Frequently Asked Questions
You must apply to sit for the CPA exam at NASBA. You will receive instructions for submitting transcripts and other required documents during the application process. Submit transcripts from all institutions attended, including any school whose credits appear on another transcript as transferred credit. Once you have submitted all required application documents to NASBA, your file will be sent to the Board for evaluation, which can take up to 4-6 weeks.
SC Board of Accountancy
PO Box 11329
Columbia, SC 29211
For FedEx or UPS:
SC Board of Accountancy
110 Centerview Dr.
Columbia, SC 29210
SC Board of Accountancy
PO Box 11329
Columbia, SC 29211
During the renewal period, the Board will send out 3 to 5 emails to licensees who have not renewed as of that date.
Licensees are responsible for updating their contact information with the Board, as the current contact information on file with the Board will be used to send reminders to licensees.
Renewal is a two-step process:
- Complete the renewal form and pay your fees online.
- Submit your CPE report via email to AcctCPE@llr.sc.gov.
- Name the PDF document in the following format: "Last name, First name - CPA License #".
For example: Smith, John - CPA1234.
If you have paid the renewal fee and submitted the renewal form, the status of your license should change from Active in Renewal to Active.
If you think you renewed or tried to renew, wait two days, and then use licensee lookup to check your status.
If the status indicates Active in Renewal, please send the Board an email at Contact.Accountancy@llr.sc.gov and be sure to include your license number and the date you tried to renew your license.
Be sure to check your status by January 31. If it does not indicate that your license has a status of Active, and you tried to renew, please contact us.
If your license is not renewed by February 15, state law requires that you fill out a reinstatement application, pay the $80 renewal fee, a $500 reinstatement fee, and obtain a criminal background check.
If you continue to practice or hold out as a CPA, without a valid license or while your license is lapsed, you may be subject to additional penalties as well as disciplinary action.
If you are unable to renew your license timely due to extenuating circumstances, you must contact the Board no later than January 15 to determine if you qualify to come before the Board to request special consideration before the January 31 renewal deadline. If your request is not heard at the Board meeting in January, the earliest your request can be heard will be at the Board meeting in April. In the interim, if you continue to practice or hold yourself out as a CPA without a valid license or while your license is lapsed, you may be subject to disciplinary action, as well as additional penalties.
You must notify the Board if there are any changes in your address or contact information.
You must notify the Board if you are disciplined by another state's Board of Accountancy, any other licensing agency, any regulatory agency, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, or any other recognized professional organization.
Section 40-2-240(B) states that "each holder of a certificate issued under this section shall notify the Board in writing within thirty days after its occurrence of any issuance, denial, revocation, or suspension of a designation or commencement of a disciplinary or enforcement action by any jurisdiction."
Section 40-2-40(H) states that "each holder of or applicant for a registration issued pursuant to this section shall notify the Board in writing, within thirty days after its occurrence, of any change in the identities of partners, officers, shareholders, members, or managers whose principal place of business is in this State, any change in the number or location of offices within this State, any change in the identity of the licensee in charge of these offices, and any issuance, denial, revocation, or suspension of a registration by any other state."
The Board may discipline a firm under Section 40-2-110(B)(3) for "failure to notify the Board in writing, within thirty days after its occurrence, of any revocation, suspension, reprimand, or other discipline of the right to practice by the licensee in any other state or by a federal agency."
A licensee who is retiring may request his or her license be put into Emeritus status.
A licensee with Emeritus status may not perform or offer to perform for compensation one or more kinds of services involving the use of accounting or auditing skills, including issuance of reports on financial statements or of one or more kinds of management advisory, financial advisory, or consulting services or the preparation of tax returns or the furnishing of advice on tax matters.
A licensee with Emeritus status may provide services as a CPA on a volunteer basis, as long as those services would not normally be subject to peer review.
A licensee with Emeritus status must renew his or her license annually, with no fee required.
A license in Emeritus status may not be reinstated as an active license. If a licensee in Emeritus status later decides that he or she would like to offer or perform services as a CPA in exchange for compensation, he or she will have to apply for a new license and retake the CPA exam.
The deadline for firm registration renewal is January 31, and if a firm registration is not renewed by 11:59pm on January 31, it will be considered lapsed.
For multi-office firms, you only need to complete one firm registration renewal, but be sure to include any changes or updates in office locations.
