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Frequently Asked Questions

CPA Examination

1. Q: What is the application procedure?
A: 
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. The application process is online, and details may be obtained from CPA Examination Services

2. Q: What are the application deadlines?
A: 
There are no application deadlines under the computer-based CPA examination. You should allow four weeks for processing the application, although you should receive the notice to schedule before then.

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 a 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 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 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. This checklist should help you to determine if you meet the course requirements for admission to the CPA examination. The accounting subjects are nearly always covered in separate courses, except professional ethics is not offered as a separate course in most universities. Professional ethics 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 an evaluation that is detailed enough to break down the accounting subject areas and separate the business courses, as those are the two categories of courses required for admission to the CPA examination in Ohio.  This is usually called a "course by course" evaluation.  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: 
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 (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 will still count 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.) 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 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 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:

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.

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.

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 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 residence 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. If you first sat for the CPA exam in Ohio or in any other state prior to 2000, you would not need to fulfill the 150-hour requirement in order to obtain the Ohio CPA certificate. 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: 
Contact Prometric's security department (800-347-3781) .

2. Q: What action should I take if I experienced a problem at the testing center?
A: 
Contact Prometric Customer Care (800-853-6769) 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 311, 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 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 send the Board a letter stating this fact.

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 the 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 r
ule 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 to original client documents and accounting records (journals and ledgers).  The rule does not apply to other engagements such as tax or consulting.

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.

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: 
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, because to imply that both owners are CPAs is misleading as to the size of the firm.

Professional Standards and Responsibilities Requirement

1. Q: Why don't I see the word "ethics" in the requirement?
A: 
The 3-credit professional standards and responsibilities ("PSR") continuing education requirement, defined in paragraph (D) of
Board rule 4701-15-11, includes the subject of ethics, but will also cover the professional practice standards and responsibilities as defined in the Ohio accountancy law and Board rules.

2. Q: Are there any substitutes for courses in just the Ohio law and rules?
A: 
Yes. A licensee may claim credit for programs in professional ethics, the accountancy law and rules of another state, or ethical philosophy. Courses in those three subject areas offered by CPE sponsors approved by either the Board or NASBA will qualify toward fulfillment of the PSR requirement.

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 should be 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 are not ethics courses and 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.

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.

6. Q: What subjects are typically covered in a PSR course?
A: 
The Board proposed the following list of possible subjects:

Programs that cover laws and regulations

  • Overall review of laws, rules, and latest developments

  • Firm registration requirements and unlawful practice

  • Board investigations and complaint/hearing procedures

Programs that cover "professional ethics"

  • Professional standards (accounting, auditing, independence, etc.)

  • Ethical reasoning and ethical dilemmas

7. Q: Can the course be taken on the computer?
A: 
At present, several sponsors offer the "basic" PSR course (covering primarily the Ohio accountancy law and Board rules) online. The Board has a list of sponsors that offer the "basic" course. Please consult the PSR Course Sponsors links for details.

8. Q: I took another state's required "ethics" course. Will it count toward the Ohio requirement?
A: 
If the other state's program covered that state's laws and rules, it would qualify for PSR credit. However, if you hold a license to practice public accounting in the other state, and you reside in that state, you would comply with the Ohio CPE requirements simply by meeting the CPE requirements in the other state.

9. Q: Are CPAs who hold the Ohio registration (inactive license) required to take the professional standards and responsibilities course?
A: 
No. The new course is part of the continuing education requirement, and licensees who hold the Ohio registration are exempt from required continuing education.

10. 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 3 years preceding application for the Ohio permit. Once you reenter permit status, your CPE requirement at your renewal date is 120 CPE credits in the 3-year reporting period preceding the renewal date (usually November 1-October 31). You may thus count some (or all) of the reentry CPE twice-once for reentry and once when you renew your Ohio permit.

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.

3. Q: What is a CEU, and how does it compare to CPE credits?
A: 
A CEU (continuing education unit) is 10 clock hours, or 600 minutes. A CPE hour is 50 minutes. A one-day CPE program that earns 0.5 CEU (300 minutes or five hours by the clock) would earn 8 hours CPE credit, per rule 4701-15-04(B) (Measurement).

4. Q: May the same CPE program be taken or taught more than once in a three-year reporting period?
A: 
Yes. You may claim credit for the same CPE program once each year.

5. Q: Must a CPE course be taken from a sponsor registered with the Board?
A: 
No. We will accept CPE credits from unregistered sponsors. Remember to keep all documentation that supports the CPE course for verification purposes.

6. 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.

7. Q: How do I ask for an extension of time to make up a CPE deficiency?
A: 
A request for an extension of time beyond December 31 to complete CPE requirements is normally granted for health reasons or similar adverse circumstances and must be approved by the Board.

8. Q: What are the reporting periods for CPAs who hold the Ohio permit?
A: 
The CPE reporting period for all Ohio permit holders in Group 1 began on January 1, 2012 and ends on December 31, 2014.
The CPE reporting period for all Ohio permit holders in Group 2 began on January 1, 2010 and ends on December 31, 2012.
The CPE reporting period for all Ohio permit holders in Group 3 began on January 1, 2011 and ends on December 31, 2013.

9. Q: What are the reporting periods for new CPAs who hold the Ohio permit?
A: 
The reporting period for all new CPAs in Group 1 will begin on January 1, 2013 and ends on December 31, 2014.
The reporting period for all new CPAs in Group 2 began on January 1, 2011 and ends on December 31, 2012. 
The reporting period for all new CPAs in Group 3 began on January 1, 2012 and ends on December 31, 2013.

10. Q: What is the breakdown of required CPE hours in various subjects?
A: 
24 credits in accounting or auditing are required of licensees who work with financial reporting clients or sign financial reports.  The requirement only refers to three-year periods 24 credits in taxation are required of licensees who work with tax clients or sign tax returns.  The requirement only refers to three-year periods.
3 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.

3. Q: How does a sponsor renew with the Accountancy Board?
A:
 All sponsors are listed on the Board's Web site with the renewal date following. No renewal notices will be mailed to sponsors. First-time CPE sponsors or sponsors whose registrations have expired must download a copy of the then current sponsor registration form (Adobe PDF format) and send it to the Board.

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 that is required to follow the 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: 
Send a letter, fax, or e-mail to the Board, and request a firm registration packet. Please give your name, address, and a daytime telephone number and we will mail the packet to you. The fee for initial firm registration is $10.00. If you perform attest work, you need to comply with the peer review requirements.

Forms may be downloaded from our website. If you perform attest work (audits, reviews, compilations, attestation engagements), you need the initial firm registration application. If you do not perform attest work, you need the initial firm registration application and the peer review exemption form.

3. Q: I operate a tax and consulting CPA firm. Why do I need to register with the Board, and why do I now need to pay a fee?
A: 
Tax firms formerly registered with the Board on a voluntary basis, and did not pay a fee. A new law, effective March 30, 1999, requires that all CPA firms that practice public accounting must register with the Board.Public accounting is now defined as including all services covered by the AICPA professional standards, and this includes 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 at 535 Metro Place South, Dublin, OH 43017 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 the firm registration and peer review requirements?
A: 
No. Paragraph (F) of rule 4701-13-09 states that a firm that retains substantially similar ownership remains in the same peer review group as the former firm.

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 giving the case a number and the telephone and e-mail address of the Board investigator assigned to the case. You should contact the investigator with any questions. Other Board staff will not be as familiar with the case file and may not be able to give you the information you want.