The Enforcement (Professional Standards) section of the Board is responsible for enforcement of the Board’s Rules of Professional Ethics and Conduct. CPAs and CPA firms 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 and does not adjudicate contractual disputes, fee disputes, criminal charges, or other matters that are best left to the court system.

Contact Us

Frank Trainor,  Staff Attorney (919) 715-9185

Julia L. Mayo, Specialist (919) 715-2455

Jeffrey Tankard, Specialist (919) 715-8413

Conduct and Ethics

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 shall at all times 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.

The Rules of Professional Ethics and Conduct adopted and enforced by the Board cover a broad range of behaviors but do not enumerate every possible unethical act. These rules are applicable to all certificate holders. When interpreting or enforcing these rules, the Board may give consideration, but not necessarily dispositive weight, to relevant interpretations, rulings, and opinions issued by other boards of accountancy and by appropriately authorized ethics committees of professional organizations such as the North Carolina Association of CPAs (NCACPA) and the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) .

A CPA is responsible for ensuring not only their compliance with these rules, but also the compliance with these rules by anyone who is the CPA’s partner, fellow shareholder, or supervisee. A CPA or CPA firm should not permit others (including affiliated entities) to carry out on the CPA’s behalf, with or without compensation, acts which if carried out by a CPA would be a violation of the Rules of Professional Ethics and Conduct. A CPA firm is responsible for assuring compliance with these rules by any of its officers, directors, shareholders, partners, proprietors, employees, or agents.

Unauthorized Use of CPA Title

The North Carolina General Assembly, through the North Carolina Accountancy Act, has authorized the Board to regulate the use of the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) title. Non-CPAs are allowed to practice accountancy in North Carolina as unregulated accountants. Individuals who live in North Carolina and are licensed as a CPA by another jurisdiction, but not by this Board, can use “CPA” or “Certified Public Accountant” on a résumé  if 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 (e.g., inactive, retired, lapsed, etc.).

Third-Party Complaints and Complaint Procedure

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.

Publication of Consent Orders and Board Orders

Under 21 NCAC 08I .0101(d), the Board may publish all actions resulting in an Order, a Board Order, or a Consent Order in the Activity Review. All Orders, Board Orders, and Consent Orders will be made part of the Board’s monthly minutes. Orders, Board Orders, Consent Orders, and Notices of Hearing may be placed in the licensee’s file or firm’s file in the database.