An accountancy corporation wishing to practice accountancy in California is required to be approved for licensure by the California Board of Accountancy before practicing or holding out to the public as an accountancy corporation.
It is suggested that you use the Check Sheet included in the application packet to assist you in completing the application process. All forms related to the application process are available from our Forms Page.
Please carefully review the laws and regulations governing the Board's accountancy firms. If you have any questions after reviewing the information provided here, you may contact the Board's staff by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by fax at (916) 263-3676, or by calling (916) 561-1701.
Articles of Incorporation
Articles of Incorporation must be submitted with the application. The articles must indicate incorporation as a professional accountancy corporation, not a general corporation. The articles must be endorsed and approved by the California Secretary of State. In addition, the name on the Articles of Incorporation must match the name on the Board's application submitted for licensure as an accountancy corporation, as well as on all documentation submitted.
Information on filing the Articles of Incorporation is available on the California Secretary of State's website. A business incorporating in California is subject to California corporation franchise tax requirements. Information regarding franchise tax requirements can be obtained from the California Franchise Tax Board's website.
The name of the firm must meet the requirements set forth in Section 5060 of the Business and Professions Code (BPC) and Section 75.5 of Title 16 of the California Code of Regulations (Title 16). Board staff is unable to provide guidance regarding firm structure and whether a firm name will be considered false or misleading by your clients, therefore, licensees are encouraged to contact their legal counsel for guidance.
Corporation Renewal Cycle
An accountancy corporation must renew its license every two years to retain practice rights. The expiration date is based on the month and year the Board originally approved the application. If approved in an even-numbered year, the license will expire each even-numbered year on the last day of the month in which it was originally approved. If approved in an odd-numbered year, the license will expire each odd-numbered year on the last day of the month in which it was originally approved.
The Board mails renewal forms with instructions approximately two months before the firm's license expiration date. If your renewal form is not completed, mailed, and postmarked by the license expiration date, your firm's practice rights cease until all deficiencies are corrected and the license is renewed.
Failure to renew within five years of expiration will result in cancellation of a corporation's license. A cancelled license cannot be renewed, reinstated, or restored.
If a corporation's license has been cancelled, the shareholder(s) must reapply and be approved for licensure before practicing or holding out to the public as an accountancy corporation.
Dissolution of an Accountancy Corporation
To dissolve a corporation you must contact the California Secretary of State's office, and file a Certificate of Election to Wind Up and Dissolve with a Certificate of Dissolution. Information about dissolving a corporation is available on the California Secretary of State's website.
Upon completion of the above, submit a letter to the Board stating the firm has dissolved and provide the effective date. Upon receipt of the letter, the firm's license will be canceled.
Fees for Licensure
The application and initial license fees are $270. Your check, money order, or cashier's check must accompany your application and be made payable to the California Board of Accountancy.
Change of Firm Name, Address, and/or Shareholders
Each time your corporation has a change in shareholders or address, you must notify the Board office within 30 days. The notification must be provided in writing and signed.
An Accountancy Corporation Name Change must be submitted each time your corporation has a name change. Prior approval by the Board is required before you can hold out or practice under an amended name style. The name change application fee is $150. A check, money order, or cashier's check must accompany the application and be made payable to the California Board of Accountancy.
The Accountancy Corporation Name Change, including a Check Sheet, is available from our Forms Page.
Corporations requesting a name change will be required to provide a copy of the amended Articles of Incorporation which have been endorsed and approved by the California Secretary of State.
If the nonlicensee is a shareholder, the nonlicensee must materially participate in the business of the firm. Nonlicensees must comprise a minority of owners. The only exception is that a firm with two shareholders may have one shareholder who is a nonlicensee.
At initial licensure and at license renewal, Section 51 of Title 16 requires firms with nonlicensee owners to certify that any nonlicensee owner with his or her principal place of business in California has been informed of the rules of professional conduct applicable to accountancy firms. A declaration is required to be signed by a licensed shareholder of the firm upon application for firm registration.
Section 5154 of the BPC requires CPA/PA shareholders to hold a valid license to practice public accountancy. An out-of-state CPA shareholder or employee of an accountancy firm wanting to practice in California must file an application for licensure, meet the requirements set forth in Sections 5087 and 5088 of the BPC, as well as Section 21 of Title 16 prior to practicing in California. All forms related to the initial individual licensure application are available from our Forms Page.
Shareholder Security for Claims against a Corporation Agreement
Section 75.8 of Title 16 requires an accountancy corporation to provide and maintain adequate security for claims against it by its clients arising out of the rendering of or failure to render professional services. Security for such claims must consist of either maintaining insurance in the amount specified in Section 75.8(a)(1), or by agreeing to jointly and severally guarantee payment by the corporation of its liabilities to its clients, as specified in Section 75.8(a)(2).
CPA/PA shareholder(s) and nonlicensee shareholder(s) must select and complete one of the declarations for Shareholder Security for Claims against a Corporation Agreement, included in the Application for Licensure packet, by selecting the appropriate alternative.
Shareholders, Directors, and Officers
An accountancy corporation must have at least one shareholder with an active California CPA/PA license to obtain a Certificate of Registration from the Board. Pursuant to Section 5154 of the BPC, except as provided for in Section 5079 and in Section 13403 of the Corporations Code, each director, shareholder, and officer must hold a valid license to practice public accountancy. The director of an accountancy firm must be a licensed shareholder. A corporation also may have a nonlicensee shareholder, vice-president, or secretary (officer). However, a nonlicensee may not be both a shareholder and an officer. A nonlicensee cannot be a director of the firm.