cpa vs. tax preparer

Until recently year, tax preparers who were not certified public accountants (CPAs) were regulated very little, if at all. Even today, there are no minimum education requirements for tax preparers, such as a high school or college degree.

CPAs, on the other hand, must meet very stringent requirements. These vary from state to state but usually consist of a U.S. bachelor’s degree with a concentration in accounting, an extra year of post graduate study or a masters degree, and/or several years of experience. Passing the CPA exam is perhaps the most difficult step in becoming a licensed CPA. The multiday exam is considered by many to be the toughest qualifying exam of any profession with a lower first time passing rate than the bar examination.

CPAs are required to keep current with accounting and/or tax laws by taking a minimum of 24 hours of continuing education each year; many states require more.

  • CPAs have ethical guidelines they have to follow.
  • CPAs can represent clients before the IRS; tax preparers are limited.
  • As of 2009, 46 States and the District of Columbia required CPA candidates to complete 150 semester hours of college coursework—an additional 30 hours beyond the usual 4-year bachelor's degree.
  • Most States also require applicants for a CPA license to have tax and accounting experience.

At My Way CPA, every return is prepared and reviewed by licensed CPAs.