Missouri CPA License Defense

Missouri's Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) are required to follow a series of professional standards and ethical guidelines as part of their licensing agreements. CPAs are well aware of the challenges they faced in gaining the education they needed to practice and serve clients best, but every tier of licensed individual is constantly under the scrutiny of the Missouri State Board of Accountancy. Investigations can be launched for any rule violation, including complaints from clients and employers and regulatory audits. 

The implications of board investigations can be career-changing for anyone. Potential sanctions can leave a CPA without a license to practice or hold a position in the highly regulated field, and even investigations into unfounded allegations can harm an individual's reputation. Reinstating a license can take years and will leave you without access to the occupation to which you have dedicated years. 

Understanding how CPAs in Missouri can navigate through license investigations is important, but even more critical is knowing where to turn for assistance. The nationwide Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team understands that licensing boards have strict disciplinary standards and sometimes fail to recognize the nuances of a situation and may move to impose sanctions quickly, like the following:   

  • Reprimands, public censures, and fines. 
  • Probationary periods with restricted practice. 
  • License suspension or revocation. 

Severe consequences are likely if CPAs fail to defend themselves quickly and properly. Therefore, utilize the valuable resources the Lento Law Firm has at hand. Our team will lead negotiations with Missouri licensing and regulatory authorities and work towards the most favorable resolution possible to safeguard your professional standing within the accounting field. Call us today at 888-535-3686 or submit your details online, and we will contact you. 

Missouri State Board of Accountancy Code of Ethics  

All Missouri CPAs are bound to an ethical code that looks out for the best interest of the public and fosters more transparent client relationships. Based on the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) set of ethics and professional conduct, Missouri's legislation outlines five main areas of responsibilities, which include the following: 

Independence, Integrity, and Objectivity 

  • Independence Violations: A CPA is prohibited from expressing an opinion on the financial statements of an entity if they, or their firm or employer, have a direct or indirect financial interest in the entity, have a joint closely held investment, or have certain types of loans. 
  • Breaches of Integrity and Objectivity: A CPA must not knowingly misrepresent facts or be influenced in their judgment by others in all professional services, including in an advisory capacity.   

Competence and Technical Standards 

  • Incompetency: A CPA should not accept an engagement from a client or colleague if they are not competent to perform. 
  • Failure to Follow Auditing Standards: A CPA's auditing standards and practice must remain without deviation from general standards—pursuant to AICPA and state legislation. Licensees are also barred from expressing an opinion that financial statements conform to such when there are material departures unless clearly explained or justified. 

Responsibilities to Clients 

  • Breach of Confidentiality: A CPA must not disclose confidential client information without the appropriate consent, except as required by state and federal regulatory bodies, as well as law enforcement agencies. 
  • Contingent Fees: Charging contingent fees for particular services such as audits, financial reviews, exams, and others are prohibited. 
  • Improper Record Handling and Keeping: A CPA must provide copies of a client's tax and all ancillary documents upon request, and others from current and former clients must be kept for a designated period of time. 

Responsibilities to Colleagues 

  • Improper Actions in Collaborative Engagements: When working on joint financial statements or when referred by another licensed CPA or unlicensed party, there are specific protocols to follow, including auditing processes extending beyond the initial engagement. 

Other Responsibilities and Practices 

  • Discreditable Conduct: CPAs are professionals who serve the public and are thereby held to a higher standard, even in their personal lives outside the scope of their practice. 
  • Solicitation and False Advertising: A CPA's advertising and solicitation must not be false, misleading, or influence baseless expectations. Furthermore, they must not imply improper guidance or fail to disclose all relevant aspects of the services rendered. 
  • Commissions and Referral Fees: Missouri CPAs cannot receive commissions or charge referral fees for certain services to clients regarding audits, reviews, examinations, and other information related to financial statements. 
  • Incompatible Occupations: Engaging in business or any other occupations that may threaten the CPA's objectivity or independence are strictly prohibited. 
  • Restrictions on Forms and Firm Names: A licensee's practice must be carried out in a legally recognized manner. CPA firm names must not mislead clients about the firm's ownership, capability, or structure. 

Violating regulatory rules or breaching the terms of a Missouri licensure agreement can lead to a board investigation and subsequent disciplinary actions, immediately impacting a CPA's credentials and ability to practice. Critically, allegations can come from any source through complaints. It isn't just clients, colleagues, or compliance officers who can submit complaints to the Missouri State Board of Accountancy—anyone can. 

Missouri CPA Complaint Procedure and Adjudication  

Grievances regarding CPA practices can stem from a range of issues, including financial mismanagement, fraud, negligence, or failure to adhere to governing accounting standards. Complaints are mailed or delivered electronically to the Missouri State Board of Accountancy. The subject of the complaint—the CPA in question—will remain unaware if the report is substantiated. Nevertheless, it is logged in a database that includes the following information: 

  • Complainant's name and address 
  • Location and subject of the complaint. 
  • The date the board receives the complaint. 
  • A brief statement of the acts alleged and victims involved. 

The board may conduct investigations to determine if probable cause exists to initiate disciplinary action. If no grounds for discipline exist, a letter is sent to the licensee with the board's decision. If they do, the board can launch a more formal means of investigation into the allegations. This may involve gathering detailed evidence, including financial records, correspondence, and interviews with the complainant and respondent.  

