Certified Public Accountant encompasses a wide range of accounting, auditing, tax, and consulting tasks for corporations, small businesses, non-profit organizations, and individuals. Any qualified public accountant can do most of these tasks; however, a CPA can do two things that an accountant without a CPA license cannot:
- Prepare audited or reviewed financial statements and file a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). All public companies must file audited financial statements with the SEC.
- Represent clients in front of the Internal Revenue Service. (However, a non-CPA who is an attorney, enrolled agent, enrolled retirement plan agent, or enrolled actuary can also represent clients.
These services include preparing and filing federal, state, and local tax returns and working with organizations and individuals during the year to minimize their tax obligations. In case of an IRS audit or questions by state and local tax authorities, a CPA firm can represent their clients.