Yes. Your firm can have non-CPA owners, but the majority of the firm's ownership (at least 51%) must be held by CPAs who are currently licensed in some state.
All owners must be active individual participants in the firm.
- Investors, LLPs, LLCs, and commercial interests are not permitted to be firm owners.
Yes. Your firm's designated resident manager needs to be a CPA, licensed in SC.
For multi-office firms, each office location must have a designated resident manager that is a CPA licensed in SC.
The designated resident manager is responsible for ensuring that all non-CPA owners:
- Comply with all applicable accountancy statutes and regulations.
- Are of good moral character and do not engage in any conduct that, if committed by a licensee, would constitute a violation.
Your firm's designated resident manager must submit CPE reports for all non-CPA owners by January 31 each year.
- Non-CPA owners must complete the same number of hours of CPE as licensed CPAs.
If you hire someone who is a CPA in another state to work in and/or from your SC office, he or she must have a SC CPA license before they can hold out.
- Be careful how you advertise, to ensure that you are not holding out for someone who is not yet licensed as a SC CPA.
Yes. You must register as a firm, even if you are a sole proprietor.
If you do any work for compensation, you must register as a firm.
Any type of work for the public, while holding out as a CPA, must be done in a registered firm. For example, a CPA who works for a registered firm, but earns additional income by preparing a tax return for a friend, would need to register a firm for the work done on the side.
Section 40-2-30(A) states that "it is unlawful for a person to engage in the practice of accountancy as regulated by this Board without holding a valid license or registration or without qualifying for a practice privilege pursuant to Section 40-2-245."
Section 40-2-20(15) states that the "'Practice of accounting' means:
- (a) Issuing a report on financial statements of a person, firm, organization, or governmental unit or offering to render or rendering any attest or compilation service. This restriction does not prohibit any act of a public official or public employee in the performance of that person's duties or prohibit the performance by a nonlicensee of other services involving the use of accounting skills, including the preparation of tax returns, management advisory services, and the preparation of financial statements without the issuance of reports; or
- (b) Using or assuming the title 'Certified Public Accountant' or the abbreviation â€˜CPA' or any other title, designation, words, letters, abbreviation, sign, card, or device tending to indicate that the person is a certified public accountant."
If you move to SC, and work from your home, you must obtain a SC CPA license and have a registered firm.
If you have been in SC for a while and do not have a SC CPA license, you must self-report and be in compliance.
If your principal place of business is in SC and you are going to do work for a client located in another state, check with that State Board of Accountancy to determine what is required to be in compliance.
A CPA who is licensed in another state and is coming into SC, should contact the SC Board of Accountancy to ensure that they are in compliance before they begin practicing or holding out in SC.
You must have passed the uniform CPA exam and currently hold an active CPA license with another state
You must complete the application for a SC CPA license by reciprocity, pay the applicable fees, submit your transcripts, and submit proof of completion of 80 hours of CPE in the previous 2 years.
Depending on where and when you were initially licensed, there may be additional requirements.
Yes - Regulation 1-12(A), adopted in May 2007, requires all licensees to designate a successor, who would assume responsibility for client files, in the case of incapacity or death of the licensee. Your designated successor must agree to assume responsibility for client files. While your designated successor is not required to be a CPA, the Board prefers for the designated successor to be another CPA and strongly encourages licensees to consider naming another CPA as their successor. The Board believes that when a licensee names another licensed CPA as their successor, they are better protecting themselves, their estate, their clients, and the public by ensuring that their successor is bound by the same code of conduct and ethical guidelines as the licensee.
The succession plan and designation of responsible party must be in writing, and must be provided to the Board upon request.
Section 40-2-190(C) states that "a licensee shall furnish to a client or former client, upon request and reasonable notice: (1) a copy of the licensee's working papers, to the extent that the working papers include records that would ordinarily constitute part of the client's records and are not otherwise available to the client; and (2) accounting or other records belonging to, or obtained from or on behalf of, the client that the licensee removed from the client's premises or received for the client's account; the licensee may make and retain copies of these documents of the client when based on work completed by the licensee."
Regulation1-10(C) defines client records as "all information provided by the client and all documents provided to the client (or on behalf of the client) including the materials necessary (including electronic files) to support the final work performed (financial statements, tax returns, etc.). Client records do not constitute other work files or documents, which the licensee may use to audit, test or verify the accuracy of a client's account balances and/or transaction classes (revenues, expenses)."
