Frequently Asked Questions

Get quick answers to your questions.

Look up accounting terminology in our online dictionary.

Where can I get more information on the CPA exam?
www.cpa-exam.org

Where can I apply to take the CPA exam?
www.nasba.org/nasbaweb.nsf/exam.

I'm a student. Can I join the Delaware Society of CPAs?
The Delaware Society of CPAs has a student membership category for all students who
  • Are enrolled in a Delaware college or university and are majoring in or have a concentration in accounting or are enrolled in a graduate program in accounting or
  • Live in Delaware but go to a college or university outside of Delaware and are majoring in or have a concentration in accounting or are enrolled in a graduate program in accounting.
Apply Online

Are CPAs and accountants the same thing?
Yes and no. All CPAs are accountants, but not all accountants are certified public accountants. In Delaware, there are two types of accountants, certified public accountants and public accountants. Public accountants have different education, experience and exam requirements. NOTE - Public accountants should not be confused with CPAs who work in public accounting. In Delaware, the State Board of Accountancy can give either a CPA permit to practice or a PA (public accountant) permit to practice. A PA permit to practice does not allow you to do as much as the CPA permit to practice, and holders of a PA permit to practice are "PAs", not "CPAs".

What is accounting and why is it important?
Accounting is often called the "language of business" because it deals with interpreting and communicating information about a company's operations and finances.

Accounting is extremely important to any company because the financial information, as interpreted by CPAs, allows executives to make informed business decisions - decisions that help those companies become more successful.

Economic events are measured and described by accounting. Everyone works with and uses accounting ideas, whether they're managing a business, investing money, or just deciding how to spend their paycheck.

In business, accounting links the past with the future. It provides decision makers information about recent financial activity, as well as information and recommendations useful for forecasting future events.

What is the difference between a CPA Certificate and a CPA Permit to Practice?
When you apply to the Delaware State Board of Accountancy for a license, you are actually applying for a CPA certificate and a CPA permit to practice, which are two separate documents.

Any CPA working in public accountancy out of an office in Delaware must have a CPA certificate and a CPA permit to practice.

The CPA certificate does not expire. The CPA permit to practice expires on June 30 of every odd-numbered year (e.g., June 30, 2013). The permit to practice is renewed upon a showing of satisfactory completion of the continuing education requirement.

Do I need to take specific courses in college to qualify to sit for the CPA Exam?
Yes. Delaware requires that you take 24 hours of accounting courses. The concentration in accounting must include at least 24 semester hours of courses that cover subjects included in the Uniform CPA Examination Content Specification Outline. These courses must include financial accounting and reporting, auditing and attestation services, and taxation. Courses in other business subjects, such as banking, computer science, economics, finance, insurance, management and marketing will not be accepted as accounting courses. You should contact your academic advisor, accounting or business department chair, and your individual professors for more information on the requirements at your school.

Once I have a CPA certificate from Delaware, do I have to do anything to maintain the certificate?
No. There is no renewal on a CPA certificate and no expiration date. Delaware has strict rules about the kind of work that you can do with just a "certificate" as well as how you can use the CPA designation with just a certificate, so be sure to investigate the Code and the Rules and Regulations that are found on the Delaware State Board of Accountancy's web site. However, if you have a permit to practice, you are required to take continuing education courses to maintain your permit. See below.

Once I have a CPA permit to practice in Delaware, do I have to do anything to maintain the permit?
Yes. A Delaware permit to practice is only valid for two years. Delaware law requires that you complete 80 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) every two years and report your courses to the Delaware State Board of Accountancy in order to renew your permit. The 80 hours must include 8 hours of accounting and/or auditing, 8 hours of tax and 4 hours of Delaware-specific ethics. An additional 20 hours must be in accounting, auditing or tax or any combination thereof. No more than 24 hours of CPE can be self-study. The two-year reporting period runs from July 1 of an odd-numbered year to June 30 of the next odd-numbered year. For example, July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2013. The Delaware Society of CPAs offers courses that CPAs can take to meet this CPE requirement. For a current list of our courses, go to http://www.dscpa.org/professional_development/

If I have a certificate or permit to practice from Delaware, can I work in another state?
Rules differ from state to state so it is important that you check with the state board of accountancy in the state where you want to work to find out their rules. Many states have enacted substantial equivalency which allows CPAs to cross state lines to work; however, certain restrictions apply so you must check with the state that you are entering to determine what your requirements are.

What is the difference between a "license" and a "permit to practice"?
There is no difference. Both terms are used to designate a document that authorizes someone to practice certified public accountancy. Some states refer to the document as a "license", while others, such as Delaware, call it a "permit to practice".