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These are frequently asked questions by the general public about CPAs and CPA firms:  
  How do I know if there are any complaints or disciplinary action(s) against my CPA?
What is within the Board’s jurisdiction to investigate?
What is not within the Board’s jurisdiction to investigate?
What is the difference between a title state and a practice state?
What is the Board’s authority regarding complaints?
When should I file a complaint?
How do I file a complaint against my CPA?
Can I submit a complaint anonymously?
What if my complaint involves more than one CPA or a CPA firm?
What if my accountant claims to be a CPA and I find out that he/she is not a CPA?
What is involved in the investigative process?
When does a complaint become available to the public?
How long will it take to resolve my complaint?
 
   
 How do I know if there are any complaints or disciplinary action(s) against my CPA?  
  The following is a link to the board’s CPA directory which will provide the status of an individual CPA or firm. Complaints against CPAs or firms are not always public. However, if a complaint results in discipline against a licensee, the discipline is a public record. However, the CPA directory does not currently provide information regarding current or historical discipline. You may obtain a copy of any public discipline by filling out a public records request form.

CPA Directory
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 What is within the Board’s jurisdiction to investigate?  
  The Board only has the ability to investigate complaints that include, but are not limited to, allegations that a CPA is or may be in violation of the Board’s statutes, rules, other State of Arizona statutes or rules applying to professional or financial conduct, any federal or state laws involving criminal conduct and standards or procedures of national professional accounting organizations. Some of the complaint categories include, but are not limited to, the following:
  1. Independence, integrity and objectivity;
  2. Competence and adherence to technical standards;
  3. Confidentiality and records disposition;
  4. Violation of accountancy rules, fiduciary duty or trust;
  5. Advertising and solicitation practices;
  6. Form of practice and use of the CPA designation;
  7. Ethical or moral violations; and/or
  8. Conviction of a felony or any crime reasonably to the practice of accounting.
In addition, a CPA’s self reporting, pursuant to A.A.C. R4-1-456, of the following shall constitute reasonable cause to open an investigation file:
  1. Any suspension or revocation of the right to practice accounting before the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, the Internal Revenue Service, or any other state or federal agency.
  2. Any final judgment in a civil action or administrative proceeding where the court or public agency makes findings of violations, by the registrant, of any fraud provisions of the laws of this state or of federal securities laws.
  3. Any final judgment in a civil action where the court makes findings of accounting violations, dishonesty, fraud, misrepresentation or breach of fiduciary duty by the registrant.
  4. Any final judgment in a civil action involving negligence in the practice of public accounting by the registrant.
  5. All convictions of the registrant of any felony, or any crime involving accounting or tax violations, dishonesty, fraud, misrepresentation, embezzlement, theft, forgery, perjury or breach of fiduciary duty.
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 What is not within the Board’s jurisdiction to investigate?  
  The Board does not have authority to regulate fees charged by its licensees. Therefore, the Board cannot decide whether an accountant's fee for services is reasonable. The Board does not have the ability to investigate fee disputes, nor does the Board have the ability to investigate accountants who are not CPAs. top
   
 What is the difference between a title state and a practice state?  
  A title state only regulates CPAs and the use of the CPA designation. In addition to regulating CPAs and the use of the designation, a practice state also regulates the practice of accounting. Arizona, North Carolina and Wyoming are title states. top
   
 What is the Board’s authority regarding complaints?  
  Arizona laws define the Board's authority. The Board's authority is limited to disciplining registrants, when a violation of the Board’s statutes, rules of CPA standards has occurred. The filing of a complaint with the Board does not prohibit you from concurrently filing a civil action lawsuit.

The Board or its staff cannot act as your lawyer, provide legal advice or legal services, advise you of your rights in a given situation, or give you a list of attorneys' names. If you do not have an attorney and wish to hire one, lawyer referral services are available in most communities. However, you are not required to hire an attorney in order to file a complaint with the Board.
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 When should I file a complaint?  
  Common misunderstandings relating to the scope of services, the quality of professional services, or the timeliness of those services very often can be resolved by direct and open communication between the parties. However, when you cannot resolve a problem, and you believe a violation of the Board’s statutes, rules or CPA professional standards or code of conduct have occurred, you may choose to file a complaint with the Board. The Board investigates complaints based upon substantial and tangible facts relating to specific violations of the Board's regulations.

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 How do I file a complaint against my CPA?  
  The Board has developed a standard complaint form to assist complainants in providing minimum information required before the investigative process can begin. You can find the form on the board’s website and submit the form through mail or fax. You are also encouraged to supplement the complaint form with a more detailed letter describing your allegations. top
   
 Can I submit a complaint anonymously?  
  Yes. The Board will review complaints that are submitted anonymously. However, an anonymous complainant will not be kept informed of the progress of the complaint unless you contact the Board’s office periodically on your own. Further, the Board may not be able to effectively investigate cases that request the identity of the complaining party be kept confidential. In the event the Board institutes a formal disciplinary action against the CPA, it may be required to disclose the identity of the complaining party. top
   
 What if my complaint involves more than one CPA or a CPA firm?  
  If you wish to submit multiple complaints about more than one licensee, complete a separate form for each license holder. Please submit any additional information such as engagement letters, tax returns, police reports and news articles along with your complaint to help assist with the investigative process. top
   
 What if my accountant claims to be a CPA and I find out that he/she is not a CPA?  
  If someone is holding himself or herself out as a CPA and they are not; it is a violation of A.R.S. §32-747. Please provide written proof to the Board’s office that includes documentation showing the illegal use of the CPA designation. top
   
 What is involved in the investigative process?  
  Every complainant that files a complaint with the Board will be responded to with written confirmation. Once a complaint is deemed to be within the Board’s jurisdiction, the Board’s staff assigns a file number to the complaint and assigns the file to one of two investigative advisory committees - Accounting and Auditing Standards Committee or Tax Practice Committee. In addition, an investigative reviewer may be assigned to prepare investigative reports, which may include interviews of the complainant, the CPA, and other persons that contribute to the final disposition of the complaint.

The investigative process includes two phases of review; initial analysis and open investigation. During the initial analysis phase, the details and records of the complaint and investigation are kept confidential pursuant to A.R.S. §32-749(D). If, after the initial analysis phase, the Board opens an investigation file, the details and records of the complaint and investigation remain confidential, however the knowledge that a complaint or investigation is pending and the nature of the complaint shall be public.

At the conclusion of the investigation, the assigned advisory committee may recommend that the Board do one of the following:
  1. Dismiss the complaint and close the file, with no violations;
  2. Issue an administrative letter of concern, which is confidential and non-disciplinary;
  3. Offer a disciplinary order that may include probation, suspension, relinquishment, revocation, restitution, administrative penalties, additional continuing professional education, reimbursement of Board investigative costs and/or other sanctions designed to best protect the public and rehabilitate the registrant; or
  4. File a complaint and notice of hearing.
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 When does a complaint become available to the public?  
  A complaint becomes public once the Board has opened an investigative file and/or when the Board has imposed discipline against the licensee, excluding administrative letters of concern which are non-disciplinary and confidential. During an on-going investigation, the veracity of the complaint remains confidential until the final outcome has been completed by the Board. top
   
 How long will it take to resolve my complaint?  
  It is the goal of the Board to conclude investigations of all complaints expeditiously. In an effort to provide the CPA with his/her right to proper due process, correspondence is transmitted to the CPA(s) who is/are the subject of the investigation informing them of the progress of the investigation. Complainants are kept informed of the progress of the investigation within the limitations of A.R.S. §32-749 which is the statute regarding confidentiality of information. Generally, complaints are complete within an average of six to nine months.

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