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Frequently Asked Questions

Please select the sections below to see the list of frequently asked questions in each category.  If you have additional questions that are not answered here, please complete the Contact form and we will have the appropriate staff person contact you.


Address, Email and Name Changes

1.  Q:   How do I update my physical and/or email address?

      A:    Address and email updates can be made via your Ohio eLicense Dashboard, under Options - Change Address (physical address) and Manage Profile (email and telephone).


2.  Q:   How do I update my name?

      A:    Name changes can be made via your Ohio eLicense Dashboard, under Options - Change Name. You will be required to upload appropriate documentation:

  • valid driver’s license or state identification card (clearly showing picture and updated name of the licensee)
  • marriage certificate
  • divorce or dissolution decree indicating current name of licensee
  • probate or other court order approving a legal name change
  • US Immigration and Citizenship Services issued Green Card (must clearly show the picture and updated name of the licensee)


CPA Examination

Applying for the CPA Examination

1.  Q:   What is the application procedure?

      A:    The application process is online, and details may be obtained from CPA Examination Services (CPAES).


2.  Q:   When should I expect the review of my application to be complete?

      A:    Applications may take up to six (6) weeks to review.


3.  Q:   What happens after I receive the notice to schedule (NTS)?

      A:    You may contact Prometric directly to schedule the CPA exam.


Course Requirements for Admission to the CPA Examination


1.  Q: What are the education and course requirements to sit for the CPA exam as an Ohio candidate?

      A: Per Ohio Revised Code Chapter 4701.06 and Board rule OAC 4701-3-03, a person must complete at least 120 semester credits including 24 accounting credits and 24 business credits. Accounting courses must include auditing, taxation, cost/managerial accounting, and financial accounting.


2.  Q:   How do I find out the business course requirements?

      A:    The fields of finance, economics, management, marketing, and business law count as business topics.


3.  Q:      May a person sit for the CPA examination if they have not achieved a baccalaureate degree?

      A:    Possibly.  In order to sit for the CPA exam, you must have completed at least 120 semester credits and completed the accounting and business course requirements outlined in Ohio Administrative Code 4701-3-03.  A baccalaureate degree and 150 semester credits are required to be certified as an Ohio CPA.

An alternative pathway to qualify to sit for the CPA exam is to have earned at least 120 semester credits, obtained a score of 670 or higher on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) and completed the accounting and business course requirements outlined in Ohio Administrative Code 4701-3-03. No baccalaureate degree or additional credits are required for certification if a candidate sits for the CPA exam under this pathway.


4.  Q:   How do I find out if I meet the education requirements to sit for the exam?

      A:    The National Association of State Boards of Accounting (NASBA) offers an advisory evaluation service to determine if you meet course requirements to sit for the CPA examination.


5.  Q:   What type of foreign credential evaluation should I obtain?

      A:    You must obtain a course-by-course listing and a course credit analysis Issued by an approved foreign credential evaluator. The report must include accounting, business, and total credits earned.


6.  Q:   Does computer information systems still count as an accounting course?

      A:    Only computer  information systems courses offered by the accounting department can be used toward meeting the accounting credit requirement.


College Credit Calculation


1.  Q:   How do quarter credits convert to semester credits?

      A:    One semester hour equals 1½ quarter hours, so one quarter hour is 2/3 of a semester hour. Trimester credit hours are generally the same as semester credit hours. Colleges that award "units" instead of semester or quarter credits will specify the conversion from units to semester or quarter credits.


2.  Q:   Do graduate accounting courses earn more credit?

      A:    Graduate accounting courses reduce the number of semester credits required to fulfill the accounting course requirements to sit for the CPA exam. One graduate semester or quarter credit in accounting counts 5/3 credits toward the accounting course requirement; therefore, 18 semester hours of graduate accounting credit will substitute for 24 semester hours of undergraduate accounting credit. However, credits earned in graduate business courses are equivalent to undergraduate business courses in meeting the 24-hour business course requirement. Graduate accounting courses do not reduce the overall credit requirement below 120 to sit for the CPA exam or 150 semester credits needed to be certified.



