Regulation of Accountants – New Hampshire

According to RSA 309-B:2, the purpose of New Hampshire Accountancy Act is to promote the reliability of information that is used for guidance in financial transactions or for accounting for or assessing the financial status or performance of commercial, noncommercial, and governmental enterprises.

RSA 309-B:5 provides for the qualifications for a Certificate as a Certified Public Accountant.  The certificate of “certified public accountant” shall be granted to persons of good character who meet the education, experience, and examination requirements, who make application, and who pay the fees prescribed by the board.  The education requirements for a certificate shall be as follows:

1)      Until January 1, 2005, a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent conferred by a college or university acceptable to the board, with an accounting concentration or equivalent as determined by board rule to be appropriate.

2)     After January 1, 2005 and until June 30, 2014, at least 120 semester hours of college education including a baccalaureate or higher degree conferred by a college or university acceptable to the board, the total educational program to include an accounting concentration or equivalent as determined by board rule to be appropriate; provided however, that candidates for a certificate may sit for an examination if they have at least 120 semester hours of college education including a baccalaureate degree conferred by a college or university acceptable to the board, the total educational program to include an accounting concentration or equivalent as determined by board rule to be appropriate.

3)      On or after July 1, 2014, at least 150 semester hours of college education including a baccalaureate or higher degree conferred by a college or university acceptable to the board, the total educational program to include an accounting concentration or equivalent as determined by board rule to be appropriate; provided however, that candidates for a certificate may sit for an examination if they have at least 120 semester hours of college education including a baccalaureate degree conferred by a college or university acceptable to the board the total educational program to include an accounting concentration or equivalent as determined by board rule to be appropriate.

The examination required to be passed as a condition for the granting of a certificate shall be held as often as the board may specify by rule, and shall test the applicant’s knowledge of the subjects of accounting and auditing and such other related subjects as the board may specify by rule.

The experience requirement shall consist of public accounting experience in providing one or more kinds of services involving the use of accounting or auditing skills, including the issuance of reports on financial statements, or one or more kinds of management advisory, financial advisory, or consulting services, or the preparation of tax returns or the furnishing of advice on tax matters, or the equivalent, all of which was under the direction of a licensee in any state in practice as a certified public accountant or as a public accountant, or in any state in employment as a staff accountant by a certified public accountant or anyone practicing public accounting, or a combination of either of such types of experience and for the following periods of time:
(a) Until June 30, 2014, 2 years for a candidate with a 4-year college degree, or the equivalent, and one year for a candidate holding a master’s degree in accounting, taxation, finance, or business administration.
(b) On or after July 1, 2014, one year.

According to RSA 309-B: 7, certificates shall be initially issued, and renewed by the Board for periods of not more than 3 years. RSA 309-B:9 states that so long as public accountants hold valid registrations and permits to practice, they shall be entitled to perform attest services to the same extent as holders of certificates and holders of permits. In addition, they shall be entitled to use the title “public accountant” and “PA,” but no other title.

Pursuant to RSA 309-B:10, after notice and hearing, the board may revoke any certificate, permit, or registration; suspend any such certificate, permit, or registration; or refuse to renew any such certificate, permit, or registration for a period of not more than 5 years. The board may reprimand, censure, or limit the scope of practice of any licensee; impose an administrative fine not exceeding $1,000; or place any licensee on probation, all with or without terms, conditions, and limitations, for any one or more of the following reasons:

  • Fraud or deceit in obtaining a certificate, permit, or registration or making any false or misleading statement or verification, in support of the application for certificate, permit, or registration.
  • Cancellation, revocation, suspension, or refusal to renew a license or practice rights by any other state, including possessions of the United States, for any cause involving disciplinary reasons.
  • Failure, on the part of a holder of a certificate or permit or registration, to maintain compliance with the requirements for issuance or renewal of such certificate, permit, or registration or to report changes to the board.
  • Revocation or suspension of the right to practice before any state, including possessions of the United States, or federal agency for disciplinary reasons.
  • Dishonesty, fraud, or gross negligence in the performance of services as a licensee or in the filing or failure to file the licensee’s own income or employment tax returns or the payment of the licensee’s income or employment tax liability.
  • Violation of any provision of rule adopted by the board or violation of professional standards or violation of any rule of professional conduct adopted by the board.
  • Conviction of a felony, or of any crime an element of which is dishonesty or fraud.

In the above cases, the board may either require a peer review or satisfactory completion of such continuing professional education programs as the board may specify.

Pursuant to  RSA 309-B:12, the board shall issue a complaint setting forth appropriate charges and set a date for a disciplinary hearing before the board on such charges, following an investigation or upon receipt of a written complaint.  A recorded vote of a majority of all members of the board shall be required to sustain any charge and to impose any penalty with respect to hearing.

Any person adversely affected by any order of the board, may appeal such order by filing a written petition with the superior court in the county in which the respondent resides or, if not a resident of New Hampshire, in the county in which the respondent has a place of business or resident agent. The superior court may affirm, reverse, or modify the board’s order or may order a trial de novo. A trial de novo shall be pursuant to the board’s rules and the rules of evidence shall not apply.

RSA 309-B:13 deals with reinstatement.  If the board has suspended or revoked a certificate, permit, or registration or refused to renew a certificate, permit, or registration, the board may, upon application in writing by the individual and for good cause shown, modify the suspension or reissue the certificate, permit, or registration.

RSA 309-B:14 deals with Unlawful Acts.  As per the section, only licensees, individuals who have practice privileges may issue a report on financial statements of any other person, firm, organization, or governmental unit or otherwise offer to render or render any attest service. A person who do not hold a valid certificate or a practice privilege shall not use or assume the title or designation “certified public accountant,” or the abbreviation “CPA” and “public accountant,” or the abbreviation “PA,” or any other title, designation, words, letters, abbreviation, sign, card, or device tending to indicate that such person is a certified public accountant or public accountant.  Moreover, no person or firm not holding a valid certificate, permit, or registration, or qualifying for a practice privilege, or an exemption from the permit requirement, shall assume or use the title or designation “certified accountant,” “chartered accountant,” “enrolled accountant,” “licensed accountant,” “registered accountant,” “accredited accountant,” or any other title or designation likely to be confused with the titles “certified public accountant” or “public accountant,” or use any of the abbreviations “CA,” “LA,” “RA,” “AA,” or similar abbreviation likely to be confused with the abbreviations “CPA” or “PA.” The title “Enrolled Agent” or “EA” may only be used by individuals so designated by the Internal Revenue Service.  Likewise, no person or firm not holding a valid certificate, permit, or registration, or qualifying for a practice privilege, or an exemption from the permit requirement, shall assume or use any title or designation that includes the words “accountant,” “auditor,” or “accounting,” in connection with any other language, including the language of a report, that implies that such person or firm holds such a certificate, permit, or registration or has special competence as an accountant or auditor.

According to RSA 309-B:15, the Board may make application to an appropriate court for an order enjoining the violation of RSA 309-B:14, and upon a showing by the Board that the person has engaged, or is about to engage, in any of such violation, and an injunction or any such order as may be appropriate must be granted by the court.

According to RSA 309-B:16, whenever, the board has reason to believe that any person or firm has knowingly engaged in acts or practices which constitute a violation of RSA 309-B:14, the board may bring its information to the attention of the department of justice which may, in its discretion, cause appropriate criminal proceedings to be brought.   Any person who knowingly violates any provision of RSA 309-B:14 shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor.


Inside Regulation of Accountants – New Hampshire