North Carolina State Board of Certified Public Accountant Examiners


Established by Chapter 93-12 of the North Carolina General Statutes, the North Carolina State Board of Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Examiners is an independent, self-funded, occupational licensing board that grants certificates of qualification as certified public accountants (CPAs) to those individuals who meet the statutory requirements. 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 a high standard of technical competence, morality, and integrity. To this end, the Board enforces the rules of professional ethics and conduct to be observed by CPAs in this State.

Use of CPA Title

North Carolina’s accountancy law allows anyone to practice public accountancy by paying a privilege license fee to the NC Department of Revenue. However, anyone residing in this State not licensed by the NC State Board of CPA Examiners as a CPA or not granted the practice privilege by NCGS 93-10 is restricted to using the term “accountant” in connection with their name on all reports, letters of transmittal, or advice, and on all stationery and documents used in connection with their services as an accountant, and must refrain from the use in any manner of any other title or designation in such practice while in this State.

The exception to this restriction is when an individual lives in North Carolina and is licensed by another jurisdiction, but not North Carolina, provides a résumé to a prospective employer. That person may use “CPA” or “certified public accountant on their résumé so long as they include the jurisdiction that granted the CPA certificate/license and the status of the certificate/license if it is on any status other than active (inactive, retired, lapsed, etc.).


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 particular CPA  or CPA firm may be a good way to select a CPA. However, there are certain steps you should take when selecting a CPA to perform services for you or your company or organization.

After selecting a CPA or CPA firm to perform services for you, but before any work is done by the CPA or CPA firm, make sure you receive a written engagement letter detailing the work to be performed for you, naming the specific employee(s) who will be performing the work (if the work is outsourced, confirming that all private and personal information is secure), and specifying the cost of the services.

Practice of Accounting via the Internet

Although purchasing public accounting services on the Internet is a convenient way to access a broad range of services, it is important to do your research before selecting a practitioner. Because Internet practice involves no face-to-face client contact, it is easy for an unqualified person to masquerade as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). In addition, a practitioner offering public accounting services on the Internet may be physically located anywhere in the world.

The following information should not be construed as an endorsement or recommendation to purchase public accounting services on the Internet. Instead, these tips are offered as consumer protection suggestions for consumers contemplating the selection of an Internet practitioner.

Public Record Disciplinary Action

As a service to the public, the Board has made its public disciplinary action files available to the public. To determine if an individual is, or has been, licensed by the Board as a CPA, or if a firm is, or has been registered with the Board, you may search the Board’s database. If an individual or firm has any public disciplinary action on file with the Board, a link, “Public Documents” will display on the Details page of the individual’s record or the firm’s record. You may view and print the document(s). NOTE: You must turn off all pop-up blockers in order to see the full record.

Filing a Complaint

If you have reason to believe that a CPA or CPA firm has violated  a statute or rule governing CPAs including, but not limited to, conviction of a felony; conviction of a crime in which deceit, dishonesty, or fraud is an essential element; fraud or deceit in obtaining a certificate as a CPA; or dishonesty, fraud, or gross negligence in the public practice of accountancy, you may file a complaint with the Board. All persons wishing to file a complaint with the Board (“Complainants”) must file a complaint online or by mail on 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 Record of Complaint should provide a specific and detailed summary of the complaint, including all evidence in support of the allegations. Please redact all social security numbers, bank account numbers, etc., from supporting documentation.

The Board does not intervene in private disputes regarding the amount of a fee charged by a CPA.  If you have this type of problem, please consult an attorney. The Board does not have disciplinary authority over non-licensees such as accountants. Please use the Board’s database to determine if the person or business is licensed by, or registered with, the Board. The NC Dept. of Justice may be able to assist you with a complaint against non-licensees. If you have documentation regarding a non-licensee using the title “CPA” or “certified public accountant,” please forward that information to the Board so that the Board can take actions to prevent future use of that title.

Once a Complainant files a complaint with the Board, they may not later withdraw the complaint; the Board retains the authority and discretion to determine whether the matter may proceed. 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.

