National Society of Accountants (NSA)

NSA President Curtis Lee Jr., ATA, ATP

Raleigh, NC

A Brief History of the National Society of (Public) Accountants

The National Society of Public Accountants (NSPA) was incorporated as a nonprofit corporation in 1945 in response to the need for a national organization to work for the welfare of public accountants, collectively and individually. The founding fathers wanted NSPA to secure public and legal recognition for the rights of accountants in public practice, promote professionalism, and obtain for its members the right to represent clients before the Treasury Department. Its first headquarters was in Oklahoma City, followed by a move to St. Louis in 1947 and then, in 1955, to Washington, DC.

NSPA’s first major nationwide initiative was working with the Treasury Department on the 1951 revision of Circular #230 to allow qualified individuals, other than attorneys or CPAs, to practice as Enrolled Agents before the IRS. It took almost another decade of work assisting the Treasury Department before a Special Enrollment Exam was developed to replace the exam previously prepared by the AICPA. NSPA solicited sample questions for the exam from its members – paying as much as $30 per question. NSPA also published a training course to help its members prepare for the exam. When Circular #230 was revised once more in 1959, NSPA members were prepared. Of the 1,264 individuals who passed the first Special Enrollment Exam, 46% were NSPA members. Today, NSA continues to support the Enrolled Agent program by offering an Enrolled Agent Preparatory Course.

Between 1965 and 1974, NSPA focused on regulatory issues. Battles were fought as accountants sought to retain their right to call themselves "accountants." As federal taxation matters became more cumbersome, the Federal Taxation Committee was created in 1970; previously this area had been handled by the Committee on Government Affairs. The Society grew in numbers and strength and established its own Scholarship Foundation (in 1969) to assist deserving students in fulfilling their dreams.

Continuing professional education was a major focus during the 1970s. In 1973, NSPA established ACAT (Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation) as an independent credentialing body to provide a standard of competency in the area of public accounting. In 1976, NSPA launched the National Accounting Forum, a two-day program featuring 16 hours of CPE. Later, to help our members provide high quality professional services, we introduced the National Estate Tax conferences and the ACAT Review Course.

NSPA’s fourth decade was one of growth and expansion; membership increased steadily, services expanded, and NSPA’s legislative efforts proved significant. In 1976, NSPA and the Small Business Administration signed a Technical Assistance Agreement. This agreement, still in effect today, has helped small businesses enhance their credibility and financial strength. The Small Business Paperwork Reduction and Penalty Equalization Amendments Act, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1979, marked the first time that a bill NSPA drafted and sponsored was introduced in Congress. The 1980 convention in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, drew a record attendance—more than 950 members and guests; the featured speaker was Assistant Commissioner Gerald G. Portney of the IRS. The same year, NSPA moved into a new two-story headquarters building in Alexandria, VA—just minutes from the nation’s capital.

In 50 years, the Society had gained the recognition and respect of Congress, the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies, professional organizations and associations. To reflect the Association’s diverse membership, in 1995 the House of Delegates voted to change NSPA’s name to that of the National Society of Accountants (NSA).

To protect the general public, NSA has always required its members to adhere to a Code of Ethics. In January 2003, the NSA Board passed a Resolution on Accountability requiring NSA to thoroughly re-evaluate its Code of Ethics and Rules of Professional Conduct and to recommend that its affiliated state organizations also examine these areas.

Today, NSA continues its work to preserve the practice rights of the independent practitioner. NSA is involved in ongoing dialogue with the AICPA and NASBA—the organizations that drafted the newly revised Uniform Accountancy Act (UAA). The Society provides quality continuing professional education (CPE) opportunities programmed into a variety of seminars, convention education offerings, and review courses for the Enrolled Agent and ACAT exams. NSA works to assist the IRS in many areas. It has representatives on the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Council (IRSAC), the Information Reporting Program Advisory Committee (IRPAC), and the Special Enrollment Exam (SEE). As a stakeholder with the IRS, NSA provides input to regulations and proposed changes and is present at all meetings of the IRS Office of Public Liaison.

