I have seen many, many CPA exam candidates add "CPA" to their email signatures and social media profiles immediately after passing their 4th part over the years, and most of us know why this is not a smart idea. Sure, you're really excited to have passed and figure you're just a few years' of experience away from being a real CPA anyway so what could it hurt?
Well for starters, that's an ethics violation in many jurisdictions. That's no way to start your career as a CPA before it even gets off the ground.
Anyhoo, can't say I've seen many inactive CPAs put themselves out as real ones – my esteemed colleague Colin is one such public accounting dropout who clearly disclaims he's inactive, inactive, inactive if you ask him and he sure doesn't have CPA on his business cards – but when one runs for public office, you can imagine someone is going to dig up that info.
That's exactly what happened in one local New Jersey race:
[Republican committee candidate Jeff] Hansen addressed the committee with documents from the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy, which stated [Denice] DiCarlo as of Oct. 3 was not a CPA, but a CPA candidate who had passed the state examination in May 2002.
“Committeewoman DiCarlo lied to the residents of West Deptford when she claimed to be a CPA while serving on the school board and during her first year on the township committee,” said Hansen.
“On behalf of the residents of West Deptford, I’m calling on Committeewoman DiCarlo to publicly admit that she lied to them about her CPA credentials and issue a formal apology for publicly deceiving our trust,” he later added. “We must hold our elected officials to a higher standard, because if we can’t trust out elected officials to tell the truth while they represent us, then why would we put our faith in them to run our government.”
DiCarlo's profile on the West Deptford Board of Education website still says "She is a CPA and earned her B.S. in Accounting from the University of the State of New York in Albany." Her 2001 CPA exam application states she received her B.S. in Accounting from Regents College (now Excelsior), an adult learning arm of the University of the State of New York, which is not actually an educational institution but a licensing and accreditation body for the state of New York.
DiCarlo called Hansen’s comment’s “disingenuous,” stating the never claimed to have an “active” CPA license. She maintained that she has all of the credentials for a CPA license, and that she has recently submitted her 80 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) to Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy.
As we all know, credentials and CPE alone do not a CPA make. DiCarlo applied to the Pennsylvania Board of Accountancy on July 30 of this year and her application for licensure is still pending.
“I never said it was active,” said DiCarlo. “I have more than enough CPE to complete the application, I have my 80 hours and they are submitted."
The documents Hansen obtained from the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy (PDF from Jeff Hansen) stated DiCarlo as of Oct. 3 was not a CPA, but a CPA candidate who passed the paper and pencil exam in May 2002.
In addition, in a conversation between the committeewoman and a resident named Joseph Rando, during a June 14 committee meeting, DiCarlo stated she had passed the CPA exam but was currently “inactive.”
“Did you ever have a license?” asked Rando at the time.
“Yes, yes and I will show you that,” answered DiCarlo. “I will show that to the solicitor.”
“You do have a license?” Rando asked again.
“Sir, I am inactive,” said DiCarlo. “I’m no longer with SEC Reporting.”
Hansen argued it was inaccurate to say the committeewoman’s license was inactive, because she “never had the license in the first place.”
From the PA Board of Accountancy:
According to Pennsylvania Department of State spokesman Matthew Keeler, passing CPA exam scores are good indefinitely in the state however searches for DiCarlo in the state licensure database did not yield any results, meaning she likely never held a valid license in the state. Generally speaking, inactive CPAs are CPAs who are – duh – inactive – not CPA candidates who never applied for licensure. Had she ever held a license in PA, she would still show up, just as inactive.