CLE and CPE Legal and Accounting Ethics Courses

Professional Ethics Courses and Programs

310 Sander Building
4105 East Madison
Seattle, WA 98112
206-624-0716
rigos@rigos.net

 

    About the Author

    The author-presenter, Jim Rigos, is an Attorney-CPA who has written and lectured widely in the area of professional accounting and legal ethics and related potential liability.  A graduate of Boston University Law School, he has been involved in over 200 legal and ethical claims against CPAs since 1980 principally on the defense side.  A former member of the AICPA’s Accountants Legal Liability Committee, he has been admitted to practice in the U.S. Tax and Supreme Courts.  Jim is also a national Director and past officer of the American Academy of Attorney-CPAs (AAA-CPA) and presently chairs their national Ethics and Dual Practice committee.

    INDEX OF CPE-CLE COURSES

    Lawyer's National Ethics (MPRE)
    Washington and Oregon State Board Approved 4-Hour Courses

    Six General (Non-State Specific) Accounting Ethics Courses Available

    The AICPA "Re-Codification" Rule Approach to CPA Conflicts of Interest
    AICPA Attest Independence Rules for CPAs - Threats, Safeguards, and Client Consent 
    The Higher CPA Standards of Professional Fiduciary Duty
    Tax Practice CPA Ethical and Legal Standards
    Advanced CPA Ethical and Liability Subjects
    Legal Liability, Defensive Practice Quality Control, and Engagement Letters

     

    Lawyer's National Ethics (MPRE)

    Lawyer's national ethics tested on MPRE (5 CLE Hours) covers the American Bar Association Legal Ethics exam required for bar admission.  This on-line review course is offered live three times a year nationally by the AAA-CPA but the complete workbook is sold separately for $49.95.  See Rigos Primer Series Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) Review MPRE for details and to order.

    Washington and Oregon Accounting State Board Approved 
    4-Hour Courses

    The Washington State CPA Ethics by Jim Rigos course is approved by the Washington State Board of Accountancy as meeting the 4 CPE hour licensing requirement.  Included is information from the Board posted Newsletters including any Board’s significant rule changes.  The ethical analysis sequencing parallels the national AICPA Code of Professional Conduct and is updated for the AICPA’s “re-codification” changes.  This new ethical system framework includes “identifying threats, creating mitigating safeguards, and obtaining client informed consent to the mitigated ethical deficiencies.”  The AICPA ethical rules are now primarily based on a CPA’s employment position.

    The few differences between State Board rules and the AICPA standards are examined.  Examples of real-world practice situations and actual reported case law covering ethics and legal responsibilities for Washington and Oregon CPAs are included.  Emphasis is placed upon a CPA in the public practice but industry CPAs are also now specifically covered.  Conflict of interest, independence, confidentiality, and fiduciary duty receive special attention depth.  To order the workbook format of the book call us at 206-624-0716.  To take the online course, register at www.accountingethics.com and begin immediately.

    The Oregon State CPA Ethics course includes all year-end updates and Oregon State Board newsletter releases.  Included also is Board Administrative 801-001 and 801-010 Rules and related AICPA pronouncements.  The course has been reviewed by and approved for their required state-specific ethics credit by the Oregon State Board of Accountancy.

    The text examines the new AICPA framework approach.  It includes “identifying threats and creating mitigating safeguards” and obtaining "client informed consent" based on a CPA’s employment situation.  If in conflict, local Oregon rules trump AICPA authority for licensed Oregon CPAs working in Oregon (see www.oregon.gov/boa).  Numerous examples of real world practice situations and related Oregon Board and civil reported case law covering ethics and legal responsibilities for the accounting professional are presented and discussed.  Potential safeguards that mitigate ethical risks and the new AICPA Act Discreditable penalty are explored in some detail.  Conflict of interest, confidentiality, and a CPAs fiduciary duty status receive special attention.

      • Six General (Non-State Specific) Accounting Ethics Courses Currently Available

       

      THE AICPA “RE-CODIFICATION” RULE APPROACH
      TO CPA CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
      (One CPE Hour)
       
      The AICPA ethics “re-codification” structure effectively elevates the potential ethical and legal conflict of interest rules.  These new standards introduce new requirements that should lead to professional CPAs becoming more analytical prospectively in engagements and relationships that include potential conflicts of interest with their client’s loyalty responsibilities.
       
      AICPA’s Professional Ethics Enforcement Committee (PEEC) now describes various types and categories of conflicts of interest engagements.  It also covers a long list of “safeguard” conditions that, with client approval, may partially or completely eliminate a conflicting ethical threat sufficient to diminish or mitigate the overall potential adverse significance thereof.  [1.00.010.17]
       
      Conflicts of interest potentially puts at-risk the professional’s duty of advocacy, loyalty, and perhaps confidentiality, all of which are required to protect the client’s best interests.  This course will teach you how to identify an ethical conflict and any generally accepted resolution procedures.  A written client agreement is strongly advised.  This course suggests an on-point client contract.
       
      AICPA ATTEST INDEPENDENCE RULES FOR CPAs
      THREATS, SAFEGUARDS, AND CLIENT CONSENT
      (One CPE Hour)
       
      The AICPA 1.200 Series of Rules comprise the single most important section addressed by the new 2015 Rules of Ethical Conduct.  The objective is maintaining and enhancing public confidence in the accounting profession’s objectivity in attest engagements.  "Independence" from the client provides the heart and soul of the reliability and integrity of audited financial statements. 

