Why CPE Should Be Free

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The problem with CPE, even webinars, is that it can get very expensive to take these classes. However, this year I’ve been on a quest to see how many CPE credits that I can get for free.

If you are an enrolled agent (EA), CPA, attorney or part of the annual filing season program (AFSP), you must receive a certain amount of continuing professional education (CPE) hours per year to keep your license active. I get that.

Different bodies require different hours and not all CPE classes will yield credit. For example, CPAs are required to take CPE by the NASB, which reports to the state in which the CPA is licensed.  Attorneys are required to take CLE which is reported to the state bar, EA´s and AFSP´s must take CPE that is governed by the IRS. Not all CPE classes conform to your particular license. 

For an EA, you must give the company giving the CPE class your PTIN. The credits are then recorded on your PTIN record. If you are an EA and you take a class that doesn´t ask for your PTIN, the IRS hasn’t approved the class. 

In the last few years the IRS has offered several free CPE classes that are taken online. In addition, different organizations such as companies selling you something provide free CPE for EA´s as well. To date I am only missing two credit hours, which are ethics.

In addition, you can earn free CPE by hosting a webinar or seminar. Usually you get double the CPE offered to the participants.

In fact, the IRS specifically, has begun offering more and CPE classes for EAs and AFSPs in recent times.  Not to mention the IRS´s YouTube channel for taxpayers. The IRS, as of late, has been instrumental not only to taxpayers, but to professionals as well.

In addition, CPA Academy offers a plethora of free CPE courses for both CPAs and EAs. They do charge for some classes, however the vast majority are free.

Further, the classes that are offered for free are not beginner´s courses, they are advanced.  In fact, I have enjoyed most of the classes that this organization has offered.

As my mentor pointed out to me, everywhere you look someone wants a pound of flesh. In other words, everyone is trying to separate you from your money. However, CPE doesn’t need to be expensive. 

Outside of the IRS and CPA Academy, there are other free CPE courses. For example, companies that want you to buy their software will give you free CPE. Tax resolution companies and others will try to get you to buy their software, so they offer free CPE. 

The point is, most CPE is expensive, but with the options available today there is no need to pay for it.

About Craig W. Smalley, EA

Craig Smalley

Craig W. Smalley, MST, EA, has been in practice since 1994. He has been admitted to practice before the IRS as an enrolled agent and has a master's in taxation. He is well-versed in US tax law and US Tax Court cases. He specializes in taxation, entity structuring and restructuring, corporations, partnerships, and individual taxation, as well as representation before the IRS regarding negotiations, audits, and appeals. In his many years of practice, he has been exposed to a variety of businesses and has an excellent knowledge of most industries. He is the CEO and co-founder of CWSEAPA PLLC and Tax Crisis Center LLC; both business have locations in Florida, Delaware, and Nevada. Craig is the current Google small business accounting advisor for the Google Small Business Community. He is a contributor to AccountingWEB and Accounting Today, and has had 12 books published on various topics in taxation. His articles have also been featured in the Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, and several other newspapers, periodicals, and magazines. He has been interviewed and been a featured guest on many radio shows and podcasts. Finally, he is the co-host of Tax Avoidance is Legal, which is a nationally broadcast weekly Internet radio show.


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Aug 17th 2019 14:16

Very interesting. I've never used CPA Academy before for CPE. It appears that their webinars are free, but self-study must be purchased. Also, it does not appear that the webinars meet QAS (Quality Assurance Service) requirements which the state of Florida requires (I'm licensed in NYS & Florida). I used to use PES, now I use Master CPE, which offers flat rate QAS CPE (only ethics costs extra). Not a huge selection of courses, but enough.

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