Q:  Is Ohio residence still required for the CPA exam?

A:  No.  Residence is no longer a legal requirement in Ohio for admission to the CPA examination. However, a person who sits for the CPA examination as a nonresident Ohio candidate must meet the residence requirement at the time of CPA certification. Residence implies legal US residence that qualifies for in-state tuition status at an Ohio college or university.

Transfer of CPA Examination Credit


1.  Q:   How do I transfer exam credit to Ohio?

      A:    If you earn credit on the CPA examination as a candidate of another state and wish to transfer this credit to Ohio, you must complete the Ohio educational requirements and satisfy the residency requirement. If you continue to sit for the CPA exam as a candidate of the other state and obtain a CPA certificate in that state, then you may obtain an Ohio CPA certificate by reciprocity if all other requirements are met.


2.  Q:   What is the "grandfather clause?"

      A:    Section 4701.06 of the Ohio Revised Code states that the educational requirements for admission to the CPA examination are those in effect on the date the candidate first sits for the CPA exam. The grandfather clause does not apply to persons who fulfilled the educational requirements prior to 2000 but did not sit for the CPA examination.

Test Center Problems and Contacts


1.  Q:   What action should I take if I think I witnessed a candidate cheating or if I believe a test center employee acted improperly?

      A:    You may submit a security issue anonymously online via Prometric’s Security Tips Line; via email at prometricsecuritydept@prometric.com; or by phone at 800-578-6273.


2.  Q:   What action should I take if I experienced a problem at the testing center?

      A:    Contact Prometric Customer Care (800-580-9648) or NASBA (866-696-2722).


3.  Q:   What if I have a concern about the test questions for the section I just completed?

      A:    Communicate your concerns to the AICPA Examination Team by email (cpaexam@aicpa.org) or by mail (100 Princeton South, Suite 200, Ewing, NJ 08628).

CPA Certification

Experience Requirement

1.  Q:   Do I need more experience for the CPA certificate if I am employed in industry or government instead of in public accounting?

      A:    No. However, if your direct supervisor is not a CPA, a CPA who is familiar with your job and duties will need to submit a statement to verify your experience.

2.  Q:  What is the experience requirement?

      A:  Typically, one (1) year of experience is required.  Four (4) years may be required depending on how CPA exam requirements were met.

3. Q:   What counts as qualifying experience for the CPA certificate?

      A:    The experience requirement may be fulfilled if you perform one or more accounting services, such as accounting, auditing, consulting services, financial planning and management advisory services, and tax services.

4.  Q:   May experience be claimed toward the requirement that was earned years prior to applying for the CPA certificate?

      A:    Yes.  Experience, once earned, may be counted toward the experience requirement.

5.  Q:   Is there a time limit after passing the CPA examination that a candidate for the CPA certificate must apply for a CPA certificate?

      A:    No.

Substantial Equivalency

Q:  Explain "substantial equivalency."

A:  There are 55 jurisdictions that license CPAs in the 50 states, Puerto Rico, District of Columbia, Guam, US Virgin Islands and Northern Mariana Islands. These jurisdictions vary somewhat in their licensing requirements. Substantial equivalency, in effect in Ohio since the Board was created in 1908 and now a national standard, means that each state may overlook relatively minor differences in other states' CPA requirements to facilitate the movement of CPAs between states. Any person who holds a permit to practice public accounting in any state may apply for an Ohio CPA certificate by reciprocity.


