As NSA begins its 60th year, it's natural that we should look back for a moment. The present and the future grow from the past; fortunately, we have a past of which we can be proud.
NSA began in 1945 as an assertion that the accounting profession was broader than a single credential. In 2004, it is generally accepted that the profession includes not only licensed people, in various categories, but also nonlicensed individuals. It has not been easy to reach this goal; the effort has included legislative and legal actions and a great deal of diplomacy. The cost in money and time has been great, but the achievement has also been great.
We have not been content with mere existence. NSA has not only asserted our desire for practice rights; it has also recognized the public's right to quality accounting services. We worked for many years with the Internal Revenue Service to establish the right of persons who were not Certified Public Accountants or attorneys to represent clients before the Internal Revenue Service. The result was the Enrolled Agent credential. At the same time, we worked with the IRS to write the Special Enrollment Examination, so that persons possessing Enrolled Agent status would be properly qualified. At our own initiative and expense, we established the organization now known as the Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation (ACAT), which grants credentials to persons who have voluntarily met its criteria. Our mission has never been to engage in a self-interested "turf battle;" rather, we have tried to make certain that the consuming public, with its widely varying needs, has a choice among a variety of qualified practitioners. Our heritage, then, is one of economic freedom and advancement of the interests of the accounting consumer.
We will build on this heritage in the months ahead.
I have charged the Right to Practice Committee with initiating a campaign to gain legal acceptance of the Accredited Business Accountant (ABA) credential in those states where use of the credential is now unlawful or questionable. Those who have earned the ABA should be able to use it to advertise their commitment to quality. To say, as some do, that the public will be confused by yet another credential is insulting the intelligence of the accounting consumer and is simply an excuse for the perpetuation of a monopoly.
Of course, we are not so naive as to believe that acceptance of the ABA credential is work that...