Code Section Group

Business and Professions Code - BPC

DIVISION 3. PROFESSIONS AND VOCATIONS GENERALLY [5000 - 9998.8]

  ( Heading of Division 3 added by Stats. 1939, Ch. 30. )

CHAPTER 1. Accountants [5000 - 5158]

  ( Chapter 1 repealed and added by Stats. 1945, Ch. 1353. )

ARTICLE 3. Application of Chapter [5050 - 5058.4]
  ( Article 3 heading repealed and added by Stats. 1959, Ch. 310. )

5050.
  

(a) Except as provided in subdivisions (b) and (c) of this section, in subdivision (a) of Section 5054, and in Section 5096.12, no person shall engage in the practice of public accountancy in this state unless the person is the holder of a valid permit to practice public accountancy issued by the board or a holder of a practice privilege pursuant to Article 5.1 (commencing with Section 5096).

(b) Nothing in this chapter shall prohibit a certified public accountant, a public accountant, or a public accounting firm lawfully practicing in another state from temporarily practicing in this state incident to practice in another state, provided that an individual providing services under this subdivision may not solicit California clients, may not assert or imply that the individual is licensed to practice public accountancy in California, and may not engage in the development, implementation, or marketing to California consumers of any abusive tax avoidance transaction, as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 19753 of the Revenue and Taxation Code. A firm providing services under this subdivision that is not registered to practice public accountancy in California may not solicit California clients, may not assert or imply that the firm is licensed to practice public accountancy in California, and may not engage in the development, implementation, or marketing to California consumers of any abusive tax avoidance transaction, as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 19753 of the Revenue and Taxation Code. This subdivision shall become inoperative on January 1, 2011.

(c) Nothing in this chapter shall prohibit a person who holds a valid and current license, registration, certificate, permit, or other authority to practice public accountancy from a foreign country, and lawfully practicing therein, from temporarily engaging in the practice of public accountancy in this state incident to an engagement in that country, provided that:

(1) The temporary practice is regulated by the foreign country and is performed under accounting or auditing standards of that country.

(2) The person does not hold himself or herself out as being the holder of a valid California permit to practice public accountancy or the holder of a practice privilege pursuant to Article 5.1 (commencing with Section 5096).

(Amended by Stats. 2006, Ch. 458, Sec. 2. Effective September 25, 2006.)

5050.1.
  

(a) Any person that engages in any act that is the practice of public accountancy in this state consents to the personal, subject matter, and disciplinary jurisdiction of the board. This subdivision is declarative of existing law.

(b) Any person engaged in the practice of public accountancy under subdivision (a) is deemed to have appointed the regulatory authority of the state or foreign jurisdiction that issued the person’s permit, certificate, license or other authorization to practice as the person’s agent on whom notice, subpoenas, or other process may be served in any action or proceeding by or before the board against or involving that person.

(Added by Stats. 2006, Ch. 458, Sec. 3. Effective September 25, 2006.)

5050.2.
  

(a) The board may revoke, suspend, issue a fine pursuant to Article 6.5 (commencing with Section 5116), or otherwise restrict or discipline the holder of an authorization to practice under subdivision (b) or (c) of Section 5050, subdivision (a) of Section 5054, or Section 5096.12 for any act that would be a violation of this code or grounds for discipline against a licensee or holder of a practice privilege, or grounds for denial of a license or practice privilege under this code. The provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act, including, but not limited to, the commencement of a disciplinary proceeding by the filing of an accusation by the board shall apply to this section. Any person whose authorization to practice under subdivision (b) or (c) of Section 5050, subdivision (a) of Section 5054, or Section 5096.12 has been revoked may apply for reinstatement of the authorization to practice under subdivision (b) or (c) of Section 5050, subdivision (b) of Section 5054, or Section 5096.12 not less than one year after the effective date of the board’s decision revoking the authorization to practice unless a longer time, not to exceed three years, is specified in the board’s decision revoking the authorization to practice.

(b) The board may administratively suspend the authorization of any person to practice under subdivision (b) or (c) of Section 5050, subdivision (a) of Section 5054, or Section 5096.12 for any act that would be grounds for administrative suspension under Section 5096.4 utilizing the procedures set forth in that section.

