CPE Vs. CE Credits, Who Needs Them and What are the Differences
What is Continuing Education for Enrolled Agents
Continuing Education (CE) is yearly professional education Enrolled Agents are required to complete to maintain their designation, overseen by the IRS.
Your renewal cycle application date for your enrolment occurs triennially from November 31st through January 1st based on the last digit of your SSN. The expiration date in the renewal cycle occurs March 31st of this same year. Below is a list of renewal cycles based on SSN ending.
0,1,2,3 – 2019, 2020, 2021
4,5,6 – 2020, 2021, 2022
7,8,9 or no SSN – 2021, 2022, 2023
Enrolled Agents are required to attain 72 CE hours every three years. Of these 72 hours, a minimum of 16 hours must be achieved every year, two of which must be ethics content.
These hours must be attained through CE courses completed with an IRS approved CE provider. A list of all approved CE providers can be found on the IRS website.
The three year period for the 72 required CE hours is also based on your SSN. If your SSN ends in 6 and you enrolled in 2021, your first period will end at the end of 2022. The CE requirements for your first cycle are truncated based on your month of enrolment, 2 hours per month.
Let’s look at an example:
Let’s say your SSN ends in the number 6 and your first period started in July 2021. Your first period ends at the end of December 2022, since this period is only 18 months instead of 36, you are only required to complete 36 hours instead of the 72 you would need to complete in a full triennial period.
You may also not be required to get all 16 hours in your first year if your enrolment occurs in the middle of the year. Regardless of when your enrolment began, the 2 hour ethics requirement is required for each year of the cycle.
For more information, the IRS has a reference cheat for newly enrolled EAs which can be found here.
What is CPE for CPAs
CPE is the professional education requirement for all US CPAs to keep up to date with the current developments in the profession. Completion of a CPAs state CPE requirements is necessary to maintain their designation.
CPE requirements for the length of your reporting period and the number of credits required in this period generally vary from state to state. The date your CPE reporting is due also varies across states, in some states the deadline is at the end of the year, some do the end of June, some do it monthly based on date of birth. Many states have additional requirements for technical content related to your field of specialization.
Let’s look at two states, California and New York, as an example:
In California, the CPE reporting period is biennial, ending on the last day of the month of your birthday. 80 Credits are required every two year period with 20 credits required minimum per year. You also must complete 4 hours of ethics content every two year period. At least 50% of your 80 credits must be on technical content.
In New York, CPE reporting period is yearly ending on December 31st. 40 credits are required to be completed every year. Every three years, 4 hours of ethics content are required. The only field of study factors is that you can cut the requirement to 24 hours if you all hours in one of their 7 study areas (Auditing, Accounting, Attestation, Taxation, Advisory, Specialized Knowledge, Professional Ethics)
Your state board will be able to provide more information on the exact requirements.
LumiQ has a list of specific rules for nearly all US states which can be found here.
CE vs CPE
Who needs it
CE: Enrolled Agents
Number of Credits Required
CE: 72 CE credits are required in every 3 year period
CPE: Varies by state, usually around 40 credits per year
CPE: State accountancy board
CE: 2 hours of ethics content every year
CPE: Varied by state, many states have a minimum ethics content requirement every reporting period, some states have requirements for technical content based on field of work.
Online CPE Courses
LumiQ has a library of over 450 episodes of CPE podcasts covering everything from engaging interviews with business leaders, to all encompassing courses on topics like financial modeling and data analytics, to true crime style deep dives into famous accounting stories. All courses are approved for CPE by NASBA.
Try LumiQ now and get 5 Free CPE Credits. No credit card is required and you can start listening and earning credits immediately.