Real-World Ethics for California CPAs is designed to meet the ethical requirements of the California State Board of Accountancy. The course presents various ethical theories and their practical applications, making it a useful and hands-on tool you can use to critique the various ethical decisions you face in your practice. We’ll cover contemporary accounting and business ethics, suggested methods for approaching ethical dilemmas, AICPA ethical pronouncements and rulings, and PCAOB guidance. Case studies and examples are interspersed throughout to help illustrate how to handle real-life ethical issues and situations.
Upon successful completion of this course, participants will be able to:
- Recognize the various definitions of ethics, its primary function in society, and the history of the philosophy of ethics.
- Identify significant individuals who contributed to the development of ethics, noting their beliefs, teachings, and impact.
- Specify foundational events in the evolution of business ethics, noting their purpose, characteristics, and impact.
- Identify six common ethical standards and the theory of each approach.
- Recognize the components of the Ethical Orientation Questionnaire and how an individual's responses relate to recognizing and resolving ethical dilemmas.
- Recognize the step-by-step process contained in the framework for ethical decision making and the framework for resolving an ethical dilemma.
- Recognize the authority that governs a CPA's ethical behavior, the principles that guide the conceptual framework for the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct, and the restructuring that occurred during the AICPA Ethics Codification project.
- Identify terminology, ethical standards, and rules contained in the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct, noting implementation requirements.
- Recognize the application of authoritative and nonauthoritative guidance in helping the accounting professional avoid common mistakes as illustrated in the provided case studies.
- Specify the guidelines and restrictions established by the Public Companies Accounting Oversight Board for registered public accounting firms auditing SEC filers.
- Identify reputable sources for referencing additional ethical practice material, including the AICPA's newsletter issued by the Professional Ethics Executive Committee.
- Recognize the role of the Professional Ethics Division in investigating disciplinary matters involving AICPA members and members of state societies participating in the Joint Ethics Enforcement Program.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 – An Overview of Ethics
A Nation of Cheaters
What is Ethics?
Chapter 1 Review Questions
Chapter 2 – Major Theories of Ethics
Why Identifying Ethical Standards is Difficult
The Egoism Approach
The Utilitarian Approach
The Rights Approach
The Fairness or Justice Approach
The Common Good Approach
The Virtue Approach
Ethical Orientation Questionnaire
Ethic of Justice
Ethic of Care
Moral Stages of Reasoning
Chapter 2 Review Questions
Chapter 3 – Suggested Methods for Approaching Ethical Dilemmas
A Framework for Ethical Decision Making
Recognize an Ethical Issue
Get the Facts
Make a Decision and Test It
Act, Then Reflect on the Decision Later
Resolving an Ethical Dilemma
Step 1: Analyze the Consequences
Step 2: Analyze the Actions
Step 3: Make a Decision
Chapter 3 Review Questions
Chapter 4 – AICPA Ethical Pronouncements and Rulings and PCAOB Guidance
The AICPA Code of Professional Conduct
AICPA Ethics Codification Project
Restructuring the Code
The Code of Professional Conduct
Preface: Applicable to All Members
0.100 Overview of the Code of Professional Conduct
0.200 Structure and Application of the AICPA Code
0.300 Principles of Professional Conduct
0.500 Nonauthoritative Guidance
0.600 New, Revised, and Pending Interpretations and Other Guidance
Part 1: Members in Public Practice and Part 2: Members in Business
x.100 Integrity and Objectivity
x.110 Conflicts of Interest
x.120 Gifts and Entertainment
x.130 Preparing and Reporting Information
x.300 General Standards
x.310 Compliance with Standards
x.320 Accounting Principles
x.400 Acts Discreditable
The Remainder of the Code of Professional Conduct
Five Cases Related to the Code
Ethics Case Study 1: The Last Shot at the Buzzer...Too Late! The Case of the Losing Lady
Ethics Case Study 2: Do You Have What It Takes? The Case of the Inadequate Accountant
Ethics Case Study 3: Give It Back! The Case of Empty Promises
Ethics Case Study 4: Oops! The Case of the Harmless Mistakes
Ethics Case Study 5: Stop Thief! The Case of the Almost Stolen Clients
Case Suggested Solutions
The PCAOB and Ethics Guidelines
Chapter 4 Review Questions
Chapter 5 – Sources of Other AICPA Ethics Guidance
AICPA’s Professional Ethics Executive Committee
AICPA Ethics Tools and Aids
Chapter 5 Review Questions
Review Question Answers and Rationales
Appendix A: Outside Ethics Reading
Appendix B: State of California Information Page
Appendix C: California Rules of Professional Conduct
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