What is the difference between CPA and CA

CPA (Certified Public Accountant) is the highest accounting credential in the United States.

CPA ensures global recognition for accounting & finance professionals. With academic content organized over just 4 exam parts and the designation achievable in less than 12 months, the CPA designation offers an extensive value proposition.

The parts of the CPA exam and their differences with the curriculum of CA course are explained below:

Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR): This part details the various accounting standards under the US GAAP and the differences with IFRS. A student will get an in-depth knowledge of topics like depreciation, leases, pensions, not-for-profit accounting and much more.

Difference with CA: If you are even remotely familiar with the CA course, you will know that Chartered Accountancy deals with Ind-AS and the carve outs with IFRS. US GAAP is not in its scope of study and this is a major and the most important distinction between FAR and Accounting in CA.

Business Environments and Concepts (BEC): Probably the easiest part of CPA, BEC comprises important concepts of financial management, information technology, corporate governance, economics and costing. Basically, it gives you an idea of various business transactions and their impact on the decision-making process.

Difference with CA: BEC is very similar to the Chartered Accountancy course. This is because the concepts of finance, cost management, economics and IT are universal and do not vary with geographies. Corporate Governance, too, deals with COBIT and COSO frameworks which are already covered in CA.

Regulation: This part encompasses US federal taxation and business laws. You will learn the technicalities of US taxation system and the various sections and provisions of business laws.

Difference with CA: Regulation is equivalent to Direct Tax Laws, Indirect Tax Laws and Corporate and Allied Laws of the CA course. However, bear in mind that CA is a coursed designed for the Indian scenario and it is obvious that it covers Indian tax regulations and business acts. CPAs are expected to be experts in the US rules and thus, there is a vast difference between the CPA and CA courses when it comes to Regulation.

Auditing and Attestation: A very theoretical but important part, this one makes you aware of auditing standards and the technicalities of auditing an entity.

Difference with CA: Again, this part is similar to the Auditing subject covered in Chartered Accountancy. Audit is pretty much a universal practice and barring a few differences, it would be safe to say that this is 70% similar to the audit subject in CA.


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