Why CPE Should Be Free

Aug 14th 2019
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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.

Replies (3)

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By skinnyvinny
Aug 17th 2019 09:16 EDT

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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By MaryParra
Oct 3rd 2019 01:01 EDT

I agree! To opt the best course and personal learning material for the freshers is very necessary. They can also do online assessment for their course and ask the very professional accountants like sales tax accountant Clifton NJ unitedaccountingservices.com professionals for the needful.

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Danny Severns
By Danny Severns
Sep 4th 2021 08:17 EDT

I became a CPA before there was CPE which started in the late 70s as I recall. In my opinion it was started and continues as a huge money grab. Very few of the classes I took were ever worth the money. They were either too elementary and general or so advanced one would have to be an expert in the topic to get anything out of it. The instructions are left to do whatever they want and they may not be very good at putting together a course or lecturing. There is no uniform objectives or methodology so it is very hit and miss on the quality. It was always evident that the CPA Society did not care about quality, only the money. There is a need for CPE to deal with the changing tax laws, rules and regulations and auditing standards, but it should be held to that as far as requirements. If a CPA wants to learn a particular area in more depth, they are much better off taking a University course or one designed for much more class time that covers the topic from soup to nuts. How they handle their further education should be their choice, not mandated. A few quick CPE sessions does not cut it. No matter what amount of CPE hours are required, they will not guarantee a CPA or EA is any more qualified and current. They just have to show up and turn in their time. It is all about the form (appearance and money) over substance.

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