CPE Requirements

The purpose of continuing professional education (CPE) requirements is to increase the professional competence of each member. Members are expected to maintain the high standards of the profession by selecting quality education programs to fulfill their CPE requirements.

Effective Jan. 1, 2016, all WICPA members, with the exception of students and retired members, are required to complete:

  1. A minimum of 20 CPE credits annually
  2. 80 CPE credits, including 3 ethics credits, during each 2-year reporting period

Current CPE reporting period: Jan. 1, 2016 — Dec. 31, 2017

Unless waived by the WICPA as noted in the "Waiver Requests" section below, failure to meet your CPE requirements will result in termination of your WICPA membership.

 

Creditable Activities

Members have wide latitude in completing the CPE requirements through both formal and self-directed informal activities suited to their professional development.


Formal CPE activities

A learning activity will be recognized by the WICPA as formal if it meets the AICPA/NASBA Statement on Standards for Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Programs, or if it 1) consists of a live lecture by a qualified instructor, 2) provides for the lecture sponsoring entity to register and retain a record of attendees, 3) includes a description of the content, and 4) provides for participant evaluation.

A learning activity will also be recognized by the WICPA as formal if it meets the educational credit requirements of any other membership organization or regulatory body (e.g., a bar association, a licensing department of another state or the IRS).

Formal learning activities may also include self-study, webinars and on-demand recordings with validation of participation (e.g. testing questions) and certificate of completion.


Informal learning activities include, but are not limited to:
  • Reading, listening to or writing books and articles
  • Performing independent research
  • Serving on boards, committees and task forces
  • Participating in mentor or coaching programs
  • Watching videos and listening to podcasts

NOTE: At least half of required CPE credits must be completed through formal CPE activities. Ethics credits must be obtained through a formal CPE activity that includes verification of participation. A minimum of 5-minute increments is required for time-based CPE activities.

Calculating Credits

Time-based CPE activities must be recorded using a minimum of 5-minute increments; 50 minutes is equivalent to 1 CPE credit.


Formal CPE Activities

Many formal CPE activities already have a pre-determined amount of credits where no additional calculation is needed. However, in situations such as attending a college course or program not assigned with a CPE credit value, the following formulas can be used for calculating the amount of CPE credits:

  • 1 semester courses = 15 CPE credits
  • 1 quarter courses = 10 CPE credits
  • 1 Continuing Education Unit (CEU) = 10 CPE credits

Additionally, instructors, discussion leaders or speakers who present a learning activity for the first time may receive CPE credit for actual preparation time up to two times the number of CPE credits to which participants would be entitled, in addition to the time for presentation, subject to regulations and maximums established by the state boards. For example, for learning activities in which participants could receive 8 CPE credits, instructors may receive up to 24 CPE credits (16 for preparation plus 8 for presentation). For repeat presentations, CPE credit can be claimed only if it can be demonstrated that the learning activity content was substantially changed, and such change required significant additional study or research.


Informal CPE Activities

For informal learning activities, rather than developing granular rules specifying CPE computation formulas to estimate competency enhancement achieved from every type of learning activity, the WICPA Board decided to adopt a principles-based approach requiring each member to apply professional judgment in computing CPE credits for learning activities.

*Several examples demonstrating reasonable computations and recordkeeping for various learning activities have been added to the "Recordkeeping & Reporting Requirements" section below and can be used as a reference for CPE credit calculations.

Recordkeeping & Reporting Requirements

Each member must keep records of their CPE credits earned. The WICPA verifies compliance with CPE requirements by conducting audits of the records of randomly selected members. To be prepared for an audit, members should maintain detailed supporting records for a period of 5 years following the completion of the learning activity as described below for all CPE credits completed.

*Several examples demonstrating reasonable computations and recordkeeping have been included below and can be used as a reference for CPE credit calculations.


Formal learning activities:
  1. Date and description of the creditable activity
  2. Sponsoring organization's name
  3. Name(s) of presenter(s)
  4. Course title and topic
  5. Number of credits recommended by CPE sponsor
  6. Any available certificate of participation
  7. Activity duration

Formal learning activity example


Reading activities:
  1. Book/Publication (and, if appropriate, article) title
  2. Author(s)
  3. Number of credits claimed
  4. Explanation of credit computation
  5. Copy of book table of contents, or copy of article

Reading activity example


Independent research:
  1. Subject of research
  2. Time spent researching, documenting, communicating and executing research/conclusions/recommendations
  3. Research sources consulted (including available hyperlinks)
  4. Dates of research activity and communicating/publishing results to others
  5. Purpose of research (e.g., personal education or responding to employer or client request)
  6. Research conclusions and recommendations
  7. Explanation of credit computation
  8. Copy of written summary/letter/memo/work product

