Frequently Asked Questions

CPA Examination

1.     Q:  What is the application procedure?

        A:  The application process is online, and details may be obtained from CPA Examination Services (CPAES).

2.     Q:  What are the application deadlines?

        A:  Online applications may be submitted any time after completing the education requirements. Applications may take up to six (6) weeks to review.

3.     Q:  What happens after I receive the notice to schedule?

        A:  You may contact Prometric directly to schedule the CPA exam.

Course Requirements for Admission to the CPA Examination

1.     Q:  May a person sit for the CPA examination with fewer than 150 semester hours of college credit?

        A:  Possibly.  In order to sit for the CPA exam with fewer than 150 semester hours, you must obtain a score of 620 or higher on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), and complete the accounting and business course requirements outlined in Ohio Administrative Code 4701-3-03. The experience requirement for candidates in this category is two years if you complete 150 semester hours after you sit for the CPA examination, and four years if you do not.

2.     Q:  How do I find out if I meet the education requirements to sit for the exam?

        A:  The National Association of State Boards of Accounting (NASBA) offers an advisory evaluation service to determine if you meet course requirements to sit for the CPA examination.

3.     Q:  What type of foreign credential evaluation should I obtain?

        A:  You must obtain a course by course listing and a course credit analysis. The report must include accounting, business, and total credits earned.

4.     Q:  Does computer information systems still count as an accounting course?

        A:  A computer information systems course begun before May 7, 2003 will still count as an accounting course, provided that course has computer programming as a prerequisite. A general information systems course taken after May 7, 2003 will count as a business course. However, an accounting information systems course still counts as an accounting course.

5.     Q:  How do I find out the business course requirements?

        A:  One course taken in the subjects of general communication skills (including English and speech courses), one course in either sociology or psychology, one course in general ethics taken in the philosophy department, and one course in general quantitative methods or statistics will count as a business course for the purposes of admission to the CPA exam if the course was begun prior to May 7, 2003. Any course in these areas specifically related to business (business communications, marketing psychology, business ethics, business statistics, econometrics, etc.) will count as a business course even if the course was taken after May 7, 2003. The fields of finance, economics, management, marketing, and business law count as business topics.

College Credit Calculation

1.     Q:  How do quarter credits convert to semester credits?

        A:  One semester hour equals 1½ quarter hours, so one quarter hour is 2/3 of a semester hour. Trimester credit hours are generally the same as semester credit hours. Colleges that award "units" instead of semester or quarter credits will specify the conversion from units to semester or quarter credits.

2.     Q:  Do graduate accounting courses earn more credit?

        A:  Graduate accounting courses reduce the number of semester credits required to fulfill the accounting course requirements to sit for the CPA exam. One graduate semester or quarter credit in accounting counts 5/3 credits toward the accounting course requirement; therefore, 18 semester hours of graduate credit will substitute for 30 semester hours of undergraduate credit. However, credits earned in graduate business courses are equivalent to undergraduate business courses in meeting the 24-hour business course requirement. Graduate accounting courses do not reduce the overall credit requirement below 150 semester hours.

Residence

Q:  Is Ohio residence still required for the CPA exam?

A:  No.  Residence is no longer a legal requirement in Ohio for admission to the CPA examination. However, a person who sits for the CPA examination as a nonresident Ohio candidate must meet the residence requirement at the time of CPA certification. Residence implies legal US residence that qualifies for in-state tuition status at an Ohio college or university.

Transfer of CPA Examination Credit

1.     Q:  How do I transfer exam credit to Ohio?

        A:  If you earn credit on the CPA examination as a candidate of another state and wish to transfer this credit to Ohio, you must complete the Ohio educational requirements and satisfy the residency requirement. If you continue to sit for the CPA exam as a candidate of the other state and obtain a CPA certificate in that state, then you may obtain an Ohio CPA certificate by reciprocity or substantial equivalency if all other requirements are met.

