Accounting comparison

CPA Exam Comparison

Instructions

Compare and contrast the exam contents, requirements, and other aspects of the new CPA certication with TWO of the following other accounting certification exams: Certified Management Accountant (CMA), Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), Certified Governmental Financial Manager (CGFM). Compare and contrast the exam contents, requirements, and other aspects of the new CPA certication with TWO of the following other accounting certification exams: Certified Management Accountant (CMA), Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), Certified Governmental Financial Manager (CGFM).

Click here for

Content and Skill Specification Outline

for the new CPA exam requirements effective 1/1/2011. Content is just one way that exams can differ.

CONTENT AND SKILL
SPECIFICATIONS FOR THE

UNIFORM CPA EXAMINATION

Approved by the Board of Examiners
American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

May 15, 2009

Effective Date: January 1, 2011

Board of Examiners
Examinations Team

American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
Parkway Corporate Center

1230 Parkway Avenue, Suite 311
Ewing, NJ 08628-3018

COPYRIGHT © 2009 BY AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTANTS, INC.

2

CONTENT SPECIFICATION OUTLINES (CSOs)

The outline portions of the content specifications identify the extent of the technical content to be
tested on each of the four sections of the Uniform CPA Examination. The outlines list the areas,
groups, and topics to be tested in the following manner:

I. (Roman numeral) Area

A. (Capital letter) Group

1. (Arabic numeral) Topic

Each outline is followed by information about selected publications that candidates may study to
prepare for the Uniform CPA Examination.

Weights

The percentage range following each area represents the approximate percentage of total test
questions associated with the area. The ranges are designed to provide flexibility in building the
examination, and the midpoints of the ranges for all areas in each section total 100%. The
examination questions will be selected from each area to fall within the percentage allocation range.
No percentages are given for groups or topics. The presence of several groups within an area or
several topics within a group does not imply equal importance or weight will be given to these
groups or topics on an examination.

Auditing and Attestation (AUD)

The Auditing and Attestation section tests knowledge and understanding of the following
professional standards: Auditing standards promulgated in the United States of America (related to
audits of an “Issuer” (a public company), a “Nonissuer” (an entity that is not a public company),
governmental entities, not-for-profit entities, and employee benefit plans, standards related to
attestation and assurance engagements, and standards for performing accounting and review
services.

Candidates are expected to demonstrate an awareness of: (1) the International Auditing and
Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) and its role in establishing International Standards on Auditing
(ISAs), (2) the differences between ISAs and U.S. auditing standards, and (3) the audit requirements
under U.S. auditing standards that apply when they perform audit procedures on a U.S. company
that supports an audit report based upon the auditing standards of another country, or the ISAs.

This section also tests knowledge of professional responsibilities of certified public accountants,
including ethics and independence.

Candidates are also expected to demonstrate an awareness of: (1) the International Ethics Standards
Board for Accountants (IESBA) and its role in establishing requirements of the International

3

Federation of Accountants (IFAC) Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants, and (2) the
independence requirements that apply when they perform audit procedures on a U.S. company that
supports an audit report based upon the auditing standards of another country, or the ISAs.

In addition to demonstrating knowledge and understanding of the professional standards, candidates
are required to demonstrate the skills required to apply that knowledge in performing auditing and
attestation tasks as certified public accountants. The outline below specifies the tasks and related
knowledge in which candidates are required to demonstrate proficiency: Candidates are also
expected to perform the following tasks:

• Demonstrate an awareness and understanding of the process by which standards and
professional requirements are established for audit, attestation, and other services performed
by CPAs, including the role of standard-setting bodies within the U.S. and those bodies with
the authority to promulgate international standards.

• Differentiate between audits, attestation and assurance services, compilations, and reviews.

• Differentiate between the professional standards for issuers and nonissuers.

• Identify situations that might be unethical or a violation of professional standards, perform

research and consultations as appropriate, and determine the appropriate action.

• Recognize potentially unethical behavior of clients and determine the impact on the services

being performed.

• Demonstrate the importance of identifying and adhering to requirements, rules, and
standards that are established by licensing boards within their states, and which may place
additional professional requirements specific to their state of practice.

• Appropriately apply professional requirements in practice, and differentiate between

unconditional requirements and presumptively mandatory requirements.

• Exercise due care in the performance of work.

• Demonstrate an appropriate level of professional skepticism in the performance of work.

• Maintain independence in mental attitude in all matters relating to the audit.

• Research relevant professional literature.

I. Auditing and Attestation: Engagement Acceptance and Understanding the Assignment
(12% – 16%)

A. Determine Nature and Scope of Engagement

B. Consider the Firm’s System of Quality Control for Policies and Procedures

Pertaining to Client Acceptance and Continuance, including:

4

1. The CPA firm’s ability to perform the engagement within reporting

deadlines

2. Experience and availability of firm personnel to meet staffing and
supervision requirements

3. Whether independence can be maintained

4. Integrity of client management

5. Appropriateness of the engagement’s scope to meet the client’s needs

C. Communicate with the Predecessor Auditor

D. Establish an Understanding with the Client and Document the Understanding

Through an Engagement Letter or Other Written Communication with the Client

E. Consider Other Planning Matters

1. Consider using the work of other independent auditors

2. Determine the extent of the involvement of professionals possessing

specialized skills

3. Consider the independence, objectivity, and competency of the internal
audit function

F. Identify Matters and Prepare Documentation for Communications with Those

Charged with Governance

II. Auditing and Attestation: Understanding the Entity and Its Environment (including
Internal Control) (16% – 20%)

A. Determine and Document Materiality Levels for Financial Statements Taken as a

Whole

B. Conduct and Document Risk Assessment Discussions Among Audit Team,

Concurrently with Discussion on Susceptibility of the Entity’s Financial Statement to
Material Misstatement Due to Fraud

