Is Membership in the Center for Plain English Accounting Worth the Money?

By Charles Hall | Accounting and Auditing

Feb 29

One of my readers asked me to write a review concerning my firm’s membership in The Center for Plain English Accounting (CPEA). So here it is. (These are my thoughts and not necessarily those of my firm.)

membership in the Center for Plain English Accounting

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Why My Firm Joined the CPEA

My firm joined the CPEA about six months ago. What led to that decision? We used the AICPA hotline for several years, and the experience was positive. But as you may (or may not know), the AICPA hotline does not offer written responses. I would send the hotline an email with a technical inquiry, and the AICPA would call me–usually within 24 hours–with an answer. I would document that discussion in my engagement file. But, in the back of my mind, I always longed for a written response. Why? These were usually thorny, high-risk problems.

The CPEA provides written responses to inquiries.

What Does the CPEA Do?

Here’s an excerpt from their website:

The Center for Plain English Accounting is the AICPA’s National A&A resource center, available exclusively to members of the Private Companies Practice Section. The CPEA’s team of experts assists member firms in understanding and implementing accounting, auditing, review, compilation, and quality control standards by sharing technical advice and guidance in a straight-forward manner. CPEA professional staff provide A&A support by describing “how to do” what you “need to do” in implementing the authoritative literature.

In short, the CPEA provides information about evolving technical issues and answers to specific questions.

Cost for CPEA Membership

What’s the cost of joining the CPEA? For our firm, it is $1,495. So this is not a cheap decision. But I felt like my company received its money’s worth in the first month. We have posed several questions since joining, and we have received timely written responses — every time. For firms that don’t have a national office (and most of us don’t), this is an excellent solution.

For more information about joining the CPEA, click here.

How to Submit Questions

How do you submit your questions to the CPEA? With an online form such as the following:


Are there other benefits?

I often hear CPAs lament about keeping up with new standards, and I feel their pain. So how can we do so?

The CPEA provides information in the following ways:

  • Webcasts
  • Emails with summaries of new information
  • Website

Here’s a screenshot showing recent reports and alerts that the CPEA has provided:


Worth the Money?

For me, the cost of membership has been worth the money. If your firm desires to keep up with evolving standards, the CPEA is an excellent choice. (I have received no compensation for this recommendation.)

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About the Author

Charles Hall is a practicing CPA and Certified Fraud Examiner. For the last thirty years, he has primarily audited governments, nonprofits, and small businesses.He is the author of The Little Book of Local Government Fraud Prevention and Preparation of Financial Statements & Compilation Engagements. He frequently speaks at continuing education events.Charles is the quality control partner for McNair, McLemore, Middlebrooks & Co. where he provides daily audit and accounting assistance to over 65 CPAs. In addition, he consults with other CPA firms, assisting them with auditing and accounting issues.

  • Greg Hagarty says:

    Good article. I have never heard of this entity. Thanks!

  • Thanks Greg for your comment.

  • John says:

    Thanks Charles!

  • Charles Hall says:

    Glad to assist John.

  • >


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