President of Evangelical Financial Accountability Group Fined for Unlicensed Use of CPA Title

By Julie Roys
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UPDATE: Though the original story did not mention it, I sent numerous requests to Dan Busby for an interview through his agent, Anna Hutstell of the public relations firm DeMoss. Instead of an interview, Hutsell sent me the ECFA statement cited in this article. 

As President of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), Dan Busby is responsible for enforcing ECFA’s standards of ethics among the 2,300 nonprofit groups and churches that the ECFA accredits. Busby also speaks nationally on financial accountability. And he’s written numerous books including, TRUST: The Firm Foundation of Kingdom Fruitfulness—a book equipping leaders of “Christ-centered ministries” to “be intentional about building and maintaining trust.”

Given that the ECFA and Busby’s platform rely on trust and integrity, one would expect Busby to be above reproach. Yet according to the Virginia Board of Accountancy (VBOA), Busby was fined $9,000 in 2016 for the unlicensed use of the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) title on at least 38 publications, his personal website, the ECFA’s website, and the Church Law & Tax website.

The VBOA also required Busby to pay an additional $1,000 administrative fee to cover the VBOA investigation. And the board ordered Busby to remove the CPA title from all “signage and any and all listings” until Busby again became licensed.

“Given that the ECFA and Busby’s platform rely on trust and integrity, one would expect Busby to be above reproach. Yet according to the Virginia Board of Accountancy, Busby was fined $9,000 in 2016 for the unlicensed use of the CPA title . . . “

According to the complaint submitted to the VBOA, Busby allowed his CPA license from the state of Kansas to lapse in 2000, two years after moving to Virginia. Then from 2000-2015, Busby was not licensed as a CPA, though he repeatedly claimed he was. In December 2016, Busby obtained a CPA license from the Virginia board, which remains active.

According to the VBOA complaint, Busby falsely represented himself as a CPA on multiple books published by Zondervan between 2000-2015.  These included “The Christian’s Guide to Worry-free Money Management,” and numerous editions of “The Zondervan Minister’s Tax & Financial Guide” and Zondervan’s “Church and Nonprofit Tax & Financial Guide.”

I contacted Zondervan for comment, but the publisher did not respond.

Busby also was listed as a CPA on numerous books published by the ECFA between 2000-2015. These included “Charitable Giving Guide for Missionaries and Other Workers,” “Donor-Restricted Gifts Simplified,” “The Independent Audit and the Audit Committee,” and multiple editions of “Preparing Tax Returns for Clergy” and “Reporting Procedures for Congregations.”

Busby was also listed as a CPA in ECFA newsletters between 2000-2015, as well as on multiple websites, the National Directory of Registered Tax Return Preparers and Professionals, and Busby’s LinkedIn account.

Brian Taylor, a former CPA who now works for a small consulting company in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, sent me the VBOA complaint, which he said he researched and submitted four years ago. Taylor noted that Busby had worked as a CPA for 31 years before coming to the ECFA, and said his misrepresentation was intentional and inexcusable.

“With Busby, it was a 15-year pattern of intentional fraudulent inducement to sell books and enrich his pocketbook and his reputation,” Taylor said. “This was no accident. . . . He knew he didn’t take any CPE classes for 15 years. You can’t do it for 31 years and then suddenly forget. CPAs are reminded annually.”

“This was no accident. . . . He knew he didn’t take any CPE classes for 15 years. You can’t do it for 31 years and then suddenly forget. CPAs are reminded annually.”

In his complaint, Taylor also asserts that Busby’s misrepresentation was especially egregious because of his position with the ECFA. “The Virginia Board of Accountancy must take into account that Mr. Busby is not just a simple tax preparer who didn’t keep up on his CPE (continuing professional education),” Taylor wrote.

“Mr. Busby’s current role as President of ECFA is to enforce (ECFA’s Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship) among all member nonprofits, as the basis for the public trust in nonprofit fundraising and responsible stewardship of trust funds throughout America. And yet . . . Mr. Busby freely chose to commit intentional acts of wrongdoing over his entire 15-year tenure at ECFA, that repeatedly violated the ECFA Standards, the Code of Virginia, and the AICPA (American Institute of CPAs) Code of Professional Conduct.”

Virginia law prohibits a person who does not hold a Virginia CPA license from using the CPA title in Virginia. Similarly, the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct states that a member discredits the profession if the person “makes claims about the member’s . . . qualifications in a manner that is false, misleading, or deceptive.” This would include “any representation about CPA licensure . . . that is not in compliance with the requirements of the relevant licensing authority.”  