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National Society of Accountants Scholarship Foundation

The NSA Scholarship Foundation works to build career paths into and within the accounting profession. With its scholarship awards, the Foundation assists dedicated students who are committed to a career in accounting by providing financial assistance to support their education. With its educational grant program, the Foundation supports professional development and educational activities to expand the body of knowledge within today’s practitioner community.

Formed in 1969, the Foundation is a 501(c)3, tax-exempt organization and relies on voluntary, tax-deductible, contributions to support its programs. A Board of Trustees holds full fiduciary responsibility for the management of the Foundation and its programs. Each year, thousands of students contact NSA seeking help to meet the ever-increasing costs of higher education. In response, the NSA Scholarship Foundation provides financial encouragement to promising accounting students across the country. The Foundation awards scholarships to undergraduates enrolled in a degree program at an accredited two- or four-year college or university. Applicants for awards are judged on the basis of scholastic achievement, demonstrated leadership ability, and financial need.

In 2019, the Scholarship Foundation awarded scholarships to 45 students to help them continue their college education. Combined, NSA scholarships for 2019 totaled $95,650.00. 

For eligibility requirements, award details, selection requirements and more, download the: NSA Scholarship Guidelines & FAQs

Your contributions enable the NSA Scholarship Foundation to offer and expand scholarships to accounting students across the country. Help support our efforts and make a tax-deductible donation today!






NSA Awards (Updated August 2019)

You still have time to nominate members, state directors and ASO for prestigious NSA awards.  All award information is  on:  To recap, award information is also below.  Hurry! 

The NSA awards program recognizes the contributions of our individual members, volunteers and Affiliated State Organizations (ASO) in furthering the work of the society and the profession.  
Award winners will be honored at NSA's Annual Convention Awards Luncheon.

Accountant of the Year

The Accountant of the Year award recognizes an individual's service and contributions to the profession, to NSA or an Affiliated State Organization and public service (business and civic).

Who is Eligible? Any NSA member in good standing except members of the NSA Board of Governors. All NSA members in good standing may nominate themselves or other NSA members in good standing.

Young Professional of the Year

This new award honors a young professional who is making a difference in the profession, who may be stepping forward in leadership and is enthusiastic about the future of our profession.

Who is Eligible? Young professionals are under 40 years old and/or are new to the industry (less than three years' experience). Nominees must also be NSA members in good standing.

ASO of the Year

The ASO of the Year was created in 2000 to honor the overall achievements of an ASO (seminars, membership recruitment, legislative activity, PAC, education) and its work in promoting and implementing NSA programs.

The ASO of the Year receives a plaque and a $250 donation to an activity or fund of its choice.


Keith Billings Memorial Award

This designation honors the most outstanding ASO publications, judged according to the importance of topics, coverage of activities, timeliness of articles and format and overall appearance. There are two divisions: states with 300 or more NSA members and states with fewer than 300 members.

National Editorial Award

This award recognizes both the outstanding original article and a series of articles (2 awards) written by NSA members for their Affiliated State Organization publications.

Tax Talker of the Year Award

This award is given to a person who has contributed significantly and consistently to the NSA Tax Talk member discussion forum with technical, knowledgeable and practical assistance to member tax questions and needs.

The NSA Award Committee evaluates Tax Talk contributions to find the most deserving winner.

Above & Beyond Award

The Above & Beyond Award identifies and recognizes those members who have gone above and beyond to provide exceptional voluntary service in our profession or to their community. NSA wants to recognize those services or achievements with this award.

Accountancy Board Monitoring Award

This award recognizes ASOs that meet the criteria established by the State Regulation and Oversight Committee in monitoring the state accountancy boards.

Monitoring reports are submitted throughout the year to NSA headquarters.


Charles W. McAllister Memorial Award

This award is presented to the ASO with the highest net growth in NSA membership.
Save this Important NSA Date!

NSA 75th Annual Meeting
August 24-27, 2020
Cleveland, OH