Pursuant to KRS § 325.290, only an individual who has received a license to practice or qualifies for a practice privilege shall be styled and known as a “certified public accountant.” A certified public accountant may also use the abbreviation “CPA” or “public accountant.” Licensees granted a waiver from continuing professional education based on retirement may use “certified public accountant,” “public accountant,” or “CPA,” but shall not engage in regulated activities. KRS § 325.330 provides that an applicant for initial issuance of a license to practice shall:
- Satisfy all the requirements of KRS 325.261 and the administrative regulations promulgated by the board;
- Pay a fee not to exceed two hundred dollars ($200); and
- Complete the application process established in an administrative regulation promulgated by the board by fulfilling the requirement of continuing professional education for professional enhancement as defined by the board by administrative regulation, but not to exceed eighty (80) hours during a two (2) year calendar period ending December 31 preceding the July 1 renewal date. Certified public accountants not employed by a firm licensed by the board shall be required to achieve continuing professional education not to exceed sixty (60) hours during the two (2) year calendar period ending December 31 preceding the July 1 renewal date. The board shall provide for lesser, prorated requirements for applicants whose initial permit was issued substantially less than two (2) years prior to the renewal date; Paid a fee not to exceed two hundred dollars ($200) biennially; Listed a permanent mailing address; and Designated as part of the renewal process whether the applicant is employed by a firm licensed by the board.
Licenses shall be initially issued and renewed for a period of two (2) years, and shall expire on the first day of July in the year of expiration. When an initial license to practice is granted, the board shall issue a nonrenewable document that indicates that the licensee has satisfied all requirements to receive an initial license as a certified public accountant. Any license not renewed by the expiration date shall automatically expire and the holder of the expired license shall be prohibited from practicing public accounting or holding himself/herself out as a certified public accountant. The holder of a license that from the date of renewal has been expired for a period shorter than six (6) months, and who has not violated any other provision of this chapter, may renew the license by meeting all of the requirements of this section and paying a late penalty fee not to exceed one hundred dollars ($100). If the license has expired for a period longer than six (6) months, the applicant shall apply to the board for reinstatement. The board shall determine the eligibility for license reissuance, including a late penalty fee not to exceed two hundred dollars ($200) and additional continuing professional education hours. Failure to receive a renewal notice shall not constitute an adequate reason for failing to renew the license to practice in a timely manner.
The board may reduce or waive the license to practice renewal requirements upon written request of the licensee showing illness, extreme hardship, or age and complete retirement from practice as prescribed by the board by administrative regulation. A licensee shall notify the board in writing of a change in his/her mailing address within twenty days following the effective date of the change in address.
After notice and hearing as provided in KRS Chapter 13B, the board may revoke, suspend, impose a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000) for each violation of a provision of this chapter or administrative regulations promulgated by the board under this chapter, refuse to issue or renew any license, censure, or place on probation any person or firm, all with or without terms, for any one (1) or any combination of the following causes:
- Fraud or deceit in obtaining a license issued under this chapter;
- Dishonesty, fraud, or negligence while performing any regulated activity, including fiscal dishonesty or an intentional breach of fiduciary responsibility of any kind;
- Violation of any of the provisions of this chapter or administrative regulations promulgated by the board under this chapter or violation of any order of the board;
- Violation of a rule of professional conduct promulgated by the board;
- Conviction of any felony, or of any crime in which dishonesty or fraud is an element, under the laws of any state or of the United States. Conviction includes, but is not limited to, pleading no contest, entering an Alford plea, or entry of a court order suspending the imposition of a criminal penalty to a crime;
- Cancellation, revocation, suspension, or refusal to renew the authority to practice as a certified public accountant or a public accountant in any state;
- Suspension or revocation of the right to practice before any state or federal agency or the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board or its successor;
- Conduct discreditable to the accounting profession; or
- Failure to respond to a board inquiry regarding any licensing or complaint matter.
KRS § 325.360 provides that in any proceeding in which a remedy provided by subsection (1) of this section is imposed, the board may also require the respondent to pay the costs of the investigation and all proceedings. The board may conduct investigations of suspected violations of this chapter or the administrative regulations promulgated by the board to determine whether there is probable cause to institute proceedings against any person or firm for any violation under this chapter, but an investigation under this section shall not be a prerequisite to proceedings. In aid of these investigations, the board or its designee may issue subpoenas to compel witnesses to testify and to produce evidence. Subpoenas may be served in person or by certified mail, return receipt requested. The board may designate a member, or any other person of appropriate competence, to serve as investigating officer to conduct an investigation. Upon completion of an investigation, the investigating officer shall report to the board. The board shall then find probable cause or lack of probable cause, or it shall request that the investigating officer investigate further. Until there has been a determination of probable cause, the findings of the investigating officer, the testimony and documents gathered in the investigation, and the fact of pendency of the investigation shall be treated as confidential information and shall not be disclosed to any person except law enforcement authorities and, to the extent deemed necessary in order to conduct the investigation, the subject of the investigation, persons whose complaints are being investigated, and witnesses questioned in the course of the investigation.
