Many Certified Public Accountants (CPA) do not meet their state’s board of accountancy continuing professional education (CPE) requirements when they complete their licensing renewal.  For a CPA who has to earn a large number of CPE hours every renewal, it is daunting to meet the credit hour minimum.  Most state boards require more than just meeting a credit hour minimum; boards often specify certain types of courses, place limits on the number of hours earned in non-technical areas, and set a maximum number of self-study courses allowed.  Each state board has its own set of regulations, however many boards have rules similar to the four listed below.

Meeting Technical Requirements

State boards typically require CPAs to take a minimum number of hours of ethics training.  The ethics courses must be approved by the individual state boards.  One of the reasons that CPAs do not meet the ethics requirements is because they do not review the conditions set by their own state boards.  Some of the common variances between state boards include differences in the number of hours, whether ethics hours can be carried forward, and if the hours must be completed annually or every other year.  Also, the field of study documented for the selected course must be ethics.  Similarly, if there is a provision for a minimum number of accounting and auditing hours, then a course’s field of study must be labeled as accounting or auditing.  Credits earned in other technical fields of study such as tax, finance, or computer science cannot be used to meet accounting and auditing credit specifications.

Earning Too Many Non-Technical Hours

Most boards of accountancy limit the number of credit hours that can be earned in the behavioral and personal development fields of study.  Common types of behavioral and personal development courses include leadership, time management, goal setting and team building.  These types of courses are relevant to being a successful CPA, however they must not outweigh the technical guidance needed to maintain an active CPA license.  Boards will not accept CPE credits earned for behavioral and personal development courses if they are over the maximum number of credits allowed.

Claiming Credit Hours outside of the Renewal Period

Another common mistake made on license renewals is submitting credit hours for courses taken outside of the renewal period.  Boards require CPE to be earned within a specific timeframe.  There is no grace period to complete courses after the end of the timeframe.  Reporting an incorrect date for a completed course to make it fall within a specified timeframe is considered misreporting.

Reporting the Wrong Number of Credits for a Completed Course

There are several reasons why a CPE sponsor does not award credit or only partial credit is awarded.  CPE sponsors are required to monitor attendance for group live courses and for live webinars, and sponsors must have an evaluation for self-study courses.  If an attendee does not answer all of the polling questions, does not sign in at attendance checks or does not pass the self-study evaluation, then either no credit or partial credit will be awarded.  A CPA who reports these credit hours are also misreporting.