Regulation of Accountants – Wisconsin

Pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 15.405, an Accounting Examining Board is created in the department of regulation and licensing of Wisconsin.  The examining board consists of seven members, who are appointed for a term of four years.  Five members shall hold certificates as certified public accountants and be eligible for licensure to practice in this state.  Two members shall be public members.

The Accounting Examining Board promulgates rules that adopt by reference all of the following:[i]

(a) The statements on auditing standards issued by the Auditing Standards Board of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

(b) The statements on standards for accounting and review services issued by the Accounting and Review Services Committee of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

(c) The statements on standards for attestation engagements issued by the Auditing Standards Board, the Accounting and Review Services Committee, and the Consulting Services Executive Committee of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 442.025, the following persons do not require a certificate or license in Wisconsin:

(1) Persons employed by a certified public accountant or licensed firm to serve as accountants in various capacities, as needed, if all of the following conditions are met:

(a) The employees serving as accountants work under the control and supervision of certified public accountants.

(b) The employees serving as accountants do not issue any statements or reports over their own names except office reports to their employer that are customary.

(c) The employees serving as accountants are not in any manner held out to the public as certified public accountants.

(2) A practicing attorney, who, in connection with his or her professional work renders any accounting service.

(3) A person employed by more than one person for the purpose of keeping books, making trial balances, or statements, and preparing reports.  However, in such cases, the following requirements must be met:

(a) The reports described in this subsection are not used or issued by the employers as having been prepared by a certified public accountant.

(b) The persons employed as described in this subsection do not do any of the things enumerated in s. 442.02 (1m) (f) except as authorized under s. 442.02 (5m)

(4) (a) A person who meets all of the following conditions:

1. The persons principal place of business or residence is not in this state.

2. The person holds a valid certified public accountant certificate or license from another state that the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy National Qualification Appraisal Service has verified to be in substantial equivalence with the certified public accountant licensure requirements of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants/ National Association of State Boards of Accountancy Uniform Accountancy Act, or the person obtains verification from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy National Qualification Appraisal Service that his or her individual qualifications are substantially equivalent to the certified public accountant licensure requirements of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants/ National Association of State Boards of Accountancy Uniform Accountancy Act.(b) Any person who enters the state of Wisconsin to practice as a certified public accountant under this subsection agrees to all of the following:

1. That he or she is under the personal and subject matter jurisdiction of the examining board and he or she may be disciplined under s. 442.12

2. That he or she will comply with this chapter and rules promulgated by the examining board.

3. That the examining board of the state that issued his or her license may act as his or her agent for the purpose of receiving process in any legal action or proceeding by the examining board.

(5) A public official or public employee in performing his or her duties.

(6) A person who performs services involving the use of accounting skills, including management advisory services, the preparation of tax returns, and the preparation of financial statements without issuing reports on the statements.

(7) A person who prepares financial statements and issues information thereon that does not purport to be in compliance with the statement on standards for accounting and review services issued by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Wis. Stat. § 442.07 s provides  requirements for practice as certified public accountant.  Wis. Stat. § 442.07(1) states that only a person who has been issued a certificate of the person’s qualifications to practice as a certified public accountant, shall be styled and known as a “certified public accountant.”  No other person shall assume to use such title or the abbreviation “C.P.A.” or any other word, words, letters, or figures to indicate that the person using the same is a certified public accountant.  The terms “chartered accountant” and “certified accountant” and the abbreviation “C.A.” are specifically prohibited to such other persons as being prima facie misleading to the public.

Pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 442.07(3), a firm that is entitled to practice as certified public accountants in the state of Wisconsin or any other state and every resident member of the firm who is a certified public accountant of state of Wisconsin, after registering the firm name with the examining board, may use the designation “certified public accountants” in connection with the firm name.

The department of regulation and licensing shall issue a license to an individual who holds an unrevoked certificate as a certified public accountant.  For this purpose, the concerned individual should submit an application for the license on a form provided by the department, and pays the initial credential fee determined by the department.[ii]

Wis. Stat. § 442.083 deals with renewal of licenses.  The renewal dates for licenses are as set under section 440.08 (2) (a), and the renewal fees for such licenses are determined by the department under s. 440.03 (9) (a).

