Regulation of Accountants – West Virginia

W. Va. Code § 30-9-1 provides that to protect the public interest in receiving accurate and reliable financial information and assurance, certified public accountants, public accountants, and accounting firms are required to be licensed as provided in this article.

Pursuant to W. Va. Code § 30-9-7, the board shall issue a certificate to an applicant of good moral character who demonstrates that:

  • S/he meets the qualifications for a certificate set forth in section eight [§ 30-9-8] of this article;
  • S/he holds an out-of-state certificate and meets the requirements of section nine [§ 30-9-9] of this article;
  • S/he holds an out-of-state certificate, does not meet the requirements of section nine [§ 30-9-9] of this article but does meet the requirements of section ten [§ 30-9-10] of this article; or
  • S/he holds a substantially equivalent foreign designation and meets the requirements of section eleven [§ 30-9-11] of this article.

Certificates will initially be issued for a period to expire on the thirtieth day of June following the date of issue.  Applications for the issuance of certificates must be made in the form specified by the board by rule provided, that the application must require an applicant to list all states in which s/he has applied for or holds an out-of-state certificate and any past denial, revocation or suspension of an out-of-state certificate.  The board shall charge an application fee in an amount specified by rule.

A certificate issued by the board prior to the first day of July, two thousand one, will for all purposes be considered a certificate issued under this section provided, that a person holding a certificate issued prior to the first day of July, two thousand one, must renew the certificate pursuant to section twelve [§ 30-9-12] of this article.

W. Va. Code § 30-9-8 provides that the board shall issue a certificate to an applicant of good moral character who meets the following requirements:

  • At least one hundred fifty semester hours of college education including a baccalaureate or higher degree conferred by a college or university, the total education program to include an accounting concentration or equivalent, as determined by the board to be appropriate;
  • Passage of the uniform certified public accountant examination published by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants or its successor and any additional examination required by the board by rule that tests the applicant’s knowledge of subjects related to the practice of accounting provided, that before applying for the examination required by this subsection, an applicant is required to have met the baccalaureate degree requirement but not the one hundred fifty semester hour requirement of subsection (1) of this section; and
  • At least one year of experience in providing any type of service or advice involving the use of accounting, attest, compilation, management advisory, financial advisory, tax or consulting skills.  The experience requirement may be satisfied by employment in private practice, government, industry, not-for-profit organization, academia or public practice.  An applicant’s experience must be verified by a licensee and must meet requirements specified by rule.

Pursuant to W. Va. Code § 30-9-11, the board shall issue a certificate to an applicant of good moral character who holds a foreign designation in public accountancy if:

  • The foreign authority that granted the designation regulates the practice of public accountancy and allows a person holding a certificate issued by this State to obtain the foreign authority’s comparable designation; and
  • The applicant meets the education, examination, experience and continuing education requirements specified by the board by rule.

W. Va. Code § 30-9-12 provides that the board shall renew a certificate for a one-year period beginning on the first day of July of each year after its issuance in accordance with renewal procedures and fees specified by rule provided, that an applicant for renewal of a certificate shall list on his/her application all states and foreign jurisdictions in which he or she has applied for or held an out-of-state certificate or foreign designation and any denial, revocation or suspension of an out-of-state certificate or foreign designation.  The board shall require as a condition for the renewal of a certificate that each certified public accountant participate in continuing professional education in accordance with the requirements specified by rule, subject to the following exemptions and limitations:

  • The board shall by rule exempt from the continuing professional education requirements set forth in this subsection any certified public accountant who does not perform or offer to perform any professional service to the public, either directly or indirectly through his/her employer.
  • Any certified public accountant receiving the exemption from continuing professional education requirements must place the word “inactive” adjacent to his or her “CPA” title on any business card, telephone directory listing, letterhead or any other similar document or device, with the exception of the licensee’s certificate on which the “CPA” title appears provided, that a certified public accountant receiving the exemption from continuing professional education requirements who has completely discontinued his or her performance of professional services, who has no active management or supervisory responsibilities in a firm, and who is at least sixty-two years of age is not required to place the word “inactive” or any other word adjacent to his or her “CPA” title on any business card, telephone directory listing, letterhead or any other similar document or device.
  • The board may by rule phase in continuing professional education requirements over a period of three years for any certified public accountant who, as of the first day of July, two thousand one, has not been subject to continuing professional education requirements and who subsequently elects to perform or offers to perform any professional service to the public during a subsequent certificate renewal period within the three-year phase-in period.

Pursuant to W. Va. Code § 30-9-17, the board shall grant or renew permits to firm applicants that demonstrate their qualifications in accordance with this section.

Firms meeting the following criteria must hold a permit issued under this section:

  • Any firm with an office in this State performing attest or compilation services;
  • Any firm with an office in this State that uses the title “CPA” or “CPA firm”; or
  • Any firm that does not have an office in this State but performs attest services described in subdivisions (A), (C) or (D), subsection (3), section two [§ 30-9-2] of this article for a client having its home office in this State.