Regulation 1-10(D) states that "a licensee or permit holder shall not employ or associate with in South Carolina, directly or indirectly, a person whose license is revoked or suspended by this Board or by the Board of Accountancy in any other jurisdiction. Employing or associating such a person in South Carolina as an accountant, investigator, tax preparer or in any other capacity connected with the practice of accounting subjects the license or permit holder to discipline by the Board."
- Licensees and firms should take steps to ensure that they have done their due diligence before entering into any business relationship in the practice of accounting with another licensee or firm (or former licensee/firm)
- Licensees and firms should ask all job candidates, consultants, contractors, and any other business partners to confirm that their credentials are valid and not revoked or suspended as part of the evaluation process the licensee/firm uses
- Licensees and firms can use https://cpaverify.org/ to verify credentials and should also check with the appropriate state's Board of accountancy
- Licensees and firms should document the process they used to confirm the validity and status of the credentials
- Licensees and firms should have a process in place to re-verify credentials periodically, such as on a yearly basis
Regulation 1-08(A)(2)(e) states that "of the required hours over a three (3) year period, six (6) of the hours must be in ethics."
Regulation 1-08(A)(2)(e) also requires that "two (2) of these hours must be in South Carolina Rules and Regulations."
The 2-hour SC ethics course can only be counted once toward the 6-hour ethics requirement during each 3-year period. The remaining 4 hours of the 6-hour ethics requirement must be in other ethics topics.
CPE credits for Personal Development subjects are limited to 8 hours per year.
CPE credits earned through Self-Study are limited to 20 hours per year.
CPE credits earned for teaching college courses are limited to 10 hours per year.
CPE credits earned for published articles or books that contribute to the professional competence of the licensee are limited to 10 hours per year.
CPE credits earned in excess of the 10-hour daily limit.
Regulation 1-08(B)(3) states that "one (1) hour of credit shall be granted for each fifty (50) minutes of actual instructional contact time. One-half CPE credit increments (equal to 25 minutes) are permitted after the first one (1) hour credit has been earned in a given learning activity. Partial hours will be rounded down to the nearest half (1/2) hour. Only class hours, actual hours of attendance and not hours devoted to preparation, shall be counted."
Regulation 1-08(A)(2)(d) states that "when a meal is scheduled during the educational period, no credit will be allowed unless the schedule provides for fifty (50) minutes of instruction after completion of the meal."
Firms may do in-house CPE, but must follow the same guidelines as other CPE Sponsors, which include the requirements outlined in Regulation 1-08(C) and Regulation 1-08(E).
Regulation 1-08(C) requires sponsors to:
- "Present learning activities that comply with course descriptions and objectives."
- "Employ an effective means for evaluating learning activity quality with respect to content and presentation, as well as provide a mechanism for participants to assess whether learning objectives were met."
- At the beginning of the CPE course, "read the following statement or a statement very similar, 'It is the responsibility of the licensee to be accountable for the hours earned during the CPE course. The licensee should not engage in any other activities that would denigrate the learning objective of the course to the licensee or others. If the other activity is unavoidable, then that time should be subtracted from the overall CPE credit.'"
Regulation 1-08(E) states that courses:
- "Must contribute directly to the professional competence of a licensee, and the sponsor must provide the participant with a certificate of attendance at the end of the session with the information as stated in Regulation 1-08(B)(4)."
- "Will qualify if:
- (a) The program is conducted by persons whose background training, education and experience qualify them as appropriate instructors, discussion leaders or lecturers in the subject matter of the particular program;
- (b) An outline of the program presented is prepared in advance and shall be maintained by the sponsor;
- (c) The program is at least one (1) hour (fifty minutes) in length. One-half CPE increments (equal to 25 minutes) are permitted after the first credit has been earned in a given program. Sponsors are to calculate credit hours;
- (d) A certificate of attendance described in the previous paragraph is given to each participant at the end of the session;
- (e) Records showing compliance with this section are preserved and maintained by the sponsor for a period of at least five (5) years from the date of presentation of the program."
Webinars can count as live CPE if they meet the requirements of the SC regulations, in addition to meeting the following requirements:
- The webinar must be interactive. A good example of this is that the participants can ask the presenter questions and the presenter responds to the participants questions.