C. Consideration of Fraud

1. Identify characteristics of fraud

2. Document required discussions regarding risk of fraud

3. Document inquiries of management about fraud

5

4. Identify and assess risks that may result in material misstatements due to
fraud

D. Perform and Document Risk Assessment Procedures

1. Identify, conduct and document appropriate inquiries of management and
others within the entity

2. Perform appropriate analytical procedures to understand the entity and

identify areas of risk

3. Obtain information to support inquiries through observation and
inspection (including reading corporate minutes, etc.)

E. Consider Additional Aspects of the Entity and its Environment, including: Industry,

Regulatory and Other External Factors; Strategies and Business Risks; Financial
Performance

F. Consider Internal Control

1. Perform procedures to assess the control environment, including

consideration of the COSO framework and identifying entity-level controls

2. Obtain and document an understanding of business processes and
information flows

3. Perform and document walkthroughs of transactions from inception

through recording in the general ledger and presentation in financial
statements

4. Determine the effect of information technology on the effectiveness of an

entity’s internal control

5. Perform risk assessment procedures to evaluate the design and
implementation of internal controls relevant to an audit of financial
statements

6. Identify key risks associated with general controls in a financial IT

environment, including change management, backup/recovery, and
network access (e.g. administrative rights)

7. Identify key risks associated with application functionality that supports

financial transaction cycles, including: application access control (e.g.
administrative access rights); controls over interfaces, integrations, and e-
commerce; significant algorithms, reports, validation, edit checks, error
handling, etc.

8. Assess whether the entity has designed controls to mitigate key risks

associated with general controls or application functionality

6

9. Identify controls relevant to reliable financial reporting and the period-end

financial reporting process

10. Consider limitations of internal control

11. Consider the effects of service organizations on internal control

12. Consider the risk of management override of internal controls

G. Document an Understanding of the Entity and its Environment, including Each
Component of the Entity’s Internal Control, in Order to Assess Risks

H. Assess and Document the Risk of Material Misstatements

1. Identify and document financial statement assertions and formulate audit

objectives including significant financial statement balances, classes of
transactions, disclosures, and accounting estimates

2. Relate the identified risks to relevant assertions and consider whether the

risks could result in a material misstatement to the financial statements

3. Assess and document the risk of material misstatement that relates to both
financial statement level and specific assertions

4. Identify and document conditions and events that may indicate risks of

material misstatement

I. Identify and Document Significant Risks that Require Special Audit Consideration

1. Risk of fraud

2. Significant recent economic, accounting, or other developments

3. Related parties and related party transactions

4. Improper revenue recognition

5. Nonroutine or complex transactions

6. Significant management estimates

7. Illegal acts

III. Auditing and Attestation: Performing Audit Procedures and Evaluating Evidence

(16% – 20%)

A. Develop Overall Responses to Risks

7

1. Develop overall responses to risks identified and use the risks of material
misstatement to drive the nature, timing, and extent of further audit
procedures

2. Document significant risks identified, related controls evaluated, and

overall responses to address assessed risks

3. Determine and document level(s) of tolerable misstatement

B. Perform Audit Procedures Responsive to Risks of Material Misstatement; Obtain

and Document Evidence to Form a Basis for Conclusions

1. Design and perform audit procedures whose nature, timing, and extent are
responsive to the assessed risk of material misstatement

2. Integrating audits: in an integrated audit of internal control over financial

reporting and the financial statements, design and perform testing of
controls to accomplish the objectives of both audits simultaneously

3. Design, perform, and document tests of controls to evaluate design

effectiveness

4. Design, perform, and document tests of controls to evaluate operating
effectiveness

5. Perform substantive procedures

6. Perform audit sampling

7. Perform analytical procedures

8. Confirm balances and/or transactions with third parties

9. Examine inventories and other assets

10. Perform other tests of details, balances, and journal entries

11. Perform computer-assisted audit techniques (CAATs), including data

query, extraction, and analysis

12. Perform audit procedures on significant management estimates

13. Auditing fair value measurements and disclosures, including the use of
specialists in evaluating estimates

14. Perform tests on unusual year-end transactions

8

15. Audits performed in accordance with International Standards on Auditing
(ISAs) or auditing standards of another country: determine if differences
exist and whether additional audit procedures are required

16. Evaluate contingencies

17. Obtain and evaluate lawyers’ letters

18. Review subsequent events

19. Obtaining and placing reliance on representations from management

20. Identify material weaknesses, significant deficiencies, and other control

deficiencies

21. Identify matters for communication with those charged with governance

IV. Auditing and Attestation: Evaluating Audit Findings, Communications, and Reporting
(16% – 20%)

A. Perform Analytical Procedures

B. Evaluate the Sufficiency and Appropriateness of Audit Evidence and Document

Engagement Conclusions

C. Evaluate Whether Audit Documentation is in Accordance with Professional

Standards

D. Review the Work Performed by Others to Provide Reasonable Assurance that

Objectives are Achieved

E. Document the Summary of Uncorrected Misstatements and Related Conclusions

F. Evaluate Whether Financial Statements are Free of Material Misstatements

G. Consider the Entity’s Ability to Continue as a Going Concern

H. Consider Other Information in Documents Containing Audited Financial Statements

(e.g. Supplemental Information and Management’s Discussion and Analysis)

