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When an Administrative Complaint is Filed Against Your Florida CPA License

February 7, 2022
Est read time: 3 minutes

When the Department of Business and Professional Regulation receives a complaint against your Florida CPA license it can be concerning and confusing because your livelihood and reputation are at stake. Just as important as getting to the bottom of the complaint is your response and the timing of your response. Whether you've received a complaint or an investigation letter these steps can help you navigate the process and save your CPA license.

Common Reasons Administrative Complaints Are Filed Against CPAs

A complainant might file a complaint against your CPA license for a variety of reasons aside from pricing and customer service issues. These may include licensing or not delivering on services promised. Consider these areas where a complaint might be filed against your professional license:

  • Failure to return client records on a timely basis
  • Failure to exercise due professional care 
  • Concerns over a past criminal conviction
  • Practicing with an expired or without a valid license
  • Continuing to practice after receiving disciplinary actions from another state
  • Failure to complete continuous education courses or credits
  • Fraudulent, deceptive, or misleading advertising

Get more resources from the CPA Practice Advisor on how firms should handle customer service complaints.

What Happens When the DBPR Receives a Complaint?

In the State of Florida, if you are a Certified Public Accountant and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) receives a complaint against your license, it will open an investigation to gather information.

An Investigator is Assigned. Once a complaint is received, DBPR will assign an investigator who will gather additional information from the complainant and the CPA.

You'll be Contacted. The investigator will reach out to you to notify you of the pending complaint and give you an opportunity to respond within 20 days with any information to challenge the complaint. This is your only opportunity to provide information to the investigator before the file is completed and forwarded to the probable cause panel. Therefore, carefully articulating your response can be crucial to whether or not an administrative complaint is ultimately filed. While the facts and circumstances unique to each case will decide whether a response to an investigative letter is warranted, attention to detail is important because this information cannot be changed later should an administrative complaint be filed.

Probable Cause Panel Hearing. Before an administrative complaint is filed, the case must be heard by a probable cause panel. This panel is composed of a subset of members of the Board of Accountancy.

Panel Review for Probable Cause. The panel has the responsibility of reviewing the complaint and any information provided by the CPA and determining whether probable cause exists that a violation occurred.

  • If the panel does not find probable cause for a violation, the file remains confidential and is not public record.
  • However, if the panel finds probable cause, the file will become public record 10 days after the finding.

Administrative Complaint. Following a finding of probable cause, you will receive an administrative complaint and election of rights form, which you must file within 21 days.

Dig Deeper: What is an administrative complaint?

If you have received an investigative letter or administrative complaint from DBPR and the Board of Accountancy, time is of the essence.

Call the law offices of Howell, Buchan & Strong at (850) 877-7776 now to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with Thomas Buchan, Esq. Our experienced administrative lawyers want to protect your license and livelihood.

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