What Is a CPA?

Certified public accountants (CPAs) are accounting professionals who have earned their licenses to perform audits and file government paperwork. They pass a private-issued CPA exam to earn this credential.

Having this top-level certification opens doors to influential jobs that put you in control of your career and your life. If you’re looking for a job that allows you to focus on your goals and provides flexibility and respect, a career as a CPA may be the perfect fit.

Preparing Financial Statements

Preparing financial statements can be difficult for small business owners because it involves many complex accounting procedures and decisions. An Oregon CPA can help you understand what the statements mean for your company and prepare them in a format that is easy to understand.

A balance sheet lists your assets and liabilities, while a profit and loss statement shows how much you earned or lost during the reporting period. These two financial statements are crucial in determining your business’s taxable income and how it will affect your taxes.

An accountant also prepares other financial statements, including a cash flow statement, which shows your receipts and payments from customers and how those funds will affect your operations. Lenders and other businesses use these statements to determine your business’s creditworthiness, as well as by investors and high-net-worth individuals.

The CPA prepares these statements at one of three levels of assurance depending on your company’s needs. With a compilation, the CPA will provide a limited degree of confidence that the financial statements comply with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).


A CPA audits financial statements to verify whether they are correct and comply with GAAP or IFRS standards. This allows businesses to make accurate decisions about their finances.

A CPA can conduct internal or external audits. They may work for the company they audit or as an unbiased third party.

The auditing services offered by a CPA include compilations, preparations and reviews. These provide limited assurances that the company’s financial statements are prepared according to GAAP, IFRS or other applicable accounting standards.

Compilations are the lowest level of attestation. A compilation is a representation by management that the company’s balances on its balance sheet and profit and loss statement are correctly reflected in the comments.

Preparations and reviews are more detailed and offer a higher level of assurance. They include sight of the company’s accounting records, confirmation, discussion with management and assessment of internal controls and analytical procedures.

Tax Preparation

Many tax preparation services are available to taxpayers, but choosing the right one can be confusing. It all depends on your specific needs.

CPAs offer various services, from essential tax filing assistance to advanced planning. These services can help you save money and reduce your stress level.

A CPA will have more experience and in-depth knowledge of tax law and can handle complex cases better than a preparer without the proper training. They can also research difficult tax positions to minimize your tax liability within the limitations of the tax code.

Another key difference is that CPAs work year-round, allowing them to build solid professional relationships with their clients. This can provide stability and peace of mind for business owners.

In addition to CPAs, there are licensed tax preparers and enrolled agents. These individuals can offer the same tax-filing support as a CPA, but their expertise needs to be broadened, and they focus more on tax-related issues.

Financial Planning

If you’re an accountant, adding financial planning services to your practice can help you balance your tax-compliance workload throughout the year. It can also make your firm more attractive to potential buyers if you retire, says Carolyn Larsen-Wieber, CPA/PFS, owner of CLW Financial Planning in Raleigh.

A certified financial planner, or CFP, works with individuals to help them understand their options and make decisions suited to their financial situation and goals. They work in various industries and usually hold a certification in one or more specialties, including retirement planning.

To earn the CFP designation, candidates must complete college-level studies and pass the CFP exam. In addition, they must have substantial professional experience in financial planning. Applicants can get experience through a CFP-compliant apprenticeship program or by completing 4,000 hours of financial planning-related work.


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About Marc Wallace

I'm never too busy to share my passion. I've created this page to help people learn more about business, finance and real estate. Besides all the serious stuff, I'm also a man that values family and healthy relationships. I hope you find my content insightful.

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