I. Retain Audit Documentation as Required by Standards and Regulations

J. Prepare Communications

1. Reports on audited financial statements

2. Reports required by government auditing standards

3. Reports on compliance with laws and regulations

9

4. Reports on internal control

5. Reports on the processing of transactions by service organizations

6. Reports on agreed-upon procedures

7. Reports on financial forecasts and projections

8. Reports on pro forma financial information

9. Special reports

10. Reissue reports

11. Communicate internal control related matters identified in the audit

12. Communications with those charged with governance

13. Subsequent discovery of facts existing at the date of the auditor’s report

14. Consideration after the report date of omitted procedures

V. Accounting and Review Services Engagements (12% – 16%)

A. Plan the Engagement

1. Determine nature and scope of engagement

2. Decide whether to accept or continue the client and engagement including

determining the appropriateness of the engagement to meet the client’s
needs and consideration of independence standards

3. Establish an understanding with the client and document the

understanding through an engagement letter or other written
communication with the client

4. Consider change in engagement

5. Determine if reports are to be used by third parties

B. Obtain and Document Evidence to Form a Basis for Conclusions

1. Obtain an understanding of the client’s operations, business, and industry

2. Obtain knowledge of accounting principles and practices in the industry

and the client

10

3. Obtain knowledge of stated qualifications of accounting personnel

4. Perform analytical procedures for review services

5. Obtain representations from management for review services

6. Perform other engagement procedures

7. Consider departures from generally accepted accounting principles

(GAAP) or other comprehensive basis of accounting (OCBOA)

8. Prepare documentation from evidence gathered

9. Retain documentation as required by standards

10. Review the work performed to provide reasonable assurance that
objectives are achieved

C. Prepare Communications

1. Reports on compiled financial statements

2. Reports on reviewed financial statements

3. Restricted use of reports

4. Communicating to management and others

5. Subsequent discovery of facts existing at the date of the report

6. Consider degree of responsibility for supplementary information

VI. Professional Responsibilities (16% – 20%)

A. Ethics and Independence

1. Code of Professional Conduct (AICPA)

2. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB)

3. U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

4. Government Accountability Office (GAO)

5. Department of Labor (DOL)

6. Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, Title II

11

7. Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, Title III, Section 303

8. Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants (IFAC)

B. Other Professional Responsibilities

1. Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, Title IV

2. Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, Title I

12

References – Auditing and Attestation

• AICPA Statements on Auditing Standards and Interpretations

• AICPA Codification of Statements on Auditing Standards, AU Appendix B, Analysis of

International Standards on Auditing

• Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) Standards (SEC-Approved) and
Related Rules, PCAOB Staff Questions and Answers, and PCAOB Staff Audit Practice
Alerts

• U.S. Government Accountability Office Government Auditing Standards

• Single Audit Act, as amended

• Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-133

• AICPA Statements on Quality Control Standards

• AICPA Statements on Standards for Accounting and Review Services and Interpretations

• AICPA Statements on Standards for Attestation Engagements and Interpretations

• AICPA Audit and Accounting Guides

• AICPA Auditing Practice Releases

• AICPA Code of Professional Conduct

• IFAC Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants

• Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002

• Department of Labor Guidelines and Interpretive Bulletins re: Auditor Independence

• SEC Independence Rules

• Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974

• The Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO):

Internal Control – Integrated Framework

• Current textbooks on auditing, attestation services, ethics, and independence

13

Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)

The Financial Accounting and Reporting section tests knowledge and understanding of the financial
reporting framework used by business enterprises, not-for-profit organizations, and governmental
entities. The financial reporting frameworks that are included in this section are those issued by the
standard-setters identified in the references to these CSOs, which include standards issued by the
Financial Accounting Standards Board, the International Accounting Standards Board, the U.S.
Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Governmental Accounting Standards Board.

In addition to demonstrating knowledge and understanding of accounting principles, candidates are
required to demonstrate the skills required to apply that knowledge in performing financial reporting
and other tasks as certified public accountants. To demonstrate such knowledge and skills,
candidates will be expected to perform the following tasks:

• Identify and understand the differences between financial statements prepared on the basis

of accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America (U.S. GAAP)
and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).

• Prepare and/or review source documents including account classification, and enter data
into subsidiary and general ledgers.

• Calculate amounts for financial statement components.

• Reconcile the general ledger to the subsidiary ledgers or underlying account details.

• Prepare account reconciliation and related schedules; analyze accounts for unusual

fluctuations and make necessary adjustments.

• Prepare consolidating and eliminating entries for the period.

• Identify financial accounting and reporting methods and select those that are appropriate.

• Prepare consolidated financial statements, including balance sheets, income statements, and

statements of retained earnings, equity, comprehensive income, and cash flows.

• Prepare appropriate notes to the financial statements.

• Analyze financial statements including analysis of accounts, variances, trends, and ratios.

• Exercise judgment in the application of accounting principles.

• Apply judgment to evaluate assumptions and methods underlying estimates, including fair
value measures of financial statement components.

• Produce required financial statement filings in order to meet regulatory or reporting

requirements (e.g. Form 10-Q, 10-K, Annual Report).

14

• Determine appropriate accounting treatment for new or unusual transactions and evaluate
the economic substance of transactions in making the determinations.

• Research relevant professional literature.

