Who Really Owns a CPA’s Working Papers?

Accountants are well aware that clients, former clients, and others periodically request (or sometimes demand) copies of the accountant’s work-papers.  The question invariably is: who owns those materials?  Moreover, what is the accountant obligated to turn over and what categories of materials may be withheld?  An accountant, and those that represent them, must be aware of the critical legal and regulatory issues facing the accounting profession when handling such a request.

“As many Certified Public Accountants and Public Accountants have come to know in their professional practice, clients or former clients may request that working papers be turned over or provided from their file contents either to them or to a successor practitioner. What do you do?” Jonathan S. Ziss, a partner in Goldberg Segalla LLP’s Philadelphia offices, and Jeffrey J. Wood, counsel with the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy, address this question and others in “Who Owns the Working Papers,” Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy, February 2013 here

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