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Accountant FAQs

CPA Exam Candidates

Yes. The residency requirement was eliminated in 2002, in anticipation of the computerized examination.

193A—3.3(542) Accounting concentration. 3.3(1) A candidate will be deemed to have met the educational requirement if, as part of the 150 semester hours of education as outlined in Iowa Code section 542.5, the candidate has met one of the following four conditions:

  • a. Earned a graduate degree with a concentration in accounting from a program that is accredited in accounting by an accrediting agency recognized by the board.
  • b. Earned a graduate degree in business from a program that is accredited in business by an accrediting agency recognized by the board and completed at least 24 semester hours in accounting including courses covering the subjects of financial accounting, auditing, taxation, and management accounting. Such accounting hours shall not include elementary accounting or principles of accounting, internships or life experience.
  • c. Earned a baccalaureate degree in business or accounting from a program that is accredited in business by an accrediting agency recognized by the board and completed at least 24 semester hours in accounting courses covering the subjects of financial accounting, auditing, taxation, and management accounting. Such accounting hours shall not include elementary accounting or principles of accounting, internships or life experience.
  • d. Earned a baccalaureate or higher degree and completed the following hours from an accredited institution recognized by the board:
    (1) At least 24 semester hours in accounting courses above elementary accounting or principles of accounting covering the subjects of financial accounting, auditing, taxation, and management accounting, not including internships or life experience; and
    (2) At least 24 additional semester hours in business–related courses, not including internships or life experience. Elementary accounting hours that do not qualify under subparagraph 3.3(1)“d”(1) above may apply toward business–related courses.

    Quarter hours will be accepted in lieu of semester hours at a 3:2 ratio; that is, three quarter hours is equivalent to two semester hours. Internships and life experience hours may apply toward the total 150 hours’ requirement.

3.3(2) The board will consider correspondence study and study in other schools not meeting the above requirements on an individual basis if the candidate can provide evidence that such study would be acceptable for credit by a college or university recognized by the board; provided, however, that at least 18 of the required hours in accounting and at least 16 of the required hours in business–related subjects must be obtained in a college or university recognized by the board.

3.3(3) The applicant’s claim to college or university credits must be confirmed by an official transcript of credit issued by the institution in question. The applicant shall be responsible for having such transcripts sent to the board’s test administrator at the time of making application. The applicant shall also be responsible for having any institution not listed under rule 193A—3.2(542) furnish the board evidence that it meets the accreditation requirements of the board.

3.3(4) Graduates of foreign colleges or universities shall have their education evaluated by a foreign credentials evaluation advisory service specified by the board.

Visit www.cpa-exam.org and participate in the tutorial available. Also, familiarize yourself with the professional literature governing accounting, auditing and tax standards. You may visit www.aicpa.org to find information pertaining to the AICPA Professional Standards. The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has made their professional literature available at their website www.fasb.org. All sections of the computerized exam except the BEC section require candidates to access professional standards in the research portion of the simulations. Familiarization with accessing of professional standards on line is critical to your successful completion of this segment of the exam section(s). The AICPA offers a one year subscription to the on-line Professional Standards for exam candidates. Please visit their website for information on obtaining a subscription to on-line professional standards for both student members and nonstudent members.

You must pass all four sections of the Uniform CPA Examination within 18 months. All parts must be passed during the 18 month period. Credit will be lost for any exam passed outside the 18 month period.

Instructions for scheduling your test time will be sent with your NTS then you are eligible to contact Prometric to schedule your examination.

  1. Complete the initial application found at https://plb.iowa.gov/board/accountants
  2. Submit transcripts for the 150 semester hours.
    193A—3.12(542) Experience for certificate.

    3.12(1) 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. Experience may be gained through employment in government, industry, academia, or public practice.

    3.12(2) One year of experience shall consist of full– or part–time employment that extends over a period of no less than one year and no more than three years and includes no fewer than 2,000 hours of performance of services outlined in subrule 3.12(1). Experience may be gained in more than one employment situation, including an internship.

