We are frequently asked how a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is different than a bookkeeper, accountant, or Enrolled Agent (EA). It is a very important question, and you need to have a clear understanding of the differences so you can make the right decision on who will best serve you and or your business.
A bookkeeper may have completed some educational training, or received training through their job experiences that has given them some background knowledge on the bookkeeping or accounting industry. Often experienced in a specific area of accounting like accounts payable (AP) or accounts receivable (AR) they are not technically a qualified accountant and may not have received any legal certification.
An accountant has gone through educational training and received credentials, such as a degree, by completing the educational training. They often have also had related job experiences that have allowed them to apply their educational training and start to expand their knowledge through their employment opportunities.
An Enrolled Agent (EA) has received additional training and/or education and has passed an examination to become certified as an EA. The examination covers federal tax law (only, not state) relating to individuals, corporations and partnerships. Like CPA’s and attorneys, an EA is also qualified to represent their clients in front of the IRS. EAs are required to meet annual educational requirements and industry ethical guidelines.
A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) not only has met strict educational requirements but also has received supervised business training and passed a extensive and difficult test to become a CPA. The CPA exam is administered by the American Institute of CPAs and is designed to protect the public interest by helping to ensure that only qualified individuals become licensed as U.S. Certified Public Accountants. CPA’s are also held accountable for additional educational and ethical training annually to maintain their credentials. CPA’s are registered and monitored by their State of Certification, and are required to report their annual educational and ethical training to the State.
This summary should provide you with basic knowledge of the various industry personnel available to you, and should help direct you in determining who will be the right fit for you and your business. Of course we hope you find that perfect fit at Tzinberg & Associates, P.C.