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What does an inactive CPA license mean?

Monday, June 30, 2014
by JB Barentine, PE, PMP, NE, MS
Iwanyshyn & Associates
President and Managing Director

In the United States, Certified Public Accountant or CPA is a statutory title of a qualified accountant who has passed the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination, has met additional state education requirements, has completed service and experience requirements for membership in the respective professional accounting body(ies) and for certification as a CPA. Individuals, such as Deborah L. Iwanyshyn, Esquire, who have chosen to lapse the continuing professional education requirement are permitted the designation of “CPA Inactive”.

Deborah tells us, “Early in my law career, after having practiced as a CPA for more than seven years, I voluntarily chose to allow my CPA license to lapse. I did this primarily to focus on law, and due to the heavy financial burden of keeping the license active as well as the large time commitment of the continuing educational requirements. The experience having been an active CPA, plus the experience of having been a qualified and practiced business valuation appraiser, allows me a rare if not unique set of professional experiences and perspectives to advocate for and advise my clients. I understand tax returns — what is in them and what is not. I understand where and how individuals and small businesses choose to hide personal expenses on the books, which can be discovered through forensic accounting that looks at specific accounts. My experience is invaluable to my family law clients, especially related to developing a thorough understanding of a marital estate, and creating a fair argument for equitable distribution of assets for matters of divorce.” For matters of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, Custody and Child support, Iwanyshyn & Associates has other expertise to bring to bear and is addressed in separate articles.

Graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting (High Honors) from Penn State in 1975, Deborah was immediately hired for fulltime employment by the international accounting firm of Cooper's and Lybrand (now PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the “Big Four Auditors”) as an auditor. She enjoyed gaining experience in forensic accounting areas, and developing skills in individual and corporate tax preparation. Her efforts resulted in tremendous gains for her divorcing clients.

After a time with Cooper's and Lybrand, Deborah made a career transition to become an audit manager for another international accounting firm in Erie, Pennsylvania. Deborah continues, “I missed my hometown of Pittsburgh, and I returned to Pittsburgh. I've worked for Federated Investors, Equibank, and finally as the Chief Accountant to the Allegheny County Controllers Office, a high leadership role and active management position with 30 employees reporting to me. I was the only individual on the Allegheny Controllers team who was not a lawyer, so at 28 years old I decided to attend Duquesne University law school at night.”

While at Duquesne, Deborah decided to focus on family law. Family Law is Prenuptial and Postnuptial, Separation, Divorce, Custody, Child and Spousal Support, agreements and some.htmlects of estate planning.

“If you are going through or considering a divorce and having to find hard-to-find or hidden assets, that might include looking at a closely held business run by your spouse, my knowledge of how to read tax returns, how to look at the underlying data in accounting records is extremely useful,” says Deborah. “We help to find the most probable places where personal expenses are buried and assets are hidden, which gives the clients of Iwanyshyn & Associates the assurance that they are going to get a fair shake.”

Summarizing, Deborah offers, “Yes my license is inactive but who cares. It's my experience that I'm looking to provide to you so as to represent you in the most positive fashion possible.”

A couple of inquiries have been made to the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants concerning the status of Deborah's CPA license. No doubt from a few of professional colleagues who want to try level the playing field. Please note that although Deborah uses the letters CPA after her name, she in no way trying to present herself as an active CPA. Both her business cards and letterhead clearly indicate that the license is inactive.