Advertising Rules for CPAs

As professionals, certified public accountants (CPAs) must follow the rules and laws governing their professions, including those concerning advertising. Failure to follow the applicable rules and laws can result in disciplinary proceedings before the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy (TSBPA). These proceedings can have severe consequences and long-lasting implications for CPAs’ licenses and careers. Contact a Texas CPA license defense lawyer for assistance if you face disciplinary action against your CPA license for advertising or other rules violations. Together, we will strive to protect your license and determine the best strategy for your case.

General Advertising Rules

22 Tex. Admin. Code § 501.82 outlines the general rules about advertising that pertain to CPAs. First, § 501.82(a) states that a person shall not use or participate in the use of:

  1. any communication having reference to the person’s professional services that contains a false, fraudulent, misleading, or deceptive statement or claim;
  2. any communication that refers to the person’s professional services that is accomplished or accompanied by coercion, duress, compulsion, intimidation, threats, overreaching, or vexatious or harassing conduct; nor
  3. a name that is misleading as to the identity of the individual practicing under such name.

This section further defines a “false, fraudulent, misleading or deceptive statement or claim” as any statement or claim that:

  1. contains a misrepresentation of fact;
  2. is likely to mislead or deceive because it fails to make full disclosure of relevant facts;
  3. is intended or likely to create false or unjustified expectations of favorable results;
  4. implies educational or professional attainments or licensing recognition not supported in fact;
  5. represents that professional accounting services can or will be completely performed for a stated fee when this is not the case, or makes representations concerning fees for professional accounting services that do not disclose all variables that may reasonably be expected to affect the fees that will, in fact, be charged;
  6. contains other representations or implications that, in reasonable probability, will cause a reasonably prudent person to misunderstand or be deceived;
  7. implies the ability to improperly influence any court, tribunal, regulatory agency, or similar body or official due to some special relations;
  8. consists of self-laudatory statements that are not based on verifiable facts;
  9. makes untrue comparisons with other accountants; or
  10. contains testimonials or endorsements that are not based upon verifiable facts.

Advertising Through Direct Mailings

CPAs may use direct mailings to potential clients as a form of advertising so long as they comply with all TSBPA rules and laws on advertising. Under § 501.82(d), CPAs who sent out direct mailings as advertisements must keep a copy of the mailings and the list of persons to whom they sent them for a minimum of 36 months. The only exception to this rule is for existing clients, individuals who invited the advertisements (such as by signing up for a mailing list), or individuals who are “seeking to secure the performance of professional services.” 

The direct mailing rules apply to mail sent via U.S. mail, email, or other electronic means. Furthermore, a recording or copy of any broadcasts, which include transmissions via cable, airwaves, the internet, or via electronic means, also must be kept for 36 months, just like any documentary advertisements mailed to prospective clients. 

Online Advertising and Use of Social Media Platforms

Like other industries, CPAs are free to use online advertisements and social media platforms to promote their business. However, CPAs and their accounting firms must not violate any of the rules of professional conduct or other laws that govern their profession. For instance, it is good practice for CPAs to maintain copies of advertising statements placed on their websites and social media pages for at least 36 months, as they can reach the public. They also must avoid prohibited “self-laudatory statements that are not based on verifiable facts” on their websites and social media pages. 

Additionally, the TSBPA does not currently recognize any “specialist” in the field of public accounting. As a result, CPAs should not hold themselves out as “specialists” or use similar terms, as they imply that the TSBPA has endorsed or recognized them as such. 

Having friends or followers on your business’s Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram page does not violate client confidentiality rules. When they choose to become your business’s “friend” or “follower” on a social networking site, they waive any client confidentiality they might enjoy. However, you must ensure that your firm’s online presence does not violate the rules concerning the contact of prospective clients. Under § 501.82(c), CPAs may not continue to solicit prospective clients when they have made known their desire, or the CPAs should 

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Fight Back Against Disciplinary Proceedings 

Don’t allow advertising or other rules violations to keep you from your career. If you face adverse action concerning your CPA license, we can help you take the steps necessary to defend yourself in your disciplinary proceedings. Contact a CPA license defense attorney at Bertolino LLP, for advice today. Make an appointment by calling (512) 515-9518 or contact us online to see how we can help.

Call or text (512) 476-5757 or complete a Case Evaluation form