The outline below specifies the knowledge in which candidates are required to demonstrate
proficiency:

I. Conceptual Framework, Standards, Standard Setting, and Presentation of Financial

Statements (17% – 23%)

A. Process by which Accounting Standards are Set and Roles of Accounting Standard-
Setting Bodies

1. U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

2. Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB)

3. International Accounting Standards Board (IASB)

4. Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB)

B. Conceptual Framework

1. Financial reporting by business entities

2. Financial reporting by not-for-profit (nongovernmental) entities

3. Financial reporting by state and local governmental entities

C. Financial Reporting, Presentation and Disclosures in General-Purpose Financial

Statements

1. Balance sheet

2. Income statement

3. Statement of comprehensive income

4. Statement of changes in equity

5. Statement of cash flows

6. Notes to financial statements

7. Consolidated and combined financial statements

8. First-time adoption of IFRS

15

D. SEC Reporting Requirements (e.g. Form 10-Q, 10-K)

E. Other Financial Statement Presentations, including Other Comprehensive Bases of

Accounting (OCBOA)

1. Cash basis

2. Modified cash basis

3. Income tax basis

4. Personal financial statements

5. Financial statements of employee benefit plans/trusts

II. Financial Statement Accounts: Recognition, Measurement, Valuation, Calculation,
Presentation, and Disclosures (27% – 33%)

A. Cash and Cash Equivalents

B. Receivables

C. Inventory

D. Property, Plant, and Equipment

E. Investments

1. Financial assets at fair value through profit or loss

2. Available for sale financial assets

3. Held-to-maturity investments

4. Joint ventures

5. Equity method investments (investments in associates)

6. Investment property

F. Intangible Assets – Goodwill and Other

G. Payables and Accrued Liabilities

H. Deferred Revenue

I. Long-Term Debt (Financial Liabilities)

16

1. Notes payable

2. Bonds payable

3. Debt with conversion features and other options

4. Modifications and extinguishments

5. Troubled debt restructurings by debtors

6. Debt covenant compliance

J. Equity

K. Revenue Recognition

L. Costs and Expenses

M. Compensation and Benefits

1. Compensated absences

2. Deferred compensation arrangements

3. Nonretirement postemployment benefits

4. Retirement benefits

5. Stock compensation (share-based payments)

N. Income Taxes

III. Specific Transactions, Events and Disclosures: Recognition, Measurement, Valuation,

Calculation, Presentation, and Disclosures (27% – 33%)

A. Accounting Changes and Error Corrections

B. Asset Retirement and Environmental Obligations

C. Business Combinations

D. Consolidation (including Off-Balance Sheet Transactions, Variable-Interest Entities
and Noncontrolling Interests)

E. Contingencies, Commitments, and Guarantees (Provisions)

F. Earnings Per Share

G. Exit or Disposal Activities and Discontinued Operations

17

H. Extraordinary and Unusual Items

I. Fair Value Measurements, Disclosures, and Reporting

J. Derivatives and Hedge Accounting

K. Foreign Currency Transactions and Translation

L. Impairment

M. Interim Financial Reporting

N. Leases

O. Distinguishing Liabilities from Equity

P. Nonmonetary Transactions (Barter Transactions)

Q. Related Parties and Related Party Transactions

R. Research and Development Costs

S. Risks and Uncertainties

T. Segment Reporting

U. Software Costs

V. Subsequent Events

W. Transfers and Servicing of Financial Assets and Derecognition

IV. Governmental Accounting and Reporting (8% – 12%)

A. Governmental Accounting Concepts

1. Measurement focus and basis of accounting

2. Fund accounting concepts and applications

3. Budgetary accounting

B. Format and Content of Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR)

1. Government-wide financial statements

2. Governmental funds financial statements

18

3. Proprietary funds financial statements

4. Fiduciary funds financial statements

5. Notes to financial statements

6. Management’s discussion and analysis

7. Required supplementary information (RSI) other than Management’s
Discussion and Analysis

8. Combining statements and individual fund statements and schedules

9. Deriving government-wide financial statements and reconciliation

requirements

C. Financial Reporting Entity, Including Blended and Discrete Component Units

D. Typical Items and Specific Types of Transactions and Events: Recognition,
Measurement, Valuation, Calculation, and Presentation in Governmental Entity
Financial Statements

1. Net assets and components thereof

2. Fund balances and components thereof

3. Capital assets and infrastructure assets

4. General long-term liabilities

5. Interfund activity, including transfers

6. Nonexchange revenue transactions

7. Expenditures

8. Special items

9. Encumbrances

E. Accounting and Reporting for Governmental Not-for-Profit Organizations

V. Not-for-Profit (Nongovernmental) Accounting and Reporting (8% – 12%)

A. Financial Statements

1. Statement of financial position

2. Statement of activities

19

3. Statement of cash flows

4. Statement of functional expenses

B. Typical Items and Specific Types of Transactions and Events: Recognition,

Measurement, Valuation, Calculation, and Presentation in Financial Statements of
Not-for-Profit Organizations

1. Support, revenues, and contributions

2. Types of restrictions on resources

3. Types of net assets

4. Expenses, including depreciation and functional expenses

5. Investments

20

References – Financial Accounting and Reporting

• Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Accounting Standards Codification

• Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Codification of Governmental
Accounting and Financial Reporting Standards

• Standards Issued by the U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC):

o Regulation S-X of the Code of Federal Regulations (17 CFR Part 210)
o Financial Reporting Releases (FRR)/Accounting Series Releases (ASR)
o Interpretive Releases (IR)
o SEC Staff Guidance in Staff Accounting Bulletins (SAB)
o SEC Staff Guidance in EITF Topic D and SEC Staff Observer Comments

• International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) International Financial Reporting

Standards (IFRS), International Accounting Standards (IAS), and Interpretations

• AICPA Auditing and Accounting Guides

• Current textbooks on accounting for business enterprises, not-for-profit organizations, and
governmental entities

21

Regulation (REG)

The Regulation section tests knowledge and understanding of ethics, professional and legal
responsibilities, business law, and federal taxation.

