Ohio.gov  |   State Agencies   |   Online Services
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. The general application process has not changed significantly from the paper-based CPA examination. There is still an application form, and applicants must submit the same materials (transcripts, etc.) that were required for the paper-based CPA examination.


2.     Q:           What are the application deadlines?
        A:            There are no application deadlines under the computer-based CPA examination. Once you have received the notice to schedule, you should allow two weeks for application processing.


3.     Q:           What happens after I receive the notice to schedule?
        A:            If you hold a valid notice to schedule, you may contact Prometric CPA Exam directly to schedule the CPA exam. The exam must be scheduled at least one week in advance, and it is subject to available seating.


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:            Yes. You must possess a baccalaureate or associates degree, obtain a score of 620 on the Graduate Management Admission Test, and complete the accounting and business course requirements in order to sit for the CPA examination without completing 150 semester hours. 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 the accounting course requirements?

        A:            You should complete the CPA Examination Course Evaluation Worksheet to help you determine if you meet the course requirements for admission to the CPA examination. The accounting subjects are typically covered in separate courses. Professional ethics, which is not offered as a separate course at most universities, is usually covered in the auditing course sequence. Internal auditing does not count as an auditing course.


3.     Q.           What type of foreign credential evaluation should I obtain?
        A.            You should obtain a "course by course" evaluation  that is detailed enough to break down accounting subject areas and separate business courses, as those are the two categories of courses required for admission to the CPA examination in Ohio. You may obtain a more general evaluation if you do not plan to use any courses taken from the foreign college or university.


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


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 (the former "group and individual behavior" category), one course in general ethics taken in the philosophy department, and one course in general quantitative methods or statistics  counts as a business course for the purposes of admission to the computer-based 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.) counts as a business course. The fields of finance, economics, management, marketing, and business law still 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 do not earn more credit, but they do reduce the number of semester credits needed to fulfill the CPA accounting course requirements. One graduate semester or quarter credit in accounting counts for 5/3 credits toward the accounting course requirement, since only 18 semester hours of graduate credit will substitute for 30 semester hours of undergraduate credit. However, graduate business courses do not earn more credit than undergraduate business courses toward the 24-hour business course requirement, nor do graduate accounting courses reduce the overall credit requirement below 150 semester hours.


            Use the following formula to determine how many accounting credits you need:

                       1.            Undergraduate credits: Subtract the number of undergraduate credits you have earned plus the number of graduate credits you have earned multiplied by 5/3 from 30 to obtain the undergraduate credit hours you still need to sit for the CPA examination. Fractions must be rounded upward to the nearest whole credit.

                       2.            Graduate credits: Subtract the number of graduate credits you have earned and the number of undergraduate credits you have earned multiplied by 3/5 from 18 to obtain the graduate credit hours you still need to sit for the CPA examination. Fractions must be rounded upward to the nearest whole credit.




        Q:           Is Ohio residency required for the CPA exam?

        A:            No. Ohio residency is no longer a legal requirement in Ohio for admission to the computer-based 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 in another state and you wish to transfer this credit to Ohio, you would need to complete the Ohio CPA certification educational requirements and residency requirement. If you continue to sit for the CPA exam as a candidate of the other state and obtain a CPA certificate in the other state, then you may obtain an Ohio CPA certificate by reciprocity or substantial equivalency.


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 cheating or if I believe a test center employee acted improperly, or if I experienced a problem at the testing center?
Contact Prometric Customer Care (800-967-1139) or NASBA (800-CPA-EXAM).


2.     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 of the services listed in the 
definition of public accounting.


3.     Q:           May experience be claimed toward the requirement that was earned many years prior to application for the CPA certificate?
        A:            Yes. Experience, once earned, may be counted toward the experience requirement. The Ohio accountancy law does not differentiate between "recent" experience and any other experience.


4.     Q:           Is there a time limit after passing the CPA examination that a candidate for the CPA certificate must complete the ethics course requirement?
        A:            No. There is no time limit in the accountancy law or Board rules.