(Amended by Stats. 2007, Ch. 130, Sec. 18. Effective January 1, 2008.)

5051.
  

Except as provided in Sections 5052 and 5053, a person shall be deemed to be engaged in the practice of public accountancy within the meaning and intent of this chapter if he or she does any of the following:

(a) Holds himself or herself out to the public in any manner as one skilled in the knowledge, science, and practice of accounting, and as qualified and ready to render professional service therein as a public accountant for compensation.

(b) Maintains an office for the transaction of business as a public accountant.

(c) Offers to prospective clients to perform for compensation, or who does perform on behalf of clients for compensation, professional services that involve or require an audit, examination, verification, investigation, certification, presentation, or review of financial transactions and accounting records.

(d) Prepares or certifies for clients reports on audits or examinations of books or records of account, balance sheets, and other financial, accounting and related schedules, exhibits, statements, or reports that are to be used for publication, for the purpose of obtaining credit, for filing with a court of law or with any governmental agency, or for any other purpose.

(e) In general or as an incident to that work, renders professional services to clients for compensation in any or all matters relating to accounting procedure and to the recording, presentation, or certification of financial information or data.

(f) Keeps books, makes trial balances, or prepares statements, makes audits, or prepares reports, all as a part of bookkeeping operations for clients.

(g) Prepares or signs, as the tax preparer, tax returns for clients.

(h) Prepares personal financial or investment plans or provides to clients products or services of others in implementation of personal financial or investment plans.

(i) Provides management consulting services to clients.

The activities set forth in subdivisions (f) to (i), inclusive, are “public accountancy” only when performed by a certified public accountant or public accountant, as defined in this chapter.

A person is not engaged in the practice of public accountancy if the only services he or she engages in are those defined by subdivisions (f) to (i), inclusive, and he or she does not hold himself or herself out, solicit, or advertise for clients using the certified public accountant or public accountant designation. A person is not holding himself or herself out, soliciting, or advertising for clients within the meaning of this section solely by reason of displaying a CPA or PA certificate in his or her office or identifying himself or herself as a CPA or PA on other than signs, advertisements, letterhead, business cards, publications directed to clients or potential clients, or financial or tax documents of a client.

(Amended by Stats. 1998, Ch. 485, Sec. 3. Effective January 1, 1999.)

5052.
  

Nothing in this chapter shall apply to any person who as an employee, independent contractor, or otherwise, contracts with one or more persons, organizations, or entities, for the purpose of keeping books, making trial balances, statements, making audits or preparing reports, all as a part of bookkeeping operations, provided that such trial balances, statements, or reports are not issued over the name of such person as having been prepared or examined by a certified public accountant or public accountant.

Nothing contained in this chapter shall affect, limit or be construed as affecting or limiting the rights of any public accountant who met the requirements of prior statutes and who was registered with the board as a public accountant on or before December 31, 1955.

(Added by renumbering Section 5062 by Stats. 1959, Ch. 310.)

5053.
  

Nothing contained in this chapter precludes a person who is not a certified public accountant or public accountant from serving as an employee of, or an assistant to, a certified public accountant or public accountant or partnership or a corporation composed of certified public accountants or public accountants holding a permit to practice pursuant to this chapter if the employee or assistant works under the control and supervision of a certified public accountant, or a public accountant authorized to practice public accountancy pursuant to this chapter and if the employee or assistant does not issue any statement over his or her name.

This section does not apply to an attorney at law in connection with his or her practice of law.

(Amended by Stats. 1998, Ch. 878, Sec. 32. Effective January 1, 1999.)

5054.
  

(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, an individual or firm holding a valid and current license, certificate, or permit to practice public accountancy from another state may prepare tax returns for natural persons who are California residents or estate tax returns for the estates of natural persons who were clients at the time of death without obtaining a permit to practice public accountancy issued by the board under this chapter or a practice privilege pursuant to Article 5.1 (commencing with Section 5096) provided that the individual or firm does not physically enter California to practice public accountancy pursuant to Section 5051, does not solicit California clients, and does not assert or imply that the individual or firm is licensed or registered to practice public accountancy in California.

(b) The board may, by regulation, limit the number of tax returns that may be prepared pursuant to subdivision (a).

