Individuals and firms that have met the requirements of the North Carolina General Statutes and the rules outlined in the North Carolina Administrative Code are authorized by the NC State Board of CPA Examiners (Board) to practice public accounting in North Carolina. Only individuals who have met all licensing requirements, as verified by the Board, may call themselves a North Carolina CPA. The Board protects consumers by adopting and enforcing the Rules of Professional Ethics and Conduct to be observed by CPAs in this State. In addition, the Board ensures that only qualified licensees practice public accountancy in accordance with established professional standards.
The Enforcement (Professional Standards) section of the Board is responsible for enforcing the Board’s Rules of Professional Ethics and Conduct. CPAs who violate those rules may be subject to disciplinary action by the Board. The Board’s enforcement processes are not intended to be an alternative to civil or criminal court. The Board does not have the authority to award damages. It does not adjudicate contractual disputes, fee disputes, criminal charges, or other matters that are best left to the court system.
Julia L. Mayo, Specialist (919) 715-2455
Jeffrey Tankard, Specialist (919) 715-8413
Use of CPA Title
The North Carolina General Assembly, through the North Carolina Accountancy Act, authorized the Board to regulate the use of the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) title. It is unlawful for any person who is not licensed by the Board as a CPA or granted a practice privilege under NCGS 93-10 to practice as a CPA to assume or use the CPA title, or to use any words, letters, abbreviations, symbols or other means of identification to indicate that the person has been admitted to practice as a CPA in North Carolina.[NCGS 93-3]. Individuals who live in North Carolina and are licensed as a CPA by another Board of Accountancy but not by this Board may use “CPA” or “Certified Public Accountant” on a résumé if they include the Board of Accountancy that granted the CPA certificate/license and the status of the certificate/license if it is on a status other than active (e.g., inactive, retired, lapsed, etc.).
North Carolina allows CPAs licensed in another jurisdiction (state) to provide public accounting services to North Carolina clients if they meet the requirements under NCGS 93-10, Practice Privileges. An individual whose place of business is outside this State is granted the privilege to perform or offer to perform services in this State as a CPA without notice to the Board, the submission of any other documentation, or the payment of any fee if the individual meets qualifying criteria as outlined in NCGS 93-10.
Under NCGS 93-10, a CPA firm that does not have its principal place of business or an office in North Carolina may be eligible to perform services to North Carolina clients without registering as a North Carolina firm. In exercising the practice privilege, the firm must comply with the laws, rules, and regulations of North Carolina and the Board and is subject to the disciplinary authority of the Board.
Selecting a CPA
Because the Board cannot endorse or recommend a specific CPA or CPA firm to consumers, word-of-mouth referrals from individuals who have used the services of a CPA or CPA firm may be a good way to select a CPA. However, there are certain steps a consumer should take when selecting a CPA or CPA firm.
- Check the license status in the Board’s database. Specifically, make sure the license is current and active. Note the date the CPA was licensed and the date their license expires. Check the date the firm was registered with the Board and if the registration is current and active. The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) operates CPAVerify, a database that provides licensing information on about 97% of individual CPAs/licensees in the US and its territories.
- Check whether there have been any enforcement actions against the licensee or CPA firm. If there has been an enforcement action against a CPA or CPA firm by this Board, that information is available under the “public documents” section of the licensee/firm “detail” page. CPAVerify may show if enforcement action has been taken by another Board of Accountancy.
- Interview the prospective CPA either by telephone or in person. A common inquiry is, “What type of accounting work do you typically perform?” Compare the CPA’s experience to your service needs.
- Ask about the office hours of the CPA. Is the office open year-round or only during tax season? Is the CPA available to take telephone inquiries? Ask what type of continuing education the licensee has taken recently.
- If the services you require include either reviewed or audited financial statements, ask the CPA if they participate in a peer review or quality review program. Ask for the most recent date a peer review was completed and the result of that peer review. You can check the peer review status of many CPA firms through a database managed by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA).
- Consult the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to determine if the CPA or CPA firm is listed with the BBB or if the BBB has a file on the CPA or CPA firm.
After selecting a CPA or CPA firm, before any work is done by the CPA or CPA firm, make sure you receive a written engagement letter. The letter should, at a minimum, detail the work to be performed, name the specific employee(s) who will perform the work (if the work is outsourced, confirm that all private and personal information is secure), and the cost of the services.
Filing a Complaint
The reliance of the public and the business community on sound financial reporting and advice on business affairs imposes on the accounting profession an obligation to maintain high standards of technical competence, morality, and integrity. A CPA should always maintain independence of thought and action, hold the affairs of clients in strict confidence, strive continuously to improve professional skills, observe generally accepted principles and standards, promote sound and informative financial reporting, uphold the dignity and honor of the accounting profession, and maintain high standards of personal conduct.
