3 Things About the Unknown Licensed Public Accountant

The flag of Bhutan. Image courtesy of user “mayns82” on Pixabay.com

Iowa is one of a small number of states that has a designation called Licensed Public Accountant. We are a tiny group — I have heard anecdotally that I was the 126th active LPA in Iowa when I got my license in 2013. My LPA number is 00353, which would indicate that I was the 353rd LPA in the history of the LPA designation at the time.

I have jokingly (okay, maybe not so jokingly) said Enrolled Agents are the Liechtenstein of the tax world and CPAs are like the United States.

If EAs are Liechtenstein, then LPAs would be Bhutan. (Bhutan is listed as the most-obscure country in the world according to this list.)

Here are a few facts about LPAs to help you get to know us better.

ONE: In Iowa, we are “real” public accountants

The “PA” part of LPA means public accountant, and yes we are real public accountants. My firm is a “real” public-accounting firm. I have the same CPE and reporting requirements as a CPA.

TWO: We can’t do audits or reviews

The difference between an LPA and a CPA is: CPAs can do audits and reviews of financial statements, while LPAs are limited to doing compilations. (Audits, reviews, compilations and preparations are different type of financial statements. Visit the Glossary page for definitions.)

THREE: Iowa LPAs must pass a two-part exam

Iowa requires a prospective LPA to pass the two-part Accredited Business Accountant exam. The exam tests over accounting concepts (part 1) and tax law (part 2). Strangely, the IRS does not recognize the Iowa LPA designation as being valid for practice in front of the IRS, even though taxes make up 50% of the exam.