Regulation of Accountants – Florida

Pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 473.308, a person desiring to be licensed as a Florida certified public accountant in the state shall apply to the department for licensure, and the department shall license any applicant who the board certifies is qualified to practice public accounting.

The board shall certify for licensure any applicant who successfully passes the licensure examination and satisfies the requirements of subsections (3), (4), and (5), and shall certify for licensure any firm that satisfies the requirements of ss. 473.309 and 473.3101.  The board may refuse to certify any applicant or firm that has violated any of the provisions of s. 473.322.

An applicant for licensure must have at least 150 semester hours of college education, including a baccalaureate or higher degree conferred by an accredited college or university, with a concentration in accounting and business in the total educational program to the extent specified by the board.

An applicant for licensure after December 31, 2008, must show that s/he has had 1 year of work experience.  This experience shall include providing any type of service or advice involving the use of accounting, attest, compilation, management advisory, financial advisory, tax, or consulting skills, all of which must be verified by a certified public accountant who is licensed by a state or territory of the United States and who has supervised the applicant.  This experience is acceptable if it was gained through employment in government, industry, academia, or public practice; constituted a substantial part of the applicant’s duties; and was under the supervision of a certified public accountant licensed by a state or territory of the United States.  The board shall adopt rules specifying standards and providing for the review and approval of the work experience required by this section.  However, an applicant who completed the requirements of subsection (3) on or before December 31, 2008, and who passes the licensure examination on or before June 30, 2010, is exempt from the requirements of this subsection.

An applicant for licensure shall show that the applicant has good moral character.  The board may refuse to certify an applicant for failure to satisfy this requirement if the board finds a reasonable relationship between the lack of good moral character of the applicant and the professional responsibilities of a certified public accountant; and the finding by the board of lack of good moral character is supported by competent substantial evidence.

When an applicant is found to be unqualified for a license because of a lack of good moral character, the board shall furnish to the applicant a statement containing the findings of the board, a complete record of the evidence upon which the determination was based, and a notice of the rights of the applicant to a rehearing and appeal.

The board shall certify as qualified for a license by endorsement an applicant who:

  • Is not licensed and has not been licensed in another state or territory and who has met the requirements of this section for education, work experience, and good moral character and has passed a national, regional, state, or territorial licensing examination that is substantially equivalent to the examination required by s. 473.306; and
  • Has completed such continuing education courses as the board deems appropriate, within the limits for each applicable 2-year period as set forth in s. 473.312, but at least such courses as are equivalent to the continuing education requirements for a Florida certified public accountant licensed in this state during the 2 years immediately preceding his/her application for licensure by endorsement; or
  • Holds a valid license to practice public accounting issued by another state or territory of the United States, if the criteria for issuance of such license were substantially equivalent to the licensure criteria that existed in this state at the time the license was issued; or
  • Holds a valid license to practice public accounting issued by another state or territory of the United States but the criteria for issuance of such license did not meet the requirements of sub-subparagraph a.; has met the requirements of this section for education, work experience, and good moral character; and has passed a national, regional, state, or territorial licensing examination that is substantially equivalent to the examination required by s. 473.306; and
  • Has completed continuing education courses that are equivalent to the continuing education requirements for a Florida certified public accountant licensed in this state during the 2 years immediately preceding his/her application for licensure by endorsement.

If the applicant has at least 5 years of experience in the practice of public accountancy in the United States or in the practice of public accountancy or its equivalent in a foreign country that the International Qualifications Appraisal Board of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy has determined has licensure standards that are substantially equivalent to those in the United States, or has at least 5 years of work experience that meets the requirements of subsection (4), the board shall waive the requirements of subsection (3) which are in excess of a baccalaureate degree.  All experience that is used as a basis for waiving the requirements of subsection (3) must be while licensed as a certified public accountant by another state or territory of the United States or while licensed in the practice of public accountancy or its equivalent in a foreign country that the International Qualifications Appraisal Board of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy has determined has licensure standards that are substantially equivalent to those in the United States.  The board shall have the authority to establish the standards for experience that meet this requirement.

The board may refuse to certify for licensure any applicant who is under investigation in another state for any act that would constitute a violation of this act or chapter 455, until such time as the investigation is complete and disciplinary proceedings have been terminated.

