Regulation of Accountants – Hawaii

Pursuant to HRS § 466-5, a license and a permit are required to practice public accountancy.  The board may license and grant the designation of “certified public accountant” to any person who:

  • Has attained eighteen years of age;
  • Possesses a history of competence, trustworthiness, and fair dealing; and
  • Paid the appropriate fees and assessments.

The board may allow an applicant to sit for the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination, if the applicant has met at least one of the following:

  • Baccalaureate degree in accounting conferred by a college or university acceptable to the board; or
  • Baccalaureate degree with a major in a subject other than in accounting, plus eighteen semester hours of upper division or graduate level accounting or auditing subjects, conferred by a college or university acceptable to the board; or
  • Baccalaureate degree or its equivalent in accounting, conferred by a college or university outside of the United States, and submission of a letter of acceptance from an accredited United States college or university to its advanced degree program or an educational equivalency report prepared by an evaluator approved by the board.

Licenses shall be effective for a period not exceeding two years and shall be renewable biennially on or before December 31 of every odd-numbered year upon application to the board.  The board may renew the license of a certified public accountant who completes a renewal application and fulfills the following requirements:

  • Holds a valid and current license; and
  • Paid appropriate fees and assessments.

Failure to renew a license on or before December 31 of every odd-numbered year, shall constitute a forfeiture of license.  Continued practice in public accountancy without renewing or restoring a license and permit shall constitute unlicensed activity.  Any person engaged in unlicensed activity shall be subject to sections 466-9, 466-11, 487-13, and 26-9.  The board shall specify the method and requirements of application for restoration of a license.  The date of restoration of the license shall be the date of board approval of the restoration.

Pursuant to HRS § 466-9, in addition to any other actions authorized by law, in accordance with chapter 91, the board may take the following actions:

  • Cancel or revoke any license or permit issued under section 466-5, 466-6, or 466-7, or corresponding provisions of prior law;
  • Suspend a license or permit for a period of not more than two years;
  • Refuse to renew a license or permit for a period of not more than two years;
  • Reprimand, censure or limit the scope of practice of any licensee or firm;
  • Impose an administrative fine not exceeding $1,000;
  • Place a licensee or firm on probation;
  • Require a firm to have a quality review conducted in the manner specified by the board; or
  • Require a licensee to attain satisfactory completion of additional continuing professional education hours as specified by the board.

In addition to any other grounds for disciplinary action authorized by law, any one or more of the following shall constitute grounds for disciplinary action:

  • Fraud or deceit in obtaining a license or permit;
  • Disciplinary action taken by another state where the license is canceled, revoked, suspended, denied, or refused renewal;
  • Failure, on the part of a holder of a license or a permit under sections 466-5, 466-6, or 466-7, to maintain compliance with the requirements for issuance of a license or a permit, or renewal of a license or permit, or to report changes to the board;
  • Revocation or suspension of the right to practice before any state or federal agency;
  • Dishonesty, deceit, fraud or gross negligence in the practice of public accountancy or in the filing or failure to file a licensee’s or firm’s own income tax returns;
  • Violation of any provision of the chapter or of any rule adopted by the board;
  • Violation of any provision of professional conduct established by the board under the chapter;
  • Conviction of any crime an element of which is dishonesty or fraud, under the laws of the United States, of the State, or of any other state if the act involved would have constituted a crime under the laws of the State;
  • Performance of any fraudulent act while holding a license or permit issued under this chapter; or
  • Any conduct reflecting adversely upon the licensee’s or permit holder’s fitness to engage in the practice of public accountancy.

The board, in accordance with chapter 91, may reinstate the person’s license or permit to practice which was affected by the disciplinary action upon application of any person against whom disciplinary action has been taken under subsection (a).  The board shall specify the manner in which an application shall be made, the time within which it shall be made, and the circumstances under which the license may be reinstated; and before reinstating, the board may require the applicant to show successful completion of specified continuing professional education; and make the reinstatement of a license or permit conditional and subject to satisfactory completion of a quality review conducted in a manner as the board may specify.

HRS § 466-10 provides that no person shall assume or use the title or designation “certified public accountant” or the abbreviation “CPA” or any other title, designation, words, letters, sign, card, or device likely to be confused with “certified public accountant” or “CPA” or tending to indicate that the person is a certified public accountant, unless the person holds a current license of certified public accountant issued under thechapter and a current permit to practice issued under the chapter.  No person shall assume or use the title or designation “public accountant” or the abbreviation” PA” or any other title, designation, words, letters, sign, card, or device likely to be confused with “public accountant” or “PA” or tending to indicate that the person is a public accountant unless the person holds a current registration of public accountant issued under this chapter and a current permit to practice issued under this chapter.

HRS § 466-11 provides that whenever, as a result of an investigation under section 466-13 or otherwise, the board has reason to believe that any person or firm has engaged, or is about to engage, in any act, or acts, or practices that constitute or will constitute a violation of section 466-10, the board may certify the facts underlying the belief to the attorney general of this State, who shall make application to the appropriate court for an order enjoining the act, or acts, or practices, and, upon a showing by the board that the person or firm has engaged, or is about to engage, in any act, or acts, or practices, an injunction, restraining order, or other order as may be appropriate shall be granted by the court without bond.  A violation of section 466-10 is a misdemeanor.  Whenever the board has reason to believe that any person is liable to punishment under the section it may certify the facts underlying the belief to the county attorney or prosecuting attorney of the county in which the violation occurred who shall cause appropriate proceedings to be brought.  Any person or firm who violates the chapter may be fined not more than $1,000 for each violation.


Inside Regulation of Accountants – Hawaii