Three bills are currently pending before the Ohio General Assembly with a common objective of mandating public access to CPA work papers:
In response to court cases stating otherwise, The Ohio Society of CPAs succeeded in working with the Ohio General Assembly in 1991 and 1998 to statutorily ensure that work papers, statements, records, schedules and memorandum associated with a state or local government audit are not public records.
State Auditor Betty Montgomery expressed her support for public access to IPA work papers, noting those produced by her staff are already open to the public.
However, Montgomery also reportedly recognized the added regulatory burden of opening the work papers to review, and the very real possibility that accounting firms would be less willing to take on government audits.
The Ohio Society of CPAs succeeded in changes to Ohio law in both 1991 and 1998 to keep work papers private to maintain the free flow of information between the client and auditor and to help contain litigation.
* Do not keep review notes in your work papers past the time they have some value.
However, most courts allow ajury to infer from a firm's destruction of work papers that those papers would have demonstrated malfeasance.
If any of the three bills were to pass, they would repeal existing Ohio law that protects work papers
used to prepare audits of governmental units.
In examining the first group, the court held that an accountant's work papers were presumptively the property of the accountant rather than the taxpayer and were not within the scope of the privilege against self-incrimination.
Because corporations or nonpersonal entities have no privilege against self-incrimination, it follows that corporations have no privilege against self-incrimination regarding their accountant's work papers relating to the corporation.
* Would require audit work papers to contain sufficient documentation to enable a reviewer "with relevant knowledge and experience, but having no previous connection with the engagement," to completely understand the audit.
* Would require audit work papers to be retained for seven or more years.