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Have my CPE requirements changed as a result of COVID-19?

Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting  

Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting  

As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread globally, its societal impact is reshaping the way businesses operate. As part of this, many state boards of accountancy are updating or amending their continuing professional education (CPE) requirements to relax reporting deadlines as well as allow for adherence to social distancing.

Thomson Reuters is constantly monitoring the effects of the coronavirus outbreak and adapting our programming and policies as needed. We will update this post periodically as more states announce the impact of COVID-19 on their CPE requirements. And, for our CPE customers, we are working to implement these updates in our Checkpoint Learning and LearnLive platforms as quickly as possible. We have also created a variety of CPE resources to address COVID-19 impact to the profession, all available for free.

This post was last updated on Monday, July 13, 2020.

CFP:

For CFP professionals needing to complete continuing education (CE) for renewal of CFP® certification, there are many options available through online formats. Find CE programs registered with CFP Board through CFP’s search tool.

For more information, visit: COVID-19 Updates from CFP Board 

NASBA:

June 22, 2020: Update from NASBA: Extension of the Flexibility Granted due to COVID-19 to December 31, 2020

NASBA has been providing flexibility to “Group Live only” approved sponsors, allowing for in-person events to be modified and offered online as a result of COVID-19. The timeframe for flexibility was granted from March 13, 2020 until September 30, 2020. Given the current circumstances with government-imposed social distancing requirements and indications of continued concern to hold in-person events through the remainder of the calendar year, NASBA is extending the flexibility to “Group Live only” sponsors until December 31, 2020.

NASBA strongly encourages sponsors that are only approved for the Group Live delivery method to apply for either the Group Internet Based or QAS Self Study delivery methods to be prepared for remote training in the instance that COVID-19 or some other circumstance becomes a disruptor in the future.

In addition to providing flexibility to “Group Live only” approved sponsors, NASBA has provided some allowances with regard to certain matters in the Standards for Group Internet Based approved sponsors. NASBA also extends this flexibility through December 31, 2020.

NASBA emphasizes that sponsors should do their best to adhere to the Standards. However, we [NASBA] understand that unanticipated circumstances may arise that make strict adherence impractical. All deviations from the Standards must be documented and such documentation should include the reasons for the deviation and the compensating measures taken.

For the full NASBA message and more information on the flexibilities noted above, visit: Impact of COVID-19

April 2020: Update from NASBA

Given the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and the government-imposed business closures and social distancing, CPAs are now performing their responsibilities to clients in a virtual manner. These professionals continue to seek out relevant, quality education on a variety of technical and non-technical topics. Event facilities and travel restrictions have forced conferences to be cancelled and postponed, causing an increasing demand for virtual learning events.

NASBA is addressing concerns brought to them by sponsors and state boards and is providing some flexibility for sponsors during this period of time when group live learning is not possible. Flexibilities and recommendations are being made for ‘group live’ and ‘group internet based’ offerings through September 30, 2020. Further, NASBA is recommending that state boards consider extending CPE deadlines and/or removing self-study restrictions on CPE (as necessary) to allow CPAs to manage their CPE during this difficult period.

The National Registry team has been receiving a constant stream of emails and calls from CPE providers that are approved on the National Registry as Group Live providers, but because of the recent travel and public gathering restrictions as a result of COVID-19 need to cancel in-person events and provide them online instead. Because the CPE provider is not approved on the National Registry for the Group Internet Based delivery method, NASBA is not in a position to allow those sponsors to issue certificates of completion for the ‘group internet based’ delivery method without completing the application and review process. However, many boards have recommended that the certificate of completion for the affected program contain special language regarding the program delivery method such as “group live presented online due to COVID-19.” Refer to the NASBA Registry site and state board(s) to for more information regarding this option.

Note from Checkpoint Learning: The new delivery type “Group Live – Presented Online Due to COVID-19” has been added to the NASBA regulator. If you (or your firm administrator) are adding programs or activities for you that would normally be “Group Live” in the NASBA regulator but have been delivered online as a result of COVID-19, you can override “Group Live” in the NASBA Regulator Type attribute with this new delivery format in the NASBA regulator.

Checkpoint Learning recommends appending “(Online Due to COVID-19)” to the affected program titles (i.e., courses, course activities, and ‘Add Activity’ features) so that such programs are clearly delineated.

YELLOW BOOK:

Given concerns raised about auditors’ ability to complete continuing professional education (CPE) requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic, GAO has taken steps to allow for more time and flexibility to complete such requirements. They include:

  • 6-month grace period for completing CPE.
  • Waiver of the 20-hour annual CPE requirement.
  • Carryover of CPEs earned in this period.
  • Clarifying how partial CPE exemptions may be utilized due to COVID-19 issues.

