Continuing professional education is required for the purpose of ensuring that licensed certified public accountants are staying current with regulations, standards, and practices. CPAs must maintain professional competence, and continuing professional education is a large part of that. Especially in the field of tax practice, laws and regulations can change frequently, so being up to date is crucial. Some jurisdictions require a lower amount of credit hours for certified public accountants that are not providing services to the public. In the case of a licensed CPA who is not performing any services, they would normally not be required to meet any CPE requirements. This is often referred to as inactive status.
CPE can be earned in a variety of ways. A certified public accountant might attend a seminar or workshop covering pertinent material. Normally, the fact that the CPA attended the event is all that is required to earn the CPE credits. The number of credits earned is based on the number of hours that the seminar or workshop lasts. The standard practice is that each fifty-minute period of instruction earns one credit hour of CPE.
Another way to earn CPE credit hours is through taking a self-study course. Self-study courses are offered using a book, video, audio, or taking a course online. Generally, a test or quizzer must be passed in order to earn the credit hours for CPE.
Some certified public accountants teach courses themselves. This is another way that CPE credit hours can be earned. Boards of accountancy often limit the number of CPE credit hours that can be earned in this manner.
There are many companies that offer continuing professional education courses for certified public accountants. These companies offer live seminars, online courses, and other self-study options. Some companies will come to your firm or company and hold a course for your employees.
State boards of accountancy normally offer continuing professional education courses also. If your state or jurisdiction has an association or society of CPAs, they often offer courses as well, and normally offer members a discount. The Internal Revenue Service even offers CPE credits for its annual Nationwide Tax Forum. There are also many professional organizations that offer continuing professional education options, with discounts for their members.
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