Ethics, Professional and Legal Responsibilities and Business Law
These topics test knowledge and understanding of professional and legal responsibilities of certified
public accountants. Professional ethics questions relate to tax practice issues and are based on the
AICPA Code of Professional Conduct, Treasury Department Circular 230, and rules and regulations
for tax return preparers. Business law topics test knowledge and understanding of the legal
implications of business transactions, particularly as they relate to accounting, auditing, and financial
reporting. This section deals with federal and widely adopted uniform state laws or references
identified in this CSO.

In addition to demonstrating knowledge and understanding of these topics, candidates are required
to demonstrate the skills required to apply that knowledge in performing their responsibilities as
certified public accountants. To demonstrate such knowledge and skills, candidates will be expected
to perform the following tasks:

• Identify situations that might be unethical or a violation of professional standards, perform
research and consultations as appropriate, and determine the appropriate action.

• Recognize potentially unethical behavior of clients and determine the impact on the tax

services being performed.

• Demonstrate the importance of identifying and adhering to requirements, rules, and
standards that are established by licensing boards within their state, and which may place
additional professional requirements specific to their state of practice.

• Apply business law concepts in evaluating the economic substance of client transactions,

including purchase agreements, loans and promissory notes, sales contracts, leases, side
agreements, commitments, contingencies, and assumption of liabilities.

• Evaluate the legal structure of an entity to determine the implications of applicable laws and

regulations on how a business is organized, governed, and operates.

Federal Taxation
These topics test knowledge and understanding of concepts and laws relating to federal taxation
(income, gift, and estate). The areas of testing include federal tax process, procedures, accounting,
and planning, as well as federal taxation of property transactions, individuals, and entities (which
include sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability entities, C corporations, S corporations,
joint ventures, trusts, estates, and tax-exempt organizations).

In addition to demonstrating knowledge and understanding of these topics, candidates are required
to demonstrate the skills required to apply that knowledge in providing tax preparation and advisory
services and performing other responsibilities as certified public accountants. To demonstrate such
knowledge and skills, candidates will be expected to perform the following tasks:

22

• Evaluate the tax implications of different legal structures for business entities.

• Apply analytical reasoning tools to assess how taxes affect economic decisions related to the

timing of income/expense recognition and property transactions.

• Consider the impact of multijurisdictional tax issues on federal taxes.

• Identify the differences between tax and financial accounting.

• Analyze information and identify data relevant for tax purposes.

• Identify issues, elections, and alternative tax treatments.

• Research issues and alternative tax treatments.

• Formulate conclusions.

• Prepare documentation to support conclusions and tax positions.

• Research relevant professional literature.

The outline below specifies the knowledge in which candidates are required to demonstrate
proficiency:

I. Ethics, Professional, and Legal Responsibilities (15% -19%)

A. Ethics and Responsibilities in Tax Practice

1. Treasury Department Circular 230

2. AICPA Statements on Standards for Tax Services

3. Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, and Regulations related to tax

return preparers

B. Licensing and Disciplinary Systems

1. Role of state boards of accountancy

2. Requirements of regulatory agencies

C. Legal Duties and Responsibilities

1. Common law duties and liability to clients and third parties

2. Federal statutory liability

3. Privileged communications, confidentiality, and privacy acts

23

II. Business Law (17% – 21%)

A. Agency

1. Formation and termination

2. Authority of agents and principals

3. Duties and liabilities of agents and principals

B. Contracts

1. Formation

2. Performance

3. Third party assignments

4. Discharge, breach, and remedies

C. Uniform Commercial Code

1. Sales contracts

2. Negotiable instruments

3. Secured transactions

4. Documents of title and title transfer

D. Debtor-Creditor Relationships

1. Rights, duties, and liabilities of debtors, creditors, and guarantors

2. Bankruptcy and insolvency

E. Government Regulation of Business

1. Federal securities regulation

2. Other federal laws and regulations (antitrust, copyright, patents, money-

laundering, labor, employment, and ERISA)

F. Business Structure (Selection of a Business Entity)

1. Advantages, disadvantages, implications, and constraints

2. Formation, operation, and termination

24

3. Financial structure, capitalization, profit and loss allocation, and distributions

4. Rights, duties, legal obligations, and authority of owners and management

III. Federal Tax Process, Procedures, Accounting, and Planning (11% – 15%)

A. Federal Tax Legislative Process

B. Federal Tax Procedures

1. Due dates and related extensions of time

2. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audit and appeals process

3. Judicial process

4. Required disclosure of tax return positions

5. Substantiation requirements

6. Penalties

7. Statute of limitations

C. Accounting Periods

D. Accounting Methods

1. Recognition of revenues and expenses under cash, accrual, or other

permitted methods

2. Inventory valuation methods, including uniform capitalization rules

3. Accounting for long-term contracts

4. Installment sales

E. Tax Return Elections, Including Federal Status Elections, Alternative Treatment
Elections, or Other Types of Elections Applicable to an Individual or Entity’s Tax
Return