Notes from Checkpoint Learning: If you would like to take advantage of the 6-month grace period, you (or your Firm Administrator) can add an extension to your Yellow Book status report.The Yellow Book status report has been updated to not require the 20-hour annual minimum for annual periods that end on February 29, 2020 through December 31, 2020. Carryover will be implemented in the Yellow Book regulator for the COVID-19 period in the near future.

The GAO will allow partial CPE exemptions due to the COVID pandemic to be used at the discretion of the auditor and/or audit organization. If you need to claim a partial exemption of the CPE requirements, you (or your Firm Administrator) can add an adjustment activity to your Yellow Book status report.

  • Example: You need to have 20 CPE credit exemption due to the COVID pandemic. To do so, add an activity (i.e., titled ‘COVID CPE Adjustment (2/29/2020 – 6/30/2020)’) and accredit it to the Yellow Book regulator. Do not accredit it to any other regulator. Add 20 credits to the activity (e.g., Government Audit Environment and/or Professional Proficiency). Select a date for this activity that is appropriate for the auditor’s exemption. This activity will appear on your Yellow Book status report and your overall deficit amounts will be reduced by the number of credits in your activity. Note that this exemption requires that circumstances prevent the auditor from both fulfilling the CPE requirement and conducting GAGAS engagements. If the auditor is working, including teleworking, audit organizations and auditors may not use this exemption.

View the full Alert on the GAO website 

ALABAMA:

In the midst of CPE course cancellations and changes in delivery method, please note that the Alabama Board has been proactive in moving to more fluid formats of CPE that will make completion of CPE hours during this trying situation much easier. The CPE Rules were changed effective October 1, 2019 to remove the cap on self‐study hours, allowing all 40 CPE hours to be completed by self‐study. Please review the summary of CPE Rule changes when planning CPE courses for this fiscal year.

For more information, visit: Alabama State Board of Public Accountancy – COVID-19 Updates 

ARIZONA:

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has issued Executive Order (EO) 2020-36, Stay Healthy, Return Smarter, Return Stronger and announced his Stay at Home Order ended on May 15, to be replaced by new guidance for the next stage of economic recovery. EO 2020-36 takes effect on May 16, 2020.

Members with CPE renewals due in March and April impacted by the pandemic are encouraged to submit requests for CPE extensions. For assistance, please email your inquiry to the Arizona Board: info@azaccountancy.gov.

CALIFORNIA:

On May 4, 2020, pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Order N-40-20, the Director of the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) extended the deadline to complete required continuing education (CE) for licensees of the CBA (and various other DCA boards) whose license expired in March, April, or May 2020. These licensees who have yet to complete their required CE and submit their CE worksheet to the CBA have until November 4, 2020 to do so.

This temporary waiver does not apply to any CE required pursuant to a disciplinary order. For more information, refer to the Licensees FAQs .

For more information, visit: Order Waiving License Renewal Requirements.

California Tax Education Council (CTEC)

As covered on the CTEC Provider Update call on May 19, 2020, the CTEC Board stated that there will not be an extension to the CTEC CE deadline date of October 31, 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is primarily because CRTPs have the ability to complete all their CE via self-study and/or online programs (such as webinars).

Note from Checkpoint Learning: Checkpoint Learning will continue to monitor this, and will keep you advised if the CE deadline should change (based on future CTEC Board meetings). But, for now, it strongly anticipated by CTEC that the CE deadline will remain October 31, 2020.

CONNECTICUT:

On April 2, The Connecticut Board held an emergency meeting to discuss extending the CPE deadline, taking into consideration the NASBA recommended deadline of October 31, 2020 and noting that NASBA would adjust to what the Board decided. After extensive discussion, the Board voted unanimously to extend the deadline to December 31, 2020.

For more information, visit: CT Board Emergency Meeting / April 2, 2020

Note from Checkpoint Learning: Connecticut’s normal CPE deadline is June 30, 2020. If you would like to extend your CPE deadline, you (or your Firm Administrator) can add an extension to your June 30, 2020 CT status report until December 31, 2020. Doing so will allow you the extra time in the current period to earn your CPE and not ‘double-count’ the credits in the next annual CPE period. Contact the CT Board if you have any questions on the approval of your extension.