    3.12(3) An applicant seeking qualification as an attest CPA shall have at a minimum two years of experience as more fully described in 193A—subrule 6.3(1).

    3.12(4) All experience shall be verified by a licensee with direct supervisory control over the applicant or by a licensee who can attest that the experience gained by the applicant meets the requirements of subrule 3.12(1) if the applicant is not supervised by a licensee.

    3.12(5) Teaching experience shall be in the employment of an institution of higher education and shall include teaching a minimum of 24 semester hours of accounting courses for which the course participants receive credit on an official transcript. Teaching of noncredit continuing education courses shall not qualify under this rule.

    193A—3.13(542) Ethics course and examination. A successful candidate shall also be required to pass an examination covering the code of ethical conduct prior to issuance of the certificate. For ethics examination contact www.aicpa.org or www.iacpa.org

CPA Licensees

193A—3.15(542) Use of title.
3.15(1) Only a person who holds a valid certificate and who complies with the requirements of 193A—Chapter 5 and 10 may use or assume the title “certified public accountant” or the abbreviation “CPA” or any other title, designation, words, letters, abbreviation, sign, card, or device tending to indicate that such person is a certified public accountant.

193A—10.5(542) Basic requirement. During the three-year period ending on the December 31 preceding the July 1 renewal date of the certificate or license, an applicant for renewal shall have completed 120 hours of qualifying continuing professional education subject to the following exceptions:

10.5(1) At the first annual renewal date of July 1 that is less than 12 months from the date of filing the initial application for the certificate or license, the certificate holder or license holder shall not be required to report continuing professional education.

10.5(2) At the annual renewal date of July 1 that is more than 12 months, but less than 24 months, from the date of filing the initial application for the certificate or license, the certificate holder or license holder shall report 40 hours of continuing professional education earned in the one-year period ending December 31 prior to the July 1 renewal date.

10.5(3) At the annual renewal date of July 1 that is more than 24 months, but less than 36 months, from the date of filing the initial application for the certificate or license, the certificate holder or license holder shall report 80 hours of continuing professional education earned in the two-year period ending December 31 prior to the July 1 renewal date.

10.5(4) An applicant who wishes to restore a certificate or license to active status must meet the basic requirement of 120 hours of continuing professional education earned in the preceding three-year period prior to the date of application to restore active status.

10.5(5) A licensee shall be deemed to have complied with the requirements of this rule if, for the period that the licensee is a resident of another state or district having a continuing professional education requirement, the licensee met the resident state’s mandatory requirement.

10.5(6) The board shall have authority to make exceptions for reasons of individual hardship including health, certified by a medical doctor, military service, foreign residency, retirement, or other good cause. No exceptions shall be made solely because of age.

10.5(7) Licensees who apply to reinstate a lapsed or inactive certificate or license to active status pursuant to 193A—subrule 5.6(3) or 5.9(7) shall satisfy the basic requirement of 120 hours of continuing professional education earned in the preceding three-year period prior to the date of the application, including all required mandatory education described in rule 193A—10.7(542), to reinstate on an annual renewal schedule, modified as needed to incorporate the phase-in schedule for initial licensees described in subrules 10.5(1) to 10.5(3). Once the certificate or license is reinstated, the following schedule shall apply:

  • a. No continuing professional education shall be required on the first annual renewal after reinstatement of a lapsed or inactive certificate or license to active status.
  • b. 40 hours of continuing professional education that has not previously been reported shall be required in the one-year period ending December 31 prior to the second July 1 annual renewal date following reinstatement to active status. In the second and subsequent renewals following reinstatement, the applicant must demonstrate compliance with the mandatory education described in rule 193A—10.7(542).
  • c. 80 hours of continuing professional education that has not previously been reported shall
  • be required in the two-year period ending December 31 prior to the third July 1 annual renewal date following reinstatement to active status.
  • d. 120 hours of continuing professional education shall be required in the three-year period ending December 31 prior to the fourth and subsequent July 1 annual renewal dates following reinstatement to active status.

