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2013 Florida Statutes

CHAPTER 473
CHAPTER 473
PUBLIC ACCOUNTANCY
473.301 Purpose.
473.302 Definitions.
473.303 Board of Accountancy.
473.3035 Division of Certified Public Accounting.
473.304 Rules of board; powers and duties; legal services.
473.305 Fees.
473.306 Examinations.
473.3065 Clay Ford Scholarship Program; Certified Public Accountant Education Minority Assistance Advisory Council.
473.308 Licensure.
473.309 Practice requirements for partnerships, corporations, and limited liability companies; business entities practicing public accounting.
473.3101 Licensure of sole proprietors, partnerships, corporations, limited liability companies, and other legal entities.
473.311 Renewal of license.
473.312 Continuing education.
473.3125 Peer review.
473.313 Inactive status.
473.314 Temporary license.
473.3141 Certified public accountants licensed in other states.
473.315 Independence, technical standards.
473.316 Communications between the accountant and client privileged.
473.318 Ownership of working papers.
473.319 Contingent fees.
473.3205 Commissions or referral fees.
473.321 Fictitious names.
473.322 Prohibitions; penalties.
473.323 Disciplinary proceedings.
473.301 Purpose.The Legislature recognizes that there is a public need for independent and objective public accountants and that it is necessary to regulate the practice of public accounting to assure the minimum competence of practitioners and the accuracy of audit statements upon which the public relies and to protect the public from dishonest practitioners and, therefore, deems it necessary in the interest of public welfare to regulate the practice of public accountancy in this state.
History.ss. 1, 25, ch. 79-202; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 10, 11, ch. 85-9; s. 4, ch. 91-429.
473.302 Definitions.As used in this chapter, the term:
(1) “Board” means the Board of Accountancy.
(2) “Department” means the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
(3) “Division” means the Division of Certified Public Accounting.
(4) “Certified public accountant” means an individual who holds a license to practice public accounting in this state or an individual who is practicing public accounting in this state pursuant to the practice privilege granted in s. 473.3141. The term “Florida certified public accountant” means an individual holding a license under the authority of this chapter.
(5) “Firm” means any legal entity that is engaged in the practice of public accounting.
(6) “Home office” means the principal headquarters of an entity. An entity may have only one principal headquarters.
(7) “Licensed audit firm” or “public accounting firm” means a firm licensed under s. 473.3101.
(8) “Practice of,” “practicing public accountancy,” or “public accounting” means:
(a) Offering to perform or performing for the public one or more types of services involving the expression of an opinion on financial statements, the attestation as an expert in accountancy to the reliability or fairness of presentation of financial information, the utilization of any form of opinion or financial statements that provide a level of assurance, the utilization of any form of disclaimer of opinion which conveys an assurance of reliability as to matters not specifically disclaimed, or the expression of an opinion on the reliability of an assertion by one party for the use by a third party;
(b) Offering to perform or performing for the public one or more types of services involving the use of accounting skills, or one or more types of tax, management advisory, or consulting services, by any person who is a certified public accountant who holds an active license, issued pursuant to this chapter, or who is authorized to practice public accounting pursuant to the practice privileges granted in s. 473.3141, including the performance of such services by a certified public accountant in the employ of a person or firm; or
(c) Offering to perform or performing for the public one or more types of service involving the preparation of financial statements not included within paragraph (a), by a certified public accountant who holds an active license, issued pursuant to this chapter, or who is authorized to practice public accounting pursuant to the practice privileges granted in s. 473.3141; by a firm of certified public accountants; or by a firm in which a certified public accountant has an ownership interest, including the performance of such services in the employ of another person. The board shall adopt rules establishing standards of practice for such reports and financial statements; provided, however, that nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to permit the board to adopt rules that have the result of prohibiting Florida certified public accountants employed by unlicensed firms from preparing financial statements as authorized by this paragraph.
(9) “Uniform Accountancy Act” means the Uniform Accountancy Act, Fourth Edition, dated December 2007 and published by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy.

However, these terms shall not include services provided by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants or the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants, or any full service association of certified public accounting firms whose plans of administration have been approved by the board, to their members or services performed by these entities in reviewing the services provided to the public by members of these entities.

History.ss. 2, 25, ch. 79-202; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 10, 11, ch. 85-9; s. 1, ch. 89-87; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 3, ch. 92-292; s. 124, ch. 94-119; s. 155, ch. 94-218; s. 345, ch. 97-103; s. 1, ch. 98-340; s. 2, ch. 2000-154; s. 3, ch. 2009-54.
473.303 Board of Accountancy.
(1) There is created in the department the Board of Accountancy. The board shall consist of nine members, seven of whom must be certified public accountants licensed in this state and two of whom must be laypersons who are not and have never been certified public accountants or members of any closely related profession or occupation. The members who are certified public accountants must have practiced public accounting on a substantially full-time basis in this state for at least 5 years. At least one member of the board must be 60 years of age or older. Each member shall be appointed by the Governor, subject to confirmation by the Senate.
(2) The probable cause panel of the board may be composed of at least one current board member who shall serve as chair and additional current board members or past board members who are certified public accountants licensed in this state and in good standing. The past board members shall be appointed to the panel for a term of 2 years by the chair of the board with the approval of the secretary of the department, and may be reappointed for additional terms.
History.ss. 3, 25, ch. 79-202; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; s. 52, ch. 83-329; ss. 1, 10, 11, ch. 85-9; s. 21, ch. 87-172; s. 23, ch. 91-137; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 156, ch. 94-218; s. 346, ch. 97-103; s. 2, ch. 98-340; s. 4, ch. 2009-54.