FLORIDA:

The Florida Board of Accountancy approved emergency rule 61H1ER20-5 at its meeting on May 15, 2020. The emergency rule waived the additional continuing education hours required when a current active CPA uses the automatic extension process. This effectively moved the June 30, 2020 deadline for completing continuing education requirements to December 31, 2020 with no additional hours required. The emergency rule has been filed with the Department of State and is effective May 22, 2020. The new rule states:

For the reestablishment period ending June 30, 2020, current active licensees who complete continuing professional education (CPE) hours by December 31, 2020 are not required to complete the additional CPE hours referenced in this subsection. CPE hours approved for this extension shall apply solely to the reestablishment period ending June 30, 2020.

For more information, visit: Emergency Rule Notice 61H1-33.003.

Note from Checkpoint Learning: The FL status report in Checkpoint Learning has been updated so that if you add an extension to September 15, 2020 or December 31, 2020, no penalty credits will be added to your FL status report.


IOWA:

At a special meeting held on Friday, March 27, 2020, The Iowa Accountancy Examining Board voted to approve the following provisions related to COVID-19. The full document may be viewed here.

  • The limit of online self-study has been lifted for the period of time as allowed by the Governor. Initially through April 30, 2020 and now extended through May 27, 2020, 100% of continuing education acquired may be online self-study. This provision may be extended for a longer period of time. Updates will be posted on this website.
  • COVID-19 has closed CPA exam sites, creating potential problems for individuals who may lose exam credit as a result. Exam expiration dates will be extended for 90 days for all individuals identified by NASBA as at risk of losing an exam credit due to the closure of the testing centers.


KANSAS:

The Kansas Board is advising permit holders who renew on June 30, 2020 that there will be no extensions of time to obtain continuing education because there is no restriction on the number of CE hours that may be obtained through webinar, telephone, or self-study.

MAINE:

To streamline its renewal process, the Maine Board of Accountancy has established a single renewal date for all license types (PAs, CPAs and firms). Effective January 1, 2020, Maine public accounting firm licenses will expire each September 30. Licenses may be renewed up to 60 days before they expire, and a renewal reminder will be sent by email in August. A single expiration date does not change the responsibilities of those firms subject to peer review report certification and compliance.

Peer review due dates will remain unchanged until a licensed firm undergoes another three-year review period. For example, if a firm’s peer review report is due December 31, 2022, the next peer review report would be due September 30, 2025.

Individual license holders will continue to complete and report 40 hours of continuing education by September 30 each year.


MARYLAND:

All license expiration dates have been temporarily extended per an Executive Order from Governor Larry Hogan. License holders are encouraged to continue taking continuing education courses, renewing licenses online, and performing all other activities that are required for licensure to the extent that they are able.

For more information, visit: Maryland Board of Public Accountancy.

MASSACHUSETTS:

At its meeting on May 13, 2020, the Board of Public Accountancy voted to issue the following policy:

Because of the current declared state of emergency in Massachusetts, all licensees whose individual or firm licenses expire on June 30, 2020 are allowed through September 30, 2020 to renew online without being assessed a late fee. Before renewing online, individual licensees must have completed the required 80 hours of continuing professional education (CPE), including at least 4 hours in ethics, from July 1, 2018 through September 30, 2020, or the license will expire. Firm affidavits for firm licenses are due by November 2, 2020.

After June 30, 2020, a license that is not renewed will remain current, but the expiration date will remain June 30, 2020. After September 30, 2020, a license with an expiration date of June 30, 2020 that is not renewed will expire. Licenses that are renewed properly through September 30, 2020 will be current until June 30, 2022. Licensees are encouraged to renew online immediately once they satisfy applicable requirements.

Note from Checkpoint Learning: If you need to take advantage of the September 30, 2020 extended date to complete your CPE, you (or your Firm Administrator) can add an extension to your June 30, 2020 MA status report.

 

MICHIGAN:

Given the current national emergency related to COVID-19, now through the end of the education cycle on June 30, 2020, the Michigan Board will recognize CPE that is taken through all electronic means, including webinars, self-study, e-learning, etc. relative to fulfillment of CPA license renewal requirements for accounting and auditing (A&A), ethics (including MI-specific ethics), and general education hours.

Note from Checkpoint Learning: As a result of the information above, all self-study credit caps have been removed from Checkpoint Learning for the period ending June 30, 2020.

MINNESOTA:

Licensees may use CPE earned after June 30 but prior to October 1, 2020, to meet the CPE requirements for the 2021 license renewal period, without accruing late earning (CPE noncompliance) fees. The Board passed the motion at its April 30 Board meeting, in response to the COVID-19 crisis and in accordance with hardship provisions in Board rule.

The extension is an accommodation to those who need it, not a requirement for those who don’t. Licensees who will have earned all hours needed for CPE FY20 by June 30 need only report those hours, not those earned during the extension period, for FY20 and their 2021 renewal.

