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Friday, July 2, 2021

Tax Coverage for Future CPA Exam - CPA Evolution

I had the honor and privilege to participate with practitioners, tax faculty and AICPA exam staff recently to work on a model curriculum that ties to the next version of the CPA exam, referred to as CPA Evolution. The purpose of the revision is to better reflect how CPAs operate in today's global, digital environment where accounting, audit, tax compliance and planning, and technology are all important.

The exam will have a core that everyone takes with a foundation of accounting, audit, tax, business law, ethics and technology. Then prospective CPAs take one of three discipline exams: 

  • Tax compliance and planning
  • Information systems and controls
  • Business analysis and reporting

This exam is expected to launch in 2024.

In the meantime, many accounting and tax faculty asked the AICPA and NASBA how they might need to modify accounting curriculum to best help students be ready for this exam. Now, accounting undergraduate coursework has never been intended to be a CPA exam prep course, but it should provide a strong foundation for further prep for those accounting majors who want to become a CPA. Also, AICPA and NASBA studied today's practice of accounting and tax and found some gaps which should be of interest to all accounting programs and likely most were already working on closing these gaps such as by helping students learn how to find and utilize digital data, use data analytics software, think like a business person (business acumen) and think about tax planning rather than only compliance.

What are some of the key changes for a future CPA taking the Tax Compliance and Planning (TCP) discipline exam?  A few:

  • Greater focus on business and personal tax planning
  • Use of the term "tax attributes" rather than just covering them without naming them (a minor change, but I think relevant to a better focus on tax in the real world)
  • More on tax-exempt orgs and trusts than currently covered
  • More real world understanding of tax credits including how to claim them (in general terms), deadlines, clawbacks and expiration dates.
  • Greater focus on the intersection of tech and tax including understanding the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Safeguards rule

In deciding the depth and range of tax learning objectives, we considered what we thought a person 2 to 3 years out of school should know.

I encourage you to look at the updated suggested learning objectives for both tax in the core exam and the TCP discipline exam.  Some might be surprised at some of the topics, but most of these are already in the blueprints for the current CPA exam!

Links of interest:

Background info and links

FAQs on the CPA Evolution Model Curriculum

Model Curriculum - Tax Core on pages 42-51 and TCP on pages 73-88

What do you think?

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