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Active vs. Inactive

Understanding your CPA certificate options

Updated Feb. 26, 2021

Have questions about which CPA certificate status is right for you? Use this chart to compare the costs, effort, benefits and disadvantages of being an active or inactive CPA in Minnesota.

  • CPAs who prepare tax returns for a public accounting firm with a CPA firm permit
  • CPAs who issue compilation reports other than through a CPA firm
  • CPAs employed by the Office of the Legislative Auditor or State Auditor

See BOA rule 1105.2500

  • Sufficient if preparing a small number of returns each year
  • $100 annually
  • MNCPA dues are not determined by certificate status
  • $25 annually
  • MNCPA dues are not determined by certificate status
  • Annual minimum of 20 CPE credits
  • 120 CPE credits every 3 years, including 8 hours of ethics
  • Maintain records of completed CPE credits
  • CPE courses must comply with BOA rules
  • Renew CPA certificate and report CPE based on BOA rules
  • State 'inactive' when using CPA credential; example: Joe Smith, CPA (inactive)
  • Renew CPA certificate based on BOA rules
  • No CPE credits required once inactive status is finalized by BOA
  • Must return to active status to use CPA without 'inactive' modifier

View steps to convert to active

  • Display the credential as evidence of your professional background
  • Exhibit strong technical, personal and ethical skills
  • Mitigate risk for your clients or company with current knowledge of regulations and trends
  • Increase your marketability and job opportunities. Salary can increase as much as 10% when the credential is active.
  • Safeguard yourself to use 'CPA' in other states, as active certificate is more substantially equivalent
  • No required educational costs once inactive status is finalized by BOA
  • No restrictions on format or topic of educational programs you choose to attend
  • Costs to maintain CPA certificate
  • Time away from office necessary to attend CPE courses
  • Public confusion over validity of CPA credential when 'inactive' modifier is used
  • Potentially outdated skills or management practices due to lack of training
  • May not be eligible to use 'CPA, Inactive' in other states with no substantial equivalency


For specific information regarding CPA certification and CPE reporting, contact the Minnesota Board of Accountancy.

We're here to help! Contact the MNCPA at or 952-831-2707.