A firm that does not have an office in this State may perform services described in subdivision (B), subsection (3), section two [§ 30-9-2] of this article, or subsection (12), section two of this article, for a client having its home office in this State and may use the title “CPA” or “CPA firm” without a permit issued under this section only if it meets firm ownership requirements and is undergoing a peer review program that conforms with applicable rules, and performs the services through an individual with practice privileges under section sixteen [§ 30-9-16] of this article.  A firm that does not have an office in this State and does not perform attest services or compilation services for a client having its home office in this State may perform other professional services while using the title “CPA” or “CPA firm” in this State without a permit issued under this section only if it performs the services through an individual with practice privileges under section sixteen [§ 30-9-16] of this article provided, that the firm may lawfully perform the services in the state where the individuals with practice privileges have their principal place of business.

Applicants for a permit must demonstrate that:

  • Each partner, officer, shareholder, member or manager of the firm whose principal place of business is in this State and who performs or offers to perform professional services in this State holds a certificate or a registration; and
  • The firm meets firm ownership requirements.

An application for the issuance of a permit must be made in the form specified by the board by rule and must include the following information:

  • The names of all partners, officers, shareholders, members or managers of the firm whose principal place of business is in this State;
  • The location of each office of the firm within this State and the name of the certified public accountant or public accountant in charge of each office; and
  • Any issuance, denial, revocation or suspension of an out-of-state permit.

Permits will initially be issued for a period to expire on the thirtieth day of June following the date of issue.  The board shall renew a permit for a one-year period beginning on the first day of July of each year after initial issuance in accordance with the requirements for initial issuance of a permit in this section.  The board shall charge an application fee for the initial issuance or renewal of a permit in an amount specified by rule.

W. Va. Code § 30-9-20 provides that the board may refuse to issue, refuse to renew, suspend, revoke or limit any license or practice privilege of any licensee, substantial equivalency practitioner or firm and may take disciplinary action against a licensee or substantial equivalency practitioner practicing in this State who, after hearing, has been adjudged by the board as unqualified because of any of the following reasons:

  • Fraud or deceit in obtaining or maintaining a license or substantial equivalency practice privilege;
  • Cancellation, revocation, suspension or refusal to renew an out-of-state certificate, an out-of-state permit or substantial equivalency practice privilege for disciplinary reasons in any other state for any cause other than a failure to pay an annual fee for the renewal of an out-of-state certificate or out-of-state permit in the other state;
  • Failure by any licensee to maintain compliance with requirements for issuance or renewal of a license or to timely notify the board as required under section eighteen [§ 30-9-18] of this article;
  • Revocation or suspension of the right of a licensee or substantial equivalency practitioner to practice before any state or federal agency;
  • Dishonesty, fraud, professional negligence in the performance of services as a licensee or substantial equivalency practitioner or in the filing or failure to file the licensee’s or substantial equivalency practitioner’s own income tax returns, or a willful departure from accepted standards of professional conduct applicable to licensees and substantial equivalency practitioners;
  • Violation of any provision of this article or any rule, including the violation of any professional standard or rule of professional conduct;
  • Conviction of a felony or any crime an element of which is dishonesty or fraud under the laws of the United States or this State, or conviction of any similar crime under the laws of any other state if the underlying act or omission involved would have constituted a crime under the laws of this State;
  • Performance of any fraudulent act by any licensee or substantial equivalency practitioner;
  • Any conduct adversely reflecting upon the licensee’s or substantial equivalency practitioner’s fitness to perform professional services;
  • Making any false or misleading statement or verification in support of an application for a license filed by another person or firm; or
  • Engaging in the unlawful practice of law as defined by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

If the board suspends, revokes, refuses to issue, refuses to renew or limits any license or practice privilege, the board shall give written notice of the denial, including a statement of charges setting forth the reasons for the denial, and notice of the date, time and place for hearing.

W. Va. Code § 30-9-23 provides that if the board has suspended, revoked or refused to renew a license or has revoked the practice privileges of a substantial equivalency practitioner, the licensee, firm or substantial equivalency practitioner against whom action has been taken under the provisions of this article, must be afforded an opportunity to demonstrate the qualifications to resume practice.  The application for reinstatement must be in writing and is subject to the procedures specified by rule.

W. Va. Code § 30-9-26 provides that no authorization holder or substantial equivalency practitioner may perform attest or compilation services in a manner other than pursuant to the statements on standards relating to those services specified by rule.  No licensee or substantial equivalency practitioner or firm may, for a commission or referral fee, recommend or refer to a client any product or service or refer any product or service to be supplied by a client, or perform for a contingent fee any professional services for or receive a referral fee, commission or contingent fee from a client for whom the licensee, the substantial equivalency practitioner or firm works or associates or in which either of them owns an interest or who performs for that client:

  • An audit or review of a financial statement;
  • A compilation of a financial statement when the licensee or substantial equivalency practitioner expects, or reasonably might expect, that a third party will use the financial statement and the compilation report does not disclose a lack of independence; or
  • An examination of prospective financial information.

