CPE Requirements & FAQs

CPE Requirements

What are the CPE membership requirements?

  1. A minimum of 20 CPE credits annually
  2. 80 CPE credits during each 2-year reporting period, including 3 ethics credits and at least 40 credits from formal learning activities

What is the current CPE compliance period?

Jan. 1, 2020 – Dec. 31, 2021

What is the ethics requirement?

A minimum of 3 ethics credits must be completed during each 2-year compliance period. Ethics credits must be obtained through a formal CPE activity that includes verification of participation.

What counts as ethics to meet the requirement?

The type of information that may be covered in a formal, creditable ethics presentation includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Wisconsin CPA regulatory ethics
  • AICPA professional ethics standards
  • Other regulatory ethics concepts, such as tax or securities ethical requirements
  • Situational or behavioral ethics relating to business decisions and communications that are not the subject of regulations or professional standards

I joined in the middle of the year; do I still need to complete the full CPE requirement?

The CPE requirement for new members who join in the first year of the compliance period is reduced by one-half of the total credits for the compliance period. However, members must complete a minimum of 40 credits the following year (the second year of the compliance period), including 3 ethics credits.

New members who join in the second year of the compliance period are exempt from the total credit requirement for the compliance period.

Do I need to comply with the CPE membership requirement if I am a student, a part-time employee, unemployed or retired?

  • Student members do not need to meet the CPE membership requirement until they move to Affiliate or CPA status.
  • Part-time and unemployed members are required to meet the CPE membership requirement.
  • Retired members (working fewer than 1,000 hours per year) who are not licensed CPAs are not required to meet the CPE membership requirement.

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

Yes. Beginning with December 2021 license renewal, all licensed CPAs and those who practice as a CPA must meet the CPE requirements.

Are the WICPA membership CPE requirements the same as those of DSPS?

Yes. In addition, WICPA membership CPE requirements apply to all CPA certificate holders (licensed or inactive) and Affiliate members.

What if I’m a CPA and don’t renew my CPA license with DSPS?

WICPA membership requires continuing education for each compliance period, regardless of whether a CPA's license has not been renewed. All CPA certificate holders are also required to complete the membership requirements for continuing education.

Can I still use "CPA" if I don’t renew my license?

If a CPA license is not renewed with DSPS, you must identify yourself as a "CPA inactive certificate holder."

What learning activities count toward CPE?

Acceptable formats for formal and informal learning activities include the following:

  • Attending, listening to or presenting in-person and online lectures
  • Participating in online webinars and webcasts
  • Completing self-study courses developed by a vendor
  • Researching a course
  • Performing independent research
  • Listening to podcasts
  • Watching videos
  • Reading books and articles
  • Attending meetings and serving on boards, committees and task forces
  • Engaging in learning activities that enhance professional growth and competence

Are CPE activities or providers required to be approved or accredited?

No, neither CPE activities nor providers are required to be approved or accredited by the WICPA or any other organization.

What are the requirements for formal learning activities?

A formal learning activity must meet all of the following requirements:

  1. Participation can be objectively confirmed by a program sponsor.
  2. Materials are provided, describing the activity and specifying the subject matter, prerequisites, advance preparation, format and number of credits awarded.
  3. The program sponsor or presenter has education and experience appropriate for the activity to enhance the competency of participants.

What are the requirements for informal learning activities?

Informal learning activities must document the following:

  1. The format of the activity
  2. The date(s) on which the learning activity was performed and completed
  3. The subject matter of the activity
  4. The number of CPE credits claimed for participating in the activity
  5. The materials prepared or used by the participant in conjunction with the activity, which may include any of the following:
    • The title and author of a book the member read
    • A copy of an article the member read or the title of the article and the name of the publication in which the article appeared
    • Minutes from a meeting the member attended
    • A program outline or handouts from an activity the member attended
    • A link to reading, video, audio or any other online learning materials or activities the member performed or completed

Can I meet my CPE requirement with 100% formal or 100% informal credits?

At least half of required CPE credits must be completed through formal CPE activities. All credits can be acquired through formal learning if desired. Ethics credits must be obtained through a formal CPE activity that includes verification of participation.

How do I calculate CPE credits?

Many formal CPE activities already have a predetermined number of credits requiring no additional calculation. Time-based CPE activities must be recorded using a minimum of 5-minute increments; 50 minutes is equivalent to 1 CPE credit.

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 number of CPE credits:

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

Note: Time spent studying or taking an exam does not qualify for CPE credit.

Additionally, the number of CPE credits that may be claimed by an instructor, discussion leader or speaker for preparation and presentation of a CPE learning activity may not exceed three times the number of credits awarded to individuals attending or participating in the activity. 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.

How do I calculate CPE credits for informal 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 of directors decided to adopt a principles-based approach, which requires each member to apply professional judgment in computing CPE credits for learning activities.

What are the recordkeeping and reporting requirements?

Each member must keep records of CPE credits they earned. Members should maintain detailed supporting records for a period of five years following the completion of the learning activity for all CPE credits completed.

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.

How should members report their CPE credits?