Substantial Equivalency


        Q:           Explain "substantial equivalency."
        A:            There are 55 jurisdictions that license CPAs-the 50 US states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, Guam, the US Virgin Islands and the 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 the Ohio CPA certificate by substantial equivalency. Others must apply using the reciprocal CPA certificate application.


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 work and consulting. 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 the Ohio registration.


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) requirement applicable to Ohio permit holders. This requirement is 120 CPE credits every three years.


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:            No. Section 4701.10 of the Ohio Revised Code provides that an Ohio CPA who is a foreign resident is exempt from the licensing requirements.


5.     Q:           I no longer use the CPA designation, and I wish to retire my license. How may I do this?
        A:            You should complete either the affidavit for "
Retired CPA/PA" or, the affidavit for "Surrender of a CPA/PA Certificate" affidavit form.


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 the Ohio permit. The Ohio registration was formerly known as the "non-practicing registration." A CPA or PA who holds the 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 professional 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 that 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 only 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 no deadline for return of client records. The Board's opinion is that a rule without a deadline is not enforceable; consequently, the Board's rule balances the interests of the client with those of the CPA.


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 published sources in this matter.


 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 Ohio Administrative Code 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; http://acc.ohio.gov/CPE/PSR.aspx.


3.   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 labels the Ohio laws and rules course "professional standards and responsibilities" instead of "ethics."


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

     A:       Programs that refer to legal compliance as "ethical" behavior would not qualify for PSR credit. Such programs would earn general CPE credit if they contributed to a licensee's professional competence. The choice between complying with the law and breaking the law is not an ethical choice, as there is no ethical reasoning involved in following rules and regulations. Only courses approved by the Board and appear on our PSR page will be accepted. http://acc.ohio.gov/CPE/PSR.aspx


5.   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.


6.   Q:       Can the 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; http://acc.ohio.gov/CPE/PSR.aspx.


7.   Q:       Are CPAs who hold the Ohio registration (inactive license) required to take the professional standards and responsibilities course?

     A:       No, this is part of the continuing education requirement for permit holders. Licensees who hold the Ohio registration are exempt from required continuing education.


8.   Q:       I am a new CPA. Am I still required to obtain three 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 the Ohio permit?

     A:       The reentry requirement is 120 credits earned in the 36 months preceding application for the Ohio permit. Once an Ohio permit has been issued, the CPE requirement at renewal is 120 CPE credits earned in the 3-year reporting period preceding the renewal date. Thus, some (or all) reentry CPE may be used twice - once to return to permit status and again when the permit is renewed.


2.   Q:       Must a licensee send course materials or certificates of completion to the board after each CPE program?
     A:       No. The board does not keep any running totals of CPE credit earned by licensees. 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 documentation of 120 hours of CPE credit to the Board. Licensees may use the State CPE Tracking website to retain documentation as well.  https://oh.cpetracking.com/index


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 8 hours 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 year. This generally applies to 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.


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

     A:       No. The Board may accept CPE credits from unregistered sponsors. Remember to keep all documentation that supports the CPE course for verification purposes.


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

     A:       Yes, per rule 4701-15-11.


8.   Q:       How do I ask for an extension of time to make up a CPE deficiency?

     A:       A written request for an extension of time beyond the December 31stdeadline must be made in writing to the Executive Director. Requests are normally granted for health reasons or similar adverse circumstances.


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

     A:       24 CPE credit hours in accounting or auditing are required of licensees who prepare, work with financial reporting clients and/or sign financial reports.  The requirement only refers to three-year periods. 24 CPE credit hours in taxation are required of licensees who prepare, work with tax clients, and/or sign tax returns.  The requirement only refers to three-year periods.

Three credits in professional standards and responsibilities (PSR) are required of all licensees. The PSR requirement may be fulfilled by taking courses in the following three subject areas: (1) accountancy laws and rules, (2) professional accounting ethics, and (3) ethical philosophy. 


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 four years.


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

     A:       No. CPE sponsor registration in Ohio is voluntary.  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 Web site. No renewal notices will be mailed to sponsors. First-time CPE sponsors or sponsors whose registrations have expired must download a copy of the current sponsor registration form (Adobe PDF format) and send it to the Board. Sponsors who are registered with the Board are required to renew yearly. PSR sponsors are to renew by May 31st of each year and general CPE sponsors by August 31st of each year.