2.     Q:  What is the "grandfather clause?"

        A:  Section 4701.06 of the Ohio Revised Code states that the educational requirements for admission to the CPA examination are those in effect on the date the candidate first sits for the CPA exam. The grandfather clause does not apply to persons who fulfilled the educational requirements prior to 2000 but did not sit for the CPA examination.

Test Center Problems and Contacts

1.     Q:  What action should I take if I think I witnessed a candidate cheating or if I believe a test center employee acted improperly?

        A:  You may submit a security issue anonymously online via Prometric’s Security Tips Line.

2.     Q:  What action should I take if I experienced a problem at the testing center?

        A:  Contact Prometric Customer Care (800-580-9648) or NASBA (800-CPA-EXAM).

3.     Q:  What if I have a concern about the test questions for the section I just completed?

        A:  Communicate your concerns to the AICPA Examination Team by email (cpaexam@aicpa.org) or by mail (100 Princeton South, Suite 200, Ewing, NJ 08628).

Experience Requirement

1.     Q:  Do I need more experience for the CPA certificate if I am employed in industry or government instead of in public accounting?

        A:  No.

2.     Q:  What counts as qualifying experience for the CPA certificate?

        A:  The experience requirement may be fulfilled if you perform one or more accounting services, such as accounting, auditing, consulting services, financial planning and management advisory services, and tax services.

3.     Q:  May experience be claimed toward the requirement that was earned years prior to applying for the CPA certificate?

        A:  Yes.  Experience, once earned, may be counted toward the experience requirement.

4.     Q:  Is there a time limit after passing the CPA examination that a candidate for the CPA certificate must apply for a CPA certificate?

        A:  No.

Substantial Equivalency

Q:  Explain "substantial equivalency."

A:  There are 55 jurisdictions that license CPAs in the 50 states, Puerto Rico, District of Columbia, Guam, US Virgin Islands and Northern Mariana Islands. These jurisdictions vary somewhat in their licensing requirements. Substantial equivalency, in effect in Ohio since the Board was created in 1908 and now a national standard, means that each state may overlook relatively minor differences in other states' CPA requirements in order to facilitate the movement of CPAs between states. Any person who holds a permit to practice public accounting in any state may apply for an Ohio CPA certificate by substantial equivalency.

CPA Licensing

1.     Q:  What type of license should I obtain?

        A:  The law states that you need an Ohio permit if you are engaged in the practice of public accounting or perform regulated services. Public accounting includes compilations, reviews, and audits, as well as tax and consulting work done by a CPA firm. Regulated services are services performed outside a CPA firm while using the CPA designation that would be subject to the professional standards if performed in a CPA firm. If you are not engaged in the practice of public accounting and you do not perform regulated services, you may obtain a non-practicing Ohio registration and use the title “CPA Inactive.”

2.     Q:  I am not employed in public accounting, but I wish to use the CPA designation without the "Inactive" disclaimer. May I obtain the Ohio permit even though I am not practicing public accounting?

        A:  Yes.  However, you must complete the continuing professional education (CPE) requirements applicable to Ohio permit holders. This requirement is 120 CPE credits (including three credits of Board-approved professional standards and responsibilities) each three-year reporting period.

3.     Q:  I do not have my own CPA firm, but I do some taxes and consulting for friends and neighbors. What license should I obtain?

        A:   You should obtain the Ohio permit, because you are practicing public accounting and signing documents as a CPA. Since you do not advertise to the public as a CPA firm, you are not required to register with the Board as a public accounting firm, although you may do so.

4.     Q:   I now reside outside the USA. Must I obtain an Ohio CPA license?

        A:   Yes.  All who hold an Ohio CPA certificate must maintain their licensure with either a practicing permit or non-practicing registration.

5.     Q:  I no longer use the CPA designation, I am over age 55, and I wish to retire my license. How may I do this?

        A:  Retiring your CPA certificate is considered a final act. To permanently change your credentials to “CPA-Retired,” you need to complete an Affidavit for Retired CPA/PA Status and CPE Exemption form, have it notarized and submit it to this office.