(Added by Stats. 2005, Ch. 658, Sec. 26. Effective January 1, 2006.)

5055.
  

Any person who has received from the board a certificate of certified public accountant may, subject to Section 5051, be styled and known as a “certified public accountant” and may also use the abbreviation “C.P.A.” No other person, except a firm registered under this chapter, shall assume or use that title, designation, or abbreviation or any other title, designation, sign, card, or device tending to indicate that the person using it is a certified public accountant.

(Amended by Stats. 1998, Ch. 878, Sec. 33. Effective January 1, 1999.)

5056.
  

Any person who has received from the board a certificate of public accountant may, subject to Section 5051, be styled and known as a “public accountant” and may also use the abbreviation “P.A.” No other person, except a firm registered under this chapter, shall assume or use that title, designation, or abbreviation or any other title, designation, sign, card, or device tending to indicate that the person using it is a public accountant.

(Amended by Stats. 1998, Ch. 878, Sec. 34. Effective January 1, 1999.)

5057.
  

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an individual holding a valid and current license, certificate, or permit to practice public accountancy from another state shall be exempt from the requirement to obtain a permit to practice public accountancy issued by the board under this chapter or to secure a practice privilege pursuant to Article 5.1 (commencing with Section 5096) if all of the following conditions are satisfied:

(a) The individual’s client is located in another state.

(b) The individual’s engagement with the client relates to work product to be delivered in another state.

(c) The individual does not solicit California clients, or have his or her principal place of business in this state.

(d) The individual does not assert or imply that he or she is licensed to practice public accountancy in California.

(e) The individual’s practice of public accountancy in this state on behalf of the client located in another state is of a limited duration, not extending beyond the period required to service the engagement for the client located in another state.

(f) The individual’s practice of public accountancy in this state specifically relates to servicing the engagement for the client located in another state.

(Added by Stats. 2011, Ch. 445, Sec. 1. Effective October 3, 2011.)

5058.
  

No person or partnership shall assume or use the title or designation “chartered accountant,” “certified accountant,” “enrolled accountant,” “registered accountant” or “licensed accountant,” or any other title or designation likely to be confused with “certified public accountant” or “public accountant,” or any of the abbreviations “C.A.,” “E.A.,” “R.A.,” or “L.A.,” or similar abbreviations likely to be confused with “C.P.A.” or “P.A.”; provided, that any person qualified as a certified public accountant under this chapter who also holds a comparable title granted under the laws of another country may use such title in conjunction with the title of “certified public accountant” or “C.P.A.” and provided, that any person enrolled to practice before the Internal Revenue Service and recognized as an enrolled agent may use the abbreviation “E.A.”

(Amended by Stats. 1979, Ch. 25.)

5058.1.
  

A person or firm may not use any title or designation in connection with the designation “certified public accountant” or “public accountant” that is false or misleading.

The board may adopt regulations covering the use of titles or designations.

(Added by Stats. 1998, Ch. 878, Sec. 35. Effective January 1, 1999.)

5058.2.
  

The holder of an inactive license issued by the board pursuant to Section 462, when lawfully using the title “certified public accountant,” the CPA designation, or any other reference that would suggest that the person is licensed by the board on materials such as correspondence, Internet Web sites, business cards, nameplates, or name plaques, shall place the term “inactive” immediately after that designation.

(Added by Stats. 2009, Ch. 409, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 2010.)

5058.3.
  

The holder of a retired license issued by the board pursuant to Section 5070.1, when lawfully using the title “certified public accountant,” the CPA designation, or any other reference that would suggest that the person is licensed by the board on materials such as correspondence, Internet Web sites, business cards, nameplates, or name plaques, shall place the term “retired” immediately after that title, designation, or reference.

(Added by Stats. 2011, Ch. 395, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2012.)

5058.4.
  

The holder of a permit in a military inactive status issued by the board pursuant to Section 5070.2, when lawfully using the title “certified public accountant,” the CPA designation, or any other reference that would suggest that the person is licensed by the board, on materials such as correspondence, Internet Web sites, business cards, nameplates, or name plaques, shall place the term “military inactive” immediately after that title, designation, or reference.

(Added by Stats. 2012, Ch. 411, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2013.)

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