CPA Licensing


1.  Q:   What type of license should I obtain?

      A:    The law states that you need an Ohio permit if you are engaged in the practice of public accounting or perform regulated services. Public accounting includes compilations, reviews, and audits, as well as tax and consulting work done by a CPA firm. Note: any employee of a CPA firm who holds an Ohio CPA certificate and performs any client-facing work must complete CPE and hold a current and valid permit to practice, regardless if they sign documents as a CPA. Regulated services are services performed outside a CPA firm while using the CPA designation that would be subject to the professional standards if performed in a CPA firm. If you are not engaged in the practice of public accounting and you do not perform regulated services, you may obtain a non-practicing Ohio registration and use the title “CPA Inactive.” You will select the type of license you wish to hold at your triennial license renewal, although you may move from a registration to a permit at any time.


2.  Q:   I am not employed in public accounting, but I wish to use the CPA designation without the "Inactive" disclaimer. May I hold an Ohio permit even though I am not practicing public accounting?

      A:    Yes.  You must complete the continuing professional education (CPE) requirements applicable to Ohio permit holders. This requirement is 120 CPE credits (including three credits of Board-approved professional standards and responsibilities any subject matter requirements based on the work you perform) each three-year reporting period.


3.  Q:   I do not have my own CPA firm, but I do some taxes and consulting for friends and neighbors. What license should I obtain?

      A:    You should obtain an Ohio permit, because you are performing regulated services and signing documents as a CPA. Since you do not advertise to the public as a CPA firm, you are not required to register with the Board as a public accounting firm, although you may do so.


4.  Q:   I now reside outside the USA. Must I obtain an Ohio CPA license?

      A:    Yes.  All who hold an Ohio CPA certificate must maintain their licensure with either a practicing permit or non-practicing registration.


5.  Q:   I no longer use the CPA designation, I am over age 55, and I wish to retire my license. How may I do this?

      A:    Retiring your CPA certificate is considered a final act. To permanently change your credentials to “CPA-Retired,” you need to complete anAffidavit for Retired CPA/PA Status and CPE Exemption form, have it notarized and submit it to this office. Retiring your license substantially restricts you from performing or offering to perform paid accounting, tax, and/or advisory services, and to reestablish your CPA credentials requires a reinstatement hearing before the Board.


6.  Q:   What are the differences among the "practicing" license, the "non-practicing" license, and the "inactive" license? 

      A:    The two types of licenses are, legally speaking, the Ohio permit and the Ohio registration. Since the Ohio permit is the authorization to practice public accounting, it is also known as the "permit to practice" or the "practicing license." Continuing education is required to obtain or renew an Ohio permit. The Ohio registration is considered a "non-practicing” or “inactive” license. A CPA or PA who holds an Ohio registration must use the term "Inactive" after the CPA or PA designation, since continuing education is not required.


7.  Q: I renewed a non-practicing registration/”inactive” license, but the license lookup says my status is “active.” Why?

      A: The state of Ohio uses the term active to mean “valid and current” license, rather than the CPA jargon “active” vs. “inactive” license. The sub-category listed in the lookup denotes the type of CPA credential you hold, in this case a registration.


8.  Q:  What are the differences between a “permit” and a “permit - employed in public accounting”?

      A:   These two designations confer equal status to their holder, and the general requirements are the same. However, those CPAs who are employed in any client-facing role at a registered public accounting firm need to select permit- employed in public accounting for the purposes of reporting and late fee calculation.


9.  Q:   I would like to do bookkeeping and tax work without using the CPA designation. How may I do this?

      A:    You may perform bookkeeping and tax work without using the CPA designation. However, if you sign tax returns as a CPA, you need to hold a permit to practice, as you are performing regulated services; and you need to hold a permit if you are employed at a public accounting firm.  Any CPA who is associated with financial statements is required to follow public accounting standards. There is no provision in the accountancy law that permits a CPA to act, in essence, as a non-CPA with respect to accounting work.


Professional Ethics


1.  Q:   I am a CPA, and my client owes me for a past due bill. May I withhold the client's records until I am paid?

      A:    Board rule 4701-11-06 states you must return client records 30 days after the client makes a written request for the records.  This time may be used by you to collect past due fees.  However, if the client still does not pay after the 30-day period expires, you must return the client records and enforce collection by other means.  The records retention rule refers to original client documents and accounting records (journals and ledgers).