F. Tax Planning

1. Alternative treatments

2. Projections of tax consequences

3. Implications of different business entities

25

4. Impact of proposed tax audit adjustments

5. Impact of estimated tax payment rules on planning

6. Role of taxes in decision-making

G. Impact of Multijurisdictional Tax Issues on Federal Taxation (Including

Consideration of Local, State, and Multinational Tax Issues)

H. Tax Research and Communication

1. Authoritative hierarchy

2. Communications with or on behalf of clients

IV. Federal Taxation of Property Transactions (12% – 16%)

A. Types of Assets

B. Basis and Holding Periods of Assets

C. Cost Recovery (Depreciation, Depletion, and Amortization)

D. Taxable and Nontaxable Sales and Exchanges

E. Amount and Character of Gains and Losses, and Netting Process

F. Related Party Transactions

G. Estate and Gift Taxation

1. Transfers subject to the gift tax

2. Annual exclusion and gift tax deductions

3. Determination of taxable estate

4. Marital deduction

5. Unified credit

V. Federal Taxation of Individuals (13% – 19%)

A. Gross Income

1. Inclusions and exclusions

2. Characterization of income

26

B. Reporting of Items from Pass-Through Entities

C. Adjustments and Deductions to Arrive at Taxable Income

D. Passive Activity Losses

E. Loss Limitations

F. Taxation of Retirement Plan Benefits

G. Filing Status and Exemptions

H. Tax Computations and Credits

I. Alternative Minimum Tax

VI. Federal Taxation of Entities (18% – 24%)

A. Similarities and Distinctions in Tax Treatment Among Business Entities

1. Formation

2. Operation

3. Distributions

4. Liquidation

B. Differences Between Tax and Financial Accounting

1. Reconciliation of book income to taxable income

2. Disclosures under Schedule M-3

C. C Corporations

1. Determination of taxable income/loss

2. Tax computations and credits, including alternative minimum tax

3. Net operating losses

4. Entity/owner transactions, including contributions and distributions

5. Earnings and profits

6. Consolidated returns

27

D. S Corporations

1. Eligibility and election

2. Determination of ordinary income/loss and separately stated items

3. Basis of shareholder’s interest

4. Entity/owner transactions, including contributions and distributions

5. Built-in gains tax

E. Partnerships

1. Determination of ordinary income/loss and separately stated items

2. Basis of partner’s/member’s interest and basis of assets contributed to the
partnership

3. Partnership and partner elections

4. Transactions between a partner and the partnership

5. Treatment of partnership liabilities

6. Distribution of partnership assets

7. Ownership changes and liquidation and termination of partnership

F. Trusts and Estates

1. Types of trusts

2. Income and deductions

3. Determination of beneficiary’s share of taxable income

G. Tax-Exempt Organizations

1. Types of organizations

2. Obtaining and maintaining tax-exempt status

3. Unrelated business income

28

References – Regulation

Ethics, Professional and Legal Responsibilities, and Business Law

• AICPA Code of Professional Conduct

• AICPA Statements on Standards for Tax Services

• Revised Model Business Corporation Act

• Revised Uniform Limited Partnership Act

• Revised Uniform Partnership Act

• Securities Act of 1933

• Securities Exchange Act of 1934

• Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002

• Uniform Commercial Code

• Current textbooks covering business law, auditing, accounting, and ethics

Federal Taxation

• Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, and Regulations

• Treasury Department Circular 230

• Other administrative pronouncements

• Case law

• AICPA Model Tax Curriculum

• Current Federal tax textbooks

29

Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)

The Business Environment and Concepts section tests knowledge and skills necessary to
demonstrate an understanding of the general business environment and business concepts. The
topics in this section include knowledge of corporate governance; economic concepts essential to
understanding the global business environment and its impact on an entity’s business strategy and
financial risk management; financial management processes; information systems and
communications; strategic planning; and operations management.

In addition to demonstrating knowledge and understanding of these topics, candidates are required
to apply that knowledge in performing audit, attest, financial reporting, tax preparation, and other
professional responsibilities as certified public accountants. To demonstrate such knowledge and
skills, candidates will be expected to perform the following tasks:

• Demonstrate an understanding of globalization on the business environment

• Distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate governance structures within an
organization (e.g. tone at the top, policies, steering committees, strategies, oversight, etc.).

• Assess the impact of business cycles on an entity’s industry or business operations.

• Apply knowledge of changes in the global economic markets in identifying the impact on an

entity in determining its business strategy and financial management policies, including
managing the risks of: inflation, deflation, commodity costs, credit defaults, interest rate
variations, currency fluctuation, and regulation.

• Assess the factors influencing a company’s capital structure, including risk, leverage, cost of

capital, growth rate, profitability, asset structure, and loan covenants.

• Evaluate assumptions used in financial valuations to determine their reasonableness (e.g.
investment return assumptions, discount rates, etc.).

• Determine the business reasons for and explain the underlying economic substance of

transactions and their accounting implications.

• Identify the information systems within a business that are used to process and accumulate

transactional data, as well as provide monitoring and financial reporting information.

• Distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate internal control systems, including
system design, controls over data, transaction flow, wireless technology, and internet
transmissions.

• Evaluate whether there is appropriate segregation of duties, levels of authorization, and data

security in an organization to maintain an appropriate internal control structure.

• Obtain and document information about an organization’s strategic planning processes to
identify key components of the business strategy and market risks.

30

• Develop a time-phased project plan showing required activities, task dependencies, and
required resources to achieve a specific deliverable.