473.3035 Division of Certified Public Accounting.
(1) All services concerning this chapter, including, but not limited to, recordkeeping services, examination services, legal services, and investigative services, and those services in chapter 455 necessary to perform the duties of this chapter shall be provided by the Division of Certified Public Accounting. The board may, by majority vote, delegate a duty or duties to the appropriate division within the department. The board may, by majority vote, rescind any such delegation of duties at any time.
(2) The Division of Certified Public Accounting shall be funded by fees and assessments of the board, and funds collected by the board shall be used only to fund public accounting regulation. Funding for the Division of Certified Public Accounting shall be governed by ss. 215.37 and 455.219.
History.s. 4, ch. 92-292; s. 114, ch. 98-166; s. 175, ch. 2000-160.
473.304 Rules of board; powers and duties; legal services.
(1) The board shall adopt rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to implement the provisions of this act. Every certified public accountant and firm shall be governed and controlled by this act and the rules adopted by the board.
(2) Subject to the prior approval of the Attorney General, the board may retain independent legal counsel to provide legal advice to the board on a specific matter.
(3) An attorney employed or used by the board may not both prosecute a matter and provide legal services to the board with respect to the same matter.
History.ss. 3, 25, ch. 79-202; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 10, 11, ch. 85-9; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 5, ch. 92-292; s. 144, ch. 98-200; s. 5, ch. 2009-54.
473.305 Fees.The board, by rule, may establish fees to be paid for applications, examination, reexamination, licensing and renewal, reinstatement, and recordmaking and recordkeeping. The fee for the examination shall be established at an amount that covers the costs for the procurement or development, administration, grading, and review of the examination. The fee for the examination is refundable if the applicant is found to be ineligible to sit for the examination. The fee for initial application is nonrefundable, and the combined fees for application and examination may not exceed $250 plus the actual per applicant cost to the department for purchase of the examination from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants or a similar national organization. The biennial renewal fee may not exceed $250. The board may also establish, by rule, a reactivation 1fee, and a delinquency fee not to exceed $50 for continuing professional education reporting forms. The board shall establish fees which are adequate to ensure the continued operation of the board and to fund the proportionate expenses incurred by the department which are allocated to the regulation of public accountants. Fees shall be based on department estimates of the revenue required to implement this chapter and the provisions of law with respect to the regulation of certified public accountants.
History.ss. 4, 25, ch. 79-202; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 2, 10, 11, ch. 85-9; s. 1, ch. 87-221; s. 22, ch. 88-205; s. 48, ch. 89-162; s. 20, ch. 89-374; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 6, ch. 2009-54; s. 2, ch. 2009-69; s. 13, ch. 2009-195.
1Note.The comma following the word “fee” was retained in the amendment to the section by s. 2, ch. 2009-69, but stricken in the amendments by s. 6, ch. 2009-54, and s. 13, ch. 2009-195.
473.306 Examinations.
(1) A person desiring to be licensed as a Florida certified public accountant shall apply to the department to take the licensure examination.
(2) An applicant is entitled to take the licensure examination to practice in this state as a certified public accountant if the applicant has completed 120 semester hours or 160 quarter hours from an accredited college or university with a concentration in accounting and business courses as specified by the board by rule.
(3) The board shall have the authority to establish the standards for determining and shall determine:
(a) What constitutes a passing grade for each subject or part of the licensure examination;
(b) Which educational institutions, in addition to the universities in the State University System of Florida, shall be deemed to be accredited colleges or universities;
(c) What courses and number of hours constitute a major in accounting; and
(d) What courses and number of hours constitute additional accounting courses acceptable under s. 473.308(3).
(4) The board may adopt an alternative licensure examination for persons who have been licensed to practice public accountancy or its equivalent in a foreign country so long as the International Qualifications Appraisal Board of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy has ratified an agreement with that country for reciprocal licensure.
(5) For the purposes of maintaining the proper educational qualifications for licensure under this chapter, the board may appoint an Educational Advisory Committee, which shall be composed of one member of the board, two persons in public practice who are licensed under this chapter, and four academicians on faculties of universities in this state.
History.ss. 5, 25, ch. 79-202; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 3, 10, 11, ch. 85-9; s. 2, ch. 87-221; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 125, ch. 94-119; s. 3, ch. 98-340; s. 9, ch. 2000-332; s. 1, ch. 2008-81.
473.3065 Clay Ford Scholarship Program; Certified Public Accountant Education Minority Assistance Advisory Council.
(1) The Clay Ford Scholarship Program for Florida residents is hereby established in the division for the purpose of providing scholarships to minority persons as defined in s. 288.703 who are students enrolled in their fifth year of an accounting education program at an institution in this state approved by the board by rule. A Certified Public Accountant Education Minority Assistance Advisory Council shall assist the board in administering the program.
(2) All moneys used to provide scholarships under the Clay Ford Scholarship Program shall be funded by a portion of existing license fees, as set by the board, not to exceed $10 per license. Such moneys shall be deposited into the Professional Regulation Trust Fund in a separate account maintained for that purpose. The department may spend up to $200,000 per year for the program from this program account but may not allocate overhead charges to it. Moneys for scholarships shall be disbursed twice per year upon recommendation of the advisory council and approval by the board, based on the adopted eligibility criteria and comparative evaluation of all applicants. Funds in the program account may be invested by the Chief Financial Officer under the same limitations as apply to investment of other state funds, and all interest earned thereon shall be credited to the program account.
(3) The board shall adopt rules as necessary for administration of the Clay Ford Scholarship Program, including rules relating to the following:
(a) Eligibility criteria for receipt of a scholarship, which, at a minimum, shall include the following factors:
1. Financial need.
2. Ethnic, gender, or racial minority status pursuant to s. 288.703(4).
3. Scholastic ability and performance.
(b) Scholarship application procedures.
(c) Amounts in which scholarships may be provided, the total amount that may be provided, the timeframe for payments or partial payments, and criteria for how scholarship funds may be expended.
(d) The total amount of scholarships that can be made each year.