193A—10.7(542) Mandatory education required.10.7(1) Every CPA certificate holder or LPA license holder who is responsible for supervising compilation services or who signs or authorizes someone to sign the accountant’s compilation report on the financial statements on behalf of a firm shall complete, as a condition of certificate or license renewal, a minimum of eight hours of continuing professional education devoted to financial statement presentation, such as courses covering the statements on standards for accounting and review services (SSARS) and accounting and auditing updates. When required, the financial statement presentation continuing education shall be completed within the three-year period ending on the December 31 preceding the application for certificate or license renewal. For credit to be claimed for a course covering multiple topics, a minimum of one hour as outlined in subrule 10.6(1) shall be devoted to financial statement presentation. For example, if a seminar or presentation is conducted for a total of four hours and only one hour is devoted to financial statement presentation, then only one hour shall be claimed toward meeting the requirement of this subrule.

10.7(2) Every CPA certificate holder or LPA license holder shall complete a minimum of four hours of continuing education devoted to ethics and rules of professional conduct during the three-year period ending December 31, prior to the July 1 annual renewal date. For a course to qualify to meet this requirement, the course description shall clearly outline the subject matter covered as professional or business ethics. If credit is to be claimed for a course covering multiple topics, a minimum of one hour as outlined in rule 193A—10.6(542), measurement standards, specifically in subrule 10.6(1), shall be devoted to business or professional ethics. For example, if a seminar or presentation is conducted for a total of four hours and only one hour is devoted to business or professional ethics, then only one hour shall be claimed toward meeting the requirement of this subrule. Ethics courses, which are defined as courses dealing with regulatory and behavioral ethics, shall be limited to courses on the following:

  • a. Professional standards;
  • b. Licenses and renewals;
  • c. SEC oversight;
  • d. Competence;
  • e. Acts discreditable;
  • f. Advertising and other forms of solicitation;
  • g. Independence;
  • h. Integrity and objectivity;
  • i. Confidential client information;
  • j. Contingent fees;
  • k. Commissions;
  • l. Conflicts of interest;
  • m. Full disclosure;
  • n. Malpractice;
  • o. Record retention;
  • p. Professional conduct;
  • q. Ethical practice in business;
  • r. Personal ethics;
  • s. Ethical decision making; and
  • t. Corporate ethics and risk management as these topics relate to malpractice and relate solely to the practice of certified public accounting.

10.8(1) The overriding consideration in determining whether a specific program qualifies as acceptable continuing education is that it be a formal program of learning which contributes directly to the professional competence of an individual certified or licensed in this state. It will be left to each individual certificate holder or license holder to determine the technical or nontechnical professional skills courses of study to be pursued. Thus, the auditor may study accounting and auditing, the tax practitioner may study taxes, and the management advisory services practitioner may study subjects related to such practice. Job-related continuing professional education shall qualify as acceptable provided the courses selected from nontechnical professional skills contribute to the professional competence of the certificate holder or license holder.

193A—5.3(542) Renewal of license that expires on or after June 30, 2011.

5.3(1) Licenses issued pursuant to Iowa Code section 542.6, 542.8, or 542.19 that expire on June 30, 2011, and thereafter shall be renewed on an annual basis, and shall expire on June 30 of each year.
Licenses shall be renewed through electronic on-line renewal, except that licensees who are ineligible to renew on line because they must disclose a criminal conviction or disciplinary order, or for other cause, shall renew upon forms that may be obtained from the board office or on the board’s Web site. An annual renewal fee will be charged.

193A—5.4(542) Notices.
5.4(1) The board typically mails a notice to licensees in the May preceding license expiration, but neither the failure of the board to mail nor a licensee’s failure to receive a renewal notice shall excuse the requirement to timely renew a license.

5.4(2) A licensee shall notify the board within 30 days of any change of address or firm affiliation.

5.3(2) A licensee shall notify the board within 30 days of any change of address or business connection.

CPA Firm Permit

The answer depends on the type of services your firm performs, whether the firm has an office in Iowa, and how the firm markets itself to the public.

