PCPS Independence Toolkit

Revised Online Code of Professional Conduct
From making the right determination on accepting gifts from vendors, to deciding whether it is appropriate to audit a friend’s business, CPAs face ethical concerns each day. One thing is certain: ethical decisions often need to be reached quickly, which is why the AICPA’s Ethics Division and the Professional Ethics Executive Committee restructured the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct for quick and easy navigation. The revised code is effective starting December 15, 2014.

Highlights of the New Code
Electronic Format
The revised code is accessible on a new and dynamic electronic platform that allows the user to conduct and save basic and advanced searches, email links, create and name bookmarks and add and save notes while reviewing the code.

Intuitively Arranged
The reformatted code is arranged into three parts. Part 1 applies to AICPA members in public practice; Part 2 to members in business; and Part 3 to all other members, including those who are retired or between jobs. This new organization allows members to easily access relevant sections of the code, based on their line of practice.

Conceptual Framework Approach
The most significant change to the code is the incorporation of two conceptual frameworks, one for members in public practice and one for members in business. The conceptual frameworks, for use in areas where the code lacks guidance, broadens the reach of the code by allowing members to reach conclusions even if specific guidance is not written in the code.

Bonus Material
The revised code also features hyperlinks connecting the reader to external non-authoritative material issued by staff of the Ethics Division. When you are researching a particular topic, you may come across links to a frequently asked question document or a basis for conclusion document that relates to that topic.

For more information refer to the article “Ethics Made Easier: How to Use the Revised AICPA Code of Professional Conduct” or watch a demonstration video

The Plain English Guide to Independence
This guide (provided by the AICPA Professional Ethics Division) will help you and your team to better understand independence requirements under the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct and if applicable, other rule-making and standard setting bodies.

FAQs – Performance of Nonattest Services
The answers to these FAQs are based on guidance the AICPA Professional Ethics Division staff provided in response to members’ inquiries concerning the performance of nonattest services.

Conceptual Framework Toolkits
You'll find a toolkit to assist members in public practice with the implementation of the conceptual framework, including a worksheet to help with applying steps of the framework that can be used to document your assessment.

Breaches Interpretation

Has your firm ever run afoul of the Independence rules? The new “Breach of an Independence Interpretation” [1.298.010] will assist the member or member’s firm in determining if the consequences of a breach of the independence rule can be satisfactorily addressed. The interpretation provides suggested steps to be taken and related courses of action in dealing with matters that represent technical breaches of AICPA independence requirements. However, members should be cautioned that a determination that the consequences of a breach of an independence interpretation can be satisfactorily addressed will not preclude an investigation or enforcement action. In any case, the member should be prepared to justify such determination.

Other Resources:

Ethics Hotline
The Professional Ethics Division educates members and promotes the understanding of ethical standards contained in the Code by responding to member inquiries on the application of the Code to specific areas of practice. If you have questions, e-mail the team at ethics@aicpa.org or call us at 888-777-7077.

The AICPA Professional Ethics Division is updating the following items from the Independence Toolkit to reflect the revised code.

Basis for Conclusion Documents
The Professional Ethics Division creates basis for conclusion documents for some of its standard setting activities. The division also issues white papers that discuss ethical issues.