(e) The minimum balance that must be maintained in the program account.
(4) Determinations made by the board regarding recipients of scholarship moneys shall not be considered agency action for purposes of chapter 120.
(5) It is unlawful for any person or agent of such person to knowingly file with the board any notice, statement, or other document that is false or that contains any material misstatement of fact. A person who violates this subsection commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(6) There is hereby created the Certified Public Accountant Education Minority Assistance Advisory Council to assist the board in administering the Clay Ford Scholarship Program. The council shall be diverse and representative of the gender, ethnic, and racial categories set forth in s. 288.703(4).
(a) The council shall consist of five licensed Florida-certified public accountants selected by the board, of whom one shall be a board member who serves as chair of the council, one shall be a representative of the National Association of Black Accountants, one shall be a representative of the Cuban American CPA Association, and two shall be selected at large. At least one member of the council must be a woman.
(b) The board shall determine the terms for initial appointments and appointments thereafter.
(c) Any vacancy on the council shall be filled in the manner provided for the selection of the initial member. Any member appointed to fill a vacancy of an unexpired term shall be appointed for the remainder of that term.
(d) Three consecutive absences or absences constituting 50 percent or more of the council’s meetings within any 12-month period shall cause the council membership of the member in question to become void, and the position shall be considered vacant.
(e) The members of the council shall serve without compensation, and any necessary and actual expenses incurred by a member while engaged in the business of the council shall be borne by such member or by the organization or agency such member represents. However, the council member who is a member of the board shall be compensated in accordance with ss. 455.207(4) and 112.061.
History.s. 1, ch. 98-263; s. 504, ch. 2003-261; s. 349, ch. 2011-142; s. 1, ch. 2013-167.
473.308 Licensure.
(1) A person desiring to be licensed as a Florida certified public accountant in this state shall apply to the department for licensure, and the department shall license any applicant who the board certifies is qualified to practice public accounting.
(2) The board shall certify for licensure any applicant who successfully passes the licensure examination and satisfies the requirements of subsections (3), (4), and (5), and shall certify for licensure any firm that satisfies the requirements of ss. 473.309 and 473.3101. The board may refuse to certify any applicant or firm that has violated any of the provisions of s. 473.322.
(3) An applicant for licensure must have at least 150 semester hours of college education, including a baccalaureate or higher degree conferred by an accredited college or university, with a concentration in accounting and business in the total educational program to the extent specified by the board.
(4)(a) An applicant for licensure after December 31, 2008, must show that he or she has had 1 year of work experience. This experience shall include providing any type of service or advice involving the use of accounting, attest, compilation, management advisory, financial advisory, tax, or consulting skills, all of which must be verified by a certified public accountant who is licensed by a state or territory of the United States. This experience is acceptable if it was gained through employment in government, industry, academia, or public practice; constituted a substantial part of the applicant’s duties; and was verified by a certified public accountant licensed by a state or territory of the United States. The board shall adopt rules specifying standards and providing for the review and approval of the work experience required by this section.
(b) However, an applicant who completed the requirements of subsection (3) on or before December 31, 2008, and who passes the licensure examination on or before June 30, 2010, is exempt from the requirements of this subsection.
(5) An applicant for licensure shall show that the applicant has good moral character.
(6)(a) “Good moral character” means a personal history of honesty, fairness, and respect for the rights of others and for the laws of this state and nation.
(b) The board may refuse to certify an applicant for failure to satisfy this requirement if:
1. The board finds a reasonable relationship between the lack of good moral character of the applicant and the professional responsibilities of a certified public accountant; and
2. The finding by the board of lack of good moral character is supported by competent substantial evidence.
(c) When an applicant is found to be unqualified for a license because of a lack of good moral character, the board shall furnish to the applicant a statement containing the findings of the board, a complete record of the evidence upon which the determination was based, and a notice of the rights of the applicant to a rehearing and appeal.
(7) The board shall certify as qualified for a license by endorsement an applicant who:
(a)1. Is not licensed and has not been licensed in another state or territory and who has met the requirements of this section for education, work experience, and good moral character and has passed a national, regional, state, or territorial licensing examination that is substantially equivalent to the examination required by s. 473.306; and
2. Has completed such continuing education courses as the board deems appropriate, within the limits for each applicable 2-year period as set forth in s. 473.312, but at least such courses as are equivalent to the continuing education requirements for a Florida certified public accountant licensed in this state during the 2 years immediately preceding her or his application for licensure by endorsement; or
(b)1.a. Holds a valid license to practice public accounting issued by another state or territory of the United States, if the criteria for issuance of such license were substantially equivalent to the licensure criteria that existed in this state at the time the license was issued;
b. Holds a valid license to practice public accounting issued by another state or territory of the United States but the criteria for issuance of such license did not meet the requirements of sub-subparagraph a.; has met the requirements of this section for education, work experience, and good moral character; and has passed a national, regional, state, or territorial licensing examination that is substantially equivalent to the examination required by s. 473.306; or
c. Holds a valid license to practice public accounting issued by another state or territory of the United States for at least 10 years before the date of application; has passed a national, regional, state, or territorial licensing examination that is substantially equivalent to the examination required by s. 473.306; and has met the requirements of this section for good moral character; and
2. Has completed continuing education courses that are equivalent to the continuing education requirements for a Florida certified public accountant licensed in this state during the 2 years immediately preceding her or his application for licensure by endorsement.
(8) If the applicant has at least 5 years of experience in the practice of public accountancy in the United States or in the practice of public accountancy or its equivalent in a foreign country that the International Qualifications Appraisal Board of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy has determined has licensure standards that are substantially equivalent to those in the United States, or has at least 5 years of work experience that meets the requirements of subsection (4), the board shall waive the requirements of subsection (3) which are in excess of a baccalaureate degree. All experience that is used as a basis for waiving the requirements of subsection (3) must be while licensed as a certified public accountant by another state or territory of the United States or while licensed in the practice of public accountancy or its equivalent in a foreign country that the International Qualifications Appraisal Board of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy has determined has licensure standards that are substantially equivalent to those in the United States. The board shall have the authority to establish the standards for experience that meet this requirement.
