What's the Difference Between CE and CPE Options?

While CE & CPE courses seem interchangeable, there are differences in how many you need, who reports them & where, & more. See details here!

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Your professional accounting qualifications speak on your behalf, letting clients know that you are truly an expert in all areas of taxation. From federal tax updates to management training to ethics, when you complete the requirements for your CE and CPE credits, you prove that you are professionally competent and can deliver quality services.

As a tax professional, you must acquire these CE and CPE credits throughout your career. Approved courses are designed to keep you current on changes and updates in the areas that affect your business as well as your clients. Although it may seem like CE and CPE courses are interchangeable, there are differences in how many you need, who reports them and where, and if the credits are required or voluntary.

All About CE Courses

Continuing Education (CE) describes a voluntary program administered by the IRS. By completing the appropriate number of CE courses, you can become an enrolled agent (EA). There are many benefits to becoming an EA. For example, it brings you more credibility as a tax preparer and expands what you can do with your practice.

As an EA, you are a federally authorized tax practitioner that is “empowered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before all administrative levels—examination, collection, and appeals—of the Internal Revenue Service.”

To maintain your status as an EA, according to the IRS, you must earn 72 hours of CE credits every three years. At least 16 of those hours must be earned per year, and several of those CE credits need to be in ethics courses. Not every tax course out there will qualify you for IRS CE credits as the classes and the providers must be approved by the IRS. When you complete an IRS-approved CE course, the provider reports it on your behalf to the IRS.

You can earn CE credits when you enroll in free Courses by Canopy. Each course is IRS-approved and delivers what you need to move forward professionally.

All About CPE Courses

Continuing Professional Education (CPE) courses are required for licensure renewal as a CPA in every state. Standards are set by each state, so the number of credits you must earn and the reporting periods will differ. Your state’s board of accountancy will require you to report every CPE credit you earn and it’s up to you to keep on track for the amount you need.

For example, in the state of Washington, CPAs must complete the required CPE courses before submitting their application for a renewal of their license. In Washington, CPAs must have 120 CPE credits accumulated every three years. CPE courses must include at least 4 hours of ethics courses approved by the state board and no more than 72 non-technical courses such as personal development or management topics.

Your state board can provide details about the type of CPE courses you need to qualify for a license renewal and may even link to approved providers. Make sure you visit your state’s website to get more information about what you need to stay eligible and informed.

To earn high-quality CE and CPE credits, consider Courses by Canopy. Not only are they taught by some of the best in the business, they are free to everyone.