• Identify the business and operational risks inherent in an entity’s disaster recovery/business

continuity plan.

• Evaluate business operations and quality control initiatives to understand its use of best
practices and the ways to measure and manage performance and costs.

The outline below specifies the knowledge in which candidates are required to demonstrate
proficiency:

I. Corporate Governance (16% – 20%)

A. Rights, Duties, Responsibilities, and Authority of the Board of Directors, Officers,

and Other Employees

1. Financial reporting

2. Internal control (including COSO or similar framework)

3. Enterprise risk management (including COSO or similar framework)

B. Control Environment

1. Tone at the top – establishing control environment

2. Monitoring control effectiveness

3. Change control process

II. Economic Concepts and Analysis (16% – 20%)

A. Changes in Economic and Business Cycles – Economic Measures/Indicators

B. Globalization and Local Economies

1. Impacts of globalization on companies

2. Shifts in economic balance of power (e.g. capital) to/from developed

from/to emerging markets

C. Market Influences on Business Strategies

D. Financial Risk Management

1. Market, interest rate, currency, liquidity, credit, price, and other risks

31

2. Means for mitigating/controlling financial risks

III. Financial Management (19% – 23%)

A. Financial Modeling, Projections, and Analysis

1. Forecasting and trends

2. Financial and risk analysis

3. Impact of inflation/deflation

B. Financial Decisions

1. Debt, equity, leasing

2. Asset and investment management

C. Capital Management, including Working Capital

1. Capital structure

2. Short-term and long-term financing

3. Asset effectiveness and/or efficiency

D. Financial Valuations (e.g. Fair Value)

1. Methods for calculating valuations

2. Evaluating assumptions used in valuations

E. Financial Transaction Processes and Controls

IV. Information Systems and Communications (15% – 19%)

A. Organizational Needs Assessment

1. Data capture

2. Processing

3. Reporting

4. Role of information technology in business strategy

B. Systems Design and Other Elements

32

1. Business process design (integrated systems, automated, and manual
interfaces)

2. Information Technology (IT) control objectives

3. Role of technology systems in control monitoring

4. Operational effectiveness

5. Segregation of duties

6. Policies

C. Security

1. Technologies and security management features

2. Policies

D. Internet – Implications for Business

1. Electronic commerce

2. Opportunities for business process reengineering

3. Roles of internet evolution on business operations and organization cultures

E. Types of Information System and Technology Risks

F. Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity

V. Strategic Planning (10% – 14%)

A. Market and Risk Analysis

B. Strategy Development, Implementation, and Monitoring

C. Planning Techniques

1. Budget and analysis

2. Forecasting and projection

3. Coordinating information from various sources for integrated planning

VI. Operations Management (12% – 16%)

A. Performance Management and Impact of Measures on Behavior

33

1. Financial and nonfinancial measures

2. Impact of marketing practices on performance

3. Incentive compensation

B. Cost Measurement Methods and Techniques

C. Process Management

1. Approaches, techniques, measures, and benefits to process-management-

driven businesses

2. Roles of shared services, outsourcing, and off-shore operations, and their

implications on business risks and controls

3. Selecting and implementing improvement initiatives

4. Business process reengineering

5. Management philosophies and techniques for performance improvement
such as Just in Time (JIT), Quality, Lean, Demand Flow, Theory of
Constraints, and Six Sigma

D. Project Management

1. Project planning, implementation, and monitoring

2. Roles of project managers, project members, and oversight or steering

groups

3. Project risks, including resource, scope, cost, and deliverables

34

References – Business Environment and Concepts

• The Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO):

o Internal Control – Integrated Framework

o Enterprise Risk Management

• Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002:

o Title III, Corporate Responsibility

o Title IV, Enhanced Financial Disclosures

o Title VIII, Corporate and Criminal Fraud Accountability

• Current Business Periodicals

• Current Textbooks on:

o Accounting Information Systems

o Budgeting and Measurement

o Corporate Governance

o Economics

o Enterprise Risk Management

o Finance

o Management

o Management Information Systems

o Managerial Accounting

o Production Operations

o Project Management

35

SKILL SPECIFICATION OUTLINES (SSOs)

The Skill Specification Outlines (SSOs) identify the skills to be tested on the Uniform CPA
Examination. There are three categories of skills, and the weightings will be implemented through
the use of different question formats in the exam. For each of the question formats, a different set
of tools will be available as resources to the candidates, who will need to use those tools to
demonstrate proficiency in the applicable skills categories.

Weights

The percentage range assigned to each skill category will be used to determine the quantity of each
type of question, as described below. The percentage range assigned to each skill category
represents the approximate percentage to which that category of skills will be used in the different
sections of the CPA Examination to assess proficiency. The ranges are designed to provide
flexibility in building the examination, and the midpoints of the ranges for each section total 100%.
No percentages are given for the bulleted descriptions included in these definitions. The presence
of several groups within an area or several topics within a group does not imply equal importance or
weight will be given to these bullets on an examination.

Skills Category Weights
(FAR, REG, AUD)

Weights
(BEC)

Knowledge and Understanding 50% – 60% 80% – 90%
Application of the Body of Knowledge 40% – 50% –
Written Communication – 10% – 20%

Knowledge and Understanding: Multiple-choice questions will be used as the proxy for assessing
knowledge and understanding, and will be based upon the content topics as outlined in the CSOs.
Candidates will not have access to the authoritative literature, spreadsheets, or database tools while
answering these questions. A calculator will be accessible for the candidates to use in performing
calculations to demonstrate their understanding of the principles or subject matter.

