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The Influence of Political Regime on State-Level Disciplinary Actions of CPAs Sanctioned by the PCAOB

Authors
  • Al-Moshaigeh, Abdullah1
  • Dickins, Denise2
  • Higgs, Julia L.1
  • 1 Florida Atlantic University,
  • 2 East Carolina University,
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Business Ethics
Publisher
Springer-Verlag
Publication Date
Jan 19, 2021
Pages
1–16
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s10551-020-04733-9
PMID: 33487784
PMCID: PMC7813610
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

We investigate whether enforcement is influenced by politics by comparing the severity of PCAOB sanctions of individual CPAs to the severity of related state-level disciplinary actions imposed by boards of accountancy (BOAs). Our results provide evidence that when responding to PCAOB sanctions, BOAs under Republican regimes impose less severe penalties than do BOAs under Democratic regimes. Our data and analyses inform the regulatory and enforcement practices of the accounting profession and other professions. Most directly, motivated by improvements in technology that facilitate the cross-jurisdiction practice of public accounting, states have adopted mobility laws where CPAs are only required to be licensed in their state of residence to practice in multiple states. These laws simplify licensing but may complicate enforcement. Beyond generalized red-state, blue-state differences in enforcement, we find that non-resident CPAs receive less severe disciplinary actions. If not reasonably consistent across BOAs, regulators may be unwilling to delegate responsibility for enforcement to another state’s BOA.

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