Attest services

If your firm performs attest services in Iowa or for a client’s Iowa location, the firm does not need an Iowa CPA firm permit to practice if the firm does not have an Iowa office, but it does need an active CPA firm permit to practice in the state of the firm’s primary business. Only CPAs may perform attest services and attest services may only be performed in a CPA firm.

Non-attest services

If your firm offers no attest services in Iowa or for a client’s Iowa location, your firm will only need an Iowa CPA firm permit to practice if both of the following are true:

  1. your firm has an office located in Iowa, and
  2. 2. the Iowa office of your firm uses the titles “CPAs”, “certified public accountants”, “CPA firm”, or “certified public accounting firm” in the name of the firm or in the marketing of the firm to the public.

Sole proprietors

A sole proprietor CPA who performs no attest services may use the singular title of “CPA” or “certified public accountant” in the name of the firm or when marketing to clients without holding a CPA firm permit to practice. Many years ago a firm permit to practice was required for compilation services. That law changed in 2002. Peer review is required for compilation services, but peer review for compilation services may be performed on an individual basis or as part of the peer review for a CPA firm or an LPA firm. Only peer review for attest services must be performed at a firm level.

Voluntary CPA firm permits to practice

A firm may voluntarily hold a CPA firm permit to practice even if not technically required to do so as long as a simple majority of the ownership of the firm belongs to CPAs and the other requirements of Iowa Code section 542.7 are satisfied. Holding a voluntary CPA firm permit to practice is a matter of personal choice.

Iowa law does allow CPA firm mobility for out of state firms that do not maintain offices in Iowa. And as of 2017, out of state firms may perform any attest services (as opposed to only reviews as was permitted prior to 2017) in Iowa or for a client’s Iowa location.

Iowa LPAs are only required to hold an LPA firm permit to practice if they practice in a firm which uses the title “LPAs”, “licensed public accountants”, “LPA firm” or “licensed public accounting firm” in the name of the firm or when marketing to clients. A sole proprietor LPA may use the singular title of “LPA” or “licensed public accountant” in the name of the firm or when marketing to clients without holding an LPA firm permit to practice. LPAs who perform compilation services may complete peer review on an individual basis or as part of the peer review completed for an LPA firm or a CPA firm.

A firm may voluntarily hold an LPA firm permit to practice even if not technically required to do so as long as a simple majority of the ownership of the firm belongs to some combination of LPAs and CPAs, at least one partner, officer, shareholder, member, or manager is an LPA, and the other requirements of Iowa Code section 542.8 are satisfied. Holding a voluntary LPA firm permit to practice is a matter of personal choice.

Yes, a CPA or LPA can provide compilation services for an employer or for the general public from any type of entity. Only CPAs and LPAs can provide compilation services, but they do not need to do so through a CPA firm or LPA firm holding a firm permit to practice.

If a compilation report is signed by an individual CPA or LPA through an entity that does not hold a CPA firm or LPA firm permit to practice, all of the provisions of Iowa Code section 542.13 apply, as follows:

  • An individual licensee shall not issue a report in standard form upon a compilation of financial information through any form of business that does not hold a permit issued under section 542.7 or 542.8 unless the report discloses the name of the business through which the individual is issuing the report and the individual licensee does all of the following:
    • a. Signs the compilation report identifying the individual as a certified public accountant or licensed public accountant.
    • b. Meets competency requirements provided in applicable standards.
    • c. Undergoes, no less frequently than once every three years, a peer review conducted in a manner as specified by the board. The review shall include verification that such individual has met the competency requirements set out in professional standards for such services.

No. While any eligible firm can apply for a CPA firm permit to practice whether required to do so or not, there are only limited circumstances where such a firm permit is required. The firm would only need a firm permit to practice if it held out to the public as a CPA firm from an Iowa office. If, for instance, you change the firm name to 4 | Page “Dawson CPA firm” or “Dawson and Lampe, CPAs” or otherwise present the firm as a CPA firm, you would need a firm permit to practice. See, Iowa Code sections 542.7(1) and 542.13(4).