Consumers who believe that a North Carolina CPA or CPA firm has violated a statute or rule governing CPAs may file a complaint with the Board online or by mail using the Record of Complaint form. The complaint must center on a violation of North Carolina General Statute 93 or the North Carolina Administrative Code, Title 21, including the Rules of Professional Ethics and Conduct. The Board does not intervene in private disputes about fees charged by a CPA, nor does it have disciplinary authority over non-licensees such as accountants. The Record of Complaint must provide a specific and detailed summary of the complaint, including all evidence supporting the allegations.
The Board’s database will assist consumers in determining if the person or business is licensed by or registered with the Board. The NC Department of Justice may be able to assist consumers with a complaint against non-licensees. Consumers with documentation regarding a non-licensee using the title “CPA” or “certified public accountant” may forward relevant information to the Board so that the Board can take action to prevent future unauthorized use of that title.
Once a complaint is filed with the Board, it is an official record of the Board, and the Board retains the authority and discretion to determine whether the matter may proceed. Board staff gather as much information as possible to support the complaint and align the allegations with the potential rule of statutory violation. If the complaint does not center on a violation that is within the Board’s jurisdiction, the Board may close the case without taking further action. In matters where there is a criminal or civil proceeding regarding the same issues, the Board will generally wait until the criminal or civil matter has been resolved before making a final determination regarding the complaint.
After the matter has been investigated by the Board and documentation has been received by all parties, the case is referred to the Board’s Professional Standards Committee for review. Based on the Committee’s review, additional information may be obtained, the case may be closed, or the case may continue forward.
Please contact the Enforcement/Professional Standards staff with questions about filing a complaint.
Public Record Information
To fulfill the requirements of NCGS 93B-3, the Board makes the public record portions of its database (including public disciplinary action) available through this website. The information obtained from the database is not an endorsement of any licensee or CPA firm.
If an individual or firm has any public disciplinary action on file with the Board, a “Public Documents” link will display on the Details page of the record. Under NCGS 93-12.2, records, papers, and other documents containing information collected or compiled by the Board, its members, or employees, as a result of a complaint, investigation, inquiry, or interview in connection with an application for examination, certification, or registration, or in connection with a certificate holder’s professional ethics and conduct, shall not be considered public records within the meaning of Chapter 132 of the General Statutes. Any notice or statement of charges against a certificate holder or applicant, or any notice to a certificate holder or applicant of a hearing to be held by the Board is a public record, even though it may contain information collected and compiled as a result of a complaint, investigation, inquiry, or interview conducted by the Board. If any record, paper, or other document containing information collected and compiled by the Board is admitted into evidence in a hearing held by the Board, it shall then be a public record within the meaning of Chapter 132 of the General Statutes.
Register of Active CPAs or CPA Firms
Consistent with NCGS 93B-3, a Register of Active North Carolina CPAs and a Register of Active CPA Firms are available for purchase. Each Register is $75 and is provided as an Excel document. Printed copies are not available.
List of Active North Carolina CPAs
Consistent with NCGS 93B-3, a Register of Active North Carolina CPAs is available for purchase. The Register is $75 and is provided as an Excel document. Printed copies are not available. The Register of Active North Carolina CPAs contains the following public record information:
- Preferred Mailing Address;
- Preferred Telephone Number;
- NC CPA License Number;
- Date of Initial CPA Licensure; and
- Expiration Date of NC CPA Licensure
In the context of the Board’s records, a licensee’s email address is not a public record and is not part of the Register of Active North Carolina CPAs. The Register does not include individuals on inactive, retired, suspended, revoked, or surrendered status.
List of Active CPA Firms
The Register of Active CPA Firms includes firms with a current registration, including out-of-state firms that have filed a Notice of Intent to Practice. The Register is $75 and is provided as an Excel document. Printed copies are not available. The Register of Active CPA Firms contains the following public record information:
- CPA Firm Name;
- CPA Firm Type;
- Mailing Address;
- Telephone Number;
- Supervising CPA’s Name;
- CPA Firm Registration Date;
- CPA Firm Registration Expiration Date; and
- Date of Last Peer Review
In the context of the Board’s records, email addresses are not public records and are not part of the Register of Active CPA Firms.
To purchase a a Register of Active North Carolina CPAs or a Register of Active CPA Firms, please complete and send this form and check payable to the NC State Board of CPA Examiners for $75.00 (or $150.00) to NC State Board of CPA Examiners, PO Box 12827, Raleigh, NC 27605. To pay by MasterCard, VISA, or American Express, please send the completed Order Form and the credit card payment authorization (page 2 of the order form) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Each Register is generated within ten (10) business days of receiving the order form and payment.