Do You Need a CPA License Defense Attorney?
As an accountant, you’ve gone through several years of schooling and passed a tough exam to earn the title of certified public accountant (CPA). You never really think about needing a CPA license defense attorney, until you do.
If something has happened that threatens your professional license, whether it’s a complaint filed against you or you have committed a misdemeanor or felony that involves fraud or dishonesty, you need to take action fast as your entire career could be in danger.
Talking with an experienced CPA license defense attorney should be the first action you take when faced with that threat.
If the Arizona State Board of Accountancy has informed you that it has opened a file that concerns your license, the sooner you secure legal representation, the better.
You must be careful to pay attention to deadlines, and an attorney who knows the ins and outs of the system can keep you on track.
Hiring a CPA license defense attorney during the process isn’t required, but you’ll have a lot better chance of successfully defending your case with a qualified license defense lawyer guiding you through the process step by step and working on your behalf.
Our CPA License Defense Attorneys Answer the Most FAQs
- What types of potential complaints do CPA license defense attorneys defend against
- What is the Arizona Board of Accountancy complaint process?
- What is the potential disciplinary action taken by the Board?
- Can a CPA license be reinstated in Arizona?
- Do you need a CPA license defense attorney?
Types of Potential Complaints CPA License Defense Attorneys Defend Against
As part of its mission to assure “the public that the CPA profession in Arizona operates at the highest level of professional competence,” the Arizona State Board of Accountancy verifies the education and experience of applicants and also handles client complaints and disciplinary matters.
The Board has jurisdiction to investigate complaints that allege violations of many different types of laws and rules that govern accountants.
Some of these regulations include Board and state statutes that pertain to accountants, applicable rules of professional or financial conduct, criminal laws on every level of government, and the protocols of national professional accounting organizations.
Violations may fall into the following complaint categories, according to the Board’s website:
- Independence, integrity, and objectivity;
- Competence and adherence to technical standards;
- Confidentiality and records disposition;
- Violation of accountancy rules, fiduciary duty, or trust;
- Advertising and solicitation practices;
- Form of practice and use of the CPA designation;
- Ethical or moral violations; and/or
- Conviction of a felony or any crime reasonably related to the practice of accounting.
The Board also has jurisdiction to open an investigation when an Arizona CPA self-reports any of the following:
- Revocation or suspension of the license to practice accounting before any state or federal agency, including the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
- Civil or administrative judgment that involves fraud, dishonesty, misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty, or negligence in the practice of public accounting.
- Criminal convictions for crimes involving accounting or tax violations, theft, fraud, dishonesty, etc.
Arizona Board of Accountancy Complaint Process
The Board provides a Consumer Complaint Form through which any member of the public can file a grievance, which may even be done anonymously.
When the Board receives a complaint and has the jurisdiction to proceed, it opens a file and assigns it to either the Accounting and Auditing Advisory Committee or Tax Advisory Committee.
During the initial analysis, the existence of a complaint and the related investigation remain confidential. After the initial analysis, if the Board decides to open an investigation file, the existence of a complaint as well as its nature is made public.
The Board may choose to assign a special investigative reviewer to aid in the preparation of the investigative file. This reviewer may conduct interviews with the complainant, CPA, and anyone else that informs the eventual resolution of the matter.
You can imagine why having an experienced CPA license defense attorney on your side at this time would benefit you a great deal.
The Board estimates that most complaints are closed within about six to nine months, and it aims to process complaints “expeditiously.”
During the process, the Board strives to keep both the CPA and complainant informed of the investigative process within the constraints of the statutory provisions that protect the confidentiality of the process.
Potential Disciplinary Action
At the conclusion of the investigation, the assigned committee will recommend to the Board any of the following actions:
- Dismiss the complaint, based on a finding of no violation.
- Issue a confidential, non-disciplinary administrative letter of concern.
- Offer a disciplinary order with sanctions that could include “probation, suspension, relinquishment, revocation, restitution, administrative penalties, additional continuing professional education, reimbursement of Board investigative costs and/or other sanctions designed to best protect the public and rehabilitate the registrant.”
- File a complaint and notice of a full hearing.
CPA License Reinstatement in Arizona
If your CPA license has been canceled, expired, relinquished, or revoked, you may be able to seek reinstatement of your license, though not always, which is why it’s crucial that you have proper legal advice whenever the future of your CPA license is involved.
In 2016, for example, two former Arizona CPAs were convicted of crimes related to ERISA fraud, and as part of their plea agreements, they agreed not to seek reinstatement of their CPA licenses.
While a CPA license defense attorney can assist with reinstatement, the procedure to follow for getting your CPA license back depends on how you lost it in the first place. Generally, to seek license reinstatement you will need to:
- complete an application
- pay both a filing fee and registration fee
- provide proof that you have completed the required continuing education requirements and have not engaged in any conduct that would have resulted in revocation or suspension of a CPA license
If your license has been revoked or relinquished, you will have to meet additional requirements, including providing proof of rehabilitation.
You will have to produce evidence that you have not engaged in any conduct that had you been licensed would have resulted in suspension or revocation; that your civil rights have been restored if you had been convicted of a crime; and that all complaints and investigations against you have been resolved.
Choose a CPA License Defense Attorney With Experience
If you’re facing possible disciplinary action concerning your CPA license, an experienced CPA license defense attorney will be an invaluable ally to have on your side from the beginning.
If you’ve received notice of a complaint against you or are subject to self-reporting of certain offenses to the Board, give us a call at (602) 548-3400 or send us a message today so we can get started on your defense.
Time is of the essence.
Facing an Arizona Board of Accountancy investigation can quickly become a bewildering, stressful experience. You may be tempted to go it alone or even to pretend that the situation will resolve itself on its own. But these actions could put your license at even greater risk.
The best way to protect your license and ability to practice is to hire an experienced CPA license defense attorney who understands the law and language of the Board process, and who will fight for the reputation you worked so hard to build.
It’s our goal to provide you with a vigorous defense and obtain the best possible result.
We’re here to help, and our legal team is ready to protect your interests.
See What Our Clients Say on Google:
“I worked with Colin Bell on a business licensing issue. He was very knowledgeable and extremely helpful dealing with a stressful situation. With Colin’s help, I feel I got the best possible outcome in the situation.” Jeff W., March 2021, Rating: 5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