What is the difference between an accountant and a CPA?

Glad you asked.

While all CPAs are accountants, not all accountants are CPAs. The big difference is in the “C”. Being a CPA means that the accountant is certified by his or her state, has met education licensing requirements and has passed a CPA exam. Plus, CPAs are required to take 40 hours of continuing education courses each year in order to maintain their certification.

So… What does that mean to you?

Well … you get what you pay for. As opposed to a non-certified accountant, CPAs are regulated which means if you have a problem, you have a recourse.

CPAs are also equipped to educate clients on issues such as estate planning and other financial planning matters. In other words, they can do much more than just prepare your taxes.

Why Choose a CPA?

“When you hire a licensed CPA, you know you have a partner who has a responsibility to protect what you’ve built.  The value of a CPA is in the ethics and integrity behind every decision,” said Chris Jenkins, CEO of the South Carolina Association of CPAs (SCACPA). “Once the dust of tax season clears, your CPA will still be there for you. A CPA works for you and looks out for you because it’s the right thing to do.”

Financial Security

“After hiring a CPA, I was able to grow my business and increase my profit margins substantially thanks to his advice. He also helped me develop a succession plan for handing it over to my sons one day. I couldn’t have created such a well-thought-out, financially secure plan on my own.”

Plan for the Future

“I hired a traditional accountant to complete my individual and business taxes for years before taking the advice of a business associate and hiring a CPA. Since, not only has my refund increased but I have a retirement plan in place that simply didn’t exist before.”

Audit Support

“You always hear about the dreaded audit and hope you never have to go through it. Well, I did. But, thanks to my CPA, it wasn’t as bad as I feared at all. He represented me and spoke on my behalf. I couldn’t imagine having gone through it without him.”

What can a CPA assist with?

So, before you consider tackling your own taxes or hiring a non-certified accountant for your taxes, financial planning or business planning needs, consider the value of a CPA. You’ll be glad you did.

  • Retirement planning

  • Investments

  • Business valuations

  • Trend analysis

  • Mergers and acquisitions

  • Succession/estate

  • Profitability analysis

  • Cash flow management

  • Preparing financial statements

  • Strategic business planning

  • Strengthening financial controls

Tell us what you think!

Now that you know a little more about the SCACPA’s #WhyCPA story, we want to hear yours! Maybe you are a retired sole practitioner, maybe you are a new staff accountant at a Big 4 firm, or maybe you’re a freshman in college who’s kind of certain that the path to CPA is the right one. Tell us your stories.

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