To maintain your CPA certification, you need to earn a certain number of continuing professional education (CPE) credits every year or every other year. However, some CPAs struggle to fit this time commitment into their busy schedules. In some cases, you can request a CPE extension to give you extra time to fulfill the requirement.
Although CPE requirements vary by state, every state accountancy board and jurisdiction requires some kind of continuing education for members. Jurisdictions also differ in terms of when these education credits must be reported – in other words, when they’re due. For example, in Florida, the yearly deadline is June 30th. In California, it’s every other year on the last day of your birth month.
Because of this state-by-state variation, it’s difficult to offer solid advice about CPE extensions without knowing which state or jurisdiction you live in. However, we’ll provide some general information along with where you can go to find out specifics.
In a few states, you can automatically receive an extension if you complete a few extra hours of CPE. See the section below on Florida CPAs license CPE extension below for one example. In other states, you must submit a form detailing the extension or exemption you want. You’ll also need to give your reasons for making the request. For instance, here’s California’s extension/exemption request form.
You will likely need to provide evidence of serious illness or disability, severe financial hardship, active military service, or a natural disaster to have your request approved. Given the many options for live, online, and self-study CPE credits, you need a good reason for falling short. The California application specifically states that “No extension or exemption shall be made solely because of age or workload constraints.”
Although specifics once again differ by state, you will need to request an extension before your jurisdiction’s CPE deadline. Often, this will coincide with your request for license renewal. Thus, it is important to get your CPE requirement sorted out before there becomes a problem with your licensure.
Most states offer some form of extension. These may include a grace period, a conditional membership renewal, or an application for an extension. Here are three examples of states’ CPE extensions.
Florida is somewhat unusual in that it grants CPAs an automatic extension with a small penalty of additional CPE hours. Beginning the first year you have your license, you must complete 80 hours of CPE every two years. These biyearly periods begin on July 1 and end on June 30. For example, if you received your CPA license before July 1 in 2022, your first reporting period will end on June 30, 2024.
If you don’t complete your 80 hours by that date, you’ll receive an automatic Florida CPE requirements extension until September 15, 2023. However, in addition to finishing your 80 hours, you’ll have to add another 8 hours of accounting/auditing CPE. If you don’t finish all 88 hours by September 15, you’ll have until December 31 to complete them. You’ll also have to complete another 8 hours of accounting and auditing, for a total of 96 hours. If you fail to complete your CPE by then, you may have your license revoked.
In New York, CPAs must report 40 hours of CPE credits every year by December 31. If you have not met your requirements by the time you renew your license every three years, you must apply to change your status to inactive, ask for a conditional registration, or request an “adjustment” to your CPE. For the adjustment, you must provide a written explanation of your reasoning. Acceptable reasons must fall under the categories of personal illness, active military duty, or extreme hardship.
On the other hand, conditional registration is a bit like a year-long extension on your CPE requirement. However, if you don’t complete your required CPE by the end of that year, you may be prosecuted for professional misconduct.
In Washington State, you must complete 120 hours of CPE every three years. You may complete no fewer than 20 hours in any one year. For WA CPAs, when to file an extension of time for CPE is the six-month period during which you apply for license renewal.
The reporting period for CPE is the calendar year (i.e., ending December 31). However, the renewal deadline for CPA licenses is June 30. Thus, if you haven’t completed your CPE for the period of January 1, 2019, to December 30, 2021, you can apply for an extension between January 1, 2022, and June 30, 2022. However, you also have that six-month period to complete your CPE. If you haven’t finished by June 30, your credentials will lapse.
From 2020-2022, many states and jurisdictions issued blanket extensions on various deadlines due to the adjustments necessitated by the pandemic. Although many of these extensions ended at the end of 2022, you can find out about potential extensions in effect for your jurisdiction here.