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Guidelines for Consumers

Consumer Complaints

Complaints about CPAs and CPA firms may be filed with the Kentucky State Board of Accountancy for numerous reasons.  Prior to filing your complaint, it is suggested that you contact the CPA or CPA firm manager in writing, outlining your concerns and providing a specific time period for them to be resolved.

If this written request does not result in a satisfactory solution and you believe that the CPA has possibly violated a state law or regulation, send your complaint in writing to the State Board.  There is no specific complaint form.  Instead, send a letter describing the problem.  Please include as much detail as possible and provide all supporting documentation, such as  copies of forms or correspondence, related to your complaint.  Be sure to include a daytime phone number and mailing address in the body of the letter.

Once the Board receives your complaint, a copy will be forwarded to the CPA for a written response.  Upon receipt of the response, a copy will be sent to the person making the complaint.  The Board members will review the complaint and response during a regularly scheduled meeting to determine if a possible violation has occurred.  Often times, additional investigation is required prior to a decision being made.  The decision may lead to a hearing before the Board members where the assistance of the person making the complaint will be needed.  Alternatively, the Board may decide there is a lack of evidence to support the complaint, which results in the matter being dismissed.

The Board has no jurisdiction in matters involving fee disputes.  These matters are best worked out between the parties or through a private attorney.

If the complaint involves obtaining original records or copies of work prepared by the CPA, review the following section on Obtaining Client Records.

Obtaining Client Records

There are numerous reasons why you, as a consumer of public accounting services, would require copies of your records.  In order to obtain your records from your CPA, you should put your request in writing and specify the records you require.  There are two types of records:

  • Client Records Previously Provided to your CPA: The CPA must return your accounting or other records which you provided to the CPA to perform the agreed upon services.  The CPA must return these records even if you owe fees for any services provided.
  • Documents Prepared for you by your CPA:  If the CPA has work papers which need to be part of your permanent records (i.e. depreciation schedules, pension schedules, etc.)and they are not available elsewhere, list those specific records.  Also, you may request copies of a tax return, report, or other document which was previously completed and issued on your behalf.  The CPA may require that you pay all fees owed prior to releasing any of these records.  If you have paid the CPA in full for the services rendered, he is required to release the records requested within a reasonable period of time.  The CPA can charge you a fee for copies or staff time for making copies of these records.  Limiting your request to copies which are actually needed can save you time and money.  Also, it will enable the CPA to make a more timely response to your concerns.

If, after writing the CPA, you still do not receive your records within a reasonable period of time, you may wish to file a complaint with the Kentucky State Board of Accountancy.  To do this, send us a brief letter outlining your efforts to obtain the records and provide copies of the correspondence sent to the CPA.

After the Board receives your complaint, it will be sent to the CPA for a response.  If the matter is not resolved, it will then be referred to the State Board.  The Board has the authority to investigate and to conduct hearings against CPAs.

Also, you may wish to contact the IRS to secure copies of tax returns.  Please check your local phone directory for an IRS toll free number.

Please review KRS 325.420, which deals with client records.  If, after reviewing this information you have any questions regarding the law governing client records, please contact the Board office.

Unlicensed/Unauthorized Practice

Persons who are not licensed as certified public accountants are prohibited from issuing audited or reviewed financial statements.  They are also prohibited from issuing compiled statements in which language used refers to CPA professional standards.

Unlicensed individuals are prohibited from calling themselves a certified public accountant in any setting.  If the Board receives information about unlicensed practice, a written request to cease and desist from such activity will be sent.  If no response is received or the behavior continues, the Board has the authority to proceed to court and obtain an injunction against the individual.

Penalties for unauthorized/unlicensed practice can include fines of up to $500, or imprisonment for up to one year, or a combination of both fines and imprisonment.

Consumers of public accounting services are encouraged to notify the Board if they become aware of individuals performing public accounting services or holding themselves out as being licensed certified public accountants, when in fact, they are not.  You may contact the Board office at 502.595.3037 or by email at CPA@ky.gov

Searchable Databases

The Kentucky State Board of Accountancy has searchable databases for both individual CPAs and CPA firms.  If you have an individual in mind to perform public accounting services for you, you might want to make sure they are licensed to do so by searching our databases.

Click here to search the ONLINE LICENSE VERIFICATION


Last Updated 10/15/2012
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