CPE hours earned after June 30, 2020, but prior to October 1, 2020, may only be claimed once: either FY20 or FY21, depending upon the needs of the licensee.

CPE late earning fees will begin accruing on carryback hours (CPE earned after September 30, 2020) reported on or after October 1, 2020. CPE must be reported by no later than December 31, 2020, or at the time of renewal—whichever is first—or late reporting fees will accrue. Licensees must be in compliance with CPE requirements in order to renew.

Licensees do not need to “request” this extension; no action is required at this time. More instruction will be provided closer to the opening of the renewal window.

For more information, visit: Contact the Minnesota Board of Accountancy.

Note from Checkpoint Learning: If you wish to add extra time to your Minnesota CPE period ending June 30, 2020, you (or your firm administrator) can add an extension to your status report. Adding an extension will allow you the extra time (until September 30, if needed) and not double-count the credits earned in the extension in your subsequent CPE period.

MISSISSIPPI:

The Mississippi Board voted to extend the deadline on the current CPE period from June 30, 2020 until October 31, 2020. This blanket extension will provide licensees with 16 months to obtain the required 40 hours of CPE. Accordingly, the online CPE reporting due date will be extended from August 1, 2020 until December 1, 2020. Additionally, carryover hours into the subsequent 8-month CPE period (scheduled to end on June 30, 2021), has been increased from 20 hours to a 40 hour maximum.

Note from Checkpoint Learning: All Mississippi status reports ending June 30, 2020 have been updated to end on October 31, 2020 (increased four months). The subsequent 8-month CPE period will begin on November 1, 2020 and end on June 30, 2012 (8 months). The carryover allowance from the period ending October 31, 2020 has also been increased to 40 hours (from 20).

NEBRASKA:
State Board Licensing Renewals Board staff continues to review operations under the COVID-19 virus outbreak. At publishing time, the Board does not foresee a significant disruption in the renewal license process after discussion with its online provider, Nebraska Interactive. The Nebraska Board anticipates opening the online portals on May 1, 2020, and strongly encourage permit holders and registrants to renew online this year. Those utilizing paper applications could experience delays in processing those applications in this current environment. Those who need to renew their permit or registration in 2020 will receive reminder emails and a postcard.

Anyone anticipating difficulty in renewing their permit and/or registration during the COVID-19 outbreak should contact the Nebraska State Board.

NEW HAMPSHIRE:

New Hampshire has issued two statements/options in relation to extending or waiving CPE requirements.

OPTION ONE, issued March 13, 2020:

The New Hampshire Board has authorized and approved a waiver of CPE required for the triennial or annual period ending June 30, 2020, and to renew the petitioner’s license on a conditional basis subject to the licensee’s completion of the required 120 hours of CPE by October 31, 2020. In the case of a licensee that is unable to complete the required 20 hour annual CPE requirement in a non-renewal year ending on June 30, 2020, those licensees are also granted an extension to October 31, 2020 to complete the 20 hour requirement for the period ending June 30, 2020. View the Board’s standing order.

Note from Checkpoint Learning: In the event that you have a New Hampshire status report with a CPE end date of June 30, 2020, you (or your firm administrator) can add an extension to October 31, 2020, to allow more time to complete your required CPE. Adding an extension will prevent any credits earned in the extension from double-counting in the next subsequent CPE period. If you take OPTION 1 (extension), do not add a 120-credit ethics course per OPTION 2 below.


OPTION TWO, issued May 19, 2020:
Per the New Hampshire Governor’s Order, EXHIBIT H to Emergency Order NO. 29, a New Hampshire license may have certain continuing education requirements waived completely. If your license renewal date falls between March 21, 2020 and December 31, 2020, and you are unable to complete your CPE, then you can enter 120 credits into the “ethics” category in the online system and renew your license. No other credits need to be entered into the online system. Licensees who do this will not be required to complete any outstanding CPE for the triennial period ending June 30, 2020 and then they will have a clean slate for their next triennial period (which would end on 6/30/2023). No carryover is allowed from the waivered period to the subsequent June 30, 2023 CPE period. This waiver of CPE is only available to CPAs that have a June 30, 2020 renewal date.

NEW MEXICO:

Concerns related to COVID-19 regarding renewals or continuing education deadlines that are codified in a rule or statute, must be communicated in writing to the appropriate board or commission through the process defined here.

