By Steven G. Kerr, vice president – strategy and business development
Pennsylvania CPAs: it’s time to renew your license. All current licenses expire Dec. 31, 2017, and should be renewed before that date.
This year you will need to renew your license using the state’s new central licensing website, the Pennsylvania Licensing System (PALS). The process is a bit different from past years, so here is a quick rundown of how to renew your individual CPA license.
Log into PALS
You will need to log into the PALS website to start your renewal. If you already set up a user ID and password during previous license renewals, you can continue using that login.
If you did not have an account on the old renewal website, or you do not remember your user ID or password, there are options on the login page to create an account or to reset your password using these details:
- UserID. Most licensees received an e-mail last week from firstname.lastname@example.org that contained their username and the “registration code” for their license (check your junk mail or spam folder if you did not see it). Or use the option on the login page to recover your UserID.
- E-mail address. Use the e-mail address on file with the State Board. If you no longer have access to the e-mail address on file or do not know what e-mail address is on file, you may be able to provide your Social Security number instead. You can also select the option to update your e-mail address.
- License information. In some situations, you may be asked to provide your license number or registration code. Both can be found on your physical CPA license. Your license number can also be found using the license verification tool.
Complete the Renewal Application
Once you log in, there will be a dashboard showing your account information. Look for the “Professional License Details” panel, locate your CPA license, and click the “Renew” button to begin the renewal. The first page of the renewal will ask you to review or complete personal information, and the second page will ask a series of questions for the renewal. Here are a few tips for completing these pages:
- Make sure you have a valid, permanent e-mail address listed. Most licensure correspondence from the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy is sent by e-mail, and you do not want to miss important updates regarding your license.
- Make sure you answer all the questions. The question form is dynamic, meaning some answers will result in an additional question being displayed. For example, you will only be asked if you met the CPE requirements once you indicate that you did not pass the CPA Examination in 2016 or 2017.
- Do not indicate you have met the CPE requirements until you actually have completed all necessary courses. If you have courses scheduled, but not yet completed, to meet the minimum CPE requirements, then you cannot complete your renewal until those courses have been taken.
- Be mindful of the questions about performing audits or reviews. When renewing your individual license, the questions about whether you performed an audit or review after Dec. 31, 2015, are specifically asking if you performed an audit or review as a sole practitioner. If you performed audit or review engagements as part of a licensed CPA firm only, then you would answer “no” to these questions.
- Read each question carefully. Do not guess on the answers, and do not ask support staff to complete this form on your behalf. False or misleading answers on this form can lead to disciplinary actions against your license.
Don’t Forget to Check Out
After you “sign” the renewal application and click “Continue,” there are several more steps to submit the renewal for processing:
- Do a final review. You have an additional chance to review your application and make changes before submitting it. Once you submit the application and payment, you will not be able to make any changes.
- Click the “Add to Cart” button. This will place the signed renewal application in your shopping cart.
- Select the renewal application and proceed to payment. In the shopping cart, you need to check the box in the left-most column to indicate you want to pay for that renewal and check the box "All fees are non-refundable..." box. Once you check both boxes, then you will see the “Proceed to Payment” button.
- Provide payment information and complete checkout. The fee for the renewal is $100, which can be paid using any major credit card.
- Save a copy of your submission. After completing the submission, save a copy of your receipt and download a copy of your completed renewal application.
Monitor Your Renewal
Once you have completed and submitted your renewal application, please note that the renewal is not automatic. Processing time is needed, and if the State Board has questions about your responses they may need additional information before renewing your license.
If there are questions, you should receive follow-up communication from the state. But regardless of whether or not you receive any follow-up, it remains your responsibility to make sure your license is renewed.
You should receive an automated e-mail once your license is renewed and you can also verify the status of the renewal at www.pals.pa.gov/verify. If the records indicates your license expires Dec. 31, 2019, then your license is renewed. You will receive the new license in the mail, but there is some lag time to print and mail the licenses.
Visit our license renewal page for more details and FAQs about license renewal, or contact our team at (215) 496-9272 or via online chat, e-mail, or @PaCPAs.
If you are having technical issues with the PALS website, submit a technical support request.
For specific questions about your license, contact the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy at email@example.com or (717) 783-1404.
This blog was updated Jan. 5, 2018, to clarify the checking out process.