Recently, Busby and the ECFA have come under increased scrutiny for its longstanding accreditation of Harvest Bible Chapel, despite glaring financial improprieties there. Last Wednesday, I confronted the ECFA publicly for accrediting Harvest. And on Saturday, the ECFA finally suspended Harvest’s ECFA accreditation. But the Harvest debacle has raised questions concerning the ECFA’s effectiveness to hold member groups accountable.

In a statement released today, the ECFA defended its president. The statement said that Busby learned that he was not in compliance with Virginia’s accountancy laws in 2015 and has since rectified the problem. “While Dan’s use of the CPA designation complies with the laws of Kansas—where he was originally and still is certified—he had no idea that his use of the designation could possibly not be in compliance with Virginia law,” the statement said. “Dan, of course, was mortified to learn of any possibility that he was not in full compliance as he has made it his life’s work to help organizations pursue integrity.”

The statement added that Busby “has never held himself out as offering public accounting services as a Virginia CPA.” And it noted that Busby has since completed more than 180 hours of continuing professional education and settled the matter with the Virginia Board. “Dan is glad to have the matter resolved and he deeply regrets the oversight,” the statement said.

“Dan, of course, was mortified to learn of any possibility that he was not in full compliance as he has made it his life’s work to help organizations pursue integrity.”

However, the ECFA statement is not completely accurate. To use the title of CPA in Kansas, one must obtain a CPA certificate, as well as a permit to practice. Though Busby had an active Kansas CPA certificate from 2000-2015, his Kansas permit lapsed in 2000, and remains lapsed.

Also, according to the AICPA, “any action initiated by a member that informs others of his or her status as a CPA . . . constitutes holding out as a CPA.” Not only did Busby use the CPA designation from 2000-2015 on his website, bio, and in his books, he also prepared the ECFA 990 tax returns and was listed as a CPA in online directories.

Taylor said he stands by his claim that Busby’s violation was intentional and not an “oversight.” In addition to the facts already cited, Taylor noted that Busby did  not use the CPA title when he signed a letter in 2011 that was submitted to the IRS, nor in a 2013 report that was submitted to U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley. The “logical conclusion,” Taylor asserts, was that Busby “was afraid he might be found out and embarrassed, so he concealed the CPA where the risk was higher.”

According to the ECFA statement, the organization’s board was informed of the issues with the Virginia board “as it developed.” The statement adds that the board “continues to wholeheartedly support Dan in his role as ECFA president and in all his endeavors.”

Interestingly, Busby’s base salary at the ECFA in 2015 was $193,218, according to the ECFA 2015 990 tax form. However, in 2016, the year of the Virginia board sanction, it jumped 26-percent to $242,563. And in 2017, the last 990 available online, Busby’s base salary was $254,979.

One of the seven areas covered in ECFA’s seven standards is compensation setting for leaders of its member organizations. The other standards deal with use of resources and compliance with laws, doctrinal issues, governance, financial oversight, transparency, and stewardship of charitable gifts.

ECFA Statement:

ECFA President Dan Busby learned in 2015 that he was not in compliance with Virginia’s accountancy laws in connection with his use of the CPA designation. While Dan’s use of the CPA designation complies with the laws of Kansas—where he was originally and still is certified—he had no idea that his use of the designation could possibly not be in compliance with Virginia law. Dan, of course, was mortified to learn of any possibility that he was not in full compliance as he has made it his life’s work to help organizations pursue integrity. He has never held himself out as offering public accounting services as a Virginia CPA. The matter was settled with the Virginia Board of Accountancy in 2016, and Virginia issued him a license to practice accountancy—and thereby the privilege to use the CPA designation. He completed more than 180 hours of continuing professional education in 2016 and 2017 (in contrast to the required 40 hours per year). Dan is glad to have the matter resolved and he deeply regrets the oversight. ECFA’s board of directors was fully apprised of the matter as it developed and continues to wholeheartedly support Dan in his role as ECFA president and in all his endeavors.

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69 thoughts on “President of Evangelical Financial Accountability Group Fined for Unlicensed Use of CPA Title”

  1. So as far as I can tell here, he’d stopped doing CPEs (continuing professional ed) for 15 years…and he has the audacity to claim it was an oversight? Who does he think he’s kidding? If this truly is the case, then he a a flat out liar. I’ve taught CPEs to accountants for 10 years, everyone knows what you have to do to maintain licensure. Again, he appears to just be a plain old liar.