2.  Q:   AICPA ethics interpretation 501-1 (ET section 501.02) seems to permit me to hold on to records until I get paid by the client. Why is the Board's rule different?

      A:     The AICPA ethics interpretation has a 45-day requirement for return of “client-provided records,” and makes a distinction between those records and “member-prepared records.”  The Board makes no distinction; both client-provided and member-prepared records (e.g., adjusting, closing, combining, or consolidating journal entries, including computations supporting such entries, and supporting schedules and documents that are proposed or prepared by the member as part of an engagement, such as an audit) are considered client records per Board rule OAC 4701-11-06.


3. Q:   I have records of clients that are no longer with my firm. How long must I keep these records?

      A:    The retention period for ex-client records falls under "best practices" and the accountancy law is silent on this topic.  You may be able to obtain general guidance from the OSCPA, AICPA, IRS, or other published sources in this matter.


Firm Names

      Q:   I am a 51% owner of a CPA firm, and the other shareholder of the firm is not a CPA.  May I use the names of the two owners in the firm name with the "certified public accountants" designation?

      A:    To imply both owners are CPAs is misleading.  The use of both names in the firm name with the designation "CPAs" is a violation of rule 4701-11-05 if there are no other CPAs in the firm.

Firm Registration and Peer Review

1.  Q:   What is a public accounting firm?

      A:    A public accounting firm is any firm located in Ohio that performs attest work (compilations, reviews, audits, or attestation engagements), and is required to follow AICPA professional standards for those services, whether it uses the designation "certified public accountant(s)," "public accountant(s)," or their abbreviations, in connection with the firm name.  Any firm that performs only tax or consulting work as described in the AICPA professional standards for these services is also considered a public accounting firm if the firm uses "certified public accountant(s)," "public accountant(s)," or their abbreviations in connection with the firm name.  A CPA or PA in business as a sole practitioner that meets either of the above criteria must also register with the Board as a public accounting firm.

2.  Q:   I am planning to start my own business and advertise using the CPA designation.  What Board requirements must I meet?

      A:    The fee for initial firm registration is $10.00, and you may register your business via your eLicense Dashboard and then apply for this new license.  If you perform attest work (audits, reviews, compilations, attestation engagements), you need to apply as a peer review firm.  If you do not perform attest work, you need to apply as a tax/consulting firm.  Note that all CPA certificate holders employed by a CPA firm must hold a valid permit-employed in public accounting.  If there are non-CPA business owners, they are required to comply with Board rule OAC 4701-15-13.

 3. Q:   I operate a tax and consulting CPA firm. Why do I need to register with the Board?

      A:    All businesses that practice public accounting and/or use the CPA designation to offer services to the public must register with the board.  Public accounting includes all services covered by AICPA professional standards; and comprises tax and consulting services when those services are offered using the CPA designation.

 4. Q:   How do I schedule a peer review?

      A:    The Ohio Society of CPAs (OSCPA) is the board’s authorized agent to conduct peer reviews.  You may find information concerning the peer review process on the OSCPA website.  You may also contact the OSCPA in writing via email, by mail at 4249 Easton Way, Suite 150, Columbus, OH 43219, or by telephone at (614) 764-2727 or (800) 686-2727.

5.  Q:   One of our firm's partners has recently joined (or departed) our firm.  Is our new partnership considered a new firm according to firm registration and peer review requirements?

      A:    No.  Rule 4701-13-09(F) states that a firm which retains substantially similar ownership remains in the same peer review group as the former firm.  However, you will need to update the firm’s employee listing (EMPL license – Manage Employees) via the Dashboard at Ohio eLicense.

6.  Q:   Our firm is planning to offer attest services. How do we change our firm status from tax/consulting to peer review/attest?

