September 25, 2022

A Warning to CPA Exam Candidates Trying to Sit In States Other Than Their Own

This is simply my perception and sadly I don't have actual numbers to back it up so you'll have to forgive me but it seems like in recent years, CPA exam candidates have been having a difficult time transferring scores between states. Back in my CPA review days, I would tell candidates that it's easier to transfer a license than it is CPA exam scores (which was true then and is true now) but it seems to have gotten more difficult since I started spitting out that line like a little MCQ-pushing crack dealer.

So you can imagine that I wasn't at all surprised when I got this note from one candidate who has all but given up on their CPA dreams simply because the 18 month window of the initial state and destination state did not line up:

When I signed up for the CPA exam, I lived in Pennsylvania. I passed the first part of the exam in Pennsylvania on or around July 5th of 2010. In Pennsylvania, the 18 month window starts on the first day of the month following the month you passed the exam. For example, if you took and passed the exam on July 5th, 2010, the 18-month window starts on August 1, 2010 and ends on January 31, 2012.

Then in May of last year I moved to North Carolina. I took and passed the remaining three parts of the by the end of the 18-month period (i.e. January 31, 2012) as prescribed by the state of Pennsylvania.

Lo and behold, I gathered my materials to apply for the CPA license in North Carolina, and have the state of Pennsylvania transfer my scores. Easy process, right? Well, I have to tell you, they are not accepting the scores from Pennsylvania, because their window starts 18 months to the day the exam is actually taken i.e. July 5th, 2010 until December 5, 2011. So by following the rules in Pennsylvania, I cannot become a CPA in NC where I now live. THESE PEOPLE ARE EVIL! ACCORDING TO THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA, I MISSED THEIR DEADLINE BY 25 DAYS.

As all of you know, I don't normally side with procrastinators who wait until the very last minute to meet their requirements but in the case of this particular candidate, I don't know the full picture and it still appears that they did everything as they were supposed to.

In the case of someone trying to cheat the system (e.g. someone who sits in Maine but lives in another state) perhaps I could understand enforcing this rule. But this is someone who MOVED and had no way of knowing in advance that they would have to meet the requirement of a new destination state 18 months after starting their CPA exam journey. So as far as they knew, they were in compliance.

To me, 25 days doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I know if you're transferring scores you have to meet the requirements of the destination state just to prevent people from bypassing the system (which they still do anyway) but this person simply moved. Should their entire career be ruined over 25 days and a non-uniform rule for the UNIFORM CPA exam?

I was going to make a comment about mobility here but the candidate in question already nailed it in a letter to the NC Board of Accountancy requesting leniency:

If the primary purpose of the licensure of CPAs is to protect the public, I cannot understand why the State of North Carolina will not accept my scores from Pennsylvania. There does not seem to be a public policy issue relating to this matter. To the contrary, it seems petty and spiteful in an era of almost universal practice mobility.

I'll save you the rest of the sob story but you have a candidate here who sacrificed to meet the requirements and get through the exam. You have a candidate who took and passed the exams within 18 months according to the state in which they sat. And then you have a candidate who was forced to move to another state and now cannot meet their experience requirement since the destination state will not accept the scores and working in Pennsylvania just isn't an option (had it been, I imagine candidate would have never moved in the first place).

It's shocking to me A) that there aren't more uniform rules across the boards of accountancy given the mobile nature of the profession and B) the NC Board cannot make some kind of exception for this person. I mean come on, it's 25 days. Would it really risk the integrity of the license to have someone over there in NC stamp the application "APPROVED" and just let this person have the fulfilling life in public accounting they always dreamed of? Trust me, it won't cause a flood of candidates trying to cheat the system. The world won't come to an end. The Chinese won't become supreme overlords.

Has anyone else had this issue? Agree with the candidate and me that it's complete nonsense? Would the NC Board care to comment?

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