Small - Midsized CPA Firm Resource Materials
Small - Midsized CPA Firm Resource Materials
The AICPA and state CPA Societies have developed and provide a substantial number of tools to support CPA firms in professional practice. A CPA is responsible for compliance with the same professional standards mandated by State Boards of Accountancy, the Internal Revenue Service under Circular 230 [for attorneys, CPAs, and Enrolled Agents] or the Return Preparer Office for non-professional tax return preparers. CPAs that are AICPA and State Society members are subject to additional sets of professional standards for attest, tax, and consulting services.

We are going to use this Dropbox Showcase as support to our mark up of the “Brand X Freelance” document so readers are able to better understand the difference between a structured CPA firm, and an individual that in operating as a “one-man-band”.

My own experience is that after completing a BS in Accountancy at the University of Illinois - Urbana in five semesters, I passed the Uniform CPA exam in May 1982 and won the Elijah Watt Sells Silver Medal for the second-highest scores on the exam out of 70,000 candidates. I attended the University of Texas - Austin and completed an MS - Taxation in a year. As an aside,  the programs at those two schools have been consistently ranked as the best or second-best programs of Accountancy and Tax in the United States every year since 1982 [See,,, and

After graduation from UT - Austin, I joined a Big 8 [precursor to Big 4] accounting firm - Arthur Andersen LLP’s New York Office as a Tax Associate in October 1983, promoted to Tax Senior in May 1984, promoted to Tax Manager in May 1986, and admitted as a full equity Tax Partner in July 1991, three months after my 30th birthday [turns out I was possibly the youngest person to become what is called an SC Partner. The total time from joining the firm to becoming a partner was eight years…go ahead and ask anyone that works for a Big 4 firm how long it would take them to become a partner…my bet is that their answer is twelve to fifteen years, if ever.  Eventually, I became the Managing Partner for the Metro New York Real Estate Practice with approximately 300 professionals and $450MM in net collected annual fees. One would hope, that would dispatch any questions of my education and experience to comment on the requirements and challenges of both controlling practice risks and managing a firm’s tax practice with appropriate risk and quality control procedures and systems in place. 

The reason for my explanation and the long discussion is that the experience with Arthur Andersen was critically important in providing an opportunity to acquire the skills required for success in professional tax practice. A generic accountant or a CPA that goes to work for a small firm that doesn’t have the quality controls and provide the training is ill-equipped to provide professional services to an individual or a business with complex requirements. 

The second lesson I learned is having twenty Tax Partners in the same office with me meant that there was always a peer with comparable skills available to discuss a problem, evaluate risk, or reach a conclusion. The adage “no one partner has the right or responsibility to make a difficult decision on their own, there is always someone to share thoughts and concerns in reaching a difficult conclusion available. It has been a tremendous challenge to replicate that shared responsibility and knowledge in a smaller firm. However, through much hard work, we have been successful at it, and you can see that if you review the recommendation [roughly 40 of them] contained in my Linkedin profile at

You can review the website for our Oakland based Cannabis Practice Group [“CPG”] at A repository of our published articles can be found either through our article search tool at, or an index of our published articles on at

Finally, Tax Notes, which along with Bloomberg’s Daily Tax Reporter are regarded as the “gold standards” in current articles about tax practice, legislation and policy in the United States published an article about how I as a Wall Street-based high complexity tax practitioner wound up working with a bunch of cannabis farmers in Humboldt County, California. You can read the article at

Finally, before you begin reviewing the materials, you might enjoy our highly rated discussion on how to select a tax advisor for a cannabis business at, and another article on the Regulation of Circular 230 Practitioners You can also immediately verify if an individual is a certified public accountant in good standing anywhere in the United States at After reflecting, we decide to reference our piece on Addressing Professional Incompetence
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