Prohibiting Practice by Non-Certified Accountants

Statutes prohibiting non-certified accountants from practicing the profession of accountancy are considered to be unwarranted regulations of private business and the right of a citizen to pursue the ordinary occupations, and have been declared invalid.[i]  Moreover, one has every right to work at his/her chosen profession and to call oneself “accountant” rather than “bookkeeper,” so long as one does not use the statutory title “certified public accountant” or “public accountant” or any other designation that might mislead or deceive the public.[ii]  Unless accompanied by an explanatory disclaimer, statutes prohibiting unlicensed persons from using designations concerning an accounting business can constitutionally ban the use of terms such as “accountant.”[iii]  In the case of restricting economic expression constituting commercial speech, statutes prohibiting accountants from soliciting clients and from competitive bidding are unconstitutional.[iv]


[i] Elliott v. University of Illinois, 365 Ill. 338 (Ill. 1937)

[ii] State ex rel. State Board of Accountancy v. Bookkeepers Business Service Co., 53 Tenn. App. 350 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1964)

[iii] Carberry v. State Bd. of Accountancy, 28 Cal. App. 4th 770 (Cal. App. 1st Dist. 1994)

[iv] Accountant’s Soc. of Virginia v. Bowman, 860 F.2d 602 (4th Cir. Va. 1988)

Inside Prohibiting Practice by Non-Certified Accountants