Common Complaints Made Against Accountants
Complaints against certified public accountants are far more common than you might think. The Texas Public Accountancy Act allows the Texas State BPA the authority to handle investigations of professional misconduct by CPAs. The TSBPA has the authority to discipline accountants in Texas for violations of the Public Accountancy Act or BPA board rules.
Some of the more common types of allegations and complaints made against CPAs include:
- Allegations of professional misconduct by clients, other CPAs, the public, or any other source
- Negligence or incompetence
- Deceit or fraud and obtaining their CPA license
- Misrepresentation, fraud, or deceit by a CPA
- Aiding and abetting an unlicensed practice
- Violations of BPA laws and regulations
- Being convicted of a crime in relation to their duties and responsibilities as a CPA
The TSBPA will be responsible for handling any investigation that comes from allegations of professional misconduct. Complaints are received by the TSBPA and reviewed by the Enforcement Division before determining whether the TSBPA should open up an investigation into the complaints in question.
Are You Notified if a Complaint Is Made Against You?
If a complaint has been made against your CPA license, you will receive notification that the TSBPA has opened up an investigation into the complaint. If you receive such a notice, be sure to reach out to a CPA license defense attorney for help protecting your future.
Understanding the TSBPA Disciplinary Process
The TSBPA process to investigate misconduct allegations is relatively informal, unlike other Texas licensing boards. The complainant may submit a statement with a factual narrative of the allegations. Upon receipt, if there is an allegation of professional misconduct and these allegations appear to be valid, the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy Enforcement Division will open an investigation.
If notified of misconduct allegations and the TSBPAs investigation into the complaints made against you, you have 30 days to respond in writing. Your matter may then be referred to an enforcement committee, the beginning of a long process.
Your matter may include a negotiated agreement or be referred to an informal conference to reach an Agreed Consent Order. If an agreement is not reached, your matter may proceed to a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) at the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH).
Consequences You Could Face
If a negotiation agreement cannot be reached through an Agreed Consent Order or your administrative hearings before an ALJ at the SOAH do not produce a favorable outcome in your case, the penalties could be severe. Your license defense attorney will need to work tirelessly to help you avoid harsh consequences.
Some common enforcement actions taken by the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy when accountants are found to have engaged in professional misconduct include:
- Education requirements
- Corrective action
- Limitations of your practice
- Suspension or revocation of your license to practice
As can be seen, your entire career and future could be on the line if your accountant license is in jeopardy. If you hope to avoid the fallout, it is critical to take steps to defend your license so you can get back to your life.
How to Defend Your Accountant License
Your lawyer will need to closely evaluate the details of your case to determine how to best approach your accountant license defense. Generally, you can expect the need to respond to the allegations made against you. Your licensed defense attorney will gather the evidence needed to support your case. Some of this evidence could include:
- Video footage
- Financial records
- Bank statements
- Other relevant supporting documents
- Witness statements
- Client statements
- Expert testimony
You can find out more about what to expect from your CPA license defense when you contact your attorney to discuss the allegations made against you.
Texas State Board of Public Accountancy (TSBPA) FAQ
When complaints have been made against you, the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy (TSBPA) will likely open up an investigation into your case. You may have many unanswered questions regarding what to expect from this process and the consequences you could face.
With this in mind, we have answered some of the most frequently asked questions regarding TSBPA investigations below. If you have additional questions regarding your case, be sure to contact our office to discuss your concerns further.
Do Accountants Need a License in Texas?
Individuals who obtain Texas CPA certifications and licenses have the authority to perform client services legally while representing themselves as licensed by the Texas SBPA.
However, if you do not have your CPA license or the accounting firm in question has not obtained their license through the TSBPA, you do not have the right to provide services to clients or represent yourself as being a licensed Texas CPA.
What Happens to Your License if You Are Convicted of a Felony?
If you are convicted of a felony, under Board Rule 501.90, an investigation will be opened up into the allegations made against you, your criminal conviction, and whether you should face adverse action, including the suspension or revocation of your CPA license.
What Is the Authority of the TSBPA When a Complaint Is Filed?
When a complaint is filed, the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy has the authority to impose sanctions and enforcement actions against Texas CPAs who are found in violation of TSBPA rules found in Chapters 501-527 of the Texas Administrative Code.
What Rules of Professional Conduct Are Accountants Required to Follow?
Title 22, part 22 of the Texas Administrative Code includes all of theTSBPA Board rules Certified Public Accountants are required to follow regarding the rules of professional conduct.
If the TSBPA Believes Professional Misconduct Occurred or Cannot Decide How to Resolve the Matter, What Happens Next?
When complaints are brought against CPAs, sometimes, the TSBPA may be unable to reach an agreement regarding corrective or disciplinary action. When this happens, the Board may invite the complainant and the CPA to meet with the Board for an informal conference. Here, both parties will have the opportunity to present evidence and answer questions the Board may have regarding their case.
If an agreement can be reached, an Agreed Consent Order (ACO) will be offered to the Board. However, if an agreement cannot be reached, the case will move forward and be prosecuted before an administrative law judge. When your case is heard by an ALJ, at the conclusion of this hearing, the ALJ will issue a Proposal For Decision (PFD) with recommendations on how to resolve the complaint. This recommendation will then be presented to the TSBPA for a vote.
If I Disagree with the Board’s Recommendations, How Do I Appeal?
It is more common than you might think for accountants to disagree with decisions made by the TSBPA. Fortunately, you have the right to reject their recommendation and request a hearing before an ALJ if you disagree.