What Is A CPA? 13 Types Of Certified Public Accountants Tax Preparation & Accounting Services

You’ll also represent clients before the IRS to help them resolve their tax problems. The IRS only allows CPAs, attorneys, enrolled agents, enrolled retirement plan agents, and enrolled actuaries to represent clients directly. Other countries have certifications equivalent to the CPA designation, notably, the chartered accountant (CA) designation.

A CPA is a financial professional licensed by a state board to provide accounting services to the public. A CPA performs accounting duties such as tax preparation, auditing, and consulting. An accountant is an individual who professionally practices accounting.

Advisory and Consultation Services

In 1934, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) required all publicly traded companies to file periodic financial reports endorsed by members of the accounting industry. The AICPA established accounting standards until 1973 when the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) was launched to set standards for private companies. The CPA designation is granted by individual state boards, not the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Membership in the AICPA is not obligatory for CPAs, although some CPAs do join.

  • The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public; it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal, or other business and professional advice.
  • They are also involved in tax reporting and filing for both individuals and businesses.
  • If you’re unable to find a trusted CPA this way, you can turn to the U.S.
  • Public accounting also includes filing corporations’ records with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and potential investors.
  • ” reveals the diverse and critical roles Certified Public Accountants play in various sectors, including public accounting, business, Government, not-for-profit organizations, and education.

If you’re trying to decide whether a graduate degree is right for you, read about a Becker student’s experience pursuing a master’s in accounting. Depending on their particular role, a CPA may be involved in one or more aspects of the accounting profession. CPAs can specialize in areas like forensic accounting, personal financial planning, and taxation.

Careers for CPAs

In addition to the rigorous training, examination, and experience requirements, more than forty state boards now require CPA candidates to pass an ethics exam. Most states accept a “fifth” exam from AICPA, the self-study Professional Ethics for CPAs, as well as other exams. In many states, the ethics requirement must include information about the state’s laws and standards for professional practice.


If you need to file for a tax extension, for example, because you need extra help with your paperwork, a tax pro can help you to get back on track. If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to filing, many resources can walk you through how to file your taxes. Once you’ve got the basics down, you might find that quality tax software is often helpful enough to subject to the get your annual tax forms in — some taxpayers may even be able to do their taxes for free. And because we focus on you as both scholar and practitioner, you’ll learn academic theory along with real-world application. Once you click “continue,” you will be brought to a third-party website. Please be aware, the privacy policy may differ on the third-party website.

AICPA membership

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a prestigious title awarded to qualified accounting professionals. Licensing is granted by each state’s Board of Accountancy, with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) offering valuable resources for obtaining the license. The CPA title designation ensures adherence to the highest professional standards within the accounting industry. Their experience and knowledge of the tax code enable them to identify credits and deductions to reduce taxes due and increase refunds. For example, a tax CPA can review a client’s mortgage tax deductions, charitable deductions, and child expenses to make sure the individual is maximizing their tax savings.

CPAs are highly sought after by businesses and nonprofit organizations because they have extensive training in tax law, auditing procedures, management practices, and other important aspects of business financial operations. That said, you may see a bump above those costs if you work with a CPA. “CPAs charge more than regular accountants or tax preparers,” says Jiang. “For a simple tax return, they might charge anywhere from $375 to $500. For complex ones, their fee can go up to thousands.” For the accounting services you might retain if you needed help managing taxable income in retirement, a CPA might charge $150 to $250 per hour, says Jiang.

Best Online Tax Software

While you may earn an accounting degree and go on to work in the profession, you need to pass the CPA exam to earn the right to use the CPA credential. It’s one of the most respected designations and professions in the world. CPA stands for certified public accountant and is a credential that is synonymous with trust, integrity, high-level thinking and sound advice. When you need financial advice for your business or personal needs, it’s important to hire the most qualified professional with the right expertise. By offering these extensive services, CPAs in the public accounting industry play a crucial role in supporting clients’ financial stability and growth.

A CPA license is a designation awarded by the state board of accountancy to accounting professionals who have completed a rigorous exam process as well as completed a minimum level of education and work experience. Most accounting majors can satisfy most of the educational requirements, although states require 150 semester hours of college credit before you’re eligible to take the exam. This means you’ll need to take 30 additional hours of coursework above and beyond what’s required for your bachelor’s degree. That could mean doing a double major, taking additional college classes, or earning a master’s degree.

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