When looking into professionals to help with your business or private finances, you may have come across the terms EA and CPA. But what exactly do these abbreviations mean? At Weinberg & Co. of WPB, we get asked this question all the time. While both certified in the field of finances, these two types of occupations vary greatly. Depending on your exact needs, one may be better suited than the other to assist. Keep reading to learn the difference between these two professions and see who will be able to provide the optimal Palm Beach financial services for you.
EA stands for Enrolled Agent. And EA is a tax professional specifically. This means that while their financial niche is narrow, it is deep in the field of taxes. EAs will have extensive knowledge of the regulations surrounding tax brackets, deductions, dependents, charitable contributions, and the like. EAs can earn their certification in two ways. The first is to work for the IRS for five years. Specifically, you must work in a position where you analyze tax code.
Others who are not employed by the IRS can also become EAs in a different manner. For these individuals, the process begins by acquiring a Preparer Tax Identification Number or PTIN. This identifier must be applied and paid for. Once you have A PTIN, you can begin preparing for the EA Special Enrolment Examination which has 3 parts. Finally, a background check must be passed. Once all of these steps are complete, an individual is considered a certified EA. These agents are Federally recognized for their knowledge of both private and business taxes, so you can hire an EA from nearly anywhere to virtually file your taxes.
CPA stands for Certified Public Accountant. There are also Public Accountants (PAs), and CPAs have taken the extra time to hone their crafts and become certified. PAs can only do accounting work within a firm with a CPA partner. CPAs are finance professionals with a broader knowledge base than an EA. While CPAs are in fact well versed in tax law, they additionally are trained in finance management, estate and trust planning, compilations and reviews, and any other accounting specialties.
Some states have started to opt into regulations that allow CPAs to work across state lines. However, individual states are the ones to recognize CPAs and many prefer a local who is familiar with their state, county, and town tax and finance laws. Florida CPAs in particular must complete a litany of additional education and testing past the National Minimum requirements to be certified. For example, nationally it is only required that candidates have 150 credits of a completed college education. However, in Florida, those seeking CPA status must have a Bachelor’s Degree in accounting.
It is worth noting that both CPAs and EAs have continuing education requirements aimed at keeping all tax professionals up to date with the most current laws.
Weinberg & Co. WPB
Weinberg & Co. IS made up of the most respected Certified Public Accountants in the region. By employing only CPAs, you can be assured that your Weinberg tax or financial management professional has the most extensive and up to date education. With offices in both West Palm Beach and Lantana, we are able to provide convenient Palm Beach financial services to all of South Florida! Contact us today to truly gain control of your finances and the peace of mind that it brings.