(9) The board may refuse to certify for licensure any applicant who is under investigation in another state for any act that would constitute a violation of this act or chapter 455, until such time as the investigation is complete and disciplinary proceedings have been terminated.
History.ss. 7, 25, ch. 79-202; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 4, 10, 11, ch. 85-9; s. 1, ch. 86-102; s. 21, ch. 89-374; s. 4, ch. 91-429; ss. 126, 223, ch. 94-119; s. 3, ch. 94-151; s. 347, ch. 97-103; s. 115, ch. 98-166; s. 4, ch. 98-340; s. 1, ch. 2000-114; s. 176, ch. 2000-160; s. 10, ch. 2000-332; s. 1, ch. 2004-87; s. 1, ch. 2007-139; s. 2, ch. 2008-81; s. 7, ch. 2009-54; s. 1, ch. 2012-176.
473.309 Practice requirements for partnerships, corporations, and limited liability companies; business entities practicing public accounting.
(1) A partnership may not engage in the practice of public accounting, as defined in s. 473.302(8)(a), unless:
(a) It is a form of partnership recognized by Florida law.
(b) Partners owning at least 51 percent of the financial interest and voting rights of the partnership are certified public accountants in some state. However, each partner who is a certified public accountant in another state and is domiciled in this state must be a certified public accountant of this state and hold an active license.
(c) At least one general partner is a certified public accountant of this state and holds an active license or, in the case of a firm that must have a license pursuant to s. 473.3101(1)(a)2., at least one general partner is a certified public accountant in some state and meets the requirements of s. 473.3141(1)(a) or (b).
(d) All partners who are not certified public accountants in any state are engaged in the business of the partnership as their principal occupation.
(e) It is in compliance with rules adopted by the board pertaining to minimum capitalization, letters of credit, and adequate public liability insurance.
(f) It is currently licensed as required by s. 473.3101.
(2) A corporation may not engage in the practice of public accounting, as defined in s. 473.302(8)(a), unless:
(a) It is a corporation duly organized in this or some other state.
(b) Shareholders of the corporation owning at least 51 percent of the financial interest and voting rights of the corporation are certified public accountants in some state and are principally engaged in the business of the corporation. However, each shareholder who is a certified public accountant in another state and is domiciled in this state must be a certified public accountant of this state and hold an active license.
(c) The principal officer of the corporation is a certified public accountant in some state.
(d) At least one shareholder of the corporation is a certified public accountant and holds an active license in this state or, in the case of a firm that must have a license pursuant to s. 473.3101(1)(a)2., at least one shareholder is a certified public accountant in some state and meets the requirements of s. 473.3141(1)(a) or (b).
(e) All shareholders who are not certified public accountants in any state are engaged in the business of the corporation as their principal occupation.
(f) It is in compliance with rules adopted by the board pertaining to minimum capitalization, letters of credit, and adequate public liability insurance.
(g) It is currently licensed as required by s. 473.3101.
(3) A limited liability company may not engage in the practice of public accounting, as defined in s. 473.302(8)(a), unless:
(a) It is a limited liability company duly organized in this or some other state.
(b) Members of the limited liability company owning at least 51 percent of the financial interest and voting rights of the company are certified public accountants in some state. However, each member who is a certified public accountant in some state and is domiciled in this state must be a certified public accountant of this state and hold an active license.
(c) At least one member of the limited liability company is a certified public accountant and holds an active license in this state or, in the case of a firm that must have a license pursuant to s. 473.3101(1)(a)2., at least one member is a certified public accountant in some state and meets the requirements of s. 473.3141(1)(a) or (b).
(d) All members who are not certified public accountants in any state are engaged in the business of the company as their principal occupation.
(e) It is in compliance with rules adopted by the board pertaining to minimum capitalization, letters of credit, and adequate public liability insurance.
(f) It is currently licensed as required by s. 473.3101.
(4) A partnership, corporation, limited liability company, or any other firm is engaged in the practice of public accounting if its employees are engaged in the practice of public accounting. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a licensed audit firm may own all or part of another licensed audit firm.
History.ss. 8, 25, ch. 79-202; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 10, 11, ch. 85-9; s. 22, ch. 89-374; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 16, ch. 93-110; s. 1, ch. 93-284; s. 1, ch. 97-35; s. 5, ch. 98-340; s. 2, ch. 2000-114; s. 8, ch. 2009-54.
473.3101 Licensure of sole proprietors, partnerships, corporations, limited liability companies, and other legal entities.
(1) Each sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, limited liability company, or any other firm seeking to engage in the practice of public accounting, as defined in s. 473.302(8)(a), in this state must file an application for licensure with the department and supply the information the board requires. An application must be made upon the affidavit of a sole proprietor, general partner, shareholder, or member who is a certified public accountant.
(a) The following must hold a license issued under this section:
1. Any firm with an office in this state which uses the title “CPA,” “CPA firm,” or any other title, designation, words, letters, abbreviations, or device tending to indicate that the firm practices public accounting.
2. Any firm that does not have an office in this state but performs the services described in s. 473.3141(4) for a client having its home office in this state. The board shall define by rule what constitutes an office.
(b) A firm that is not subject to the requirements of subparagraph (a)2. may perform other professional services while using the title “CPA,” “CPA firm,” or any other title, designation, words, letters, abbreviations, or device tending to indicate that the firm practices public accounting in this state without a license issued under this section only if:
1. It performs such services through an individual with practice privileges granted under s. 473.3141; and
2. It can lawfully do so in the state where the individual with practice privileges has his or her principal place of business.
