Helen Strom is a controller and a CPA at Family Games, Inc., a private company. After talking to another CPA and the CFO of the company, Carl Land, Helen faces an ethical dilemma. Carl, representing the interests of the company’s CEO, is convincing Helen to manipulate reported results for the year in order to increase the CEO’s performance bonus. Helen, realizing this is wrong, refuses to make the change but that leads to a direct threat to cut the reimbursement of her child care costs. This paper will analyze what steps she should take to resolve the issue.
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The AICPA code’s job is to outline a CPA’s professional and ethical responsibilities as well as help CPAs to take a correct course of action in case of a moral dilemma. In this case, the ethical dilemma falls directly under the category of an adverse interest threat. Mintz and Morris (2020) said that a threat to the objectivity of a CPA could arise in case of opposing interests of the CPA and the employing organization. This problem can become entrenched if a member of the CPA’s family had a relationship with the employing party.
Helen’s son requires constant care because he is autistic, and she, as a single mother, is only able to afford it because of the company reimbursing her child care costs.
Helen works in a privately owned company, which, from the start, puts her in a position where she should have been prepared to “justify any departures they believe may be appropriate in applying the relevant rules and laws” (Mintz & Morris, 2020). The procedure is the same as it would have been for a public practice CPA, meaning she would have first to consider consulting a higher-up, then an appropriate audit committee. If consulting any professional or legal counsel within the company doesn’t resolve the issue, Helen is only left with the option of documenting what was asked of her and reconsidering staying with the employer.
In Helen’s case, the chances are high that consulting anyone within the company will not result in solving the problem, as another CPA, in this case, stated that “we push the envelope around here.” Talking to an independent CPA committee is a more plausible possibility, but it will not resolve the problem of Helen’s child support financing. A study by Armitage and Moriarity (2016) found out that despite an increase in instances of finding violations, the investigations have experienced a significant decline in effectiveness due to CPAs’ noncooperation with the investigators. It is possible that this has happened due to the failure or unwillingness of businesses to implement the recommended safeguards.
In conclusion, the course of action which Helen must take is similar to that of a public practice CPA. After collecting and understanding the facts and the situation at hand, she must attempt to consult an independent accounting committee or another professional at the company. If it fails, the only legal way to resolve the issue is to reconsider working for this employer.
Mintz, S., & Morris, R. (2020). Ethical obligations and decision making in accounting: Text and cases, (5th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.
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Armitage, J. L., & Moriarity S. R. (2016). An examination of AICPA disciplinary actions: 1980–2014. Current issues in auditing, 10(2), A1-A13. Web.