By paying dues, members are verifying their agreement with the following:

  1. CPE requirements have been met.
  2. Records and documents that support the CPE compliance have been maintained.
  3. Records and documents may be audited.
  4. Misrepresenting CPE compliance may result in publication of noncompliance and misrepresentation as well as classification as a "member not in good standing." It 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 are encouraged to use the WICPA's online CPE Tracker to record both formal and informal CPE activities since this will simplify the process of recording. Additionally, formal learning activities obtained through the WICPA will be added automatically. Certain qualifying informal activities (such as committee attendance and board service) also will be added automatically.

Can I carry forward CPE credits?

A maximum of 40 CPE credits that exceed the minimum number of credits required to satisfy the requirement in the earlier compliance period may be carried forward from one compliance period to the next consecutive compliance period. The credits carried forward can consist of any combination of formal or informal credits.

Up to 3 ethics credits that exceeded the earlier compliance period ethics requirement may be carried forward to satisfy the compliance period to which they are carried over.

Can I carry back CPE credits?

Credits earned during the first 12 months of a compliance period can be carried back to the immediately preceding compliance period to the extent necessary to satisfy the CPE requirements for such preceding period, provided the credits carried back are not used to satisfy the requirement for more than one compliance period.

Can CPE credits carried forward to the next consecutive compliance period — or CPE credits earned during the first 12 months of a compliance period carried back to the immediately preceding compliance period — be used to satisfy the CPE requirements for either 12-month period of that compliance period?

Yes. CPE credits that are carried forward or carried back may be used to satisfy the CPE requirement for either 12-month period of the compliance period to which the carryback or carryforward occurs, provided the same credits are not used to satisfy the requirements of both 12-month periods.

Can I request a waiver for my CPE requirements?

NonCPA and nonlicensed CPA members may request a waiver from the WICPA if they have been prohibited from fulfilling the CPE requirements. Requests must be submitted in writing to the CEO of the WICPA and will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The WICPA CEO may waive all or a portion of the CPE credits required if exceptional circumstances have prevented the member from meeting the requirements.

All licensed CPA members must request a waiver from DSPS and provide documentation of the waiver determination to the WICPA in order for the WICPA to also waive CPE credits.

What are acceptable reasons to request a waiver?

  • Foreign Residency: The request should include the country of residence, the name of the employer, the member’s principal duties and responsibilities, and the reasons foreign residency prohibited fulfilling the CPE requirement.
  • Health: The request should include the nature of the illness or disability and the reason the illness or disability prohibited fulfilling the CPE requirement.
  • Military Service: The request should include the principal duties performed, where the member was 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 it prohibited fulfilling the CPE requirement.

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

The updated WICPA CPE membership requirements described here are not the same as AICPA CPE membership requirements, Yellow Book CPE requirements, Peer Review CPE requirements or the CPE requirements of CPA licensing jurisdictions outside Wisconsin that continue to apply the 1970s learning models that generally require 50-minute CPE time increments as well as lecture-based formal learning activities.

In addition, each of the 55 U.S. CPA licensing jurisdictions has its own unique CPE requirements. 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 to 3 years), and one CPE credit earned for 50 minutes of 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.

Is the WICPA a registered sponsor with the IRS to receive credit related to PTIN (enrolled agents)?

No, the WICPA is not an approved sponsor for CPE for enrolled agents.

CPE Registrations

How do I register for a CPE program?

Registrations can be processed online by using the CPE & Special Event Catalog, by phone at 262-785-0445, or by faxing or mailing the printable CPE Registration Form. American Express, Discover, Mastercard and Visa are accepted.

Is there any advantage to registering early?

Yes! Most seminars are limited in size and registering early will guarantee you the seminars of your choice. Also, the WICPA can avoid having to cancel a course due to insufficient early registrations. Plus, there are early bird discounts!

How do the Super Early Bird and early bird discounts work?

To receive Super Early Bird or Early Bird pricing on a program, that program must be registered for — or postmarked and paid for — by the Super Early Bird or Early Bird advertised date. Please see individual programs for their savings deadline.

Do I receive other benefits on registration fees as a WICPA member?

Yes! WICPA members can receive additional registration discounts of up to $100, while nonmembers pay a higher registration fee. Additional discounts on several courses are available for members who are retired, part-time or unemployed.

What happens if I want to cancel my registration?

For a full refund, the WICPA CPE Department must receive a notification of cancellation or a request to transfer to a different program at least 14 days before the program date. Cancellations or program transfer requests received between 13 and 7 days prior to the presentation date will be subject to a cancellation fee of 50% per person, per program. No refund or program transfer request will be granted for cancellations made less than 7 days prior to the program. Substitute registrants are allowed. No refund or program transfer request will be granted if electronic materials provided for the program you are canceling have already been downloaded. 

Can I send a substitute?

Yes. A registration can be transferred to another person if you are unable to attend a program. CPE credit will be given to the person who attends the program. Substitutions may be handled by contacting the WICPA CPE Department or at registration on the day of the program.

What happens if the WICPA cancels a program?

If a program is cancelled fewer than 14 days prior to the presentation date, registrants will receive a full refund and will be notified directly by email and receive a follow-up notification by phone. Early registration can help prevent the WICPA from canceling a program. The WICPA is not responsible for any personal expenses incurred if a program is canceled.

Additional Questions

If you have a question not answered above, please contact us at 262-785-0445 or comments@wicpa.org.