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What Do You Mean I'm Not a CPA?

July 2, 2018

By Jill Edmonds

It sounds like your worst nightmare. There you are, going about your business, networking and introducing yourself as a CPA, passing out business cards with CPA behind your name. And then one day it hits you — you aren’t really a CPA at all!

Sound crazy? Think again. Many accountants in Virginia are discovering they aren’t really CPAs. Sure, they were — once. But they didn’t renew their licenses each year and are therefore no longer CPAs. And now the Virginia Board of Accountancy (VBOA) is cracking down — if you practice as a CPA without a valid license, you could be in trouble.

“The VBOA's mission is to protect the citizens of the Commonwealth through a regulatory program of licensure and compliance of CPAs and CPA firms,” said Mary T. Charity, the VBOA’s deputy director for operations. “The Board is granted this responsibility per the Code of Virginia and regulations.”

License renewal

“Once licensed, CPAs must renew their license annually — a responsibility taken seriously by the Board,” Charity said. “Effective Feb. 26, 2018, all CPAs have the same renewal date of June 30.  All licensees must renew annually.”

There are no longer license cards, so don’t expect one. The VBOA will contact you via email to let you know your license expires in 30–60 days prior to renewal, 15 days prior to renewal via email and regular mail and again by phone within the week of expiration — but if you don’t get the email, or your address isn’t correct with the VBOA, that’s not the VBOA’s fault. Regulations state that a CPA’s failure to receive a reminder notice does not relieve the regulant of the requirement to renew and pay the required fee timely. That means it’s up to each individual CPA to renew on time.

As mentioned above, effective July 1, 2017, there is no longer an additional 12 months to renew your license as a late renewal. If you fail to renew timely, your license is expired and will need to be reinstated in order to continue practicing as a CPA. The same is true of firm licenses.  However, as of Feb. 26, 2018, the VBOA has begun the process of transitioning all licenses to a June 30 renewal date. The transition schedule is available on the VBOA website.

VSCPA member John Thisdell didn’t think about his license status until reading about renewal in Disclosures. He noticed he wasn’t listed on the VBOA website, so he gave them a call and got the news — his license had been expired since 1993.

“It was probably in the back of my mind,” Thisdell said. “But I didn’t realize I had to renew. It didn’t occur to me until I read the article. Somewhere along the line I must have gotten a notice and set it aside.”

Lucky for him, Thisdell was all caught up on his CPE, so he paid the reinstatement fees and got his license back.

Reinstatement requirements

So if you let your license lapse, what will you pay to get reinstated?

If you failed to renew timely, individuals will have to pay $350 to use your CPA designation again and firms will pay $500 to reinstate their license in order to provide attest, compilations or financial statement preparation services.

And that’s not counting the CPE requirements for individuals.

If you wish to reinstate, you must have 120 hours over the three prior year period, including the current year’s Ethics course.

As a reminder, reinstatement does not guarantee that you won’t be subject to disciplinary actions for the period you were lapsed.

“Many of the Board’s enforcement cases are the result of a CPA who has not properly maintained and renewed their annual license, resulting in significant penalties and other sanctions,” Charity said.

How do I check?

To quickly and easily find out if your license is current, visit the VBOA website at boa.virginia.gov. Click on "Licensee search” from the home page. Then, enter your last name to run an individual search and click on your name. You’ll find the date you were licensed and when your license expires.

If you have questions about your status, contact the VBOA at (804) 367-8505 or [email protected] Thisdell said the VBOA responded quickly to his license query, and in a final note, Thisdell recommends all CPAs should check their statuses, “and read the material you get from the Society closely.”

Jill Edmonds is the managing editor of Disclosures. Contact her at [email protected] or connect with her at linkedin.com/in/jilledmonds.

Editor's note: This is an updated version of a 2004 Disclosures article.

VBOA Rules for Renewal

  • CPA licenses are renewable for one year.
  • Failure to receive written notice of renewal does not relieve the CPA of the requirement to renew and pay the required fee.
  • A CPA’s email address is the address of record if it is provided to the VBOA.
  • A renewal application for a CPA certificate must contain a statement that the applicant has:
    • Complied with the VBOA standards of conduct and applicable standards of practice.
    • Complied with the applicable CPE requirements for CPAs for the three calendar years prior to the year the renewal application is submitted.

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Get your emails from the VBOA!

To ensure you receive your email notifications regarding licensure from the Virginia Board of Accountancy (BOA), follow these suggestions:

  • Give the VBOA the right address: Make sure the VBOA has the best way to reach you with the most current information. Contact the VBOA at (804) 367-8505 or [email protected].
  • Add the VBOA to your address book: Put [email protected] into your address book so it is immediately recognized by your email software as a known address.
  • Put the VBOA on your spam whitelist: If you or your company employs spam blocker technology, make sure the VBOA’s email address, [email protected], is on a whitelist to make it through any security.
  • Check your spam folders: Regularly review your spam folders to make sure any VBOA communications aren’t getting caught.
  • Put a license renewal on your calendar: Email isn’t foolproof, so have a back-up plan if you don’t receive your licensure notification. Put a reminder on your calendar to renew by June 30 each year.