Wis. Stat. § 442.12 lays out disciplinary actions that may be taken.  Accordingly, subject to the rules promulgated under Section 440.03 (1), the examining board may do any of the following:

(a) Make investigations and conduct hearings.

(b) Revoke, limit, or suspend for a definite period any certificate, license, or practice privilege, or officially reprimand the holder, if it finds that the holder has violated this chapter or any duly promulgated standard or rule of practice or for any other sufficient cause.

(c) In the case of a firm, revoke, limit, or suspend the license of the firm, or reprimand it, if it is found that any member of the firm has been guilty of such act or omission as would be cause for revoking, limiting, or suspending a certificate or license to the person as an individual or for reprimanding the person.

(d) Impose a period of probation under specified conditions, whether or not in conjunction with other sanctions.

(e) Require additional professional education or training, or reexamination, or any combination, as a condition precedent to the reinstatement of a license or of any privilege, or as a condition precedent to the termination of any suspension.

(f) Suspend a license until further order of the examining board or for a specified period for failure to comply with an order of the examining board imposing disciplinary sanctions.

(g) Upon application in writing and after hearing pursuant to notice, issue a new license to a licensee whose license has been revoked, reinstate a revoked certificate or modify the suspension of any license or certificate which has been suspended.

This subsection does not apply to a license or certificate that is suspended under Section 440.13 (2) (c) or that is revoked under Section. 440.12.

Wis. Stat. § 442.12(2m) provides that a person who is licensed or certified in the state of Wisconsin and who practices as a certified public accountant in another state is subject to disciplinary action by the examining board under this section for an act committed in the other state that would subject the person to disciplinary action in the other state.

Pursuant to Section 442.12(3m), the examining board shall investigate and may take disciplinary action against a person licensed or certified in this state upon receipt of a complaint by the examining board of accountancy of another state against that person.

Wis. Stat. § 442.11 provides for penalties.  Whoever does any of the following may, for each offense, may be fined not more than $500, or imprisoned in the county jail for not more than one year, or both:

(1) Uses any term other than certified public accountant or the abbreviation C. P. A. to indicate that he or she is a certified public accountant with a specially granted title.

(2) While practicing under an assumed name, or as a member of a firm, other than a firm with a name that is registered, announces, either in writing or by printing, that the assumed name or firm is practicing as a certified public accountant.

(3) Holds himself/herself out to the public as a certified public accountant or assumes to practice as a certified public accountant unless he or she has been granted a certificate as a certified public accountant from the examining board.[iii]

(4) Practices as a certified public accountant after his or her certificate has been revoked.[iv]

(5) As an individual or member of a firm, practices or permits the firm to practice as a certified public accountant unless a license has been secured for the current licensure period.[v]

(6) Sells, buys, gives, or obtains an alleged certificate as a certified public accountant or a license in any manner other than that provided for by this chapter.[vi]

(7) Attempts to practice as a certified public accountant under the guise of a certificate not granted by the examining board or under cover of a certificate obtained illegally or fraudulently.[vii]

(8) Certifies to any false or fraudulent report, certificate, exhibit, schedule or statement.[viii]

(9) Attempts by any subterfuge to evade the provisions of this chapter while practicing as a certified public accountant.[ix]

(10) As an individual or member of a firm, permits to be announced by printed or written statement that any report, certificate, exhibit, schedule, or statement has been prepared by or under supervision of a certified public accountant when the person who prepared the report, certificate, exhibit, schedule, or statement was not a certified public accountant.[x]


[i] Wis. Stat. § 442.01

[ii] Wis. Stat. § 442.08(1)

[iii] Wis. Stat. § 442.11 (5)

[iv]Wis. Stat. §  442.11(7)

[v] Wis. Stat. §  442.11(8)

[vi] Wis. Stat. §  442.11(9)

[vii] Wis. Stat. §  442.11(10)

[viii] Wis. Stat. §  442.11(11)

[ix] Wis. Stat. §  442.11(12)

[x] Wis. Stat. §  442.11(13)


Inside Regulation of Accountants – Wisconsin