(2) The board shall determine whether the sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, limited liability company, or any other firm meets the requirements for practice and, pending that determination, may certify to the department the partnership, corporation, or limited liability company for provisional licensure.
(3) Each license must be renewed every 2 years. Each sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, limited liability company, or any other firm licensed under this section must notify the department within 1 month after any change in the information contained in the application on which its license is based.
History.ss. 9, 25, ch. 79-202; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 10, 11, ch. 85-9; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 17, ch. 93-110; s. 2, ch. 93-284; s. 6, ch. 98-340; s. 9, ch. 2009-54.
473.311 Renewal of license.
(1) The department shall renew a license issued under s. 473.308 upon receipt of the renewal application and fee and upon certification by the board that the Florida certified public accountant has satisfactorily completed the continuing education requirements of s. 473.312.
(2) The department shall adopt rules establishing a procedure for the biennial renewal of licenses issued pursuant to this section.
History.ss. 11, 25, ch. 79-202; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 5, 10, 11, ch. 85-9; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 220, ch. 94-119; s. 116, ch. 98-166; s. 177, ch. 2000-160; s. 2, ch. 2004-87; s. 10, ch. 2009-54; s. 3, ch. 2009-69; s. 14, ch. 2009-195; s. 2, ch. 2013-167.
473.312 Continuing education.
(1)(a) As part of the license renewal procedure, the board shall by rule require Florida certified public accountants to submit proof satisfactory to the board that during the 2 years prior to application for renewal, they have successfully completed not less than 48 or more than 80 hours of continuing professional education programs in public accounting subjects approved by the board. The board may prescribe by rule additional continuing professional education hours, not to exceed 25 percent of the total hours required, for failure to complete the hours required for renewal by the end of the reestablishment period.
(b) Not less than 25 percent of the total hours required by the board shall be in accounting-related and auditing-related subjects, as distinguished from federal and local taxation matters and management services.
(c) Not less than 5 percent of the total hours required by the board shall be in ethics applicable to the practice of public accounting. This requirement shall be administered by providers approved by the board and shall include a review of the provisions of chapter 455 and this chapter and the related administrative rules.
(2) Programs of continuing professional education approved by the board shall be formal programs of learning which contribute directly to the professional competency of an individual following licensure to practice public accounting and may be any of the following:
(a) Professional development programs of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, state societies of certified public accountants, or other organizations.
(b) Technical sessions at meetings of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, state societies, chapters, or other organizations.
(c) University and college courses.
(d) Formal organized in-firm education programs.
(3) The board shall adopt rules establishing the continuing education requirements for Florida certified public accountants who are engaged in the audit of a governmental entity. The board shall approve subjects directly related to the governmental environment and to governmental auditing for purposes of satisfying the requirement of this subsection.
(4) For the purposes of maintaining proper continuing education requirements for renewal of licensure under this chapter, the board may appoint a Continuing Professional Education Advisory Committee, which shall be composed of one member of the board, one academician on the faculty of a university in this state, and six certified public accountants.
History.ss. 10, 25, ch. 79-202; s. 345, ch. 81-259; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 6, 10, 11, ch. 85-9; s. 3, ch. 87-221; s. 2, ch. 89-87; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 7, ch. 98-340; s. 3, ch. 2004-87; s. 2, ch. 2007-139; s. 11, ch. 2009-54.
473.3125 Peer review.
(1) As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Licensee” means a sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, limited liability company, or any other firm engaged in the practice of public accounting as defined in s. 473.302(8)(a) that is required to be licensed under s. 473.3101.
(b) “Peer review” means the study, appraisal, or review by one or more independent certified public accountants of one or more aspects of the professional work of a licensee.
(2) The board shall adopt rules establishing minimum standards for peer review programs, including, but not limited to, standards for administering, performing, and reporting peer reviews. The board shall also adopt rules establishing minimum criteria for the board’s approval of one or more organizations that facilitate and administer peer review programs.
(3) For the purposes of maintaining oversight of the license renewal requirements of s. 473.311(2), the board may establish a peer review oversight committee, which shall be composed of at least three, but no more than five, members who are licensed under this chapter and whose firms are subject to s. 473.311(2) and have received a review rating of “pass” on the most recent peer review.
(4) Effective January 1, 2015, a sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, limited liability company, or other firm licensed under s. 473.3101 and engaged in the practice of public accounting as defined in s. 473.302(8)(a), except for the performance of compilations and reviews as those terms are defined by the board, must be enrolled in a peer review program.
History.s. 3, ch. 2013-167.
473.313 Inactive status.
(1) A Florida certified public accountant may request that her or his license be placed in an inactive status by making application to the department. The board may prescribe by rule fees for placing a license on inactive status, renewal of inactive status, and reactivation of an inactive license.
(2) A license that has become inactive under subsection (1) or for failure to complete the requirements in s. 473.312 may be reactivated under s. 473.311 upon application to the department. The board may prescribe by rule continuing education requirements as a condition of reactivating a license. The minimum continuing education requirements for reactivating a license shall be those prescribed by board rule and those of the most recent biennium plus one-half of the requirements in s. 473.312. Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, the continuing education requirements are 120 hours, including at least 30 hours in accounting-related and auditing-related subjects, not more than 30 hours in behavioral subjects, and a minimum of 8 hours in ethics subjects approved by the board, for the reactivation of a license that is inactive or delinquent on June 30, 2012, if the Florida certified public accountant notifies the Board of Accountancy by December 31, 2012, of an intention to reactivate such a license and completes such reactivation by June 30, 2014.
