Disciplinary Proceedings Before the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy

The Texas State Board of Public Accountancy (TSBPA) licenses and regulates certified public accountants (CPAs) in Texas. As a result, complaints against these professionals for violations of the Public Accountancy Act or TSBPA rules go to the TSBPA for investigation, evaluation, and initiation of disciplinary proceedings, if necessary. As the consequences of these proceedings can be severe, contacting an experienced Texas CPA license lawyer should be your first step if you receive notice of a complaint against you. 

Disciplinary Proceedings Before the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy 

When TSBPA receives a complaint from the public, a current or former client, or another CPA, the Enforcement Division initially reviews it to determine whether to investigate the allegations in the complaint. If the complaint involves no allegations of professional misconduct, the TSBPA will dismiss the complaint with no further action. However, if the complaint contains evidence of allegations of professional misconduct, the Enforcement Division will open an investigation and notify the licensee of the complaint. The licensee has 30 days to respond to the complaint in writing.  

After TSBPA receives a written response to the complaint from the licensee, the case is referred to a TSBPA enforcement committee. This committee reviews the complaint and determines how to proceed with the investigation. 

Resolving TSBPA Disciplinary Proceedings 

In many cases, the committee will attempt to resolve the case by attempting to reach an Agreed Consent Order (ACO) with the licensee. An ACO is an agreement between the licensee and TSBPA that outlines the violation(s) committed and the agreed-upon sanction(s) for the violation(s). 

If the committee and the licensee cannot reach an ACO or negotiate an agreement, the committee typically refers the case to the State Office of Administration Hearings (SOAH) as a contested case. SOAH assigns an administrative law judge (ALJ) to the case to conduct a hearing at which both parties may present evidence. After the ALJ presides over the hearing and receives evidence from both parties, the ALJ will issue a Proposal for Decision (PFD) to submit to TSBPA. That agency can accept, change, or reject the PFD and has ultimate decision-making power in finding violations and assessing sanctions against a licensee.

Potential Sanctions by TSBPA for Violations

The outcome of disciplinary proceedings before the TSPBA can be severe. Under Tex. Occ. Code Sec. 901.501, findings of professional misconduct may result in sanctions that can include one or more of the following:

  • Limits on the scope of practice or restrictions on the ability to practice;
  • Corrective action;
  • Completion of additional education requirements;
  • Requirement for the licensee to complete a peer review program in a manner conducted by TSBPA;
  • Assessment of administrative penalties or fines;
  • Imposition of direct administrative costs of the disciplinary proceedings;
  • Issuance of reprimands;
  • Payment of restitution;
  • Placement on probation; and
  • Suspension or revocation of licensure.

If TSBPA determines that a licensee has committed a violation, it can assess an administrative penalty against the licensee, regardless of any other sanctions it imposes. 22 Tex. Admin. Code Sec. 519.9 contains guidelines for assessing administrative penalties in TSPBA disciplinary cases based on whether the specific violations are classified as minor, moderate, or major. TSBPA classifies violations based on the factors outlined in Tex. Occ. Code Sec. 901.552(b), as follows:

  • the seriousness of the violation, including: 
    • the nature, circumstances, extent, and gravity of any prohibited act; and
    • the hazard or potential hazard to the public;
    • the economic damage to property caused by the violation;
    • the history of previous violations;
    • the amount necessary to deter a future violation;
    • efforts to correct the violation; and
    • any other matter that justice may require.

TSPBA can impose whatever amount of administrative penalty it deems appropriate, regardless of the guidelines. 

Furthermore, if TSPBA decides to probate a licensee’s license suspension, TSPBA may require the licensee to engage in the following actions:

  • report regularly to the board on matters that are the basis of the probation;
  • limit practice to the areas prescribed by the board; or
  • continue or renew professional education until the license holder attains a degree of skill satisfactory to the board in those areas that are the basis of the probation. 

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Defend Yourself Against Disciplinary Proceedings Involving Your CPA License

Don’t allow a single complaint from a disgruntled client to affect your career negatively. Losing your professional license can greatly harm your ability to earn a living. If you are facing the loss of your professional license, we can help you take the steps necessary to challenge the allegations against you in your disciplinary proceedings. Contact an accountant 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