Do you know who you’re giving your private, financial information to? Are you using a state-licensed CPA?

In Florida, Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) are licensed and regulated by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Certified Public Accounting. Not all accountants are CPAs. To be a CPA, one must pass the uniform CPA examination, meet the requirements of Florida state law and be issued a license by the Florida Board of Accountancy. Licensed CPAs, including sole proprietors, are only allowed to practice in licensed firms.

Are your finances in good hands? Should you use a CPA?

According to Florida law, only CPAs can perform certain services such as audits, reviews and compilations, and issue opinions regarding financial statements. If you or your business requires these services, you must use a licensed CPA. An accountant is not required to have a state issued license to prepare taxes. Also, a license is not required to perform certain bookkeeping services.

When choosing a CPA, follow these tips Check the license status at www. or call the DBPR Customer Contact Center at 850.487.1395. Make sure the license is current, and check for any complaints or disciplinary actions against the licensee. Interview the prospective CPA. Find out what type of accounting work they typically perform. Compare the CPA’s experience to your service needs. Ask about the CPA’s office hours. Determine whether the office is open all year.  Before the CPA does any work, make sure you receive a signed engagement letter detailing the work expected to be performed and the cost of the services.

Why is it important to choose a CPA?

Hiring a CPA to handle your accounting is the best way to make sure services are correctly, professionally and responsibly completed. CPAs are educated, tested and regulated by the State of Florida and must be recertified every two years. CPAs also must fulfill substantial continuing education requirements every renewal cycle.

Because CPAs are regulated, if a complaint against a CPA is warranted, DBPR can bring administrative action against the licensee. Unfortunately, if the subject is not a CPA, DBPR has no jurisdiction. Your only option would be to take civil action.