Fla. Stat. § 473.311 provides that the department shall renew a license upon receipt of the renewal application and fee and upon certification by the board that the Florida certified public accountant has satisfactorily completed the continuing education requirements of s. 473.312.  The department shall adopt rules establishing a procedure for the biennial renewal of licenses.

Pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 473.322, a person may not knowingly:

  • Practice public accounting unless the person is a certified public accountant or a public accountant;
  • Assume or use the titles or designations “certified public accountant” or “public accountant” or the abbreviation “C.P.A.” or any other title, designation, words, letters, abbreviations, sign, card, or device tending to indicate that the person holds a license to practice public accounting under this chapter or the laws of any other state, territory, or foreign jurisdiction, unless the person holds an active license under this chapter or has the practice privileges pursuant to s. 473.3141;
  • Perform or offer to perform any services described in s. 473.302(8)(a) unless such person holds an active license under this chapter and is a licensed audit firm, provides such services through a licensed audit firm, or complies with ss. 473.3101 and 473.3141.  This paragraph does not prohibit the performance by persons other than certified public accountants of other services involving the use of accounting skills, including the preparation of tax returns and the preparation of financial statements without expression of opinion thereon;
  • Present as his/her own the license of another;
  • Give false or forged evidence to the board or a member thereof;
  • Use or attempt to use a public accounting license that has been suspended, revoked, or placed on inactive or delinquent status;
  • Employ unlicensed persons to practice public accounting; or
  • Conceal information relative to violations of this chapter.

Any person who violates any provision of this section commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.  Fla. Stat. § 473.323 provide that the following acts constitute grounds for which the disciplinary actions in subsection (3) may be taken:

  • Violation of any provision of s. 455.227(1) or any other provision of this chapter.
  • Attempting to procure a license to practice public accounting by bribery or fraudulent misrepresentations.
  • Having a license to practice public accounting revoked, suspended, or otherwise acted against, including the denial of licensure, by the licensing authority of another state, territory, or country.
  • Being convicted or found guilty of, or entering a plea of nolo contendere to, regardless of adjudication, a crime in any jurisdiction which directly relates to the practice of public accounting or the ability to practice public accounting.
  • Making or filing a report or record that the certified public accountant or firm knows to be false, willfully failing to file a report or record required by state or federal law, willfully impeding or obstructing such filing, or inducing another person to impede or obstruct such filing.  Such reports or records include only those that are signed in the capacity of a certified public accountant.
  • Advertising goods or services in a manner that is fraudulent, false, deceptive, or misleading in form or content.
  • Committing an act of fraud or deceit, or of negligence, incompetency, or misconduct, in the practice of public accounting.
  • Violation of any rule adopted pursuant to this chapter or chapter 455.
  • Practicing on a revoked, suspended, inactive, or delinquent license.
  • Suspension or revocation of the right to practice before any state or federal agency.
  • Performance of any fraudulent act in any jurisdiction while holding a license to practice public accounting in this state or using practice privileges in this state.
  • Failing to maintain a good moral character as provided in s. 473.308 while applying for licensure, or while licensed in this state or using practice privileges pursuant to s. 473.3141.
  • Failing to provide any written disclosure to a client or the public which is required by this chapter or rule of the board.
  • Having the same or equivalent practice privileges of a Florida certified public accountant or firm revoked, suspended, or otherwise acted against by the licensing authority of another state, territory, or country as a result of activity in that jurisdiction which would have subjected the Florida certified public accountant or firm to discipline in this state.

The board shall specify, by rule, what acts or omissions constitute a violation of subsection (1).  When the board finds any certified public accountant or firm guilty of any of the grounds set forth in subsection (1), it may enter an order imposing one or more of the following penalties:

  • Denial of an application for licensure.
  • Revocation or suspension of the certified public accountant or firm’s license or practice privileges in this state.
  • Imposition of an administrative fine not to exceed $ 5,000 for each count or separate offense.
  • Issuance of a reprimand.
  • Placement of the certified public accountant on probation for a period of time and subject to such conditions as the board may specify, including requiring the certified public accountant to attend continuing education courses or to work under the supervision of another licensee.
  • Restriction of the authorized scope of practice by the certified public accountant.

The department shall reissue the license of a disciplined licensee upon certification by the board that the disciplined licensee has complied with all of the terms and conditions set forth in the final order.


Inside Regulation of Accountants – Florida