Serving on a committee/board/task force:
  1. Name and description of organization/committee/board/task force
  2. Position (e.g., member, chair, officer, etc.)
  3. Meeting dates, times and duration
  4. Description of learning activities (e.g., read materials, attend meeting, lead discussion, take minutes, etc.)
  5. Explanation of credit computation

Serving on a committee/board/task force example


Participating in a business coaching or mentoring process:
  1. Name(s) of organization and/or other individual(s) participating in the activity
  2. Date(s) of activities
  3. Duration of activities
  4. Description of activities (e.g., meetings, reading, classes, research, projects, etc.)
  5. Explanation of credit computation

Participating in a business coaching or mentoring process example


Listening to a podcast or viewing a video:
  1. Description of the podcast or video
  2. Name of organization and/or individual who created or published the podcast or video
  3. Date of listening to a podcast or viewing a video
  4. Explanation of credit computation
  5. Available link to recording

Listening to a podcast or viewing a video example #1  |  Listening to a podcast or viewing a video example #2


Other types of learning activities not described above:
  1. Description of the activity
  2. Dates of activity
  3. Duration of activity
  4. Explanation of how the activity enhanced competency
  5. Explanation of credit computation
  6. Available documentation or link

Other type of learning activity example


Ultimately, the CPE credit claimed is the responsibility of the individual member. Each member may claim credit only for the learning activities he or she fully completed that increased his or her professional competence. Members may, and are encouraged to, use the WICPA's CPE Tracker to record both formal and informal CPE activities since this will simplify the process of recording for members and assist during a member compliance audit. Additionally, formal learning activities held by the WICPA will be automatically added.

Waiver Requests

Members may request a waiver if they have been prohibited from fulfilling the CPE requirements for the reasons detailed below. Such requests must be submitted in writing to the CFOO of the WICPA. If a waiver request is approved, it will waive one-half (40 CPE credits) of the CPE requirement for that reporting period. Members will still be responsible for completing the remaining 40 CPE credits required for that reporting period.


Foreign Residency

The request should include the country of residence, the name of the employer, your principal duties and responsibilities, and the reasons foreign residency prohibited fulfilling the CPE requirement.


Health

The request should include the nature of the illness and the reason the illness prohibited fulfilling the CPE requirement.


Military Service

The request should include the principal duties performed, where stationed and the reason military service prohibited fulfilling the CPE requirement.


Other Similar Reasons

The request should include the nature of the hardship and the reason why it prohibited fulfilling the CPE requirement.


Grace Period

Any member who has not completed the required number of credits during a reporting period will be allowed the two months immediately following the period to make up the deficiency. Credits applied toward a deficiency during this two-month period may not be counted toward the annual minimum requirement of the education year in which they are taken. Furthermore, any CPE credit claimed during the two-month period to make up any deficiency for the preceding reporting period may not be counted toward the requirement for the reporting period in which they are taken.

FAQs

The following FAQs were developed by the WICPA following the CPE requirement change effective Jan. 1, 2016.


What were the old WICPA CPE membership requirements?
  1. 120 credits each 3-year reporting cycle for members employed in public accounting (with a minimum of 20 annually), and 90 credits every 3-year reporting cycle for members employed outside public accounting (with a minimum of 15 annually). Retired and student members were exempt from this requirement.
  2. A minimum of 50-minute increments required for all CPE activities.
  3. Credits were only available for attending, listening to or presenting in-person and online lectures, and formal independent study programs.

What are the new requirements?
  1. 80 CPE credits each 2-year reporting period (with a minimum of 20 annually) for members, including those employed outside public accounting. Retired and student members are exempt from this requirement.
  2. A minimum of 3 ethics credits during the 2-year reporting period. Ethics credits must be obtained through a formal CPE activity that includes verification of participation.
  3. A minimum of 5-minute increments for time-based CPE activities.
  4. Creditable CPE activities continue to include attending, listening to or presenting in-person and online lectures, as well as formal independent study programs, but have been expanded to allow up to half of required credits to consist of self-directed informal learning activities including but not limited to reading, listening to or writing books and articles, performing independent research, serving on boards, committees and task forces, participating in mentor or coaching programs, and watching videos and listening to podcasts.

Why were the CPE requirements changed?

Prior WICPA CPE membership requirements were established in 1990 based on a 1970's learning model that was developed before PCs, the Internet, mobile devices and neuroscience research proving that the most effective learning results from participation in shorter activities that extend far beyond passively listening to lectures.


What are the effective dates of the CPE changes?