Application of the Body of Knowledge: Task-based simulations will be used as the proxy for assessing
application of the body of knowledge and will be based upon the content topics as outlined in the
CSOs. Candidates will have access to the authoritative literature, a calculator, spreadsheets, and
other resources and tools which they will use to demonstrate proficiency in applying the body of
knowledge.

Written Communication will be assessed through the use of responses to essay questions, which will be
based upon the content topics as outlined in the CSOs. Candidates will have access to a word
processor, which includes a spell check feature.

36

Outlines

The outlines below provide additional descriptions of the skills that are represented in each category.

Knowledge and Understanding: Expertise and skills developed through learning processes, recall,
and reading comprehension. Knowledge is acquired through experience or education and is the
theoretical or practical understanding of a subject; knowledge is also represented through awareness
or familiarity with information gained by experience of a fact or situation. Understanding represents
a higher level than simple knowledge and is the process of using concepts to deal adequately with
given situations, facts, or circumstances. Understanding is the ability to recognize and comprehend
the meaning of a particular concept.

Application of the Body of Knowledge, including Analysis, Judgment, Synthesis,
Evaluation, and Research: Higher-level cognitive skills that require individuals to act or transform
knowledge in some fashion. These skills are inextricably intertwined and thus are grouped into this
single skill area.

• Assess the Business Environment:

o Business Process Evaluation: Assessing and integrating information regarding a
business’s operational structure, functions, processes, and procedures to develop
a broad operational perspective; identify the need for new systems or changes to
existing systems and/or processes.

o Contextual Evaluation: Assessing and integrating information regarding client’s

type of business or industry.

o Strategic Analysis – Understanding the Business: Obtaining, assessing and
integrating information on the entity’s strategic objectives, strategic management
process, business environment, the nature of and value to customers, its
products and services, extent of competition within its market space, etc.).

o Business Risk Assessment: Obtaining, assessing and integrating information on

conditions and events that could impede the entity’s ability to achieve strategic
objectives.

o Visualize abstract descriptions: Organize and process symbols, pictures, graphs,

objects, and other information.

• Research:

o Identify the appropriate research question.

o Identify key search terms for use in performing electronic searches through large

volumes of data.

o Search through large volumes of electronic data to find required information.

o Organize information or data from multiple sources.

37

o Integrate diverse sources of information to reach conclusions or make decisions.

o Identify the appropriate authoritative guidance in applicable financial reporting

frameworks and auditing standards for the accounting issue being evaluated.

• Application of Technology:

o Using electronic spreadsheets to perform calculations, financial analysis, or other

functions to analyze data.

o Integration of technological applications and resources into work processes.

o Using a variety of computer software and hardware systems to structure, utilize,

and manage data.

• Analysis:

o Review information to determine compliance with specified standards or criteria.

o Use expectations, empirical data, and analytical methods to determine trends and

variances.

o Perform appropriate calculations on financial and nonfinancial data.

o Recognize patterns of activity when reviewing large amounts of data or recognize

breaks in patterns.

o Interpretation of financial statement data for a given evaluation purpose.

o Forecasting future financial statement data from historical financial statement
data and other information.

o Integrating primary financial statements: using data from all primary financial

statements to uncover financial transactions, inconsistencies, or other
information.

• Complex Problem Solving and Judgment:

o Develop and understand goals, objectives, and strategies for dealing with

potential issues, obstacles, or opportunities.

o Analyze patterns of information and contextual factors to identify potential

problems and their implications.

o Devise and implement a plan of action appropriate for a given problem.

o Apply professional skepticism, which is an attitude that includes a questioning
mind and a critical assessment of information or evidence obtained.

38

o Adapt strategies or planned actions in response to changing circumstances.

o Identify and solve unstructured problems.

o Develop reasonable hypotheses to answer a question or resolve a problem.

o Formulate and examine alternative solutions in terms of their relative strengths

and weaknesses, level of risk, and appropriateness for a given situation.

o Develop creative ways of thinking about situations, problems, and opportunities
to create insightful and sound solutions.

o Develop logical conclusions through the use of inductive and deductive

reasoning.

o Apply knowledge of professional standards and laws, as well as legal, ethical, and
regulatory issues.

o Assess the need for consultations with other professionals when gray areas, or

areas requiring specialized knowledge, are encountered.

• Decision Making:

o Specify goals and constraints.

o Generate alternatives.

o Consider risks.

o Evaluate and select the best alternative.

• Organization, Efficiency, and Effectiveness:

o Use time effectively and efficiently.

o Develop detailed work plans, schedule tasks and meetings, and delegate

assignments and tasks.

o Set priorities by determining the relevant urgency or importance of tasks and

deciding the order in which they should be performed.

o File and store information so that it can be found easily and used effectively.

Written Communication: The various skills involved in preparing written communication,
including:

• Basic writing mechanics, such as grammar, spelling, word usage, punctuation, and

sentence structure.

39

• Effective business writing principles, including organization, clarity, and conciseness.

• Exchange technical information and ideas with coworkers and other professionals to

meet goals of job assignment.

• Documentation:

o Prepare documents and presentations that are concise, accurate, and supportive
of the subject matter.

o Document and cross-reference work performed and conclusions reached in a

complete and accurate manner.

• Assist client to recognize and understand implications of critical business issues by
providing recommendations and informed opinions.

• Persuade others to take recommended courses of action.

• Follow directions.

Still stressed with your coursework?
Get quality coursework help from an expert!