Upon receipt, the complaint and evidence are reviewed by the Staff Attorney and the Professional Standards staff to make an initial determination of whether the complaint allegations fall within the Board’s jurisdiction. If the allegations contain issues that are arguably within the Board’s jurisdiction, an initial letter, along with a copy of the complaint in its entirety, is sent to the Respondent (the licensee against whom the complaint is filed) requesting a response to the allegations. Once the reply from the Respondent is received and reviewed, it may be sent back to the Complainant for a response. This investigative process may require additional information and/or evidence from the Complainant, the Respondent, and any related parties.

The parties should not attempt to discuss the case with any member of the Board, either directly or in hypothetical terms. Improper communications with Board members could disqualify those Members from hearing the case. The parties may communicate with each other after a complaint has been filed in order to attempt to resolve the issues in the complaint. Otherwise, the Board discourages contact between the Complainant and Respondent once a complaint has been filed. If contact occurs and a settlement is reached, be aware that the Board’s investigation will continue until the Board determines that its disciplinary interests have been resolved regarding the alleged violations of the Board’s statutes and rules.

After the Staff Attorney and the Professional Standards staff have gathered information, the matter is referred to the Professional Standards Committee of the Board. The Professional Standards Committee (three members of the Board appointed by the Board president) reviews the complaint and may recommend that additional information be gathered, recommend to the full Board that the case be closed, or recommend that the case continue forward. The Committee does not determine guilt or innocence; it simply reviews the complaint to determine whether the allegations, if supported by competent evidence, would warrant a contested case proceeding. After receiving guidance from the Committee, the Staff Attorney and the Professional Standards staff may approach the Respondent to negotiate a Consent Order for settlement prior to a Hearing. The majority of disciplinary actions are achieved by Consent Order because this allows the Board more options in achieving a balanced resolution. If a settlement cannot be reached, a Public Hearing will be held. The Complainant and other related parties may be requested to appear and testify at the Hearing. Mileage expense will be paid by the Board to witnesses upon their request for reimbursement. After the Hearing, the Board may issue an Order. The Respondent has the option of appealing the Board’s Order to Superior Court.

Register of NC Certified Public Accountants

NCGS 93B-3“Register of persons licensed; information as to licensed status of individuals,” requires that the Board make available a register of all persons currently licensed by the Board and that the register be updated annually by listing the changes made in it by reason of new licenses issued, licenses revoked or suspended, death, or any other cause. In addition, the Board shall, upon request of any citizen of the State, inform the requesting person as to the licensed status of any individual.

To fulfill the requirements of NCGS 93B-3, the Board has made the public record portions of its database available through this website. The online public database is constructed using the information provided to the Board by its licensees, and as such, is only as accurate as the information provided by each licensee. The database is generally updated in real-time; however, there may be occasional delays in updating the information. The information obtained from this database is not an official endorsement of any licensee or CPA firm. Consistent with NCGS 93B-3, the Board does make available a “Register of Active North Carolina CPAs.” The Register is $75 (payable by check) and is provided as an Excel document.

The Register contains the following public record information:

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. The Register does not include those individuals who are on inactive, retired, suspended, revoked, or surrendered status. To purchase a copy of the Register, please complete this form and send it and payment to Communications Officer, State Board of CPA Examiners, PO Box 12827, Raleigh, NC 27605.

Resources for Consumers

NC State Board of CPA Examiners CPA and CPA firm database:  Public record information, including disciplinary action, on the Board’s licensees

NASBA’s CPAverify: Licensing information on about 97% of licensees in the US and its territories (helpful if individual/firm is not licensed in NC)

AICPA’s Public Peer Review Database:  a list of public accounting firms and their enrollment status in the AICPA Peer Review Program (PRP)

Excerpts from North Carolina General Statutes: statutes that are applicable to the NC State Board of CPA Examiners, its applicants, and licensees

North Carolina Administrative Code: rules that are applicable to the NC State Board of CPA Examiners, its applicants, and licensees

NC State Board of CPA Examiners online complaint form and Record of Complaint form

NC Department of Justice Consumer Complaint Center:  Assistance filing a complaint against a non-CPA accountant

Excerpt from the AICPA’s Guide to Financial Services Your CPA Can Provide:  an explanation of four types of financial services 1) financial statement preparation; 2) compilation; 3) review; and 4) audit

IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications:  searchable directory that provides a list of preparers  who currently hold professional credentials recognized by the IRS or who hold an Annual Filing Season Program Record of Completion


Exit mobile version