Regulation of Accountants – Pennsylvania

Pursuant to 63 P.S. § 9.4b the board shall issue a certificate upon application by an individual who has passed the examination and meets the education and experience requirements.  Before an individual may take the examination, the board shall be satisfied that the individual:

  • has attained eighteen years of age;
  • is of good moral character; and
  • has graduated with:

1) a baccalaureate or higher degree from a college or university accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education, or a college or university approved by the board, and completed a total of 150 semester credits of post-secondary education;
2) a baccalaureate degree from a college or university accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education, or a college or university approved by the board, and completed at least a total of 24 semester credits, which credits shall be in accounting and auditing, business law, finance or tax subjects of a content satisfactory to the board, not necessarily as a part of his undergraduate work; or
3) a Master’s Degree or other post-graduate degree from a college or university accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education, or a college or university approved by the board, and completed at least a total of 24 semester credits.

Before an individual may be issued a certificate, the board shall be satisfied that the individual has completed at least one year of experience that was completed within 60 months preceding the date of application for a certificate and included not less than 400 hours of attest activity in any of the following:

  • public accounting, as an internal auditor, if the internal audit function reports to an independent board or similar body responsible for oversight of the financial reporting process; or as an auditor with a unit of Federal, State or local government;
  • was of a caliber satisfactory to the board; and
  • was supervised by an individual with a current license to practice public accounting as a certified public accountant or public accountant in this Commonwealth or another state.

Pursuant to 63 P.S. § 9.8b, biennial licenses to engage in the practice of public accounting shall be issued by the Department of State upon payment of the biennial licensing fee to (i) holders of the certificate of certified public accountant and public accountants registered in Pennsylvania who have certified to the board that they have complied with the requirements and (ii) qualified associations licensed under section 8.8 of this act.  Licenses to practice shall expire on the last day of December of odd-numbered years or on such other biennial expiration dates as the department may fix.  The renewal application of a certified public accountant or public accountant does not need to list the continuing education courses taken by the applicant except as provided by the rules and regulations of the board.  A certified public accountant or public accountant who is not engaged in the practice of public accounting may request the board, in writing, to place his or her name on the inactive roll and thus protect his or her right to obtain a license at such time as s/he may become engaged in the practice of public accounting.

Pursuant to 63 P.S. § 9.9, the board shall require an individual whose certification has been suspended or revoked to return his or her certificate or to certify in such manner as the board directs that it was lost, stolen or destroyed.  Failure to comply with the board’s directions shall be a misdemeanor of the third degree.

Pursuant to 63 P.S. § 9.9a, the board may revoke, suspend, limit or otherwise restrict the certificate of a certified public accountant or the registration of a public accountant, may revoke, suspend, limit or otherwise restrict any license issued under this act, may censure or publicly reprimand the holder of any certificate, registration or license, may require completion of general or a specific number of continuing professional education courses or may require more frequent peer review or other remedial action, or may revoke, suspend or limit the right of an individual to practice or censure or publicly reprimand an individual for any one or any combination of the following causes:

  • Fraud or deceit in obtaining a certificate of certified public accountant or
    registration or a license to practice or a determination that substantial equivalency exists with respect to an individual.
  • Dishonesty, fraud or gross negligence in the provision of professional services.
  • Violation of any of the provisions of section 12 of this act.
  • Violation of a rule of professional conduct promulgated by the board under the authority granted by this act.
  • Pleading guilty to, entering a plea of nolo contendere to or being found guilty of a felony or crime, an element of which is dishonesty or fraud, or any Federal or State revenue law or the revenue laws of any foreign jurisdiction.
  • Cancellation, revocation, suspension or refusal to renew authority to provide professional services as a certified public accountant or public accountant by any other state or foreign jurisdiction for any cause other than failure to pay a registration or other fee in such other state or foreign jurisdiction.
  • Suspension or revocation of the right to practice before any Federal or State governmental agency.
  • Failure of certified public accountant or public accountant filing an application for a license or renewal thereof to furnish evidence of completion of the requirements for continuing education.
  • Engaging in unprofessional conduct or conduct that brings the profession of public accounting into disrepute or that lowers public esteem for the profession.
  • Violation of an order of the board.

Pursuant to 63 P.S. § 9.9b, upon application in writing and after hearing pursuant to notice, the board may reinstate or modify the suspension of any license to practice which has been suspended.  Reinstatement shall not be granted to an individual unless he demonstrates that s/he has completed the biennial continuing education requirements that s/he would have been required to complete during the immediately preceding reporting period if his or her license had not been suspended and unless the person seeking reinstatement pays the current biennial licensing fee plus a reinstatement fee.

Pursuant to 63 P.S. § 9.12, it is unlawful for any person to hold himself  or herself out as or otherwise use the title or designation “certified public accountant,” or the abbreviation “CPA,” or any other title, designation, words, letters or abbreviation tending to indicate that the person is a certified public accountant unless the person is qualified to receive a certificate of certified public accountant, which is not revoked or suspended.  It is unlawful for any person to hold himself or herself out or otherwise use the title “certified public accountant,” “public accountant” or any abbreviation thereof, or the letters “CPA” or “PA” by virtue of any certificate, registration or license illegally or fraudulently obtained by the person, or issued unlawfully or through any fraudulent representation or deceit, or misstatement of material fact or fraudulent concealment of a material fact made or induced or aided or abetted by the person.  It is also unlawful for any person who is not qualified as a CPA or PA to practice any type of bookkeeping, accounting, auditing, tax or other professional practice related thereto, or to use any abbreviation of such title or designation.  It is also unlawful for any person not a licensee to hold himself or itself out to the public as an “auditor” or as an “accountant and auditor.”

Pursuant to 63 P.S. § 9.14, when any person has engaged or is about to engage in any acts or practices which constitute or a violation of this act, the board may make application to the appropriate court for an order enjoining such acts or practices and, upon a showing by the board that the person has engaged or is about to engage in any such acts or practices, an injunction, restraining order or such other order as may be appropriate shall be granted by the court without bond.

63 P.S. § 9.16 deals with penalties.  A person who violates any of the provisions of section 12 shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree and upon conviction thereof shall be sentenced to pay a fine not exceeding $ 2,500 or suffer imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both.  The disciplinary powers of the board shall be in addition to the penalties.

In addition, the board may levy a civil penalty of up to $ 10,000 on any person for a violation of any provision of this act.  The board shall levy a civil penalty only after affording the accused party the opportunity for a hearing.  The maximum civil penalty that may be levied by the board shall not be more than $ 200,000 for any related series of violations.  The board may not levy a civil penalty with respect to a violation for which the person has been fined or assessed a civil penalty by the accountancy regulatory authority of another state.


Inside Regulation of Accountants – Pennsylvania