Firm Registration & Peer Review Questions


1.     Q:           What is a public accounting firm?   4701-7-04

        A:            A public accounting firm is any company or person located in Ohio who:

1.     Has “CPA” or “PA” in the title of the company, advertising as a “CPA” or “PA” firm, or obtains work as a CPA/PA and prepares taxes, does consulting work, prepares financial statements or performs any non-attest work.

2.     Performs any attest work which includes: audits, compilations, reviews, ERISA audits, attestation engagements, etc.


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

        A:            1.            Apply for Initial Firm registration within ninety days after formation or within ninety days after the commencement of practicing public accounting in the state.

                       2.            Majority owner must be an Ohio CPA.

                       3.            Hold an Ohio permit.

                       4.            If firm is a limited liability entity (LLC), must have adequate Professional Liability insurance per OAC:  4701-13-01 Fees for Registration of Public Accounting Firms; Insurance; Renewal Deadlines.

                       5.            If a CPA firm is not going to perform, or offer to perform, attest services (compilations, audits, reviews, ERISA audits, attestation engagements, etc.), the firm must include the Peer Review Exemption form from website.


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

        A:            All tax/consulting firms that advertise or hold out to the public as a CPA firm are required to register. An Ohio CPA tax firm formerly registered with the Board on a voluntary basis and was not required to pay a fee. Effective March 30, 1999, all CPA firms that practice public accounting are required to register with the Board. Public accounting is now defined as including services covered by the AICPA professional standards, and this includes tax and consulting services. The key word is CPA.


4.     Q:           If I am a Tax/Consulting firm and accept an attestation engagement (audit, compilation, reviews, ERISA audits, etc.) what must I do?

        A:            The firm must notify the Board in writing within 90 days of accepting the engagement.  The firm must have an acceptable peer review completed within one year after the engagement. The Board will notify the firm of the new expiration date and firm registration renewal requirements.


5.     Q:           I am retiring my CPA license; can I still do taxes and continue to work in a CPA firm?  

        A:            No, once you have retired your CPA license, you cannot work in a public accounting firm performing public accounting work. Taxes are considered public accounting work when done within a CPA firm.


6.     Q:           I have a registration (inactive) CPA license.  Can I work in a CPA firm performing taxes but not signing them?   4701-7-08

        A:           No, if you are working at a CPA firm and performing taxes, you are required to hold an Ohio permit. Per OAC: 4701-07-04 Practice of Public Accounting and Regulated Services and OAC: 4701-7-08 License Qualification.


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

        A:            Contact the Ohio Society of CPA’s (OSCPA).  The OSCPA is the Board’s authorized agent to administer peer reviews. Please notify the OSCPA at 614-764-2727 or 800-686-2727 or via email at OSCPA@ohiocpa.com within 14 days of contacting the Board regarding the peer review


8.     Q:           I have performed attest services since my last peer review and now I’m up for renewal of the peer review and no longer going to perform any attest services. Am I required to have a peer review?

        A:            Yes, CPA firms that performed any attest services since the firm’s last peer review are now required to complete a peer review before changing their status to non-attest.  Per OAC:  4701-13-09 Change of Firm Registration.


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

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


10.   Q:           We are an Out-of-State CPA firm; are we required to register with the Board if we are only working on a temporary basis in Ohio?

        A:            No, Incidental Practice allows CPA firms from another state to perform public accounting in Ohio on a temporary basis per ORC: 4701.15 Employees.


11.   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 of a firm are CPAs is a violation of rule 4701-11-05.


        Complaints and Investigations


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

        A:            When a complaint is opened, a letter is sent to the complainant with the case number and the telephone and e-mail address of the Board investigator assigned to the case. You should contact the investigator with any questions or for additional information.


  John E. Patterson, Executive Director

Accountancy Board of Ohio

77 South High Street, Suite 1820

Columbus, Ohio  43215-6128


Email:  john.e.patterson@acc.ohio.gov

Tel: (614) 466-4135
Fax: (614) 466-2628