A CPA (Certified Public Accountant – IRS List) is a title that differentiates a licensed accounting professional from an ordinary accountant. Licensing is done by the state or federal government after completing comprehensive education, passing a CPA exam, and meeting experience requirements. To maintain the CPA designation, the professional is expected to complete continuing education requirements.
A CPA role includes performing duties that an accountant cannot, such as auditing, signing tax returns, presenting clients before the IRS, consultancy services, litigation services, and forensic accounting.
CPAs are expected to adhere to a code of ethics such as the AICPA’s Code of Professional conduct. This is necessary since CPAs deal with confidential financial details of individuals and businesses. Failure to adhere to the code results in legal implications.
When hiring an accountant or a CPA, a business should first understand its needs. Factors that may drive the decision to hire a CPA include the size of a business, its complexity, and the stage it is in. Besides, a business owner can determine if a CPA is qualified by looking up their details from professional organizations.
CPAs should not risk sending confidential client data on emails or freely available platforms whose transmissions are not necessarily encrypted and can expose the information to the wrong hands. Instead, they should consider using a platform specifically designed to upload and download documents easily and securely. Besides, state and federal guidelines require client accounting information to be kept secure and confidential, failure to which there are stiff penalties.