The prohibition in subdivision one of this subsection applies only during the period in which the licensee or substantial equivalency practitioner is engaged to perform any of the services listed in subdivision (1) of this subsection and the period covered by any historical financial statements involved in any of those listed services.  No licensee or substantial equivalency practitioner may for a contingent fee prepare an original or amended tax return or claim for a tax refund or serve as an expert witness.  No licensee may use a professional or firm name or designation that: (1) Is deceptive or misleading about the legal form of the firm, or about the persons who are partners, officers, members, managers or shareholders of the firm, or about any other matter; or (2) contains a name or term other than past or present partners, officers, members, managers or shareholders of the firm or of a predecessor firm engaged in the practice of accounting.  No person or firm that does not hold an authorization to perform attest services, or is not otherwise exempt from the authorization requirement, may perform or offer to perform attest services, and no person or firm that does not hold an authorization to perform compilation services, or is not otherwise exempt from the authorization requirement, may perform or offer to perform compilation services.

No individual practitioner who holds an authorization may perform or offer to perform attest services for a client of his or her employer through or on behalf of his or her employer.  No person who is not a certified public accountant, a public accountant or a substantial equivalency practitioner may:

  • Issue a report on financial statements of any other person, business entity, or governmental unit or otherwise render or offer to render any attest or compilation service provided, that this subdivision does not prohibit any act of a public official or public employee in the performance of that person’s duties or the performance by any person of other services involving the use of accounting skills, including the preparation of tax returns, management advisory services, and the preparation of financial statements without the issuance of reports thereon provided that this subdivision does not prohibit any person who is not a certified public accountant, a public accountant or a substantial equivalency practitioner to prepare financial statements or issue nonattest transmittals of information thereon that do not purport to have been performed in accordance with the applicable statements on standards;
  • Claim to hold a certificate, registration or authorization or make any other claim of licensure or approval related to the preparation of financial statements or the issuance of reports thereon that is false or misleading;
  • Claim to have used “generally accepted accounting principles,” “generally accepted accounting standards,” “public accountancy standards,” “public accountancy principles,” “generally accepted auditing principles” or “generally accepted auditing standards” in connection with the preparation of any financial statement, or use any of these terms to describe any complete or partial variation from those standards or principles or to imply complete or partial conformity with those standards or principles;
  • State or imply that he or she is tested, competent, qualified or proficient in financial standards established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants or any agency thereof, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board or any agency thereof, the Securities and Exchange Commission or any agency thereof, the Financial Accounting Standards Board or any agency thereof, or any successor entity to any of these entities;
  • Assume or use the titles “certified accountant,” “chartered accountant,” “enrolled accountant,” “licensed accountant,” “registered accountant,” “Auditor,” “independent Auditor” or any other title or designation that a reasonable person may confuse with the titles “certified public accountant” or “public accountant,” or assume or use the abbreviations “CA,” “LA,” “RA,” or similar abbreviation that a reasonable person may confuse with the abbreviations “CPA” or “PA” provided, that the title “Enrolled Agent” and the abbreviation “EA” may only be used by individuals so designated by the Internal Revenue Service;
  • Use language in any statement relating to the financial affairs of a person or entity that is conventionally used by a licensee in a report on a financial statement;
  • Use the words “audit,” “audit report,” “independent audit,” “examine,” “examination,” “opinion” or “review” in a report on a financial statement;
  • Assume or use any title that includes the words “accountant,” “Auditor,” or “accounting” in connection with any other language (including the language of a report) that implies that the person or business entity holds a license or has special competence in accounting or auditing provided, that this subdivision does not prohibit any officer, partner, member, manager or employee of any business entity from affixing that person’s own signature to any statement in reference to the financial affairs of the business entity with any wording designating the position, title, or office that the person holds therein, nor does it prohibit any act of a public official or employee in the performance of the person’s duties;
  • Use or assume the title “certified public accountant,” the abbreviation “CPA,” or any other title, designation, word, combination of letters, abbreviation, sign, card or device that may lead a reasonable person to believe that the person is a certified public accountant or the holder of an out-of-state certificate; or
  • Assume or use the title “public accountant,” the abbreviation “PA,” or any other title, designation, word, combination of letters, abbreviation, sign, card or device that may lead a reasonable person to believe that the person is a public accountant.

Pursuant to W. Va. Code § 30-9-27, when, as a result of an investigation under this article or otherwise, the board or any other interested person believes that any person or business entity has engaged, is engaging, or is about to engage in any acts or practices that constitute or will constitute a violation of section twenty-six [§ 30-9-26] of this article, the board or any other interested person may make application to any court of competent jurisdiction for an order enjoining the acts or practices, and upon a showing that the person or business entity has engaged or is about to engage in any act or practice, an injunction, restraining order, or another appropriate order may be granted by the court without bond.


Inside Regulation of Accountants – West Virginia