(3) A license that is delinquent for failure to report completion of the requirements in s. 473.312 may be reactivated under s. 473.311 upon application to the department. Reactivation requires the payment of an application fee as determined by the board and certification by the Florida certified public accountant that the applicant satisfactorily completed the continuing education requirements set forth under s. 473.311. If the license is delinquent on January 1 because of failure to report completed continuing education requirements, the applicant must submit a complete application to the board by March 15 immediately after the delinquent period.
(4) Any Florida certified public accountant holding an inactive license may be permitted to reactivate such license in a conditional manner. The conditions of reactivation shall require the payment of fees and the completion of required continuing education.
(5) Notwithstanding the provisions of s. 455.271, the board may, at its discretion, reinstate the license of an individual whose license has become null and void if the individual has made a good faith effort to comply with this section but has failed to comply because of illness or unusual hardship. The individual shall apply to the board for reinstatement in a manner prescribed by rules of the board and shall pay an application fee in an amount determined by rule of the board. The board shall require that the individual meet all continuing education requirements as provided in subsection (2), pay appropriate licensing fees, and otherwise be eligible for renewal of licensure under this chapter.
History.ss. 12, 25, ch. 79-202; s. 346, ch. 81-259; ss. 17, 18, ch. 81-302; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; s. 3, ch. 83-265; s. 53, ch. 83-329; ss. 7, 10, 11, ch. 85-9; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 221, ch. 94-119; s. 348, ch. 97-103; s. 8, ch. 98-340; s. 5, ch. 2001-269; s. 12, ch. 2009-54; s. 4, ch. 2009-69; s. 15, ch. 2009-195; s. 2, ch. 2012-176; s. 4, ch. 2013-167.
473.314 Temporary license.
(1) The board shall adopt rules providing for the issuance of temporary licenses to certified public accountants or firms of other states who do not meet the requirements of s. 473.3141, for the purpose of enabling them or their employees to perform specific engagements involving the practice of public accountancy in this state. No temporary license shall be valid for more than 90 days after its issuance, and no license shall cover more than one engagement. After the expiration of 90 days, a new license shall be required.
(2) Each application for a temporary license shall state the names of all persons who are to enter this state and shall be accompanied by a fee in an amount established by the board not to exceed $400.
(3) A temporary license shall not be required of certified public accountants or firms entering this state solely for the purpose of preparing federal tax returns or advising as to federal tax matters if they do not use the title “CPA,” “CPA firm,” or any other title, designation, words, letters, abbreviations, or device tending to indicate that the certified public accountants or firms are authorized to practice public accounting. To use such terms in this state, certified public accountants or firms from other states must comply with the provisions of this section or s. 473.3141.
(4) Upon certification of the applicant by the board, the department shall issue a temporary license to the applicant.
(5) The application for a temporary license shall constitute the appointment of the Department of State as an agent of the applicant for service of process in any action or proceeding against the applicant arising out of any transaction or operation connected with, or incidental to, the practice of public accounting for which the temporary license was issued.
History.ss. 13, 25, ch. 79-202; s. 347, ch. 81-259; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 10, 11, ch. 85-9; s. 24, ch. 91-137; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 13, ch. 2009-54.
473.3141 Certified public accountants licensed in other states.
(1) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, an individual who does not have an office in this state has the privileges of Florida certified public accountants and may provide public accounting services in this state without obtaining a license under this chapter or notifying or registering with the board or paying a fee if the individual:
(a) Holds a valid license as a certified public accountant from a state that the board or its designee has determined by rule to have adopted standards that are substantially equivalent to the certificate requirements in s. 5 of the Uniform Accountancy Act in the issuance of licenses; or
(b) Holds a valid license as a certified public accountant from a state that has not been approved by the board as having adopted standards in substantial equivalence with s. 5 of the Uniform Accountancy Act, but obtains verification from the board, or its designee, as determined by rule, that the individual’s certified public accountant qualifications are substantially equivalent to the certificate requirements in s. 5 of the Uniform Accountancy Act.

The board shall define by rule what constitutes an office.

(2) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, an individual who qualifies to practice under this section may offer or provide services in this state in person, by mail, by telephone, or by electronic means, and a notice, fee, or other submission is not required.
(3) An individual certified public accountant from another state who practices pursuant to this section, and the firm that employs that individual, shall both consent, as a condition of the privilege of practicing in this state:
(a) To the personal and subject matter jurisdiction and disciplinary authority of the board;
(b) To comply with this chapter and the applicable board rules;
(c) That if the license as a certified public accountant from the state of the individual’s principal place of business is no longer valid, the individual will cease offering or rendering public accounting services in this state, individually and on behalf of a firm; and
(d) To the appointment of the state board that issued the individual’s license as the agent upon whom process may be served in any action or proceeding by the board or department against the individual or firm.
(4) An individual who qualifies to practice under this section may perform the services identified in s. 473.302(8)(a) only through a firm that has obtained a license issued under s. 473.3101 or is authorized by s. 473.3101 to provide such services.
(5) Disciplinary action against an individual or firm that practices pursuant to this section is not valid unless, prior to the entry of a final order, the agency has served, by personal service pursuant to this chapter or chapter 48 or by certified mail, an administrative complaint that provides reasonable notice to the individual or firm of facts or conduct that warrants the intended action and unless the individual or firm has been given an adequate opportunity to request a proceeding pursuant to ss. 120.569 and 120.57.
History.s. 14, ch. 2009-54; s. 16, ch. 2012-212.
473.315 Independence, technical standards.
(1) A certified public accountant shall not express an opinion on the financial statements of an enterprise unless she or he and her or his firm are independent with respect to such enterprise.
(2) A certified public accountant shall not undertake any engagement in the practice of public accounting which she or he or her or his firm cannot reasonably expect to complete with professional competence.
(3) The board shall adopt rules establishing the standards of practice of public accounting, including, but not limited to, independence, competence, and technical standards.
