When should you register a professional accounting firm (PAF)?

When should you register a professional accounting firm (PAF)?

Did you know that, as a member of CPA Alberta, providing certain services to the public would require registration of a professional accounting firm (PAF)?

Members frequently contact CPA Alberta when they’re considering starting a small practice or providing accounting services to the public … simply asking “Do I have to register my practice, and what are the requirements to do this?”

The Chartered Professional Accountants Act requires PAF registration when a CPA is providing or offering to provide any of the following services to the public:

  • an assurance engagement (audit, review or other assurance)
  • a specified auditing procedures engagement
  • a compilation engagement
  • accounting services
  • forensic accounting, financial investigation or financial litigation support services
  • advice about or interpretation of taxation matters
  • preparation of a tax return or other statutory information filing, if prepared in conjunction with any service referred to in (i) to (vi).

Generally speaking, professional or public accounting practice is the provision of attestation and other written opinions/reports (including notice to reader), accounting or taxation summarization, analysis, advice, interpretation or counselling services to a client or group of clients.  The definition specifically excludes bookkeeping and accounting services that are performed incidentally by a CPA whose primary occupation is not accounting.  For added clarity, it’s important to be aware that there is no minimum number of clients or revenue limit that exempts a member from having to register a firm—if the member is providing or offering to provide the above-named services to the public, the member must register a firm.

The onus is ultimately on each individual member to assess the nature of their planned practice, determine whether registration of a PAF is required, and if appropriate, to do so. For more information about registering a professional accounting firm, you can visit our website.

CPA Alberta registration staff are always available as a resource, if you are uncertain whether the services that you are providing or are planning on providing would require registration, please contact our Corporate Registrations team at PAF@cpaalberta.ca.

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