North Carolina State Board of Certified Public Accountant Examiners

Firms

The Firms division of the Licensing section of the Board is responsible for processing initial and renewal CPA firm registration, monitoring the peer review compliance program, and overseeing the CPE compliance program for individual CPAs.

Contacting the Licensing Staff

Buck Winslow, Manager, (919) 733-1421

Cammie Emery,  Assistant, (919) 733-1423 (initial and renewal CPA firm registrations, CPE, and peer review)

Mailing Address
Licensing Section
NC State Board of CPA Examiners
PO Box 12827
Raleigh, NC 27605-2827

Fax Number
Attn.: Licensing
(919) 733-4209

CPA Firm Registration

Pursuant to 21 NCAC 08J .0108, a CPA firm, unless it is a professional corporation (PC), professional limited liability company (PLLC), or registered limited liability partnership (LLP), must register with the Board within 30 days after opening an office in this State. CPA firms that are professional corporations, professional limited liability companies, or registered limited liability partnerships must register with the Board prior to the formation of the CPA firm. In addition to the initial CPA firm registration, all North Carolina CPA firms are required to renew with the Board each year.

All information provided for registration must pertain to the events and actions taken during the year preceding the year of registration. The last day of the preceding calendar year is considered the “year-end.” One representative of a CPA firm may file all registration documents for each of the CPA firm’s offices in North Carolina, but responsibility for compliance with the Board’s rules remains with the individual office supervisors or managers. One annual listing by a representative of a partnership, registered limited liability partnership, or professional limited liability company will satisfy the requirements of all partners or members of the CPA firm. If a CPA firm has dissolved or if any of the information provided to the Board during registration changes, the Board must be notified in writing within 30 days after the dissolution or change occurs.

If a CPA firm fails to comply with any part of 21 NCAC 08J .0108 or 08J .0110, and continues to offer or render services, the Board may take disciplinary action against the CPA firm’s members.  Such discipline may include:

  • one hundred dollars ($100.00) civil penalty for non-compliance of less than 60 days;
  • two hundred dollars ($200.00) civil penalty for non-compliance in excess of 60 days but not more than 120 days;
  • five hundred dollars ($500.00) civil penalty for each member for non-compliance in excess of 120 days.

If you have questions regarding CPA firm registration, please contact Cammie Emery.

CPA Firm Practice Privilege/Notice of Intent to Practice

A CPA firm with its principal place of business outside North Carolina and that has no office in North Carolina is granted the privilege to perform, or offer to perform, services, whether in person or by mail, telephone or electronic means, in North Carolina as a CPA firm without notice to the North Carolina State Board of CPA Examiners, submission of any other documentation, or payment of any fee, except as noted below. A firm that exercises the privilege afforded simultaneously consents as a condition to the grant of the privilege to:

  • Comply with the laws of North Carolina, the provisions of the chapter and rules adopted by the North Carolina State Board of CPA Examiners;
  • Be subject to personal jurisdiction, subject matter jurisdiction, and disciplinary authority of the North Carolina State Board of CPA Examiners; and
  • Provide notice without fee to the Board if any individual with the firm who has been granted privileges in North Carolina to practice as a CPA performs any of the following services for a client in North Carolina:
    • A financial statement audit or other engagement performed in accordance with Statements on Auditing Standards (SAS);
    • An examination of prospective financial information performed in accordance with Statements on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAE); or
    • An engagement performed in accordance with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) auditing standards.

If you have questions regarding CPA firm practice privilege/Notice of Intent to Practice, please contact Buck Winslow or Cammie Emery. Information about the individual practice privilege is available here.

Peer Review

Pursuant to 21 NCAC 08M, a CPA or CPA firm providing any of the following services to the public must participate in an approved peer review program:

  • audits;
  • reviews of financial statements;
  • compilations of financial statements for third-party use according to SSARS 19; or
  • agreed-upon procedures or engagements to be performed in accordance with the Statements on Standards for Attestation Engagements

Within 30 days of the issuance to a client of any of the reports listed above, a CPA or CPA firm shall register with an approved peer review program. Approved peer review programs include:

  • AICPA Peer Review Program; or
  • Any other peer review program found to be equivalent to the AICPA Peer Review Program with advance approval by the Board.

