What is the difference between a Bookkeeper, Accountant, Enrolled Agent (“EA”) and Certified Public Accountant (“CPA”)?

It is a very important question and depending on your needs you will need to have a clear understanding on the differences so you can make the right decision on who will best serve you and or your business.

Bookkeeper is a person that may have completed some educational training or received training through their job experiences that has given them some background knowledge on the bookkeeping or accounting industry. Often experienced in a specific area of accounting like Accounts Payable (“AP”) or Accounts Receivable (“AR”) they are not technically a qualified accountant or may not have received any legal certification.

An Accountant is going to be a person who has gone through educational training and received credentials such as a degree by completing the educational training. They often have also had related job experiences that have allowed them to apply their educational training and start to expand their knowledge through their employment opportunities.

Enrolled Agent - EA is a person who has received additional training and/or education and has passed an examination to become certified as an Enrolled Agent. The examination covers federal tax law relating to individuals, corporations and partnerships. Like CPA’s and Attorneys, an EA is also qualified to represent their clients in front of the IRS. Enrolled agents are responsible to meet annual educational requirements and meet industry ethical guidelines.

Certified Public Accountant - CPA is a person who not only has met strict educational requirements but also has received supervised business training and passed a extensive and difficult test to become a CPA. The CPA exam is administered by the American Institute of CPAs and is designed to protect the public interest by helping to ensure that only qualified individuals become licensed as U.S. Certified Public Accountants. CPA’s are also held accountable for additional educational and ethical training annually to maintain their credentials. CPA’s are registered and monitored by their State of Certification report their annual educational and ethical training to the State.

This summary should provide you the basic knowledge of the various industry personnel available to you and should help direct you in determining who will be the right fit for you and your business.

Insperience Business Services has all these levels of staff to assist the clients we work with, please contact our office to determine which staff members will best meet your needs.