Indiana Accountant Defense Attorney
Your services as a licensed accountant in Indiana—whether a CPA, PA, or AP—are critical across all sectors of society, from personal tax preparation to small and large business finances and government budgeting. When someone lodges a claim in relation to those services, your very livelihood is at stake. In these cases, you need an Indiana accountant defense attorney from Keffer Hirschauer LLP to protect your professional license, your career, and your reputation.
The Indiana professional license defense lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer are experienced litigation attorneys with a full understanding of the processes of professional license claims and litigation. In the early administrative stage of the proceedings, we undertake a detailed investigation and file a thorough response aimed at preventing claims from proceeding further. If charges arise from the complaint, we build on our unique experience and litigation skills to provide premier defense services aimed at protecting the license critical to your work and career.
You Can Avoid Risks When You Hire an Indiana Accountant Defense Attorney
Accountants are subject to a high level of scrutiny by their clients, employers, other affected people, and the Indiana Board of Accountancy. While an accountant may be sued by an aggrieved client, it is more common that complaints of improper activities are made to the Consumer Protection Division of the Indiana Attorney General. However, the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency (IPLA) is responsible for making an initial determination of whether a complaint has merit.
If the IPLA finds merit in the claim, the complaint proceeds to the attorney general Consumer Protection Division for the matter to be prosecuted before the Board. The Board then has the authority to impose discipline on the licensee if deemed appropriate. Discipline could include temporary suspension or even the loss of your accounting license. Such risks implicate your employment and ability to earn a living and warrant working with an Indiana accountant defense attorney with relevant experience to fight for you.
Professional Liability Standards for Accountants
The Board licenses accounting professionals in the following categories:
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
- Public Accountant (PA)
- Accounting Practitioner (AP)
While the CPA is the highest level of certification in the accounting field, PA and AP license holders are also subject to standards of practice and conduct in the profession.
Obtaining and retaining a CPA, PA, or AP license requires meeting professional accounting and other standards. First, the Professional Licensing Standards of Practice in Indiana Code chapter 25-1-11 applies to licensed professional such as accountants. In addition, the Indiana Board of Accountancy (Board) has promulgated rules of professional conduct in 872 Ind. Admin. Code § 1-2-1 (2021). Both of these sets of state standards place requirements for accountants to follow in the practice of their profession.
Types of Violations Alleged against Accountants
Accountants may be disciplined for violating a variety of standards. Indiana state code regulating professions and occupations in Indiana Code § 25-1-11-5 lists the types of violations that may apply to various occupations, including accountants. Some of those violations include the following:
- Fraud in pursuit of an occupational license
- False advertising
- Practicing while addicted to drugs or alcohol
- Undertaking professional activities that the practitioner is not qualified to perform
- Displaying a license publicly that is expired, suspended, or revoked
In addition, the Board may impose sanctions and disciplinary action for violations found in Indiana Code § 25-2.1-8-1 such as:
- Dishonesty, fraud, negligence, or gross negligence in the practice of accountancy
- Failure to file one’s own income tax returns
- Any conduct reflecting adversely on a licensee’s fitness to engage in the licensed practice of accounting
Accountants must also adhere to standards established by professional accounting organizations, and the failure to do so could support a claim for negligence or other professional wrong. The most commonly referenced standards are the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) promulgated by the Financial Accounting Standards Board. Other such standards are those for professional conduct adopted by the National Society of Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Regardless of the basis of the claim against you, the Indiana professional license defense lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP can help you get started in the right direction and answer any legal questions you may have about violations and the investigation and procedures they trigger.
When a Complaint is Filed, You Need an Indiana Accountant License Defense Attorney
According to state law, any person may file a complaint against a CPA, PA or AP. Complaints must be made in writing and signed by the person making the complaint. The complaint follows a certain procedural path depending on where it is initially filed, but, ultimately, it will be investigated by one or more of the governing bodies.
If an investigation finds that a violation of law or other standards has occurred, the complaint is referred to the Indiana Attorney General for prosecution. If the attorney general’s office decides to prosecute the case, a hearing is held before the Board or its designee.
At the hearing, the state is represented by an assistant attorney general. This aspect of the law is a key reason why an accounting professional who is the subject of a complaint should engage legal representation. Accountants defending themselves in a hearing are at an immediate disadvantage if not represented by experienced Indiana professional license defense lawyers.