5-minute increments were approved by the WICPA Board effective Jan. 1, 2015, and learning activities beyond lectures were approved by the WICPA Board of Directors effective Jan. 1, 2016.

As of January 1, 2016, members may report up to 50% of informal learning credits for the 2-year reporting period. The remaining 50% of the credits are required to be formal learning.


Must any CPE activities or providers be approved or accredited?

No, CPE activities or providers are not required to be approved or accredited by the WICPA or any other organization.


Can members use formal learning to complete 100% of their CPE requirements?

Yes, members may continue to fulfill their CPE requirements through formal learning activities sponsored by a wide variety of organizations, including but not limited to, the WICPA, the AICPA, other state CPA societies, other professional associations, colleges and universities, and their own firms.


Since calendar year 2016 will be the third year of the WICPA CPE reporting cycle that began on Jan. 1, 2014 and the first year of the new 2-year reporting period, how do the new requirements impact compliance and CPE audits for the 3-year CPE period ending in 2016?

CPE credits earned during 2016 under the new rules will count towards compliance of both the 3-year reporting period ending in 2016, as well as toward the overlapping first year of the new 2016—17 reporting period.


How should members report their CPE credits?

By paying dues, members are verifying that they:

  1. Complied with CPE requirements
  2. Maintained records and documents supporting their CPE compliance
  3. Agree to audit of such records and documents
  4. Understand and agree that misrepresenting CPE compliance may result in publication of noncompliance and misrepresentation, as well as classification as a member not in good standing, and may also result in termination of WICPA membership as well as reporting of misrepresentation to licensing authorities as an "act discreditable to the profession" which could result in revocation of CPA certificate and license.

Members may, and are encouraged to, use the WICPA's CPE Tracker to record both formal and informal CPE activities since this will simplify the process of recording for members and assist during a member compliance audit. Additionally, formal learning activities held by the WICPA will be automatically added.


Is CPE required to renew a Wisconsin CPA license with the Department of Safety and Professional Services?

CPE is not required to renew a Wisconsin CPA license at this time.

Since Wisconsin is the only one of 55 U.S. CPA licensing jurisdictions that has no CPE requirement for CPA license renewal, the WICPA is collaborating with the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services, the Accounting Examining Board, the AICPA and the Wisconsin legislature to research and recommend CPE requirements for renewal of a Wisconsin CPA license that will parallel WICPA CPE membership requirements for CPAs.

It is anticipated that CPE will be required to renew a Wisconsin CPA license by 2018.


How does this compare to the AICPA and other licensing jurisdictions requirements for CPE?

The updated WICPA CPE membership requirements described above are not the same as AICPA CPE membership requirements, Yellow Book CPE requirements, Peer Review CPE requirements, and the CPE requirements of CPA licensing jurisdictions outside Wisconsin that continue to apply the 1970's learning models generally requiring 50-minute CPE time increments as well as lecture-based formal learning activities. Please refer to the AICPA/NASBA Statement on Standards for Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Programs and contact other licensing jurisdictions for their requirements.


Will WICPA credit learning activities of fewer than 50 minutes, and/or informal/self-directed learning activities that are not the subject of a certificate of participation receive credit for AICPA membership purposes or for purposes of CPA licensing outside Wisconsin?

No, the AICPA continues to follow the AICPA/NASBA Statement on Standards for Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Programs which are still based primarily on lectures, 50-minute increments (with a few exceptions permitting 10-minute and 25-minute increments in some cases), independent verification and certification of participation, signed contracts for independent learning activities, requirements for courses to specify learning objectives and program level, formal course evaluation by participants, formal examinations for online programs, etc.

In addition, each of the 55 U.S. CPA licensing jurisdictions has its own unique CPE requirements, and many have adopted the AICPA/NASBA standards to varying degrees. The only similarity among the jurisdictions is that they all reference the general CPE requirement of 40 CPE credits per year (although reporting periods vary from 1 — 3 years), and one CPE credit being equal to 50 minutes for time-based learning activities. In addition, CPAs performing attest services or government audits may be subject to separate Peer Review or Yellow Book CPE requirements.


What are the requirements for a learning activity to be recognized as "formal" rather than "informal/self-directed" for purposes of allowing up to 50% of CPE credits to be "informal/self-directed"?

A learning activity will be recognized by the WICPA as formal if it meets the AICPA/NASBA Statement on Standards for Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Programs, or if it 1) consists of a live lecture by a qualified instructor, 2) provides for the lecture sponsoring entity to register and retain a record of attendees, 3) includes a description of the content, and 4) provides for participant evaluation.

A learning activity will also be recognized by the WICPA as formal if it meets the educational credit requirements of any other membership organization or regulatory body (e.g., a bar association, a licensing department of another state or the IRS).