When an accountant finds themselves facing a complaint before the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy (BPA), it can mean their very livelihood is at stake. And once the BPA decides that the complaint merits investigation, a file is opened by the Enforcement Division. Then the accountant has 30 days to respond with the material in their own defense. At this point, a committee will review the case and make its recommendations on what course of action should be taken. Often the committee will put forth an Agreed Consent Order, in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act, for the accountant to sign.
These Agreed Consent Orders are designed to resolve the situation to the accountant’s detriment—instituting disciplinary measures with severity tied to the egregiousness of the alleged violations. These may include the following actions:
- Administrative penalties or fines
- Mandatory continuing education courses
- Mandatory drug tests
- Practice restrictions
- Probated suspension or revocation
- License suspension or revocation
It’s important to recognize that once an Agreed Consent Order is signed by the accountant and approved by the Board, it is final. The accountant has then agreed to be bound by its terms—and the ramifications are profound. Even should the disciplinary measures in the Agreed Consent Order fall on the light end of the range of possible outcomes, the event will remain on the accountant’s professional license record for the remainder of their career.
Therefore a licensed accountancy professional under investigation by the licensing board should never sign an Agreed Consent Order without first consulting with an experienced professional license defense attorney.
If the accountant decides against signing an agreed order (whether on their own or on the advice of counsel), the case will be considered unresolved at that stage. It may then go on to the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH), where the accountant will be permitted to present evidence and call witnesses before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Again, it is absolutely necessary to have an experienced professional license defense attorney by your side for these hearings. As the hearings wind down, the ALJ will offer a Proposal for Decision, which then can be adopted, changed, or rejected by the Board. Possible penalties for an accountant found liable in a complaint range from a reprimand to a suspension to revocation of your CPA license.
Who Should You Contact?
If the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy has notified you of a complaint, your CPA license, career, and livelihood are on the line. We urge you to hire a professional license defense attorney experienced with CPA license defense cases and the Board’s specific enforcement process. The assistance of counsel helps to protect your rights and your license—it does not make you look guilty.
BERTOLINO LLP helps professionals, like you, keep their licenses when those licenses are under attack by a state agency or board. Contact us today or call (512) 476-5757 and schedule a case evaluation.