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Rules and Interpretations: General Standards, Accounting Principles

ET Section 201

General Standards

Rule 201--General standards. A member shall comply with the following standards and with any interpretations thereof by appropriate bodies.

A. Professional Competence. Undertake only those professional services that the member or the members firm can reasonably expect to be completed with professional competence.

B. Due Professional Care. Exercise due professional care in the performance of professional services.

C. Planning and Supervision. Adequately plan and supervise the performance of professional services.

D. Sufficient Relevant Data. Obtain sufficient relevant data to afford a reasonable basis for conclusions or recommendations in relation to any professional services performed.

Interpretation under Rule 201--General Standards

201-1--Competence. A member who accepts a professional engagement implies that he or she has the necessary competence to complete the engagement according to professional standards, applying his or her knowledge and skill with reasonable care and diligence, but he or she does not assume a responsibility for infallibility of knowledge or judgment.

Competence in the practice of public accounting involves both the technical qualifications of the member and his or her staff and his or her ability to supervise and evaluate the quality of the work performed. Competence relates both to knowledge of the profession's standards, techniques and the technical subject matter involved, and to the capability to exercise sound judgment in applying such knowledge in the performance of professional services.

The member may have the knowledge required to complete an engagement professionally before undertaking it. In many cases, however, additional research or consultation with others may be necessary during the course of the engagement. This does not ordinarily represent a lack of competence, but rather is a normal part of the performance of professional services.

However, if a CPA is unable to gain sufficient competence through these means, he or she should suggest, in fairness to his or her client and the public, the engagement of someone competent to perform the needed service, either independently or as an associate.

ET Section 202

Compliance With Standards

Rule 202--Compliance with standards. A member who performs auditing, review, compilation, management advisory, tax, or other professional services shall comply with standards promulgated by appropriate bodies.

ET Section 203

Accounting Principles

Rule 203--Accounting principles. A member shall not (1) express an opinion or state affirmatively that the financial statements or other financial data of any entity are presented in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles or (2) state that he or she is not aware of any material modifications that should be made to such statements or data in order for them to be in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles, if such statements or data contain any departure from an accounting principle promulgated by appropriate bodies designated to establish such principles that has a material effect on the statements or data taken as a whole. If, however, the statements or data contain such a departure and the member can demonstrate that due to unusual circumstances the financial statements or data would otherwise have been misleading, the member can comply with the rule by describing the departure, its approximate effects, if practicable, and the reasons why compliance with the principle would result in a misleading statement.

Interpretations under Rule 203--Accounting Principles

203-1--Departures from established accounting principles. Rule 203 was adopted to require compliance with accounting principles promulgated by appropriate bodies designated to establish such principles. There is a strong presumption that adherence to officially established accounting principles would in nearly all instances result in financial statements that are not misleading.

However, in the establishment of accounting principles it is difficult to anticipate all of the circumstances to which such principles might be applied. This rule therefore recognizes that upon occasion there may be unusual circumstances where the literal application of pronouncements on accounting principles would have the effect of rendering financial statements misleading. In such cases, the proper accounting treatment is that which will render the financial statements not misleading.

The question of what constitutes unusual circumstances as referred to in Rule 203 is a matter of professional judgment involving the ability to support the position that adherence to a promulgated principle would be regarded generally by reasonable people as producing a misleading result.

Examples of events which may justify departures from a principle are new legislation or the evolution of a new form of business transaction. An unusual degree of materiality or the existence of conflicting industry practices are examples of circumstances which would not ordinarily be regarded as unusual in the context of Rule 203.

203-2-Status of FASB, GASB and FASAB interpretations. - The NYSSCPA Board of Directors is authorized under rule 203 to designate bodies to establish accounting principles. The Board has designated the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) as such a body and has resolved that FASB Statements of Financial Accounting Standards, together with those Accounting Research Bulletins and APB Opinions which are not superseded by action of the FASB, constitute accounting principles as contemplated in rule 203. The Board has also designated the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB), with respect to Statements of Governmental Accounting Standards issued in July 1984 and thereafter, as the body to establish financial accounting principles for state and local governmental entities pursuant to rule 203. The Board has also designated the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASAB), with respect to Statements of Federal Accounting Standards adopted and issued in March 1993 and subsequently, as the body to establish accounting principles for federal government entities pursuant to rule 203.

In determining the existence of a departure from an accounting principle established by a Statement of Financial Accounting Standards, Accounting Research Bulletin or APB Opinion encompassed by rule 203 or the existence of a departure from an accounting principle established by a Statement of Governmental Accounting Standards or a Statement of Federal Accounting Standards encompassed by rule 203, the Professional Ethics Committee will construe such Statements, Bulletin or Opinion in the light of any interpretations thereof issued by the FASB or the GASB.

[203-3]-[Deleted]

203-4-Responsibility of employees for the preparation of financial statements in conformity with GAAP. Rule 203 provides, in part, that a member shall not state affirmatively that financial statements or other financial data of an entity are presented in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) if such statements or data contain any departure from an accounting principle promulgated by a body designated by the Board of Directors to establish such principles that has a material effect on the statements or data taken as a whole.

Rule 203 applies to all members with respect to any affirmation that financial statements or other financial data are presented in conformity with GAAP. Representation regarding GAAP conformity included in a letter or other communication from a client entity to its auditor or others related to that entity's financial statements is subject to Rule 203 and may be considered an affirmative statement within the meaning of the rule with respect to members who signed the letter or other communication; for example, signing reports to regulatory authorities, creditors and auditors.


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