A CPA or CPA firm not providing any of the services listed above is exempt from peer review until the issuance of the first report provided to a client. A CPA, a new CPA firm or a CPA firm exempt from peer review that starts providing any of the services listed above shall furnish to the peer review program selected financial statements, corresponding work papers, and any additional information or documentation required for the peer review program within 18 months of the issuance of the first report provided to a client.

A CPA firm that does not have offices in North Carolina and that has  provided any services as listed in G.S. 93-10(c)(3) to North Carolina clients is required to participate in a peer review program.

To enroll in the AICPA Peer Review program, please contact the NCACPA’s Peer Review Program Coordinator by telephone at (919) 469-1040, ext. 136. The Board does not grant extensions to complete the peer review; you must contact the administrator of the peer review program to request an extension. If you are participating in the AICPA Peer Review program and need to request an extension, please contact the NCACPA’s Peer Review Program Coordinator by telephone at (919) 469-1040, ext. 136.

A CPA firm registered for peer review must provide to the Board the following:

  • peer review due date;
  • year-end date;
  • Final Letter of Acceptance from peer review program within 60 days of the date of the letter; and
  • A package to include the Peer Review Report, Letter of Response and Final Letter of Acceptance for all failed and second passed with deficiencies modified reports issued by a peer review program within 60 days of the date of the Final Letter of Acceptance.

A peer review is not complete until the Final Letter of Acceptance is issued by the peer review program with the new peer review date.

If a CPA firm which is required to participate in a peer review program fails to comply with 21 NCAC 08M .0105(c), (d), or (g), the Board may take disciplinary action against the CPA firm’s members which may include:

  • a one hundred dollar ($100.00) civil penalty for non-compliance of less than 60 days;
  • a two hundred fifty dollar ($250.00) civil penalty for non-compliance in excess of 60 days but not more than 120 days; and
  • a suspension of each member’s CPA certificate for a period of not less than 30 days and a five hundred dollars ($500.00) civil penalty for non-compliance in excess of 120 days.

If you have questions regarding peer review, please contact Cammie Emery.

Q & A

Firm Registration

Q. How do I know if I am required to register my practice with the Board?

A. If you use “CPA” (or any words, letters, abbreviations, symbols, or other means of identification that indicate Certified Public Accountant) in or with the business name, the CPA must register the CPA firm with the Board. In addition, any CPA who provides, or offers to provide, a financial statement compiled as part of business tax services, an audit, a review of a financial statement, a compilation of a financial statement, an examination of a financial statement, or any agreed-upon procedure, must register his or her CPA firm with the Board.

Q. What does “use CPA in or with the business name” mean?

A. The CPA firm name, “Fred G. Smith, CPA,” is an example of using “CPA” in the business name on stationery, business cards, or any form of advertising. Board rules prohibit the use of “CPA” (or any words, letters, abbreviations, symbols, or other means of identification that indicate Certified Public Accountant) with the business name in a manner that could lead the public to believe that the business is a CPA firm when, in fact, the firm is not a CPA firm registered with the Board. The following is an example of using “CPA” (or any words, letters, abbreviations, symbols, or other means of identification that indicate Certified Public Accountant) with the business name in a manner that would require firm registration:

Fred G. Smith Tax & Consulting
Certified Public Accountant

Fred G. Smith
Certified Public Accountant & Business Advisor

 Fred G. Smith
CPA & Consultant

The following examples show how a CPA may use the CPA title with his or her personal name but not with the business name on stationery, business cards, etc., or any form of advertising:

Fred G. Smith Consulting
Tax Preparation & Consulting
Fred. G. Smith, CPA

Smith Tax Preparation
Tax Advisors & Consultants
Fred G. Smith, CPA

Q. Am I required to register my firm with the Board if I only will prepare tax returns and will not provide any attest or assurance services or use “CPA” in or with my business name?

A. If you will prepare personal tax returns only and will not provide, or offer to provide, a financial statement compiled as part of business tax services, an audit, a review of a financial statement, a compilation of a financial statement, an examination of a financial statement, or any agreed-upon procedure or any other attest or assurance services and will not use “CPA” in or with your business name, it is not necessary to register your firm with the Board.

