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ABO meeting highlights cost of license renewal missteps

Written on Jun 23, 2022

By Barb Benton, vice president, government relations 

The Accountancy Board of Ohio (ABO), the state government entity charged with licensing, regulating, and when necessary, disciplining CPAs, can significantly affect the practice of all CPAs. This is why OSCPA represents the profession at every ABO meeting, and advocates for best-practice rulemaking. The ABO met on June 10, 2022, to discuss a variety of topics.  Significant actions included: 

  • The ABO welcomed its newest Board member, Jillian Brown, CPA. Ms. Brown is an audit partner with KPMG in Cincinnati.
  • The ABO’s fiscal year ends June 30, and for the first time ever they are squeaking through by a slim margin due to significant rent increases and much higher than anticipated e-licensing IT costs over the past year. The ABO has not increased fees in 35 years, but is expected to seek a small increase in firm registration and permit fees in the future.  Ohio’s fees currently are among the lowest in the nation. 
  • Effective July 1, the ABO can no longer have virtual meetings. The virtual meetings were permitted by Ohio law in response to the last significant spike in COVID cases.  While Board members must vote in person, the ABO is trying to continue to allow guests to join electronically.
  • The ABO rule again requiring 30 hours of accounting coursework to be licensed in Ohio will become effective July 1.  Also taking effect is a rule requiring all licensees notify the ABO within 30 days when certain government entities or courts take disciplinary or legal action against licensees.
  • Seven requests for waiver of fines and late fees were discussed. As is the case at almost all ABO meetings, most dealt with a failure to complete the minimum required 20 CPE hours a year or late renewals. Only one individual had their late fees waived as the licensee experienced technical challenges when trying to renew.  All other fine/fee waiver requests were denied. Licensees should be careful with what they choose to request in fine/fee waivers: an ABO member literally reads each of these letters into the public record. Some licensees may want to think twice about what they choose to say in their letter before hitting the send button.
  • The Executive Director noted that many CPAs experiencing late fees or disciplinary issues do so because they failed to update their contact information with the ABO, meaning they missed reminders to renew or notices of disciplinary matters that require their prompt response. He reminded licensees that it is an ethics violation for a licensee to fail to keep the ABO informed of any email or snail-mail address changes. He said that although they could charge licensees with an ethics violation, they typically don’t. 

Two formal disciplinary hearings took place.  

  • The first case involved a CPA whose ability to practice or appear before the SEC had been suspended. When another government agency – such as the IRS or SEC - takes action like this, the ABO is automatically notified and schedules a disciplinary hearing. Typically, the ABO will revoke an individual’s license to practice for the same period of time as the other government agency did.  This individual and his attorney explained what had occurred and discussed some extenuating circumstances in his case. While the ABO voted to revoke this person’s license, the revocation was stayed pending payment of a $1,000 fee and taking the Ohio-specific Professional Standards and Responsibilities course. 
  • The second case involved a CPA who was charged with violating the requirement to complete peer review necessary to renew his firm’s registration last fall, and continuing to hold out as a CPA firm after a cease and desist notice was issued. This individual had taken steps to fix his problem, but his license was still revoked – though the revocation was stayed if he paid a $2,000 fine and took the Ohio-specific Professional Standards and Responsibilities course. 

The next ABO meeting will take place on July 8.  If you have questions about these or other licensing issues, feel free to reach out to OSCPA.