaries.”

Because the exam tests broad-based knowledge, recent CPAs have told The Ohio Society that the best time to complete the exam is while students are still in college and in a “study mindset” after completing relevant courses of study, and before they start working fulltime and focusing on a specialized area such as tax or attest services.

“For students, this change will not only allow them to begin the process of taking the exam when they are most prepared, it will also allow them to immediately start leveraging all their hard work on starting their careers,” McHugh said.

Roemer, one of the bill’s lead sponsors who has been working hard to draft the legislation, said it is fundamentally about improving the state’s business environment.

“Occupational licensure reform is imperative to restoring Ohio’s competitive edge nationally,” Roemer said. “As a student who took advantage of testing at 120 credit hours, I believe that Ohio needs to join the other 37 states as well as the District of Columbia in affording this privilege to those that are prepared to take the exam.”

OSCPA members: Here’s what you can do to help!

Tell your representatives why HB442 is needed! We’ll help you by providing your legislators’ contact information, talking points, and guidance on how best to get your message out. Contact your government relations team now for more information.