(4) Attorneys who are admitted to practice law by the Supreme Court of Florida are exempt from the standards of practice of public accounting as defined in s. 473.302(8)(b) and (c) when such standards conflict with the rules of The Florida Bar or orders of the Florida Supreme Court.
History.ss. 14, 25, ch. 79-202; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 10, 11, ch. 85-9; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 349, ch. 97-103; s. 9, ch. 98-340; s. 107, ch. 2010-5.
473.316 Communications between the accountant and client privileged.
(1) For purposes of this section:
(a) An “accountant” is a certified public accountant.
(b) A “client” is any person, public officer, corporation, association, or other organization or entity, either public or private, who consults an accountant with the purpose of obtaining accounting services.
(c) A communication between an accountant and her or his client is “confidential” if it is not intended to be disclosed to third persons other than:
1. Those to whom disclosure is in furtherance of the rendition of accounting services to the client.
2. Those reasonably necessary for the transmission of the communication.
(d) A “quality review” is a study, appraisal, or review of one or more aspects of the professional work of an accountant in the practice of public accountancy which is conducted by a professional organization for the purpose of evaluating quality assurance required by professional standards, including a quality assurance or peer review.
(e) A “review committee” is any person or persons who are not owners or employees of an accountant or firm that is the subject of a quality review and who carry out, administer, or oversee a quality review.
(2) A client has a privilege to refuse to disclose, and to prevent any other person from disclosing, the contents of confidential communications with an accountant when such other person learned of the communications because they were made in the rendition of accounting services to the client. This privilege includes other confidential information obtained by the accountant from the client for the purpose of rendering accounting advice.
(3) The privilege may be claimed by:
(a) The client.
(b) A guardian or conservator of the client.
(c) The personal representative of a deceased client.
(d) A successor, assignee, trustee in dissolution, or any similar representative of an organization, corporation, or association or other entity, either public or private, whether or not in existence.
(e) The accountant, but only on behalf of the client. The accountant’s authority to claim the privilege is presumed in the absence of contrary evidence.
(4) There is no accountant-client privilege under this section when:
(a) The services of the accountant were sought or obtained to enable or aid anyone to commit or plan to commit what the client knew or should have known was a crime or fraud.
(b) A communication is relevant to an issue of breach of duty by the accountant to her or his client or by the client to her or his accountant.
(c) A communication is relevant to a matter of common interest between two or more clients, if the communication was made by any of them to an accountant retained or consulted in common when offered in a civil action between the clients.
(5) Communications are not privileged from disclosure in any disciplinary investigation or proceeding conducted pursuant to this act by the department or before the board or in any judicial review of such a proceeding. In any such proceeding, a certified public accountant or public accountant, without the consent of her or his client, may testify with respect to any communication between the accountant and the accountant’s client or be compelled, pursuant to a subpoena of the department or the board, to testify or produce records, books, or papers. Such a communication disclosed to the board and records of the board relating to the communication shall for all other purposes and proceedings be a privileged communication in all of the courts of this state.
(6) The proceedings, records, and workpapers of a review committee are privileged and are not subject to discovery, subpoena, or other means of legal process or to introduction into evidence in a civil action or arbitration, administrative proceeding, or state accountancy board proceeding. A member of a review committee or person who was involved in a quality review may not testify in a civil action or arbitration, administrative proceeding, or state accountancy board proceeding as to any matter produced or disclosed during the quality review or as to any findings, recommendations, evaluations, opinions, or other actions of the review committee or any members thereof. Public records and materials prepared for a particular engagement are not privileged merely because they were presented during the quality review. This privilege does not apply to disputes between a review committee and a person subject to a quality review.
History.ss. 15, 25, ch. 79-202; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 10, 11, ch. 85-9; s. 1, ch. 91-63; s. 26, ch. 91-140; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 350, ch. 97-103; s. 15, ch. 2009-54.
473.318 Ownership of working papers.All statements, records, schedules, working papers, and memoranda made by a certified public accountant or firm or her or his employee incident to, or in the course of, professional services to a client, except the reports submitted by the certified public accountant or firm to the client and except for records which are part of the client’s records, shall be and remain the property of the certified public accountant or firm in the absence of an express agreement between the certified public accountant or firm and the client to the contrary.
History.ss. 17, 25, ch. 79-202; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 10, 11, ch. 85-9; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 351, ch. 97-103; s. 16, ch. 2009-54.
473.319 Contingent fees.Public accounting services as defined in s. 473.302(8)(a) and (c), and those that include tax filings with federal, state, or local government, shall not be offered or rendered for a fee contingent upon the findings or results of such service. This section does not apply to services involving federal, state, or other taxes in which the findings are those of the tax authorities and not those of the certified public accountant or firm. Fees to be fixed by courts or other public authorities, which are of an indeterminate amount at the time a public accounting service is undertaken, shall not be regarded as contingent fees for purposes of this section.
History.ss. 18, 25, ch. 79-202; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 10, 11, ch. 85-9; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 2, ch. 97-35; s. 10, ch. 98-340; ss. 17, 18, ch. 2009-54.
473.3205 Commissions or referral fees.A certified public accountant or firm may not accept or pay a commission or referral fee in connection with the sale or referral of public accounting services as defined in s. 473.302(8)(a) and (c). Any certified public accountant or firm that is engaged in the practice of public accounting and that accepts a commission for the sale of a product or service to a client must disclose that fact to the client in writing in accordance with rules adopted by the board. However, this section shall not prohibit:
(1) Payments for the purchase of an accounting practice;
(2) Retirement payments to individuals formerly engaged in the practice of public accounting or payments to their heirs or estates; or
(3) Payment of fees to a referring certified public accountant or firm for public accounting services to the successor certified public accountant or firm or the client in connection with an engagement.
History.ss. 3, 5, ch. 89-87; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 3, ch. 97-35; s. 352, ch. 97-103; s. 11, ch. 98-340; s. 19, ch. 2009-54.
