Firms that never obtained the required state license may do so by year’s end without facing fines or penalties, the board said. Firms with lapsed licenses are not eligible. Amnesty applications are available on the board’s website.
The board recently learned a number of firms were unaware of the licensing requirement, said Katie True, commissioner of the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs, which houses the accountancy board.
Licensing is a consumer protection tool that allows the board to take action “when firms violate the industry’s standards of practice,” said True, a former state representative from Lancaster County.
The board does not know how many unlicensed accounting firms practice in Pennsylvania but does not believe the number is significant, spokesman Ron Ruman said.
Certified public accountants in solo practice need not obtain a firm license; all other practices must. Never-licensed firms normally face a $500 penalty, plus the prospect of further sanction if they persist in not registering, according to the state civil code.
The board decided a temporary amnesty would encourage compliance with the law without putting firms, as well as the jobs and value they create, at risk, Ruman said.
The amnesty applies only to firms, not individual CPAs, who face separate licensing requirements, he said.
“No one should be working as a CPA who does not have a license,” he said.