Upon a finding of probable cause, the board shall direct that a complaint be issued pursuant to this section setting forth appropriate charges and a date for a hearing that shall be conducted in accordance with KRS Chapter 13B. Upon a finding of a lack of probable cause, the board shall dismiss the matter either with or without prejudice. In any case where probable cause has been determined pursuant to this section, the board may request the affected party to informally resolve the matter through mediation or otherwise.
A person or firm, after having been served with the notice of hearing and complaint as provided for in subsection (3) of this section, shall file a written response within twenty (20) days from the date of service. If the respondent licensee fails to file a timely response or fails to appear at the hearing, the board may hear evidence against the respondent and may enter a final order as shall be justified by the evidence.
Pursuant to KRS § 325.370, on rendering a final order, the board shall examine its records to determine whether the respondent is authorized or licensed to practice as a certified public accountant in any other state. If the board determines that the respondent is authorized or licensed to practice in any other state, the board shall notify the board of accountancy of the other state of its action by mail within thirty (30) days of rendering the final order. The board may exchange information relating to proceedings resulting in disciplinary action against licensees with the boards of accountancy of other states and with other public authorities or private organizations having an interest in the information.
In any case where the board has suspended, revoked, or refused to renew a license, the board may, upon application in writing by the person or firm affected and for good cause shown, modify the suspension or reissue the license. The board shall by administrative regulation, specify the manner in which:
- Applications shall be made;
- The times within which the applications shall be made, and the circumstances in which hearings, to be conducted in accordance with KRS Chapter 13B, shall be held thereon; and
- Any corrective or remedial education, training, or review requirement for reinstatement.
KRS § 325.380 provides that no person shall assume or use the title or designation “certified public accountant,” “public accountant,” or the abbreviation “CPA” or any other title, designation, words, letters, abbreviation, sign, card, or device tending to indicate that the person is a certified public accountant, unless the person holds a license issued under this chapter or qualifies for a practice privilege under KRS 325.282. No individuals or firm shall assume or use the title or designation “certified accountant,” “chartered accountant,” “enrolled accountant,” “licensed accountant,” “registered accountant,” “accredited auditor,” “accounting practitioner,” “accredited accountant,” “expert accountant,” “expert auditor,” “certified auditor,” or any other title or designation likely to be confused with “certified public accountant” and “public accountant” or any of the abbreviations “CA,” “AP,” “PA,” “RA,” “LA,” or “AA” or similar abbreviations likely to be confused with “CPA.” No person or firm shall sign or affix his/her name or a firm name to any document or prepare or issue any document which indicates that the person or firm performed attest services or a compilation or that includes any language which indicates that the person or the firm has expert knowledge in performing attest services or a compilation, unless the person or firm holds a license to practice issued under this chapter or is exempt from having to obtain a license pursuant to KRS 325.301. This prohibition shall be applicable to issuance by any unlicensed person or firm of a report using any form of language conventionally used by licensees with respect to a compilation of financial statements. The board shall issue safe harbor language, to be defined by the promulgation of administrative regulations, that nonlicensees may use in connection with a compilation of financial information. The provisions of this subsection shall not prohibit any officer, employee, partner, or principal of any organization from affixing his signature to any statement or report in reference to the financial affairs of the organization with any wording designating the position, title, or office which s/he holds in the organization, nor shall the provisions of this subsection prohibit any act of a public official or public employee in the performance of his/her duties.
No person shall assume or use the title or designation “certified public accountant” or “public accountant” in conjunction with names indicating or implying that there is a firm, or in conjunction with the designation “and Company” or “and Associates” or a similar designation if there is in fact no bona fide firm licensed under this chapter or exempted from licensure under KRS 325.301. No person or firm holding a license under this chapter shall use a professional or firm name or designation which contains the names of any nonlicensees, is misleading as to the legal form of the firm, or as to the persons who are partners, officers, shareholders, or any other owners of the firm, or as to any other matters. If more than one certified public accountant has an ownership interest in the firm, the names of one or more deceased, retired, or withdrawn partners, shareholders, or other certified public accountants with an ownership interest may be included in the name of a firm or its successor.