Complaints Filed with the Consumer Protection Division
When an initial complaint is filed with the Consumer Protection Division, the director of that office must make an initial determination as to whether the complaint has merit. If the director finds merit in the complaint, then the matter is handed over to the Board for more in-depth investigation and potential settlement of the matter. Once handed to the Board, the Division will take no further action for 30 days. Obviously, this is the easiest way to dispose of a complaint both for the state and the accountant.
While this is a less formal process than an actual litigation of a complaint, it is still important to have an Indiana accountant defense attorney involved. The laws and standards under which accountants operate are both complicated and nuanced. An accountant negotiating settlement of a complaint will not have a full understanding of all the factors involved. Without counsel from an Indiana accountant defense attorney, the settlement agreed to may not be in the accountant’s best interest.
If a settlement is not reached and the director of the Division believes that the licensee should be subjected to disciplinary action, the director files that recommendation with the attorney general. Thereafter, the attorney general evaluates the case and decides whether to proceed with prosecution of the complaint.
Complaints Filed with the Board
If the Board of Accountancy receives the initial complaint, it may investigate the complaint. If the investigation reveals a violation of established standards, the Board must initiate a complaint with the Division, which then triggers a referral to the attorney general for potential prosecution. In the event the Board receives a complaint by the board of accountancy in another state against an accountant also licensed in Indiana, the Indiana board is required by law to investigate that complaint.
The Attorney General’s Role
The role of the attorney general in adjudicating complaints against an accounting professional is to receive complaints deemed by the Consumer Protection Division to have merit and then decide, based on the investigative material, whether to prosecute the licensee. However, there is one exception to that discretion: if a majority of the Board requests prosecution of a compliant, then the attorney general must prosecute the case.
Understanding how the attorney general evaluates and prosecutes Indiana accountant malpractice claims is critical to protecting your license. An Indiana account defense attorney from Keffer Hirschauer will guide you through the process from the earliest stage of a claim through dismissal, litigation, and, if necessary, appeal.
Other Licensing Matters
In addition to handling complaints lodged against accountants, the Board also handles other licensing matters, such as appeals from the denial of certification by the Board. State law and the Board’s rules impose substantial requirements for certification as an accountant in Indiana, particularly as a CPA. There are a number of grounds upon which certification may be denied or revoked.
Indiana Board of Accountancy license disputes do not arise from complaints against an accountant. Rather, they arise from the process of issuing and maintaining licenses, another area in which a CPA license attorney from Keffer Hirschauer can be invaluable. Legal representation in these kinds of disputes before the Board can be invaluable.
At Keffer Hirschauer, our Indiana professional license defense lawyers capably and efficiently help you navigate the legal parameters of licensing. Determining how the law as it stands and as the Board has applied the law in previous conflicts is not an easy task, requiring a practiced eye and keen legal understanding. An Indiana accountant defense attorney is best suited to put forth the most effective arguments on behalf of an accountant seeking licensure or fighting to keep a license.
How Accounting Firms Benefit from Working with Indiana Professional License Defense Lawyers
Accounting firms can also benefit from guidance provided by experienced Indiana professional license defense lawyers. The Board issues permits to certified public accounting and public accounting firms to allow those firms to employ staff and provide accounting services to clients without the entirety of the staff being licensed. The Board specifies standards for the firms to meet in order to receive a permit, such as how many licensed (either CPA or PA) accountants the firm must have to ensure competency of the firm’s services. Firms must also undergo a peer review process every three years to maintain their permits,
Naturally, disputes are likely to arise between firms and the Board in this permitting process. The Board is advised in its actions by legal counsel, and so should the accounting firm. Once again, working with an experienced accountant defense attorney is essential for firms seeking proper treatment under the law.
Choose an Indiana Accountant Defense Attorney at Keffer Hirschauer LLP Today
Accountants have invested much of their adult lives pursuing their career of choice. The education and work experience requirements to attain a certification by the Board of Accountancy are not for the faint of heart, but, once they are attained, they are worth fighting to retain them. They can depend attorneys who are similarly committed to their craft: the Indiana professional license defense lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP.
When a conflict arises that threatens your accounting license or career, you need skilled legal professionals fighting for you. An Indiana accountant defense attorney from Keffer Hirschauer LLP has the experience and insight you need to fight for your license. Don’t delay—contact us at (317) 857-0160 or on our contact page to schedule a free consultation.