Accounting & Auditing | Leadership / Management | Legislative / Regulatory

Rest easy, Maryland CPAs: There’s likely no need to obtain a P.I. license

A while back, we wrote about a Journal of Accountancy report that seemed to indicate that forensic accountants might be required by law to be licensed as privates investigators. The reason?

"Because forensic accountants conduct research- and document-based investigations, they often fall under the purview of these laws," the JofA's Jeff Drew wrote. "In addition, some CPAs specializing in information technology perform work, such as digging for information in computer files, that could require them to register as private investigators."

Forty states -- including Maryland -- require private investigators to be licensed.

However, MACPA CEO Tom Hood has clarified that CPAs in Maryland do not need to register as private investigators if their work is in the normal course of their practice as CPAs.

In response, the AICPA has updated its guide that helps CPAs determine if their work requires them to obtain a P.I. license. The revised language includes the following:

"An investigator in the state of Maryland must be licensed. Private investigator licensing is regulated by the Maryland State Police. Although the statute makes no reference to exemptions, on March 11, 2013 we received clarification from the Maryland State Police that licensed Maryland CPAs would be exempt from this requirement if the gathering of investigative information is necessary in their practice of being a Certified Public Accountant."

So there you have it, Maryland CPAs.

And for everyone else, check out the AICPA's licensing guide.


Bill Sheridan