The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) has been in place for nearly a decade. The elements of the act have conflict controversy between Congress, the SEC, investors, public accounting firms, and public companies. Many feel as though costs associated with the act are higher than the benefits, especially the public companies. However, it has been proven that investor confidence has increased since the act was instated (Wolkoff). An even bigger issue is over the disproportional costs of complying with SOX between small and large companies. Small companies operate very differently compared to large companies but they are still expected to meet all of SOX requirements. There is much evidence that these extra costs stem from increased audit fees, complying with Section 404, and from having to hire more employees and consultants. These costs are causing many small public companies to deregister, go dark, or merge in order to absorb the extra costs.
The amount of IPO’s has decreased over the years and has hurt the American economy. The economy is in a recession and one solution is to increase the number of IPOs. An increase in IPO’s would provide more investor opportunity as well as create more jobs. In order to get more private companies to go public and keep small public companies public, SOX compliance costs need to be lower for small companies. I have made three recommendations that would help to lower SOX compliance costs. The first recommendation is to establish a three tier system in which public companies are divided into three different sized groups. Each bracket would have a different set of requirements that matches their cost capability and company structure. A second recommendation is for the PCAOB to release a compliance road map that would help small companies meet SOX standards and to provide private companies with a process for complying. The last recommendation is for the PCAOB to publish a pamphlet that would give advice to small public companies on how to be more cost effective and efficient. There are multiple ways in which public companies can help themselves.