4-30-050  <<  4-30-051 >>   4-30-052

What are the requirements concerning client records, including response to requests by clients and former clients for records?

(1) The following terms are defined below solely for use with this section:
(a) Client provided records are accounting or other records belonging to the client that were provided to the licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, and/or nonlicensee firm owner and employees of such persons by or on behalf of the client.
(b) Client records prepared by the licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, and/or nonlicensee firm owner are accounting or other records (for example, tax returns, general ledgers, subsidiary journals, and supporting schedules such as detailed employee payroll records and depreciation schedules) that the licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, and/or nonlicensee firm owner and employees of such persons was engaged to prepare for the client.
(c) Supporting records are information not reflected in the client's books and records that are otherwise not available to the client with the result that the client's financial information is incomplete. For example, supporting records include adjusting, closing, combining or consolidating journal entries (including computations supporting such entries), that are produced by the licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, and/or nonlicensee firm owner and employees of such persons during an engagement.
(d) Licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, and/or nonlicensee firm owner working papers include, but are not limited to, audit programs, analytical review schedules, statistical sampling results, analyses, and schedules prepared by the client at the request of the licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, and/or nonlicensee firm owner and employees of such persons.
(2) When a client or former client (client) makes a request for client-provided records, client records prepared by the licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, and/or nonlicensee firm owner, or supporting records that are in the custody or control of the licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, and/or nonlicensee firm owner that have not previously been provided to the client, the licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, and/or nonlicensee firm owner should respond to the client's request as follows:
(a) Client provided records in the licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, and/or nonlicensee firm owner custody or control must be returned to the client.
(b) Client records prepared by the licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, and/or nonlicensee firm owner must be provided to the client, except that client records prepared by the licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, and/or nonlicensee firm owner may be withheld if the preparation of such records is not complete.
(c) Supporting records relating to a completed and issued work product must be provided to the client.
(d) Persons subject to this subsection developing and maintaining such records, or schedules should make a reasonable effort to provide the required information and data to the client in a format useable by the client to avoid the cost to the client of duplicate reentry of individual transaction or other information into the client's or successor custodian's recordkeeping system.
(3) The licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, and/or nonlicensee firm owner is not required to convert records that are not in electronic format to electronic format. However, if the client requests records in a specific format and the licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, and/or nonlicensee firm owner was engaged to prepare the records in that format, the client's request should be honored.
(4) Licensees, CPA-Inactive certificate holders, nonlicensee firm owners, and/or employees of such persons must not refuse to return or provide records indicated in subsection (1)(a), (b), and (c) of this section including electronic documents, pending client payment of outstanding fees.
(5) Once the licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, and/or nonlicensee firm owner and employees of such persons has complied with the requirements in subsection (2) of this section, he or she is under no ethical obligation to comply with any subsequent requests to again provide such records or copies of such records. However, if subsequent to complying with a request, a client experiences a loss of records due to a natural disaster or an act of war, the licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, and/or nonlicensee firm owner should comply with an additional request to provide such records.
(6) Licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, and/or nonlicensee firm owner working papers are the licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, and/or nonlicensee firm owner property and need not be provided to the client under provisions of this section; however, such requirements may be imposed by state and federal statutes and regulations, and contractual agreements.
(7) In connection with any request for client-provided records, client records prepared by the licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, and/or nonlicensee firm owner and employees of such persons, or supporting records, the licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, and/or nonlicensee firm owner may:
(a) Charge the client a reasonable fee for the time and expense incurred to retrieve and copy such records and require that such fee be paid prior to the time such records are provided to the client;
(b) Provide the requested records in any format usable by the client;
(c) Make and retain copies of any records returned or provided to the client.
(8) Where a licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, and/or nonlicensee firm owner is required to return or provide records to the client, the licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, and/or nonlicensee firm owner should comply with the client's request as soon as practicable but, absent extenuating circumstances, no later than forty-five days after the request is made. The fact that the statutes of the state in which the licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, and/or nonlicensee firm owner practices grants the licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, and/or nonlicensee firm owner a lien on certain records in his or her custody or control does not relieve the licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, and/or nonlicensee firm owner of his or her obligation to comply with this section.
(9) A licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, and/or nonlicensee firm owner is under no obligation to retain records for periods that exceed applicable professional standards, state and federal statutes and regulations, and contractual agreements relating to the service(s) performed.
(10) Audit and review record retention requirements: For a period of seven years after a licensee concludes an audit or review such persons must retain the following records and documents, including electronic records unless hard copies of such exist:
(a) Records forming the basis of the audit or review;
(b) Records documenting audit or review procedures applied;
(c) Records documenting evidence obtained including financial data, analyses, conclusions, and opinions related to the audit or review engagement; and
(d) Records documenting conclusions reached by the licensee in the audit or review engagement.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 18.04.055(2), 18.04.390 (4)(b), and 18.04.405(1). WSR 11-06-062, ยง 4-30-051, filed 3/2/11, effective 4/2/11.]
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