No. An out of state CPA firm that holds a permit to practice in its principal place of business does not need an Iowa CPA firm permit to practice in order to provide services to Iowa clients, unless it opens an Iowa office which uses the title “CPAs”, “CPA firm”, “certified public accountants”, or “certified public accounting firm”. As of 2017, an out-of-state firm may provide any attest services while exercising a practice privilege. Prior to 2017, an out-of-state firm could not perform attest services, with the exception of review services. Please consult Iowa Code section 542.20 and 193A Iowa Admin. Code chapters 21 and 21 (Board rules) to learn more about how practice privileges work in Iowa for individuals and CPA firms.

Yes. CPA firms providing attest services to government entities in Iowa that are within the jurisdiction of the Iowa Auditor of State under Iowa Code chapter 11 are required to hold an Iowa CPA firm permit to practice.

No. Nongovernmental audits can be supervised by CPAs who hold CPA certificates which authorize them to supervise audits in their principal place of business. Please consult Iowa Code section 542.20 for more information about how practice privileges work in Iowa for both CPA firms and CPAs.

No. Many entities that provide accounting services to the public are owned by or employ LPAs or CPAs. The composition of firm owners or employees is not what triggers the need for an LPA firm or CPA firm permit to practice. An Iowa firm of Iowa LPAs is only required to hold an LPA firm permit to practice if the firm uses the title “LPAs”, “licensed public accountants”, “LPA firm” or “licensed public accounting firm” in the name of the firm or when marketing to clients. An Iowa firm of Iowa CPAs is only required to hold a CPA firm permit to practice if the firm uses the title “CPAs”, “CPA firm”, “certified public accountants”, or “certified public accounting firm” in the name of the firm or when marketing to clients.

Yes. Any CPA authorized to exercise a practice privilege can perform services from the Iowa office, but an Iowa CPA is needed to be in charge of the Iowa office. If a CPA changes location so that Iowa becomes the CPA’s principal place of business, the CPA will need to hold an Iowa CPA certificate. Iowa has a swift and easy process for substantially equivalent out of state CPAs to become certified in Iowa. In fact, if there are no criminal convictions or disciplinary actions to report and the Board can verify good standing in the other jurisdiction, a fully completed application will be effective the moment it is received by the Board with proper fee. See, 193A Iowa Admin. Code chapter 9.

Yes, a CPA firm permit to practice may be reinstated by using forms available on the Board’s website. There is a $100 reinstatement fee in addition to the annual fee for the permit to practice. If the firm did not perform any services in Iowa that required an Iowa CPA firm permit to practice, there are no other fees. If, however, your firm did need a CPA firm permit to practice while the permit was lapsed, there is an additional administrative fee of $25 per month to a maximum of $1,000. Depending on the facts, there may also be grounds for disciplinary action. The Board will not hold up the reinstatement while determining if disciplinary charges are warranted.

Mobility Checklist

Starting July 1, 2009, out of state CPAs can practice public accounting in Iowa or for a client with a home office in Iowa without Iowa licensure, pursuant to Iowa Code section 542.20 and 193A IAC chapter 20, if all of the following statements are true:

  • This may seem obvious, but CPAs who hold an active, unexpired Iowa CPA certificate are treated for all purposes as Iowa CPAs and are not separately subject to the provisions governing a practice privilege, no matter where the CPA’s principal place of business is located.
  • CPAs who hold an inactive or expired Iowa CPA certificate may exercise a practice privilege, if otherwise eligible.
  • Whether an Iowa CPA who is eligible to exercise a practice privilege should apply to become inactive in Iowa or allow the Iowa CPA certificate to lapse depends on whether the CPA anticipates needing an Iowa CPA certificate in the future.
  • Some state officials and agencies, such as the Auditor of State and the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, require Iowa licensure for CPAs who perform governmental audits under Iowa Code chapter 11 or perform audits or reviews in connection with grain dealer and grain warehouse licensure.
  • The fact that an out of state CPA is eligible to exercise a practice privilege under Iowa Code chapter 542 does not prevent a state agency or other client from requiring Iowa licensure for particular engagements.