473.321 Fictitious names.
(1) A certified public accountant, partnership, corporation, or limited liability company may not practice public accountancy in this state under any name that is misleading or deceptive as to the legal form; as to persons who are partners, officers, shareholders, or members of the firm; or as to any other matter. However, a firm name may include the names of retired or deceased persons who were active partners, shareholders, or members of the firm.
(2) This section does not prohibit any certified public accountant or firm from practicing public accounting under a fictitious name that is not misleading or deceptive as to the persons who are partners, officers, shareholders, or members.
(3) The board shall adopt rules for interpretation of this section.
History.ss. 19, 25, ch. 79-202; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 10, 11, ch. 85-9; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 18, ch. 93-110; s. 3, ch. 93-284; s. 20, ch. 2009-54.
473.322 Prohibitions; penalties.
(1) A person may not knowingly:
(a) Practice public accounting unless the person is a certified public accountant or a public accountant;
(b) Assume or use the titles or designations “certified public accountant” or “public accountant” or the abbreviation “C.P.A.” or any other title, designation, words, letters, abbreviations, sign, card, or device tending to indicate that the person holds a license to practice public accounting under this chapter or the laws of any other state, territory, or foreign jurisdiction, unless the person holds an active license under this chapter or has the practice privileges pursuant to s. 473.3141;
(c) Perform or offer to perform any services described in s. 473.302(8)(a) unless such person holds an active license under this chapter and is a licensed audit firm, provides such services through a licensed audit firm, or complies with ss. 473.3101 and 473.3141. This paragraph does not prohibit the performance by persons other than certified public accountants of other services involving the use of accounting skills, including the preparation of tax returns and the preparation of financial statements without expression of opinion thereon;
(d) Present as her or his own the license of another;
(e) Give false or forged evidence to the board or a member thereof;
(f) Use or attempt to use a public accounting license that has been suspended, revoked, or placed on inactive or delinquent status;
(g) Employ unlicensed persons to practice public accounting; or
(h) Conceal information relative to violations of this chapter.
(2) Any person who violates any provision of this section commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
History.ss. 20, 25, ch. 79-202; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 10, 11, ch. 85-9; s. 104, ch. 91-224; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 222, ch. 94-119; s. 2, ch. 94-151; s. 2, ch. 96-261; s. 1116, ch. 97-103; s. 12, ch. 98-340; s. 3, ch. 2000-114; s. 21, ch. 2009-54.
473.323 Disciplinary proceedings.
(1) The following acts constitute grounds for which the disciplinary actions in subsection (3) may be taken:
(a) Violation of any provision of s. 455.227(1) or any other provision of this chapter.
(b) Attempting to procure a license to practice public accounting by bribery or fraudulent misrepresentations.
(c) Having a license to practice public accounting revoked, suspended, or otherwise acted against, including the denial of licensure, by the licensing authority of another state, territory, or country.
(d) Being convicted or found guilty of, or entering a plea of nolo contendere to, regardless of adjudication, a crime in any jurisdiction which directly relates to the practice of public accounting or the ability to practice public accounting.
(e) Making or filing a report or record that the certified public accountant or firm knows to be false, willfully failing to file a report or record required by state or federal law, willfully impeding or obstructing such filing, or inducing another person to impede or obstruct such filing. Such reports or records include only those that are signed in the capacity of a certified public accountant.
(f) Advertising goods or services in a manner that is fraudulent, false, deceptive, or misleading in form or content.
(g) Committing an act of fraud or deceit, or of negligence, incompetency, or misconduct, in the practice of public accounting.
(h) Violation of any rule adopted pursuant to this chapter or chapter 455.
(i) Practicing on a revoked, suspended, inactive, or delinquent license.
(j) Suspension or revocation of the right to practice before any state or federal agency.
(k) Performance of any fraudulent act in any jurisdiction while holding a license to practice public accounting in this state or using practice privileges in this state.
(l) Failing to maintain a good moral character as provided in s. 473.308 while applying for licensure, or while licensed in this state or using practice privileges pursuant to s. 473.3141.
(m) Failing to provide any written disclosure to a client or the public which is required by this chapter or rule of the board.
(n) Having the same or equivalent practice privileges of a Florida certified public accountant or firm revoked, suspended, or otherwise acted against by the licensing authority of another state, territory, or country as a result of activity in that jurisdiction which would have subjected the Florida certified public accountant or firm to discipline in this state.
(2) The board shall specify, by rule, what acts or omissions constitute a violation of subsection (1).
(3) When the board finds any certified public accountant or firm guilty of any of the grounds set forth in subsection (1), it may enter an order imposing one or more of the following penalties:
(a) Denial of an application for licensure.
(b) Revocation or suspension of the certified public accountant or firm’s license or practice privileges in this state.
(c) Imposition of an administrative fine not to exceed $5,000 for each count or separate offense.
(d) Issuance of a reprimand.
(e) Placement of the certified public accountant on probation for a period of time and subject to such conditions as the board may specify, including requiring the certified public accountant to attend continuing education courses or to work under the supervision of another licensee.
(f) Restriction of the authorized scope of practice by the certified public accountant.
(4) The department shall reissue the license of a disciplined licensee upon certification by the board that the disciplined licensee has complied with all of the terms and conditions set forth in the final order.
History.ss. 21, 25, ch. 79-202; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 8, 10, 11, ch. 85-9; s. 25, ch. 91-137; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 224, ch. 94-119; s. 4, ch. 94-151; s. 5, ch. 95-140; s. 3, ch. 96-261; s. 4, ch. 97-35; s. 117, ch. 98-166; s. 3, ch. 2000-154; s. 178, ch. 2000-160; s. 3, ch. 2008-81; s. 22, ch. 2009-54; s. 55, ch. 2009-195; s. 46, ch. 2010-106.