- Presenters must require participants to respond periodically to confirm that the participant is still viewing the webinar.
Rebroadcasts of webinars do not count.
Yes, you may download it here.
The Board of Accountancy will accept traditional classroom courses and online courses that are for a set semester, led by an instructor, have required coursework and exams. Section 40-2-35(C) specifically requires at least 24 semester hours in accounting taught at the junior level or above.
The Board of Accountancy does not accept duplicate courses and does not accept courses from schools that do not issue degrees.
The Board of Accountancy does not accept nontraditional college credits. Some examples of credits that will not be accepted are course credits that are obtained through nontraditional methods such as life experiences, competency exams, and competency credits, with the exception of CLEP and AP Exams. Non-accredited university credits will not be accepted, and the Board will not accept credits from non-accredited universities that have been transferred to an accredited university.
Section 40-2-35(D) states that "the Board shall accept a transcript from a college or university accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools or another regional accrediting association having the equivalent standards or an independent senior college in South Carolina certified by the State Department of Education for teacher training, and accounting and business programs accredited by the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) or any other accrediting agency having equivalent standards. Official transcripts signed by the college or university registrar and bearing the college or university seal must be submitted to demonstrate education and degree requirements. Photocopies of transcripts must not be accepted."
Your application to sit for the exam is not complete until all items have been received.
Once all required documentation has been received, and the application is complete, it usually takes about 4 weeks to process the application. The Board is actively working to reduce the amount of time it takes to process applications to sit for the exam.
THE FOLLOWING IS INTENDED TO PROVIDE GUIDANCE TO CPA CANDIDATES.
A complete certificate of experience contains two documents: a completed and signed experience form (form 2102) as well as a statement of work. The statement of work is a detailed narrative describing your year of experience working for your CPA supervisor. The statement should thoroughly describe the accounting experience you gained, what your job duties and responsibilities were, and what you were exposed to. It should be typed, on company letterhead, and signed by the CPA supervisor.
Experience may only commence after twenty-four (24) semester hours of upper level accounting courses (which must include Managerial and Financial Accounting, Auditing and Tax courses.)
QUANTITY OF EXPERIENCE
The standard by which the experience shall be measured is one year of experience employed on a full-time basis in public accounting, with diversified experience. Employment other than in public accounting may count only in proportion to duties contributing to competence in public accounting. Part-time employment shall be credited in part, based upon actual work hours. The Board will consider 2,000 hours of such part-time experience as being equivalent to one year of the required experience. Part-time experience must not accrue more rapidly than elapsed chronological time. If you have part-time hours, you must submit a detailed schedule listing the hours worked by the week.
Prior to an applicant receiving a license, their Certificate of Experience is appraised for specific details that ensure the applicant has met the standards of professionalism expected by this Board and capable of holding himself/herself out to the public.
Below are examples of questions about several areas that can be used toward your experience. Keep these types of questions in mind when describing other duties.
- What type of clients did you audit? Government entities? Non-profit organizations?
- What specific industries were you clients located in? Banks? Retailers?
- Were any of the audits you worked on for publicly traded companies?
- How did you function in the audit? Did you count inventory? Did you assist in planning? Did you supervise any aspect of the engagement? Were you ever responsible for communications with the client?
- Can you identify a specific pattern of increasing responsibility from the time you were hired? If so, what promotions did you receive?
- Did you prepare individual or corporate returns?
- How were your clients organized? S-Corporations? Limited Liability Companies? Partnerships? Were you responsible for doing tax research to support a position you took?
SUPERVISION AND REVIEW:
Q. My supervisor has a CPA certificate, but does not have a current license to practice since he has not completed the CPE requirements. Does my experience count?
A. No. The supervisor must have been licensed to practice during the entire time of the candidate's experience.
Q. I work in industry and we have a CPA in the accounting department where I work. She reviews some of my work, but she is not in a management level above me. Will she be regarded as my supervisor?
A. No. The supervisor should have the power to direct the performance of the person being supervised which, generally, includes the power to hire, transfer, suspend, promote, or discharge the employee or to recommend such action through the proper chain of command.
Q. Where I work I do not have a CPA supervisor. However, I assist the outside auditors for about four weeks each year. May I count this experience?