      Under the new AICPA “recodification” a potential independence violation may best be considered as one type of conflict of interest. Most believe third party financial statement users (including banks and companies providing credit) are stakeholders but there is at present no requirement these third parties must be notified of the possible independence question.

      This CPA auditor required impartiality and neutrality in attest engagements may conflict with what the client perceives as their own best interest. Historically, an auditor is not permitted to breach actual or apparent independence rules.  This course suggests the auditor and client sign a written disclosure and waiver agreement if significant risks are present and that this be reviewed by an independent third party.

       

      THE HIGHER CPA STANDARDS OF PROFESSIONAL
      FIDUCIARY DUTY
      (One CPE Hour)
        This CPE course develops and applies the professional fiduciary duty heightened legal standard to the practice of CPAs. The course’s main emphasis is on CPA’s “holding out” their CPA credential while operating in certain fiduciary roles that under these circumstances may be deemed to involve or create a fiduciary duty.  Reported CPA case decisions are presented.  These can - and should if on point with a CPA's situation - be Googled for factual and legal details of the court holdings.

        The AICPA’s ethics “re-codification” imposes the requirement of an engagement’s detailed risk and safeguards analysis. This emphasis seems to heighten the chances that standard CPA engagements for long-term clients may be deemed to rise to the fiduciary duty level.

        Fiduciary relationships today receive increased regulatory and judicial scrutiny. This course identifies the high-exposure practice areas that may be classified as “fiduciary” and provides numerous suggestions and tips that may minimize the risks.  Many on-point legal decisions are presented that a prudent CPA can review for specific guidance.
         
        TAX PRACTICE CPA ETHICAL AND LEGAL STANDARDS

        (Two CPE Hours)

        This two-hour tax ethics CPE course is primarily for CPAs and EAs involved in federal tax return preparation and/or in-firm quality review.  The course has three main objectives.  First, to examine the controlling professional tax practice ethical standards of the AICPA and IRS.  Second, we spend some time exploring potentially problematic tax situations where a tax CPA has relatively high professional ethics and/or legal liability exposure.  Third, we suggest that using our protective tax preparation engagement letters may clarify some problematic tax situations through careful disclosure wording and client agreement.

         This CPE course covers most aspects of a professional’s tax practice; planning, return preparation, and IRS audit representation is covered.  Included are three major subjects: first, client advance tax transaction planning, structuring, and coordinating; second, preparation of the actual IRS tax return to be filed with the agency and possible preparer penalties; and third, representing the client during an audit by a revenue agent.  The professional’s roles here and ethical positions may change.  The degree of responsibility and related potential damages asserted against the CPA by both the client and taxing authorities are explored.

         Many tax-reported accounting-related legal cases are referred to in this material providing substantive examples of the application of a given legal principle to accountant’s tax service factual situations.  Seminar attendees should Google the cited tax case citations containing specific suggestions for details of the particular tax problem and/or opportunities.  This CPE course analysis will educate the tax professional on the facts and detailed holding of the appellant court review of the AICPA, IRS, and/or state Board of Accountancy ruling issued below.

         

        ADVANCED CPA ETHICAL AND LIABILITY SUBJECTS OF
        CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, INDEPENDENCE, FIDUCIARY DUTY,
                                                        AND TAX PRACTICE ETHICS
        (Four CPE Hours)

         
        This four-hour course covers the AICPA, SEC, Sarbanes-Oxley, and Dodd-Frank conflict of interest and fiduciary duty rules.  It contains announced AICPA code of ethics conflicts “re-codification” and independence changes.  This new framework creates a new approach of “identifying conflict threats” and creating “mitigating safeguards” which the clients approve as “adequate.”  Also covered is an expanded chapter covering IRS tax practice and IRS Publication 230 including a suggested client engagement letter.

        Reported case studies covering conflicts of interest, independence, confidentiality, and the general fiduciary duty liability status are presented.  Seminar attendees should Google the case citations for factual details.  There is substantive overlap between these topics.  A sensitivity covering all of our core values is helpful in meeting the public trust and expectations of our profession.  All CPA firm professional staff should receive training in these areas.

        The text also explores the sensitive standards that may lead to civil litigation and potential professional discipline, and contains sample questions and answers applying the theory.  The objective is to examine these high-sensitive areas and provide ideas for inclusion of the firm’s quality control ethics officer in day-to-day operating procedures.

         
        LEGAL LIABILITY, DEFENSIVE PRACTICE QUALITY CONTROL, AND ENGAGEMENT LETTER SUGGESTION LANGUAGE AND
        FORMS FOR CPAs IN PUBLIC ACCOUNTING
        (Four CPE Hours)

         
        For CPAs in the public practice, this four-hour course will reduce the chances of a client claim and/or dollar amount of damages asserted.

        Defensive engagement letters are covered in significant depth.  Suggested forms and wording are included.  Many reported accounting-related legal cases are referred to in this CPA Defensive Practice CPE course.  These cases provide authoritative examples of the application of a given legal principle to accountant’s liability factual situations.  Relevant cases can be Googled for factual and legal details.

        Reading the details of the cases cited provides an analysis of the factual and legal accounting issues at play.  There is no absolute certainty that the tribunal of any individual state or federal circuit court of appeals would follow the cited precedent herein, but specific safe harbors are suggested. 

        Standard tax client engagement letters and related high-risk checklists are suggested and included in the course workbook. Engagement Letter defensive provisions and specific advised wording are included.  These client engagement letter forms may be used in a CPA firm’s day-to-day practice and focus on common risks.

         
         

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