Rules & Certification Frequently Asked Questions

Certificate renewal

I am applying for my initial certificate. How does the new renewal cycle affect me?

Your initial CPA certificate will be good through the following Dec. 31 of that year, at which time it will expire and you will need to renew. Renew your CPA certificate annually going forward.

What if I miss the Dec. 31 deadline?

Missing this deadline means you are out of compliance with the BOA. It’s as simple as that. Holding yourself out as a CPA when you haven’t properly renewed puts both yourself and your firm at a huge liability risk. At the very least, you will be subject to BOA fines once you do get around to renewing.

What happens if my last name changes?

The BOA should be contacted in writing within 30 days of a legal name change.

What is a certificate status?

All CPA certificates, which are issued by the Minnesota Board of Accountancy (BOA), have a status. Your certificate status is based on the type of certificate you hold. The two most common status types are active and inactive. Which status you choose determines how you can use the credential.

Active: Holding an active certificate requires a CPA to maintain 120 hours of CPE over a rolling three-year period. Active CPAs are allowed to use the credential without restriction. Renew your active CPA certificate annually.

Inactive: Those holding an inactive certificate do not have a CPE requirement, although they must still renew their certificate annually. Use of the credential must be followed by ‘inactive’ as a modifier. Example: Jane Doe, CPA (inactive)

Revoked: A certificate is revoked by the BOA after a CPA fails to renew for more than two years.

How do I know what my certificate status is?

CPA certificate information is public information and can be found on the Minnesota Board of Accountancy’s (BOA) website. Conducting a search will tell you a CPA’s certificate number, status, license date, and when their certificate expires.

Active vs. inactive certificates

How can I change my certificate status?

Inactive to active:
You can go from an inactive to active certificate at any time during the calendar year, provided you have taken 120 CPE hours over the past three years. You will need to submit a CPE Reporting Form as well as the fees associated with your status change.

Active to inactive:
According to 1105.2550E, a CPA must provide written notification to the BOA should they choose to go from active to inactive status. The change will then go into effect the following Jan. 1. Included with your written notification, you will need to provide documentation showing that you have the minimum of 120 hours of CPE for the three preceding years ended June 30, with a minimum of 20 CPE hours taken each year. Note that you will not be refunded fees already paid to BOA. You may also be required to pay additional fees to change to the new certificate status.

I work in industry and prepare a few tax returns each year to earn a little extra income. Do I need an active CPA certificate?

You will need an active certificate if you meet any of the situations described in Minnesota Rules 1105.2500 (c) (5). Those situations are:

  • If you are an employee of a firm granted a CPA firm permit under Minnesota Statutes, section 326A.05.
  • If you issue compilation reports other than through a CPA firm.
  • If you use the titles certified public accountant or CPA without “inactive” adjacent to the title.
  • If you are an employee of the Office of the Legislative Auditor or State Auditor.

View details comparing active and inactive certificate status.

Why did I not receive a license card for my inactive Minnesota CPA certificate?

The Minnesota Board of Accountancy (BOA) no longer issues paper license cards to inactive certificate holders. The reasons for discontinuing the cards are cost savings and public safety. The license card is not proof of licensure. Wallet cards can be lost or stolen and increase the possibility of fraud. In addition, the card carries an assumption that the holder's license status is current as indicated on the card. In reality the information on the card is only as current as the day it was printed. The certificate holder's license may be suspended, revoked or have other discipline imposed upon it that the paper card does not reflect.

Verification of licensure must be obtained from the BOA's website. This increases public safety by persuading interested parties to use the BOA's online verification system.

CPE reporting and record keeping

When do I report my CPE hours to the Board of Accountancy?

Report your CPE hours to the BOA by Dec. 31 for the three-year period ending June 30.

How do I report my CPE hours to the Board of Accountancy?

For those with an active CPA certificate, the Minnesota Board of Accountancy requires that you fill out an online form each year listing all CPE credits for the past three years (ending June 30), including ethics credits.

For the CPE year ending June 30, the BOA's CPE online reporting form opens the preceding Jan. 1. For example, for the CPE year ending June 30, 2016, CPAs may begin to enter their CPE credits into the BOA's online form on or after Jan. 1, 2016.

What documentation do I need to retain for CPE courses attended?

If you attend a course from a sponsor on the Minnesota Board of Accountancy (BOA) approved list, you must retain the Certificate of Attendance. The BOA accepts the Minnesota Society of CPAs transcript as official documentation.

If you attend a course from a sponsor NOT on the BOA approved list, you must retain the following:

  1. Certificate of attendance from the program sponsor containing the following:
    • Name and contact information of the sponsor
    • Title of the program
    • Date and location of the course
    • Type of instructional/delivery method used
    • Number of CPE credits earned
  2. Copy of the detailed timed course agenda
  3. Biography of the program developer and program presenter
  4. Statement written by you describing how the program contributes to your professional knowledge and competence
CPE records and supporting documentation 

Do I need to submit any documentation (i.e. transcripts, certificates of attendance, etc.) when I report my CPE?

No, you only need to submit supporting documentation if you’re selected for an audit.

If the reporting deadline falls on a Saturday or Sunday, what happens?

If a due date falls on a weekend, the due date is not extended to the next business day.

What happens if I don’t report my CPE by the reporting deadline?

Even if you have the required CPE hours, failure to report is a violation of 1105.3000 (E) and is cause for possible disciplinary action. You will also be required to pay a fee for failure to report. Individuals reporting after the deadline will not be allowed to submit hours online. Submission must come in the form of written notification of CPE compliance (a paper CPE reporting form) to the BOA, along with a check for payment of the appropriate CPE non-compliance fees.

If I hold an inactive certificate, do I need to report CPE?

No, but you do need to continue to renew your inactive CPA certificate through the BOA.

How do I receive my CPE credits and proof of attendance for a webinar?

Webinar CPE credits are issued by the sponsor. Each webinar sponsor has a different method for making earned credits available to attendees. Common methods include emailing a certificate of completion to all attendees or enabling online access to the certificate.

Receiving proof of attendance by webinar sponsor
Business Professionals’ Network, Inc. (ACPEN)
CalCPA Education Foundation
CPA Crossings, LLC
K2 Enterprises
Minnesota Society of CPAs (MNCPA)
Surgent