Capitol Report | Winter 2020
Don’t Be a Casualty: How to Survive 2021 CPA License Renewal
Getting ahead of the rush to renew your CPA credential might be the most important thing on your 2021 to-do list.
Marty Green, Esq.
Senior VP and Legislative Counsel, Illinois CPA Society
The Latest on Advocacy and Legislation
When I was a captain in the Air Force, my wing commander
would tell me that there are always casualties in large-scale
operations. The 2021 CPA license renewal process is undoubtedly
a large-scale operation, but I have plenty of information to help
ensure you’re not a casualty of it.
All Illinois licensed and registered CPA credentials will expire on Sept.
30, 2021—period. No waivers, no extensions, no excuses. There’s no
change in the number of live continuing professional education (CPE)
hours required, either. You heard it here.
The first step in renewing your CPA credential is to ensure that
the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation
(IDFPR) has your current email address. This is necessary because
the IDFPR has gone paperless, meaning you’ll no longer receive
the yellow postcard renewal notice as you have in the past.
Instead, you’ll receive your renewal notice in June via email from
. You can easily update your email address by going
and clicking on
the “Click Here to Change Your Email” link at the top of the page.
Remember: If you are a partner in a firm, it’s important that you renew
your individual license in a timely manner so that the firm license can
be renewed, as the firm license is tied to each partner’s individual
license. If one of the partners has not renewed their individual
license, the firm license will not be able to be renewed.
Right now is the perfect time to start knocking out the 120 hours of
required CPE for licensed CPAs. Included in the 120 hours are four
hours of ethics and, new for this renewal cycle, one additional hour
of sexual harassment prevention training. You must have all CPE
requirements completed by the time you renew your license. You’ll
be asked to confirm that you’ve completed the required 120 hours
of CPE during the online renewal process. Answer truthfully and
retain documentation of your CPE hours for a minimum of six years
as IDFPR internal auditors do perform CPE audits.
If you or your firm performed an audit, a review of historical financial
statements, and/or examinations of prospective financial statements
during the preceding three-year period, a peer review is also
required for license renewal. Licensees impacted by this requirement
should be mindful of the time required to satisfactorily complete a
peer review before licensure renewal and get ahead of the process.
The renewal deadline is September 30 for individual CPAs and
November 30 for firms. The Illinois CPA Society’s Peer Review
Alliance has communicated with impacted sole practitioners and
firms letting them know they must engage a peer reviewer for peer
review acceptance in time to renew their individual or firm license. In
response to the coronavirus, the AICPA Peer Review Board granted
automatic six-month extensions for those enrolled in peer review, but
that extension does not apply to your required license renewal. If you
need to complete a peer review, do not delay.
During the 2018 license renewal period, we were contacted by many
licensed CPAs who wanted to switch to being registered CPAs. The
registered CPA is an expired status that closed on June 30, 2012. No
new applications are accepted for that designation. In other words,
there is no way to become a registered CPA unless you were
grandfathered in having applied for that title prior to June 30, 2012.
If you did actively apply within that time period, you’re eligible for life
to renew or restore your status as a registered CPA.
We also heard from licensees who wanted to change their status to
CPA (inactive) because they didn’t complete the required 120 hours
of CPE. For those of you considering that change, I encourage you
to thoroughly review the limitations of this title. Once you’re inactive,
you may use the CPA (inactive) title but you may not use any skills or
competencies as a CPA unless you are performing governance
functions on a non-profit volunteer board (but not serving as an audit
committee financial expert). The use of CPA (inactive) is extremely
limited in nature and shouldn’t be used as a way to forgo CPE
requirements and continue practicing outside of the narrowly defined
parameters. If you’re behind on your CPE hours at renewal time, it
may be best to simply place your license on inactive status and then
restore it with IDFPR as soon as you accumulate the required hours.
You must refrain from using the CPA designation until the license has
been fully restored. To request inactive status, your license must be
in good standing (i.e., not expired).
2021 is shaping up to be another hectic year, and it will be easy
to lose track of these licensing requirements in the rush of
another complicated busy season. Take my advice and get ahead
of these requirements so your CPA credential won’t be a casualty of
the rush to renew.