A. No. The outside auditors do not have the power to direct your performance, such as the power to hire, transfer, suspend, promote or discharge.
Q. I work in industry and have a licensed CPA supervisor. I perform certain secretarial type duties. In addition, I prepare the company checks and work on the monthly financial statement. Does any portion of my experience count?
A. Yes. The portion of your experience that is substantially equivalent to that obtained in a public accounting firm would, generally qualify. The qualifying experience would include working on the monthly financial statements. Preparation of the company checks and secretarial duties would not be of sufficient quality to qualify. The CPA supervisor should keep records and document the portion of your experience that would be of sufficient quality to contribute to competence in public accounting.
Q. I am a working mother and work for a CPA firm (full-time) during tax season and part-time during the remainder of the year. Does the part-time work count?
A. Yes. Part-time employment may be credited in part, based on actual work hours. The Board considers 2,000 hours of part-time experience as being equivalent to one year of the required experience.
Q. I work for a CPA firm. During tax season, I often work 50 or more hours per week. May the overtime count toward the, 2000 hours per year?
A. No. A week of experience is considered to be 40 hours. Experience may not accrue more rapidly than elapsed chronological time. Submit a schedule of part-time hours listing the hours worked each week.
Q. May I count experience gained prior to passing the CPA examination?
A. Your year of experience can begin only after you have completed the education requirements that would make you exam eligible, regardless whether you apply for or begin the exam at that time. Also, be aware that experience earned more than 7 years prior to licensure will require documentation of 6 months of current experience within the 2 years preceding licensure.
Q. How long do I have after passing the examination to obtain my experience?
A. There is no time limit specified in the law or regulations. However, the Board has authority to reject experience that it does not believe to be satisfactory. Be aware that if you do not license within 3 years of passing the exam, you will be required to show 120 hours of continuing education in order to qualify for licensure.
SUBMISSION OF CERTIFICATE OF EXPERIENCE
The applicant must submit a separate Certificate of Experience (Board form 2102) signed by each supervisory CPA under whose supervision and review any part of the experience being claimed was gained. All of the questions and blanks on the form must be completed. The supervisor must have held both a certificate and a license or permit to practice public accounting at the time the experience was gained. If the supervising CPA holds a license from another jurisdiction other than South Carolina, you must also submit (Form 2102-A) to the state where the supervising CPA holds a license.
Q. Does the Board specify records that should be maintained to document experience?
A. No. The Board does not have specific recordkeeping requirements, however, the candidate and the CPA supervisor must be able to document the experience through time records, work papers and the like. It is suggested that the CPA candidate maintain his/her own records to assist the supervisor in completing the experience forms.
Q. My former employer has delayed completing my Certificate of Experience form. What can I do to get it completed and signed?
A. Supply needed information to your former employer. If you are a CPA candidate, maintain a file of your work experience and have your Certificate of Experience and statement of work form completed and signed at the time you change employers.
Q. I have worked for several different employers. May I submit one Certificate of Experience form that covers all of my experience?
A. No. A separate form should be completed for each employer.
Q. I have completed several months of my experience. May I submit a certificate of experience so the Board can approve the portion I have completed and let me know how much more I need?
A. No. The Board considers only the overall experience after the requirements have been met.
Q. My Certificate of Experience form was rejected by the Board. May I appeal the Board's decision?
A. Yes. You may submit a written petition to the Board requesting a review of its decision. In the petition, you may request permission to appear before the Board and explain special circumstances. You will be notified as to time and place of the Board meeting.
Q. Does the Board verify the information on the Certificate of Experience form?
A. Yes. The Board also has the latitude to request working papers, if deemed necessary.
If you provide any of the services described in Regulation 1-09(A), then you will need to sign up for peer review. Regulation 1-09(A) states that "a licensed firm providing any of the following services to the public shall enroll in a qualified peer review program.
- Reviews of financial statements;
- Compilations of financial statements;
- Examinations of prospective financial statements;
- Compilations of prospective financial statements;
- Agreed-upon procedures of prospective financial statements;
- Examination of written assertions; and
- Agreed-upon procedures of written assertions."
Yes. As part of the renewal process, you are required to show that, within the preceding three years, you have undergone a peer review that meets the requirements as described in Section 40-2-255 and Regulation 1-09.
- Whenever a firm receives a final peer review report, it must be provided to the Board within 30 days of the date of receipt.