 

NEW YORK:

Some regulations restrict licensees to a certain percentage of self-study for continuing education requirements. In response to the evolving situation with the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), and for those licensees whose registrations are due to renew March 1-June 1, 2020, the Department will grant an adjustment to all licensees to complete up to 100% of the continuing education as self-study, so long as it is taken from a Department-approved provider and is in an acceptable subject area for the specific profession. SED is working closely with other New York State agencies and the Governor’s Office to tackle issues relating to COVID-19. Please continue to monitor the Department’s website for updated guidance.

Note from Checkpoint Learning: Checkpoint Learning notes that there are no self-study restrictions in the NY CPA CPE requirements.

NORTH DAKOTA:

The North Dakota Board of Accountancy held a special meeting on March 24, 2020, to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the upcoming renewal season. Given the unprecedented circumstances individuals may face due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board has made the following decisions:

  1. The renewal application date has not changed. The due date is June 30, 2020. Failure to renew by July 31, 2020, will result in a $100 late fee. Those who fail to renew by August 31, 2020 will involuntarily relinquish their certificate and will no longer be authorized to practice public accountancy.
  2. The deadline for completing continuing education has been extended by 90 days. The deadline for completing continuing education for the 2019 reporting period is now September 30, 2020.

Those who have completed continuing education by the renewal deadline of June 30, 2020 should submit continuing education forms at that time. Those using the extension to complete continuing education hours for the 2019 reporting period cannot report those hours during the 2020 reporting period. Licensees may also choose to complete all of their required continuing education hours via self-study.

Note from Checkpoint Learning: To take advantage of the extended September 30, 2020 date for completing your CPE, you (or your firm administrator) can add an extension to your North Dakota status report ending June 30, 2020. Doing this will automatically include the credits you earn during the extension period and not double count the credits during the subsequent CPE period.

PENNSYLVANIA:

Governor Wolf granted the Department of State’s request to suspend restrictions on distance-learning for continuing education requirements for certain licensed individuals, including the State Board of Accountancy.

The governor granted a suspension of restrictions that limited the ability of licensees to take classes online or participate in distance-learning opportunities for the current biennial renewal period to permit all licensees to complete their continuing education online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

SOUTH CAROLINA:

The South Carolina Board will continue to monitor the COVID19 situation as it unfolds and will take appropriate action on this issue, if necessary.

TENNESSEE:

While live, in-person CPE is not currently available due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many conferences and seminars that were scheduled to take place in a classroom setting have migrated to virtual online events (webinars). The continuing education rules in Tennessee do not limit the number of hours obtained through self-study and/or online learning methods, thereby allowing all 80 hours to be obtained using these distance learning methods, with limited exceptions.

TEXAS:

Continuing professional education (CPE) extensions will be automatically granted for 90 days to complete required credits. However, license holders are still encouraged to complete CPE requirements as soon as possible. If in-person CPE courses are delayed or canceled, consider online CPE providers and options to bridge any near-term gaps in needed credits.

Note from Checkpoint Learning: To take advantage of the 90-day extension granted by the Texas Board, you (or your firm administrator) can add an extension (for up to 90 days) to your TX status report. Adding the extension will allow you the extra time to complete your CPE and not double count the credits during the subsequent CPE period.

VERMONT

The Office will allow a continuing education renewal extension of up to 180 days and provide alternatives to face to face continuing educational opportunities impacted by COVID-19. Online courses and training will be allowed.

Criteria: If you are unable to complete your continuing education requirements due to any of the following circumstances: (1) The in-person conference, course, class, session has been cancelled due to COVID-19; (2) You feel your health may be at risk by attending an in-person conference, course, class, session due the spread of COVID-19; or (3) You feel your health may be at risk by the required travel to attend an in-person conference, course, class, session due to the spread of COVID-19. If you meet any of the above criteria, you must inform the Office prior to the license expiration date.

Note from Checkpoint Learning: There is no restriction on self-study for Vermont CPAs, however, if you need to extend your CPE deadline you should contact the Vermont Board for approval, then add an extension to your Vermont status report as approved by the Vermont Board. Doing so will allow you the extra time in the current period to earn your CPE and not ‘double-count’ the credits in the next CPE period.

For more information, or to review the extension process, visit: Policy for Continuing Education and Impacts of COVID-19

WEST VIRGINIA

As the deadline for filing CPE Reports for the 2019 calendar year was January 31, 2020, no extension of time is necessary. CPA license and firm permit renewals have been made available through the West Virginia Board’s online payment system. The renewal deadline of June 30 is set by Board statute. To date, the Governor has not issued an Executive Order extending the deadline set forth in that statute. However, for extenuating circumstances, the Board will consider requests for an extension of time to complete a renewal and approve on case-by-case basis.

 

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