Becoming a CPA in Mississippi requires not only passing the Uniform CPA Exam, but going through at least one year of practical accounting experience prior to licensure. It also requires evidence of possessing good moral character.
In Mississippi, those who have earned a bachelor’s degree and received at least 120 semester hours of college credit may apply to take the Uniform CPA Exam. The educational hours were lowered from 150 to 120 as of July, 2016. Those hours must include a minimum of 48 semester hours in either upper division or graduate level accounting and business-related courses. Accounting courses per se must account for at least 24 of the 48 hours and must include a minimum of three semester hours in:
- Financial Accounting
- Government/Not-for-Profit Accounting
- Management/Cost Accounting
Educational institutions and classes must be recognized by the Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy (MSBPA). One of the first steps is to obtain a recognized Associate in Accounting degree.
Mississippi has a residency requirement for potential CPAs. The person must either live in the state or have a place of business in Mississippi in order to take the Uniform CPA Exam and receive a license as a Mississippi CPA.
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How to Sit for the CPA Exam in Mississippi
If you have acquired the necessary number of semester hours and have received a bachelor’s degree, you may arrange to take the CPA exam. In Mississippi, the Uniform CPA Exam is conducted in either Jackson or Tupelo. You must fill out the MSBPA’s Application for the CPA Examination. When sending in your application, include a 2’ by 2” photo of yourself, a copy of your current driver’s license and proof of state residency. Such proof includes:
- Voter registration card
- Mississippi state resident income tax return
- Vehicle tags or registration
- Proof of payment of Mississippi real estate taxes
- Copy of Mississippi homestead rebate qualification
- Transcript of graduation from a Mississippi college or university
Your college or university should send your transcript directly to the MSBPA, at 5 Old River Place, Suite 104, Jackson, MS 39202-3449. You must also send all application fees to this address.
Once you have sent in all the necessary documentation and fees, you should receive a Notice to Schedule (NTS) from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). The NTS arrives via the way you indicated, either by email, fax or regular mail. Visit the Prometric website to schedule your test or call the Candidate Services Call Center toll-free at 800-580-9648. Appear at the test site one hour before your scheduled exam time. Your test scores will arrive in the mail.
After passing the exam, CPA candidates must spend at least one year of full-time accounting experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA. The equivalent of one year of full-time work, such as two years of half-time work, is acceptable. The experience is either paid or voluntary. Only those who have undergone this experience within the prior five years may apply for a licensure application. The experience must include the following:
- Preparing tax returns
- Providing tax advice
- Financial advisory services
- Management advisory services
- Issuing financial statement reports.
How to Get Your Licens
Once you have passed the Uniform CPA Exam and have the necessary experience under your belt, you may apply for licensure as a Mississippi CPA. You have three years from the initial passing of the CPA exam until applying for licensure. Begin by filling out the Application for CPA License. The application requires notarization. Along with the application, include in your packet all necessary fees, a 2” x 2” photo of yourself, your proof of residency and all your previous accounting employment. You must fill out and include a Request for Employment Verification for each of your supervisors. The completed package is mailed to the MSBPA.
First-time and reinstatement applications for CPAs includes a background check to assure the applicant is of “good moral character.”
Reciprocal CPA licenses
If you are licensed in another state with qualifications equivalent to those in Mississippi, it is possible to receive a reciprocal CPA license if you have spent four out of last 10 years practicing public accounting as a licensed CPA. Currently, the certifications and licenses of all U.S. states and territories with the exception of the Virgin Islands is considered equivalent to Mississippi. Complete the Application for Reciprocal CPA License and send it the board of the state in which your license is held. The application is returned to you once the state licensing board fills out the appropriate sections, and you must then have the document notarized in Mississippi. You must also fill out the Request for Employment Verification for every previous supervisor over the past decade and send them with the application. Complete the Authorization for Interstate Exchange of Examination and Licensure Information to the Board in the state in which you hold your CPA license or where you passed the Uniform CPA Exam. Send the completed paperwork and applicable fees to the MSBPA.
Continuing Professional Education Requirements
CPAs licensed in Mississippi must complete 40 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) annually. Newly licensed CPAs are exempt from the requirement for the first year after receiving their license. CPAs may carry over up to 20 CPE hours from one year to the next.
Of those 40 CPE hours, at least eight (20 percent) must involve accounting and auditing. Four of the hours must be in Ethics, Professional Conduct and Public Accountancy Laws and Regulations. Report your annual hours on the Continuing Professional Education Reporting Form, even if your hours did not reach the required minimum. In fact, you must report CPE hours even if the annual total is zero.
Approved CPE formats
Approved CPE hours are available in various formats. These include:
- University and college credit courses – one semester hour equals 15 CPE credits
- University and college non-credit courses – one semester hour equals one CPE credit
- Formal self-study programs approved by NASBA’s Quality Assurance Services
- Organized, formal in-house training programs
- Service as an instructor, discussion leader or lecturer
- Publishing books or articles contributing to CPA professional competence
- For CPAs who are also licensed and practicing attorneys, continuing legal education counts toward CPE credit.
Please note that personal development programs and independent study that requires only reading do not qualify as approved CPE formats.
CPE record keeping
Keep a record of your CPE hours for at least five years. The information should include the location of the course and the organization sponsoring it, along with the attendance dates, name of instructors and their qualifications, the number of hours per category, the title and description of the courses and the number of CPE hours you’ve claimed.
CPA retirement or disability
Those CPAs who are at least 55 years old may file for a retired status at the time of their annual renewal. Such individuals must fill out the appropriate forms and can no longer practice as CPAs but may use the title “CPA retired.” A CPA who has become permanently disabled may apply for permanent disability status at the time of license renewal. The licensee’s physician must provide a written statement indicating the licensee is no longer able to perform the activities required of a CPA by the MSBPA and must detail the disability.