Q. If I am an owner or an employee of a non-registered firm that provides personal tax preparation and business consulting services only, am I allowed to use “CPA” (or any words, letters, abbreviations, symbols, or other means of identification that indicate Certified Public Accountant) on the firm stationery, business cards, and any other form of advertising? Am I allowed to sign my name using “CPA”?

A. If you are an owner or an employee of a non-registered firm that provides personal tax preparation and business consulting services only, you are permitted to use CPA with your personal name, but not with your business name on stationery, business cards, and most forms of advertising. You may not list yourself or your firm in any type of directory (yellow pages, online directory, etc.) under the heading “Certified Public Accountants.” You may not list any accounting organization membership or logo on stationery, business cards, or any form of advertising because doing so would imply that the firm is a CPA firm, which it is not. You may sign your personal name using “CPA” (or any words, letters, abbreviations, symbols, or other means of identification that indicate Certified Public Accountant). Board rules prohibit the use of “CPA” (or any words, letters, abbreviations, symbols, or other means of identification that indicate Certified Public Accountant) with the business name in a manner that could lead the public to believe that the business is a CPA firm when in fact, the firm is not a CPA firm registered with the Board.

The following examples show how a CPA may use the CPA title with his or her personal name but not with the business name on stationery, business cards, etc., or any form of advertising:

Fred G. Smith Consulting
Tax Preparation & Consulting
Fred. G. Smith, CPA

Smith Tax Preparation
Tax Advisors & Consultants
Fred G. Smith, CPA

Q. Through which forms of practice is my CPA firm permitted to provide services?

A CPA firm may provide services through a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a professional corporation, a professional limited liability company, or a registered limited liability partnership, all of which must register with the Board.

Q. Through which forms of practice, that are not required to register with the Board, may my firm provide services?

A. If your firm is not required to register with the Board, you may practice as a sole proprietor or through a partnership. NCGS 93-8 prohibits the public practice of accounting (as defined in 21 NCAC 08A .0307) through any corporate form such as an LLC or general business corporation.

Q. Are there any restrictions on the name that I may use for my CPA firm?

A. A CPA may use his or her name or initials or the name or initials of any partner or shareholder in the firm name. A CPA firm may also use the name or initials of a retired or deceased partner or shareholder in the firm name as long as the name is not deceptive.

Q. If I am not required to register my firm with the Board, are there any restrictions on the name that I may use for my firm?

A. A firm that is not required to register with the Board may not use “Certified Public Accountant(s)” or “CPA(s)” (or any words, letters, abbreviations, symbols, or other means of identification that indicate Certified Public Accountant) in the firm name. The following is an example of using “CPA” in or with the firm name:

Fred G. Smith
Certified Public Accountant

Q. I am practicing in a firm that is not required to register with the Board. Do the Board’s rules on professional ethics and conduct apply to me?

A. You are required to comply with all rules of professional ethics and conduct found in 21 NCAC 8N .0100, .0200, and .0300.

Q. I want to incorporate or form a PLLC. Do I send you my articles after I file them with the NC Secretary of State?

A. No. You must send the unfiled articles with a check for appropriate fees to the Board office. We will send that information, as well as a certification signifying that the shareholder(s) is/are properly-licensed and eligible to be an owner in a professional entity, to the Secretary of State for you.

Q. Can my corporation elect “S” corporation status instead of “C” corporation status?

A. The tax status you elect for your corporation is between your corporation and the Internal Revenue Service. The Board does not address the issue of your corporation’s tax status election.

Q. When is my firm renewal due?

A. Your firm’s registration renewal is due by December 31 each year.

Q. I’ve been registered as a CPA firm but wish to cancel my registration. Can I just let it expire?

A. No, failure to renew does not constitute terminating a firm registration. If you do not formally cancel your registration, the Board does not know whether the entity is continuing to practice public accounting without a permit.

Peer Review

Q. I am a CPA and I do bookkeeping work. Do I need to register for peer review?

A. You must register for peer review unless the only services you are providing are SSARS 19 engagements which require an engagement letter regarding those services provided to the client.

Q. My firm has just had a PCAOB inspection. Does this mean that my firm does not need to undergo peer review?

A. No, a PCAOB inspection does not take the place of a peer review.

Misc.

Q. Does the Board require my firm to carry liability insurance?

A. No, the Board does not require a firm to carry liability insurance.