Missouri's State Board of Accountancy has the authority to subpoena or summon witnesses, including the presence of any other relevant evidence. However, instead of requiring the attendance of a person to produce original documents in response, the board may require affidavits with testimony or copies of relevant documents. 

If misconduct is evident, the board decides on the appropriate course of action, ranging from minor disciplinary actions like warnings, written reprimands, and fines. For more serious allegations and complaints, the board may decide to pursue sanctions that could lead to a temporary or permanent loss of a license. 

Respondents—Missouri CPAs—that decide to defend against the charges or the case needs further investigation and deliberation before suspending or revoking credentials, the matter is referred to the Administrative Hearing Commission (AHC). 

Missouri CPA Contested Hearing Process 

The AHC conducts hearings on contested cases involving state agency decisions. CPAs will receive a notice of hearing detailing the charges, the hearing date, and their rights during the proceedings. Before the hearing, the AHC recommends a pre-hearing conference to clarify issues and open the door for a potential settlement. A Commissioner will hear and decide the case at hand and will conduct contested case hearings in a manner similar to a trial court, wherein the Commissioner has the authority to: 

  • Administer oaths to parties involved, including witnesses. 
  • Make rulings on evidentiary objections. 
  • Analyze the factual evidence the parties provide. 
  • Render legal and factual determinations. 

During the hearing, both the board (typically represented by an agency attorney) and the CPA (or their legal representative) have the opportunity to present evidence, call and question witnesses, and make arguments. After considering all evidence and arguments, the AHC issues a decision, determining whether the CPA violated professional standards or regulations. The AHC's decision is then sent back to the board, which can then take final disciplinary actions. 

Consequences of Sanctions  

Even though Missouri CPAs may appeal the board's decision—even after AHC proceedings—sanctions are effective immediately. As mentioned before, the State Board of Accountancy may hand down informal means of discipline. However, adverse actions that affect license status are common. Unfortunately, license suspension or revocation can lead to the following consequences: 

  • Leaves CPAs vulnerable to future scrutiny from employers after license reinstatement. 
  • Becomes an obstacle to promotions or job applications.   
  • Diminishes career earning power immediately and over time. 
  • Increases stress associated with daily workplace responsibilities. 

While the board's actions affect those employed or licensed in Missouri, there are also indirect results faced elsewhere. AICPA provides verification tools for employers, and disciplinary action on a license will be viewed by others nationwide. Moreover, states have provisions barring licensees from applying for credentials in other states until an individual's license is available for reinstatement. 

Appealing Missouri State Board of Accountancy Decisions  

CPAs retain the right to appeal to the state's higher appellate authorities to challenge the board's determinations or the sanctions imposed. A CPA must file a notice of appeal within 30 days after the board's decision. Failing to file within this period can result in losing the right to appeal. 

The appeal process involves preparing a detailed brief that outlines the errors in the board's decision or the procedural flaws in the adjudication process. This may include arguing that the decision was not supported by substantial evidence, that there were violations of due process, or that the sanctions imposed were disproportionate to the alleged misconduct. 

In most circumstances, CPAs have the opportunity to present oral arguments in front of a superior court judge in support of their appeal, emphasizing key points of the submitted brief and responding to any questions. After reviewing the written briefs and hearing oral arguments, the superior court will issue a decision. This will involve affirming, modifying, or reversing the board's original decision. 

How the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team Can Help Missouri CPAs? 

While sanctions for a CPA will vary depending on the complaint or alleged misconduct, any form of adverse action must be taken with the utmost seriousness. There is no way to forecast how adverse action will affect you, even with minor violations. However, you can be assured that your license remains vulnerable if you fail to match the state's adjudication with a strong defense

CPAs facing administrative sanctions from Missouri state authorities may believe an attorney is too aggressive an option to exercise with their professional board. However, the Lento Law Firm will be a valuable resource for the following reasons: 

  • Our attorneys will obtain the appropriate evidence or witness testimony that can determine the outcome of your case. 
  • We will explore options state regulations provide to settle before proceedings begin. 
  • The Lento Law Firm will advise and represent you at every step of the process. 
  • Following decisions from the Board or AHC, we will help you seek further review by appealing to the superior court. 

The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team will protect you against the complexities and challenges of facing allegations that can threaten the status of your CPA license. We bring a wealth of experience and a deep understanding of state laws and the specific regulatory frameworks governing the accounting profession. 

We are well known throughout Missouri and have helped individual CPAs and those at firms in the following areas: 

  • Columbia 
  • Cape Girardeau 
  • Kansas City 
  • Jefferson City 
  • Joplin 
  • St. Joesph 
  • St. Louis 
  • Springfield 

Legal help is pivotal in navigating the processes of defending against complaints filed with the Missouri State Board of Accountancy and other allegations of wrongdoing. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 today for a consultation about how we will defend your license to practice as a CPA in Missouri. You can also contact us online with your case details, and a member of our Professional License Defense Team will reach out as soon as possible.  


Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are committed to answering your questions about Physician License Defense, Nursing License Defense, Pharmacist License Defense, Psychologist and Psychiatrist License Defense, Dental License Defense, Chiropractic License Defense, Real Estate License Defense, Professional Counseling License Defense, and Other Professional Licenses law issues nationwide.
The Lento Law Firm will gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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