California Licensees FAQs
CA CPA Licensees
What is an active renewal?
If you engage in the practice of public accountancy, you are required to hold a license in active status. Active renewal means that you completed the required hours of CE, submitted the required renewal information, and paid the license renewal fee and any applicable delinquency fee. As a condition of renewal in active status, you must complete at least 80 hours of required CE in the two-year period immediately preceding license expiration.
What is an inactive renewal?
If you are not practicing public accountancy, you may renew your license in inactive status without completing CE. However, you must pay the renewal fee and submit a renewal form to maintain a current license. An inactive license may be converted to active status prior to the next expiration date by applying for license conversion on the License Status Conversion Form from Inactive to Active License Status and meeting all license status conversion requirements. The license will not become active until it has been processed and approved by the CBA.
- Can I get another renewal form to record my CPE/CE hours?
If I only do tax returns, can I renew my license in inactive status?
If you use a CPA or PA designation soliciting, advertising for clients, or signing a tax return, you must have a current, active license. Under Business and Professions Code (BPC) sections 22250-22258, tax preparers must meet special bonding and continuing education requirements as well as other requirements. With current active licenses, CPAs or PAs, enrolled agents, and attorneys are exempt from these special requirements. CPAs and PAs must instead meet the continuing education and other requirements of the CBA.
What types of courses qualify as CE?
To qualify as acceptable CE, a program must contribute directly to your professional competence as a licensee in public practice. Among the qualifying programs are:
- Professional development programs of national and state accounting organizations.
- Technical sessions at meetings of national and state accounting organizations and their chapters, which are designed as formal educational programs.
- University or college courses.
- Other formal educational programs, provided the program meets the required standards.
If I am a new licensee with a prorated A & A or government CE requirement, am I required to complete the four-hour fraud CE course?
If your total CE requirement is less than 80 hours for license renewal, you are not required to complete the four-hour fraud CE requirement.
Can I do my CE by self-study?
Yes, 100 percent of the CE requirements may be completed in qualifying self-study programs.
What activities qualify as CE?
The following activities qualify for CE, but you are only allowed to claim up to 25 percent of the required CE hours:
- Writing published articles and books, provided the publisher is not under the control of the licensee, and the article/book would contribute to his/her competence.
- Writing instructional materials for any continuing education program, which meets the requirements of Regulation sections 88(a)(1), 88.1, and 88.2.
- Writing questions for the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination.
Do I need to report for peer review?
The initial peer review reporting requirement was phased in over a three-year period. The phase-in period required you to report based on your license number not your license renewal date. Under the new requirement, effective January 1, 2014, you will be required to report to the CBA peer review information as required on the Peer Review Reporting Form (commonly known as PR-1) at the time of license renewal. The CBA has included the PR-1 with your license renewal package and it must be completed and submitted with your license renewal application. You must report to the CBA even if you are required to undergo peer review, not subject to peer review, or renewing in an inactive status.
Am I subject to fingerprinting?
Licensees renewing in an active license status who either have not been previously fingerprinted, or for whom no electronic fingerprint records exist in the Department of Justice's criminal offender record identification database, will, under the new requirements, be required to undergo the fingerprint process as a condition of license renewal. If you are required to obtain fingerprints, you will receive a notification from the CBA approximately 90 days prior to your license renewal. Licensees actively serving in the United States military are exempt from this requirement. Additional information regarding this requirement can be found on the Fingerprinting FAQs webpage.
Are there special requirements for renewing an expired license?
Under normal circumstances, to renew a license in an active status, a total of 80 hours of qualifying CE must be completed during the 24-months immediately preceding license expiration. If you are a new licensee, or you recently converted your license to an active status, you most likely have a pro-rated CE requirement, which requires you to complete less than 80 hours of CE.
Under the new requirement, effective January 1, 2014, if you allow your license to expire and go delinquent, you will now be required to complete an additional 20 hours of CE for each full six-month period from the date of license expiration through the date you apply for license renewal, up to a maximum of 80 hours of CE. If less than six full months have passed between the date that the license expired and the date you apply for license renewal, no additional CE is required.
CA Firm Licensees
What does DBA mean?
DBA is an acronym for "doing business as." An individual who wishes to do business under a name other than his or her legal name registered with the CBA may choose to practice as a partnership, corporation, or under a fictitious name.
What is a Fictitious Name?
A fictitious name is the name style used when an individual or a group chooses to practice under a name style other than its legal name registered with the CBA. A fictitious name must be registered with the CBA.
I recently registered a fictitious name for my firm with the city and county where I practice. Do I also need to register the fictitious name with the CBA, and is there a fee?
If a CPA or PA wants to practice public accountancy with a name other than the name by which he or she holds a license to practice, under Business and Professions Code (BPC) section 5060, a fictitious name application must be approved by the CBA before the name can be used. There is no fee to register a fictitious name.
Can a non-licensee's name be in the name style of the firm if he or she is a shareholder or partner?
Yes. The firm must be registered with the CBA and licensees must comprise the majority of owners except that firms with two owners may have one owner who is a non-licensee (refer to section 5079 of the California Accountancy Act for additional information).
Does the phrase "An Accountancy Corporation" or "A Professional Corporation" need to be in the name style of the firm?
No. An accountancy professional corporation is no longer required to include this information in its name style.
Can a corporation, partnership, and fictitious name permit have the same name at the same time?
Yes, you may have all three at the same time.
Can I practice under the new name of our firm now that I have applied for licensure, or do I have to wait for the CBA's approval?
You may not practice under the firm's new name until you have been notified that the CBA has approved the name.
Does a firm's name on its letterhead and business cards have to read the same as the name registered with the CBA?
If a partner/shareholder is disassociated and the firm's name style includes that partner/shareholder's name, can the firm's name stay the same?
The firm may keep the name style or choose a new name style. Remember to notify the CBA of any name change.
Does "LLP" or "RLLP" need to follow the limited liability partnership's name in the name style?
Do partnerships and corporations need to renew their licenses?
Yes. All partnerships and corporations must renew their firms' licenses every two years.
How long does it take for a corporation or partnership initial license application to be approved?
If the application is complete when submitted, processing time is usually four to six weeks.
Who signs the partnership or corporation license renewal form(s)?
The managing partner or managing shareholder signs the renewal form(s).
Do you need the original Articles of Incorporation from the Secretary of State?
Yes. The original endorsed Articles of Incorporation and one copy should be submitted along with your application.
Is a partnership's license affected if one of the CPA/PA partner's licenses is delinquent?
Yes. If a partnership consists of only two partners, the partnership would be invalid. If the partnership has more than two partners, the partnership would still be valid.
Is a corporation's license affected if one of the CPA/PA shareholder's licenses is delinquent?
Yes. If the corporation is a soleholder corporation, the firm license is not valid. If you have more than two shareholders, then the corporation's license would still be valid.