What is a Chartered Professional Accountant?
There are many people out there who offer what are commonly known as accounting services. These range from simple bookkeeping to income tax audit support and tax planning. However, there is a key difference between all those people and people who are Chartered Professional Accountants. Only Chartered Professional Accountants go through rigorous licensing processes, have their knowledge updated annually as a licensing requirements, are insured in case someone suffers a loss, and are under the oversight of CPA Canada.
CPA Canada sets standards for conduct and work by Chartered Professional Accountants through a number of standards boards and oversight councils. These bodies make sure that they constantly keep the profession up to date with best practices, changes in industry and government, and otherwise make sure that clients of Chartered Professional Accountants are protected. When you hire a CPA, you can rest assured that you are getting the highest quality of services by a competent and ethical service provider. Regular persons who provide.
Bookkeeping services are not supervised and you cannot be sure about their training and skills. Even if the person providing bookkeeping services is competent, they work without regulatory oversight. Also, a bookkeeper, that is not a Chartered Professional Accountant or supervised by a CPA, should never represent you in an income tax audit or speak to the CRA during an income tax audit. Having someone without the skills and training necessary to navigate an income tax audit with the CRA could leave you with a tax reassessment that then you have to object to and possibly appeal to the Tax Court of Canada. It is always better to get things right the first time than to ensure the stress, cost, and uncertainty of fighting the CRA after the fact.
When you get tax work done, like filing Voluntary Disclosures, a Chartered Professional Accountant make a difference. Voluntary Disclosures are complicated and require specialized knowledge and skills that most others do not possess. Successful Voluntary Disclosures require that the evidence be presented in a way that the Canada Revenue Agency is convinced. Usually the evidence is numbers, and numbers is what Chartered Professional Accountants deal with and are trained for. Another key to successful Voluntary Disclosures is the ability to cogently present the case in line with the Canada Revenue Agency’s policies. Make sure your tax work, such as Voluntary Disclosures, are handled properly from the get go so you stand the best chance of getting the full benefit of the Voluntary Disclosure Program. Given the importance of getting things right the first time when filing Voluntary Disclosures, should you really take a risk with someone who is not trained and supervised like a Chartered Professional Accountant is?
Although many people offer services that look or sound like accounting, such as bookkeeping, unless the person is certified and supervised like a Chartered Professional Accountant is, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment and failure. Work, such as a Voluntary Disclosures, is too important to be left to someone who lacks the necessary skills and training. Get the CPA stamp of approval and get a Chartered Professional Accountant on board from the get go.
Disclaimer: Articles are for general information only and do not constitute tax advice. They cannot be relied upon.
Sam Faris is a Toronto-based Chartered Professional Accountant who practices as an independent consultant on high-level Canadian tax matters and handles disputes with CRA. He has recently published an article a business magazine: HERE.