  • A CPA’s “principal place of business” is the primary location from which public accounting services are performed.
  • A CPA can only have one principal place of business at any one time.
  • CPAs who perform public accounting services at multiple or rotating locations, such as CPAs who perform attest services on assignment as needed in multiple jurisdictions, may designate as their principal place of business the location that most often serves as the CPA’s home base of operations.
  • CPAs who maintain their principal place of business in Iowa, or who move their principal place of business to Iowa must hold an active, unexpired Iowa CPA certificate in order to practice public accounting in Iowa or for a client with a home office in Iowa.

A CPA’s right to exercise a practice privilege will terminate if the CPA’s certificate or license to practice as a CPA in the state of the CPA’s principal place of business lapses or is otherwise no longer in good standing.

  • The basic qualifications for an Iowa CPA certificate include 150 semester hours of education, a baccalaureate or higher degree, passing the national CPA examination, and one year of qualifying experience or, for an attest practice, two years of qualifying experience.
  • Out of state CPAs who were not issued a CPA certificate from a state which is substantially equivalent to Iowa and who do not otherwise satisfy substantially equivalent qualifications, are eligible to exercise a practice privilege if they satisfy the “four-in-ten” rule described in Iowa Code section 542.19(1)(c).

A CPA performing attest services in Iowa or for a client with a home office in Iowa must be qualified to perform attest services under the license or certificate issued by the state in which the CPA maintains the CPA’s principal place of business.

  • Out of state CPAs who maintain an office in Iowa will generally need to be licensed in Iowa.
  • CPAs who are otherwise eligible to exercise a practice privilege can, however, practice at the Iowa location of a CPA or LPA firm that holds an Iowa permit to practice, or at the business location of an entity that may practice in Iowa without firm licensure, as long as the public accounting services are provided through the firm or business entity.

  1. I have not been convicted of a felony or any type of crime involving forgery, embezzlement, obtaining money under false pretenses, theft, extortion, conspiracy to defraud, or other similar offense, as described in Iowa Code section 542.5(2).
  2. My CPA certificate or license to practice public accounting has not been suspended, revoked, or otherwise disciplined, including the voluntary surrender of a license to resolve a pending disciplinary investigation or proceeding, by the Iowa Board or a licensing authority in another state, territory, or country, for any cause other than failure to pay appropriate fees.
  3. My right to practice public accounting before any state or federal agency, or the PCAOB, has not been suspended or revoked.
  4. I have not been denied licensure as a CPA upon application to the Iowa Board or other jurisdiction.
  5. Civil penalties have not been imposed against me by the Iowa Board for unlawful practices as a non-licensee pursuant to Iowa Code section 542.14.
  6. My authority to exercise a practice privilege has not been revoked in Iowa or another jurisdiction.

CPAs who are ineligible to exercise a practice privilege based on a criminal conviction or regulatory action that is a ground to deny Iowa licensure or impose discipline against an Iowa CPA may apply for licensure in Iowa. The Board will take action on the application in the same manner applied to all applicants, taking into consideration the facts and circumstances of the crime or regulatory action.

The purpose of these restrictions is two-fold: preventing those previously denied Iowa licensure or subjected to discipline in Iowa from exercising a practice privilege in Iowa, and assuring the Board, not the practitioner, determines which crimes or regulatory actions preclude lawful practice in Iowa.

Contact the Accounting Board with further questions & clarifications.

Reciprocity

193A—9.1(542) Iowa CPA certificate required. A person who holds a certificate or license to practice as a CPA in another state or a substantially equivalent designation from a foreign jurisdiction may apply to the board for an Iowa CPA certificate and must do so if the person plans to establish the person’s principal place of business as a CPA in Iowa.

193A—9.2(542) Application forms. Application forms may be obtained from the board office or on the board Web site. An applicant shall attest that all information provided on the form is true and accurate. An application may be denied based on a false statement of material fact. A nonrefundable fee shall be charged each applicant as provided in 193A—Chapter 12.

Please read and understand Iowa Administrative Rules 193A and Iowa Code 542