In order to practice as an accountant, a candidate has to apply to the South Carolina Board of Accountancy for a license. This license can only be obtained after demonstrating experience either:
- Through full-time or part-time employment
- Teaching experience at a college or university accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools or another accrediting association that has equivalent standards or an independent senior college in South Carolina that is certified by the State Department of Education for teacher training.
In addition, the Board requires the candidate to complete a minimum number of semester hours of accounting education before they can qualify to earn experience for the purpose of obtaining their license.
Once the candidate has obtained his license, he must ensure that he abides by the laws and regulations set by the South Carolina Labor, Licensing, and Regulation Board of Accountancy. These laws have specific regulations that apply to certified public accountants and public accountants. These regulations are designed to ensure that all accounting professionals demonstrate competency and reliability in all their professional activities. All accounting professionals are also expected to demonstrate reliability and fairness when presenting any financial information. If they fail to do so, they may not be permitted to represent themselves as professionals in the field of accountancy.
The regulations apply to the entire practice of accounting which includes issuing financial statements, or any attest or compilation service. The Board requires all accountant professionals to refrain from:
- Engaging in the practice of accountancy without holding a valid license or registration or without adequate qualification or experience.
- Using the title Certified Public Accountant or CPTA without holding a valid license as a certified public accountant.
- Using the title Public Accountant without holding a valid registration issued by the licensing board.
Accountants can be at risk of losing their license if the following allegations or complaints have been filed against them:
- Fraud or deceit in their practice of accounting or in the way they obtained their license.
- Conviction of a felony or any crime related to fraud
- Use of fraudulent statements in documents and reports prepared within the scope of their accounting practice
- Charging clients fees under fraudulent circumstances
- Failing to comply with the professional accounting standards established by the Board
- Violating the code of professional ethics that have been established by the South Carolina Board of Accountancy
- Continuing to practice without license renewal or registration
- Failing to cooperate with the Board in an investigation
- Engaging in misleading or deceptive advertising
- Revocation, suspension or reprimand of license in another state
- Misuse of the title of CPA and its privileges
- Employing an individual who has a suspended or revoked license
- Engaging in conduct that is not fit when performing accounting activities.
If you are an accounting professional practicing in Lexington, SC, and if a complaint is filed against you, it is important that you take this seriously. Do not ignore the complaint, even if you are confident that you are innocent. The question of guilt and innocence will be eventually addressed but if the Board has received a complaint against you and if you are informed that this has happened, you have to deal with it.
What Happens Once the Board Receives a Complaint?
Whenever the Board receives a complaint or notice that you have violated any regulation, they will conduct an investigation to determine whether the charges are true or false. This could include the Board issuing subpoenas to get witnesses to testify or produce evidence to prove the charge.
In South Carolina, the investigating officer is required to investigate the matter and report the results to the Board within 150 days after the date when the investigation was initiated. In case the matter is complicated or if a clear verdict is not in sight, the Board may extend the investigation. However, this is dependent on the evidence collected so far, on the reasons for the request for an extension and the status of the investigation.
In any case, the results of the investigation have to be presented to the Board. The investigation may involve oaths and subpoenas and testimony of witnesses concerning allegations regarding any books, papers or reports that you may have prepared. Keep in mind that any witnesses the court subpoenas have to testify, or they can be referred to the Administrative Law Court forcing them to comply. The Board’s investigation may also include a state criminal background check which could include a fingerprint check by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, and national criminal records check by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The Board holds the authority to act according to the results of the investigation. They can take administrative action, and they can revoke, suspend or limit your license. They will notify you within thirty days of the formal charges against you, and you are required to respond to this notification.
However, it is recommended that you do not try to handle the Board or the investigator on your own. These matters can become complex very quickly, and it is in your interest to consult an attorney as soon as you find out a complaint has been filed against you.
Schedule a Consultation with a South Carolina Accountancy License Defense Lawyer
At The Jeffcoat Firm, we understand the importance and value of your professional accountancy license. We also realize that it is something that you do not take lightly and also something that you do not want to give up so easily. Talk to one of our attorneys today and discuss the complaint that has been filed against you and present your argument to our lawyers so that they can determine the appropriate course of action. You have to remember that the Board has a very systematic investigative process. The Board does not want to simply revoke licenses, but it does want to ensure that all accounting professionals meet the standards that are expected of them. Special circumstances can always arise, and it is these circumstances that usually result in complexities and allegations. We are here to help you. Call us today, and one of our associates will be able to help you immediately.