6.     Q:  What are the differences among the "practicing" license, the "non-practicing" license, and the "inactive" license? 

        A:  The two types of licenses are, legally speaking, the Ohio permit and the Ohio registration. Since the Ohio permit is the authorization to practice public accounting, it is also known as the "permit to practice" or the "practicing license." Continuing education is required in order to obtain or renew an Ohio permit. The Ohio registration is considered a "non-practicing” or “inactive” license. A CPA or PA who holds an Ohio registration must use the term "Inactive" after the CPA or PA designation, since continuing education is not required.

7.     Q:  I would like to do bookkeeping and tax work without using the CPA designation. How may I do this?

        A:  Any CPA who is associated with financial statements is required to follow public accounting standards. There is no provision in the accountancy law that permits a CPA to act, in essence, as a non-CPA with respect to accounting work.

Professional Ethics

1.     Q:  I am a CPA and my client owes me for a past due bill. May I withhold the client's records until I am paid?

        A:  Board rule 4701-11-06 states you must return client records 30 days after the client makes a written request for the records. This time period may be used by you to collect past due fees. However, if the client still does not pay after the 30-day period expires, you must return the client records and enforce collection by other means. The records retention rule refers to original client documents and accounting records (journals and ledgers).

2.     Q:  AICPA ethics interpretation 501-1 (ET section 501.02) seems to permit me to hold on to records until I get paid by the client. Why is the Board's rule different?

        A:  The AICPA ethics interpretation has a 45-day requirement for return of “client-provided records,” and makes a distinction between those records and “member-prepared records.” The Board makes no distinction; both client-provided and member-prepared records (e.g., adjusting, closing, combining, or consolidating journal entries, including computations supporting such entries, and supporting schedules and documents that are proposed or prepared by the member as part of an engagement, such as an audit) are considered client records per 4701-11-06.

3.     Q:  I have records of clients that are no longer with my firm. How long must I keep these records?

        A:  The retention period for ex-client records falls under "best practices" and the accountancy law is silent on this topic. You may be able to obtain general guidance from the OSCPA, AICPA, IRS, or other published sources in this matter.

Firm Names

 Q:  I am a 51% owner of a CPA firm and the other shareholder of the firm is not a CPA. May I use the names of the two owners in the firm name with the "certified public accountants" designation?

 A:  To imply that both owners are CPAs is misleading as to the size of the firm. The use of both names in the firm name with the designation "CPA" is a violation of rule 4701-11-05 if there are no other CPAs in the firm.

Professional Standards and Responsibilities Requirement

1.     Q:  Why don’t I see the word “ethics” in the requirement?

        A:  “Ethics” is included in the subject area covered by professional standards and responsibilities (PSR). For a complete definition and additional topics that are covered by PSR, please review the definition found in rule 4701-15-11(C)(2).

2.     Q:  Are there any substitutes for courses in the Ohio law and rules?

        A:  No.  A course must be taken from a Board-approved sponsor listed on our PSR page.

3.     Q:  Do ethics courses offered by the AICPA fulfill the PSR requirement?

         A:  The AICPA is not a Board-approved PSR sponsor, although these ethics courses earn general CPE credit.

4.     Q:  How is “professional ethics” defined?

        A:  Professional ethics is defined as the exercise of professional judgment by a CPA. Ethics refers to the fact that the CPA has a choice of behavior in situations and why some choices are preferable. Professional ethics is not simply compliance with a set of statutes and regulations, which is why the Board uses the label “professional standards and responsibilities” instead of “ethics.”

5.     Q:  I have seen courses in “ethics” that cover human resource issues and tax laws.  Do these courses qualify?

        A:  Such programs earn general CPE credit, as they contribute to a licensee’s professional competence. Only courses approved by the Board and appearing on our PSR page will be accepted.

