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Sunday, August 21, 2011

PL 86-272, UDITPA and the CPA Exam

The CPA exam change getting the greatest attention is the addition of questions on International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). But, another one of interest is that starting July 1, 2011, there will be questions on Public Law 86-272 - the income tax nexus law enacted in 1959! Also added - Uniform Division of Income for Tax Purposes Act (UDITPA) which has been around since 1957!

While these are very old laws to finally be added to the CPA exam (which already has plenty of varied content), I think it must be due to the growing importance of these rules to businesses of all sizes that today can easily engage in interstate commerce. I wonder though why the content is described so narrowly. For example, why not add:
  • Nexus concepts for state income tax purposes.
  • Basic rules and concepts for determining state income tax of a multistate business.
But another question - isn't the exam already complicated enough? The multistate rules added (even though just income tax and apparently just for sales of tangible goods to which PL 86-272 applies), are quite complicated. I suspect that the questions have to be fairly general. Do they adequately measure understanding of these important tax concepts?

References:
  • List of 7/1/11 changes from the AICPA - here.
  • Complete list of exam content - here.
What do you think? How would you word a question on PL 86-272 and UDITPA for the CPA exam?

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