      A:    Firms requesting a change of status must apply for a new CPA firm license on the eLicense portal.  The firm license will remain the same, but the suffix will change to denote the firm’s type.  A tax/consulting firm changing their license status to peer review/attest must undergo a peer review one year after the acceptance of the engagement, per the provisions of section 4701.04(J) of the Ohio Revised Code and Board rule 4701-13-07 of the Ohio Administrative Code.

7.  Q:   Our firm has not performed attest work since its last renewal and would like to continue as a tax/consulting firm only.

      A:    Firms requesting a change of status must apply for a new CPA firm license on the eLicense portal.  The firm license will remain the same, but the suffix will change to denote the firm’s type.  A peer review firm changing their license status to tax/consulting also needs to submit a Peer Review Exemption form.

Continuing Professional Education

Professional Standards and Responsibilities Requirement

1.  Q:    Why don’t I see the word “ethics” in the requirement?

      A:    “Ethics” is included in the subject area covered by professional standards and responsibilities (PSR).  For a complete definition and additional topics that are covered by PSR, please review the definition found in rule 4701-15-11(C)(2).

2.  Q:   Are there any substitutes for courses covering Ohio accountancy law and Board rules?

      A:    No.  An Ohio-based course must be taken from a Board-approved sponsor listed on our PSR page.

3.  Q:   Do ethics courses offered by the AICPA fulfill the PSR requirement to renew a CPA license?

      A:    Yes.  The AICPA is a Board-approved sponsor to fulfill the PSR requirement when renewing a permit.

4.  Q:   How is “professional ethics” defined?

      A:    Professional ethics is defined as the exercise of professional judgment by a CPA.  Ethics refers to the fact that the CPA has a choice of behavior in situations and why some choices are preferable.  Professional ethics is not simply compliance with a set of statutes and regulations, which is why the Board uses the label “professional standards and responsibilities” instead of “ethics.”

5.  Q:   I have seen courses in ethics that cover human resource issues and tax laws.  Do these courses qualify?

      A.    Such programs earn general CPE credit, as they contribute to a licensee’s professional competence.  Only courses approved by the Board and appearing on our PSR page meet PSR requirements.

6.  Q:   Is it possible for a one-hour or two-hour program to qualify for PSR credit?

      A:    Yes, if the course is Board approved.

7.  Q:   Can a PSR course be taken online?

      A:    Yes.  Many of our approved sponsors offer self-study courses.  You may view a full list of approved sponsors on our PSR page.

8.  Q:   Are CPAs who hold an Ohio registration (non-practicing/inactive license) required to take a professional standards and responsibilities course(s)?

      A:    Licensees who hold an Ohio registration are exempt from all continuing education requirements.

9.  Q:   I am a new CPA.  Am I still required to obtain three (3) credits in professional standards and responsibilities during my first reporting period?

      A:    No.  Rule 4701-15-11 refers only to three-year reporting periods.

Continuing Education – Individuals

1.  Q:   I currently hold an Ohio registration. What is the CPE requirement to obtain a practicing permit?

      A:    The re-entry CPE requirement is outlined in Board rule OAC 4701-15-09, and you may request a permit at any time.  The overall requirement is a total of 120 CPE credits earned in the 36 months prior to requesting a permit, to include 24 CPE credits in accounting, auditing or attestation subjects; 24 CPE credits in taxation subjects; and three (3) credits in professional standards and responsibilities approved by the Board and specific to Ohio laws and rules.

2.  Q:   Must a licensee send course materials or certificates of completion to the Board after each CPE program?

      A:    No.  A licensee should retain all relevant CPE course materials and evidence of completion.  This material may be requested during a verification of CPE credit conducted by the Board later.  Important: All licensees who renew late, must submit to the Board documentation of 120 credits of CPE completed in the previous 36 months.  Licensees may use the CPE Audit Service website to retain documentation as well.