6.     Q:  Is it possible for a one-hour or two-hour program in the proper subject area to qualify for PSR credit?

        A:  Yes, if the course is Board approved.

7.     Q:  Can a PSR course be taken online?

        A:  Yes.  Many of our approved sponsors offer self-study courses.  You may view a full list of approved sponsors on our PSR page.

8.     Q:  Are CPAs who hold an Ohio registration (non-practicing/inactive license) required to take professional standards and responsibilities course(s)?

        A:  Licensees who hold an Ohio registration are exempt from all continuing education requirements.

9.     Q:  I am a new CPA.  Am I still required to obtain three (3) credits in professional standards and responsibilities during my first reporting period?

        A:  No.  The requirement is not prorated. Rule 4701-15-11 refers only to three-year reporting periods.

Continuing Education – Individuals

1.     Q:  I currently hold an Ohio registration. What is the CPE requirement in order to obtain a practicing permit?

        A:  The re-entry requirement is 120 credits, earned in the 36 months preceding application for the Ohio permit.

2.     Q:  Must a licensee send course materials or certificates of completion to the Board after each CPE program?

        A:  No.  A licensee should retain all relevant CPE course materials and evidence of completion. This material may be requested during a verification of CPE credit conducted by the Board at a later date. Important: All licensees who renew late, must submit to the Board documentation of 120 credits of CPE completed in the previous 36 months. Licensees may use the CPE Tracking website to retain documentation as well.

3.     Q:  What is a continuing education unit (CEU), and how does it compare to CPE credits?

        A:  A CEU is 10 hours, or 600 minutes. A CPE hour is 50 minutes. A one-day CPE program that earns 0.5 CEU (400 minutes) would earn eight (8) hours of CPE credit, per rule 4701-15-04.

4.     Q:  May the same CPE program be taken more than once in a three-year reporting period?

        A:  Yes.  You may claim credit for the same CPE program once each calendar year, for courses that require yearly updates.

5.     Q:  May the same CPE program be taught more than once in a three-year reporting period?

        A:  No.  You may only claim credit for teaching a course once per reporting period. Instructor CPE is limited to 90 credits per three-year reporting period, in accordance with Board rule 4701-15-04.

6.     Q:  Must all CPE courses be taken from a sponsor registered with the Board?

        A:  No.  Only sponsors who provide professional standards and responsibilities (PSR) credits are required to register with the Board. The Board may accept CPE credits from unregistered sponsors. Remember to keep all documentation that verifies completion of the CPE course.

7.     Q:  I have only a few tax return (or compilation) clients. Must I still obtain 24 CPE credits every three years in tax (accounting/auditing) courses?

        A:  Yes, per rule 4701-15-11.

8.     Q:  What is the breakdown of required CPE hours in various subjects?

        A:  1) Licensees who prepare, work with financial reporting clients and/or sign financial reports must complete at least 24 CPE credits in accounting and/or auditing per reporting period; and at least 24 CPE credits in taxation are required of licensees who prepare taxes, work with tax clients, and/or sign tax returns.

2) Three credits in Board approved professional standards and responsibilities (PSR) are required of all licensees renewing a three-year permit. The PSR requirement may be fulfilled by taking courses in the following subject areas: (a) accountancy laws and rules, (b) professional accounting ethics and (c) ethical philosophy.

 3) Finally, all permit holders must complete a minimum of 20 CPE credits per calendar year to be in compliance with Board rule 4701-15-02(A).

9.     Q:  How do I request an extension of time to make up a CPE deficiency?

        A:  A written request for an extension of time beyond the December 31st reporting deadline must be made in writing to the Executive Director. Requests are granted for documented health reasons or military deployment.

Continuing Education – Sponsors

1.     Q:  What is the recommended length of time a sponsor should retain records?

        A:  Since the reporting period is three years in length, and the Board’s continuing education verification process occurs at the end of a three-year reporting period, a continuing education sponsor should retain the applicable attendance or completion records for a period of at least four years.

