What is a CPA?

What is a CPA? What does CPA stand for? Is a CPA an inanimate object? Can you identify a CPA by its appearance, actions, or attitude? Should you ask every CPA that you meet to do your taxes? 🙂 You have several great questions! I hope in turn to provide you several great responses.

What is a CPA: Definition

No, a CPA is not some sort of elusive creature such as Big Foot, the Loch Ness Monster, or a Yeti. No, a CPA is not an inanimate object. We do having feelings you know 🙂 According to AICPA, “A CPA, or Certified Public Accountant, is a trusted financial advisor who helps individuals, businesses, and other organizations plan and reach their financial goals. Whatever those goals-saving for a new home, opening a new office, or planning a multi-billion dollar merger-CPAs can help.” In short, a CPA is a trusted advisor who helps other parties with their financial goals. If being a trusted advisor sounds appealing to you, check out the CPA eligibility requirements.  

What is a CPA: Explored Further

If the definition of a CPA seems overly broad and nonspecific, it is because the definition is meant to be. Although CPAs commonly work at Big 4 Public Accounting Firms, CPAs are not limited as to where they work or what occupation they perform. Beyond working in public accounting, CPAs commonly pursue careers as private accountants at Fortune 500 companies, agents at the FBI, agents at the IRS, professors at colleges or universities, and much more. A CPA can be many things including but not limited to a stay at home parent, an elected official, or CEO or CFO. Many almost CPAs such as Mick Jagger and John Grisham were very close to joining the ranks and boosting our street cred 🙂

After all, we accountants are commonly referred to as body bean counters.

What is NOT a CPA

Delineating between what is a CPA and what is NOT a CPA may also be helpful. Specifically, there is a difference between a public accountant (PA) and a Certified Public Accountant. The Colorado Society of CPAs provides an excellent overview of some of the major differences.

As can be seen in the clip from The Producers, some not so nice CPAs may be colloquially called a Certified Pain in the A$$ 🙂 Also, it is important to note that individuals who have passed the CPA Exam but who have not completed and submitted paperwork for all of the education, experience, and ethics requirements to their State Board of Accountancy are not CPAs.

Should You Ask Every CPA that You Meet to Do Your Taxes?

Please do not ask every CPA that you meet to do your taxes. CPAs that do not deal with individual income tax returns will have a nice chuckle. As you probably should not ask a cardiologist to perform inguinal hernia surgery, you probably should not ask an auditor to perform your taxes.

On a that note, let’s check out an accountant with some swag 🙂

Wow! Will Ferrell, the tax man, just elevated our street cred. As always, remember to breathe.



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