3.  Q:   What is a continuing education unit (CEU), and how does it compare to CPE credits?

     A:    A CEU is 10 hours, or 600 minutes.  A CPE hour is 50 minutes.  A one-day CPE program that earns 0.5 CEU (400 minutes) would earn eight (8) hours of CPE credit, per Board rule OAC 4701-15-04.

4.  Q:   May the same CPE program be taken more than once in a three-year reporting period?

      A:    Potentially.  You may claim credit for the same CPE program once each calendar year, but only for courses that require yearly updates.

5.  Q:   May instructors of a CPE program or college course claim CPE credit when they instruct a course more than once in a three-year reporting period?

     A:    No.  You may only claim credit for teaching a course once per reporting period.  Instructor CPE is limited to 90 credits per three-year reporting period, in accordance with Board rule OAC 4701-15-04.

6.  Q:   Must all CPE courses be taken from a sponsor registered with the Board?

      A:    No.  Only sponsors who provide professional standards and responsibilities (PSR) credits are required to register with the Board.  The Board may accept CPE credits from unregistered sponsors.  Remember to keep all documentation that verifies completion of the CPE course.

7.  Q:   I have only a few tax (or compilation) clients.  Must I still obtain 24 CPE credits every three years in tax (accounting/auditing) courses?

      A:    Yes, per rule 4701-15-11.

8.  Q:   What is the breakdown of required CPE hours in various subjects?

      A:    1) Licensees who prepare financial statements, work with financial reporting clients and/or sign financial reports must complete at least 24 CPE credits in accounting and/or auditing per reporting period; and at least 24 CPE credits in taxation are required of licensees who prepare taxes, work on tax engagements, and/or sign tax returns.

             2) Three credits in Board approved professional standards and responsibilities (PSR) are required of all licensees renewing a permit.  The PSR requirement may be fulfilled by taking courses in the following subject areas: (a) accountancy laws and rules, (b) professional accounting ethics and (c) ethical philosophy.

             3) Finally, all permit holders must complete a minimum of 20 CPE credits per calendar year to comply with Board rule 4701-15-02(A).

9.  Q:   How do I request an extension of time to make up a CPE deficiency?

      A:    A written request for an extension of time beyond the December 31st reporting deadline must be made in writing to the Executive Director.  Requests are granted for documented health reasons or military deployment.

Continuing Education – Sponsors

1.  Q:   What is the recommended length of time a sponsor should retain records?

      A:    Since the reporting period is three years in length, and the Board’s continuing education verification process occurs at the end of a three-year reporting period, a continuing education sponsor should retain the applicable attendance or completion records for a period of at least four years.

2.  Q:   Must a CPE sponsor register with the Accountancy Board?

      A:    No.  Only CPE sponsors offering PSR/ethics credit are required to register with the Board.

3:  Q:   How does a sponsor renew with the Accountancy Board?

      A:    Renewal notices will be emailed to registered sponsors sixty days prior to the renewal deadline.  To renew, send/email a copy of the current sponsor registration form, or PSR sponsor registration form to the Board.  If you are renewing a PSR sponsorship you will need to submit course materials and instructor information for Board approval.

      Registered sponsors are required to renew by May 31st each year.


Complaints and Investigations


Q:  My CPA is refusing to respond to my calls, and I want my records back. Should I file a complaint?

A:  Possibly.  If you are seeking a return of your client records, the Board recommends you send the CPA a written request via certified mail, giving them 30 days to return your records.  You may file a complaint concurrently.  Note that once a CPA has provided their work product to you (copies of tax returns or other workpapers), they are not bound by any requirement to recreate or provide additional copies.


Q:  How do I contact the Board to check on the status of a complaint I filed?

A:  When a complaint is submitted, an email is generated to the complainant, giving the case number.  You may call the Board’s office at (614) 466-4135, or contact the investigator assigned to your case (as listed on Board issued correspondence).