  2. Doug Bartholomew

    Hey Julie, speaking of accountants, why not look into the $200 MILLION scheme your boss at world (Kevin Martin) was connected tp – the HomeGold fraud that saw some of his colleagues land in jail.

        1. Watching and Praying

          Does this mean you ARE supporting James right now and want to divert attention by calling someone a troll?

    1. Hey Doug Bartholomew..If you think Julie Roy’s is afraid of calling out Her Bosses it shows how bias and uninformed you are… Julie lost her Job of 7 years on Moody radio FOR CALLING OUT HER BOSS…Julie is one Christian that no one can say isn’t contending for the Faith, She has more spine than almost ALL of the so called Leadership in the “Evangelical Industrial Complex”…you remind me of a little kid who gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar and his only defences is “Jonny did it to”…..a real lame arguement.

      1. Doug Bartholomew

        too bad she doesn’t have enough spine to admit when she reports false allegations as she does regularly

    2. Doug and others, we need to stop the name calling and seek the truth. Doug note that Julie is a freelance writer and contributes articles to various periodicals, one being World magazine. She is not on staff, thus Kevin is not her boss. If you are in contact with James MacDonald, please have him come forth and tell his side of the story. He can defend himself against these allegations. His silence and decision to stay hidden is contrary to his preaching and public persona. Let this story ends, then she can focus her energy on other deceit in the church as you have requested.

  3. Hey everybody! Baaaaaaaad ! Is that the voice of a nasty ungodly,WORLDLY human I hear?
    Not gooooooooood ! Ruuuuuuuun! Deception and no Godly spirit there Ruuuuuun !
    No fruit there ! Ruuuuuun! Before you get some on you, yuuuuuuck!

    1. Hey Doug….were waiting…..what is Julie lying about in this story??? Looks like your just another blowhard who likes to throw false diversions to muddy the water and cover the truth…Reminds me of a tall bald pastor I know.

      1. Doug’s just a hit-and-run coward who throws a broad and vague accusation (“she reports false allegations as she does regularly”) and then runs and hides. Commonplace, boring. He also apparently gets his facts wrong, thinking Julie works for World. But of course, we don’t expect good research, solid ethics or clear thought, do we?

        When you throw a completely broad accusation like that (“false allegations…regularly”) it’s a clear indication that you don’t know of any false allegations. You’re just trying to smear. Trust me, if he had any dirt on Julie, could recite any lies she’s told, he’d have typed those words out here so fast we’d have all seen them. The difference between Doug and Julie is Julie has a spine, she names names and gives facts, if she’s wrong, it’s put there for everyone to discredit. That takes a little courage.

        But when you’re gutless, spineless, a little coward, you take a vague shot and then run–and you don’t even try to support it because you know you have nothing. That’s Doug Bartholomew.

  4. Hey, Bartholomew, Exactly what about MacDonald impresses you so much that you would rent your church out to him for only ten dollars a month? How naive are you? Just as he insults people from his own church behind their back, he must be laughing his bald head off at you and your wife for being his latest two suckers.

    1. Ron, maybe Doug was promised a cut of the gate when Harvest Naples takes off….under the table of course….thats how “Professional Christians” usually operate.

  5. O.k Doug Bartholomew….I’ll make this a little easier for ya…..what has Julie published about your good buddy Jmac that’s not true???? and has she not reached out to Jmac so that she could publish his side of the story …but Jmac, the Man with the spine of linguini is no where to be found probably hiding out somewhere in south Florida…probably at your house…James McDonald could learn a thing or two about how to “Act like Men” From Julie Roys, she tells the truth and admits when she’s wrong….unlike Jmac and his merry band of puppets.

  6. Julie –
    There are rumors that the big incident from HCA video which you spoke about in world magazine has since been destroyed. But how can that be if you claimed to have seen the video? If you have a copy of that video will you be releasing it? Please do. This is very important.

  7. Doug Bartholomew said: “At least I don’t hide my identity as witless trolls like you do”.

    I seem to recall a recent, but now defunct blog called “ElephanTitus” where the pseudonym of “Mr. Titus” was used. Wasn’t that you, hiding your identity while defending James MacDonald?

    Just pointing out that your insults toward people who chose to use nicknames is hilariously hypocritical.

  8. FormerHarvestMbr

    ECFA’s accreditation is worthless and they need to be investigated. I trusted in their certification for decades and now feel robbed and deceived.

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