Bookkeepers, Accountants, & CPA’s: Who Does What?
In my experience, I have found that frequently, many people do not understand the difference between a Bookkeeper, an Accountant, and a Certified Public Accountant.
A business owner may wonder, “ Do I need a bookkeeper or an accountant?”
The answer might be both.
The following general descriptions may provide some insight as to function and how each group may work together to provide value to those they serve.
Bookkeepers: May have Certifications
- Uses accounting software to record day-to-day financial transactions
- Generates financial reports
- Sends invoices to customers
- Enters invoices received from suppliers into the accounting system
- Reconciles Bank Statements
- Prepares Payroll
- Specific responsibilities will vary by type and size of business
- Work may be overseen by an accountant and/or the small business owner
Accountants: Bachelors Degree, with an emphasis in Accounting
- Assist Business Owners with their accounting systems, financial statements, income tax returns, tax planning, and investment decisions
- Prepares detailed budgets
- Works with a corporation’s management in analyzing costs of operations, products, and special projects such as forecasted to actual results
- Works with management in setting prices of products manufactured or services offered
- May prepare Cash Flow projections and analysis
- Works with banks to ensure the company will have funds when required
- Leads Tax Planning and determines income tax and other taxes payable to governmental entities
- Assess financial risks associated with projects
- Accountants and auditors perform overviews of the financial operations of a business in order to help it run efficiently.
- May Supervise teams of Bookkeepers in a large office or work in conjunction with bookkeepers to provide a different level of service to owners
- Help a business owner interpret the financial statements and offer suggestions to improve profitability, cash flow, and efficiency
Certified Public Accountants (CPA’s)- Licensed by the State and agrees to abide by a Code of Ethics
- Have met the “Three E’s” – Education, Examination, and Experience – that are required for initial licensure as a CPA and they continue to meet the annual continuing education requirements to renew their license each year
- The current exam includes 4 parts and includes a testing period of up to 14 hours
- A minimum of 40 continuing education hours are required each year
- CPA’s frequently become Trusted Business &/or Personal Financial Advisors
- We may perform any of the services shown under Accountants, or work in Public Accounting which includes a wide range of accounting, auditing, tax, and consulting tasks for small business, corporations, non-profit organizations, government, and for individuals (Personal Financial Planning)
- A CPA can do two things than an accountant without a CPA license cannot:
- Provide Attestation Services: Compilations, Reviews & Audits of an entity’s financial statements
- Represent clients in front of the Internal Revenue Service
- Certified Public Accountants, Enrolled Agents, and Attorneys have Unlimited Representation Rights before the IRS. Tax professionals with these credentials may represent their clients on any matters including audits, payment/collection issues, and appeals
Accounting and Tax is like a foreign language for most people.
It is an acquired skill.
Experience can be wide and deep.
Yet, most of us “Number Crunchers” have one thing in common, we enjoy helping and we use our knowledge and experience to empower others.
We like to use our gifts to help you.
“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said” – Dr. Peter F. Drucker
Similarly, an accountant/CPA may find meaning for you by “reading between the lines” and offer suggestions to improve the Bottom Line on your financial statements.
Thanks for reading,
Deborah Ann Fox, CPA helps Small Business Owners & Individuals build and protect their financial wealth. She can help by being your compass while you captain your ship.
Debbie offers free 30 minute no obligation consultations and is available for appointments – including remote. More information is available at http://www.debfoxfinancial.com. Questions or comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org