SSARS 21: Statement on Standards for Accounting and Review Services: Clarification and Recodification
by Lee Byrd
Representing the most significant changes to the compilation and review literature in decades, the AICPA Accounting and Review Services Committee recently issued Statement on Standards for Accounting and Review Services (SSARS) No. 21. The guidance aids in drawing a definitive line between preparation and reporting services and is composed of four sections as follows:
- Section 60 – General Principles for Engagements Performed in Accordance With Statements on Standards for Accounting and Review Services, provides a foundation for the other three sections and guides professionals on their responsibilities related to engagements performed in accordance with SSARS.
- Section 70 – Preparation of Financial Statements, applies when an accountant is engaged to prepare financial statements but is not engaged to perform an audit, review or a compliation on those financial statements. Professional judgment should be used in determining the type of engagement requested by the client (i.e. whether the CPA is engaged to prepare financial statements or simply assist in their preparation). A report is not required for a preparation engagement but the CPA should include a legend on each page of the financial statements stating, “no assurance is provided.”
- Section 80 – Compilation Engagements, applies when an accountant is engaged to perform a compilation engagement. The guidance provides new compilation report language, distinguishing this report from an assurance engagement report for audit or review services. CPAs may add additional paragraphs for explanatory purposes.
- Section 90 – Review of Financial Statements, applies when an accountant is engaged to perform a review of financial statements. The accountants’ review report has been updated to require the use of headings in the report and the name of the city and state of the CPA’s issuing office.
CPAs are required to begin using SSARS 21 for financial statements with periods ending December 15, 2015 and thereafter; however, the standard allows for early implementation. The standard also requires a signed engagement letter for all SSARSs engagements, signed by both the CPA and management or those charged with governance. Additionally, while audit, review and compilation engagements require participation in a peer review program, preparation services do not fall within any of the aforementioned categories and therefore, are not subject to peer review.
Langdon & Company LLP‘s accountants are very familiar with this new standard and would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Please contact our office for additional information.
Lee Byrd ([email protected]) is an Audit Manager at our Firm and has over 7 years of experience with a variety of clients.