2.     Q:  Must a CPE sponsor register with the Accountancy Board?

        A:  No.  Only CPE sponsors offering PSR credit are required to register with the Board.

3:     Q:   How does a sponsor renew with the Accountancy Board?

        A:  All sponsors are listed on the Board’s website. Renewal notices will be emailed to sponsors sixty days prior to the renewal deadline. To renew, send/email a copy of the current sponsor registration form, or PSR sponsor registration form to the Board, along with course materials and instructor information.

Registered sponsors are required to renew by May 31st each year.

Firm Registration and Peer Review

1.     Q:  What is a public accounting firm?

        A:  A public accounting firm is any firm located in Ohio that performs attest work (compilations, reviews, audits, or attestation engagements), and is required to follow AICPA professional standards for those services, whether or not it uses the designation "certified public accountant(s)," "public accountant(s)," or their abbreviations, in connection with the firm name. Any firm that performs only tax or consulting work as described in the AICPA professional standards for these services is also considered a public accounting firm if the firm uses "certified public accountant(s)," "public accountant(s)," or their abbreviations in connection with the firm name. A CPA or PA in business as a sole practitioner that meets either of the above criteria must also register with the Board as a public accounting firm.

2.     Q:  I am planning to start my own CPA firm. What Board requirements must I meet?

        A:  The fee for initial firm registration is $10.00, and you may register your business via your eLicense Dashboard and then apply for this new license.

If you perform attest work (audits, reviews, compilations, attestation engagements), you need to apply as a peer review firm. If you do not perform attest work, you need to apply as a tax/consulting firm.

 3.    Q:  I operate a tax and consulting CPA firm. Why do I need to register with the Board?

        A:  Effective March 30, 1999, all CPA firms that practice public accounting must register with the Board. Public accounting includes all services covered by AICPA professional standards, and comprises tax and consulting services.

 4.    Q:  How do I schedule a peer review?

        A:  The Ohio Society of CPAs (OSCPA) is our authorized agent to conduct peer reviews. You may find information concerning the peer review process on the OSCPA website. You may also contact the OSCPA in writing via email, by mail at 4249 Easton Way, Suite 150, Columbus, OH 43219, or by telephone at (614) 764-2727 or (800) 686-2727.

5.     Q:  One of our firm's partners has recently joined (or departed) our firm. Is our new partnership considered a new firm according to firm registration and peer review requirements?

        A:  No.  Rule 4701-13-09(F) states that a firm which retains substantially similar ownership remains in the same peer review group as the former firm.

6.     Q:  Our firm is planning to offer attest services. How do we change our firm status from tax/consulting to peer review/attest?

        A:  Firms requesting a change of status must apply for a new CPA firm license on the eLicense portal. The firm license will remain the same, but the suffix will change to denote the firm’s type. A tax/consulting firm changing their license status to peer review/attest must undergo a peer review one year after the acceptance of the engagement, per the provisions of section 4701.04(J) of the Ohio Revised Code and rule 4701-13-07 of the Ohio Administrative Code.

7.     Q:  Our firm has not performed attest work since its last renewal, and would like to continue as a tax/consulting firm only.

        A:  Firms requesting a change of status must apply for a new CPA firm license on the eLicense portal. The firm license will remain the same, but the suffix will change to denote the firm’s type. A peer review firm changing their license status to tax/consulting may need to submit a Peer Review Exemption form.

Complaints and Investigations

Q:    How do I contact the Board to check on the status of a complaint I filed?

A:    When a complaint is submitted, an email is generated to the complainant, giving the case number. You may call the Board’s office at (614) 466-4135, or contact the investigator assigned to your case (as listed on Board issued correspondence).

 

  John E. Patterson, Executive Director

Accountancy Board of Ohio

77 South High Street, Suite 1820

Columbus, Ohio  43215-6128


Accountancy Board of Ohio Contact List

 

Main Line:  614.466.4135

Fax Line:  614.466.2628