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Investigation

The Enforcement Division reviews all complaints. If probable cause exists to initiate an investigation, the investigation process begins. Depending upon the type of complaint or violation of statute or regulation, the case may be administered by VBOA staff or referred to the Board members for resolution.

If sanctions are deemed appropriate, a potential resolution of the complaint is proposed in writing to the CPA, CPA firm or unlicensed individual in a Consent Order. If the individual signs the order, agreeing fully to the terms and conditions, the order is then brought before full Board members for approval. The Board may accept or reject the order in whole or in part.

If the individual chooses not to sign the order, he or she may elect to be heard in an administrative Informal Fact-Finding (IFF) conference before members of the Board. These Board members will review the case and present the presiding officers recommendations to the entire 7-member Board for consideration. The Board may accept or reject the recommendations in whole or in part.

The CPA, CPA firm or unlicensed individual has 30 days to appeal the Board’s final case decision to the courts.

All open cases are deemed confidential and are not made available to the public. However, the public may request information on a closed case in accordance with the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

The VBOA publishes information of licensees found to be deficient in CPE credit hours in the event of a license suspension; a previous CPE deficiency finding; or a previous professional violation. The VBOA also publishes information of unlicensed individuals and firms against whom the VBOA has taken a disciplinary action. This policy is subject to change without notice.

Unlicensed activity

A person must hold a Virginia license in order to use the CPA title in Virginia or must meet the substantial equivalency provisions if licensed in another state. Additionally, there are licensing requirements for firms that provide attest services or compilation services or financial statement preparation services to persons or entities located in Virginia.

Unlicensed activity occurs when an individual is using the CPA title in Virginia without a valid license, or when a non-CPA, individual or firm, is performing services in Virginia restricted to CPAs.

Examples of unlicensed activity may include:

  • A Virginia CPA who has allowed their license to expire and continues to practice.
  • A non-CPA who is performing services in Virginia restricted to CPAs.
  • A CPA who is licensed in another state, moves to Virginia and the principal place of business is in Virginia, and practices in Virginia
  • An individual who has passed all four sections of the CPA exam, but has never applied for licensure in Virginia, calls themselves a CPA.

Individuals in violation will be subject to investigation and potential disciplinary action.

Penalties

The VBOA may impose penalties in accordance with Code of Virginia § 54.1-4413.4. Penalties range from a reprimand, accelerated peer reviews, satisfactory completion of additional or specific continuing professional education, suspension or revocation of a Virginia license, loss of privilege to perform services in Virginia, and/or a monetary penalty up to $100,000 for each violation.

Statutory authority

According to Code of Virginia § 54.1-4402.G., “The Board shall take such actions as may be authorized by this chapter to ensure that persons using the CPA title in Virginia and firms providing attest services or compilation services to persons or entities located in Virginia adhere to the standards of conduct and practice in § 54.1-4413.3 and regulations promulgated by the Board.”

Specific powers and duties of the VBOA related to the initiation and receipt of complaints can be found in § 54.1-4403, Code of Virginia.