Key Considerations for CPAs Considering Volunteer Positions

By CPABC
Last Revision: 7/19/2024
key-considerations-for-cpas-considering-volunteer-positions

CPAs are seen as trusted advisors and are well-known for their expertise in many areas. It is therefore not uncommon for CPAS to be provided with an opportunity to give back to their communities through volunteering.

There are many benefits CPAs can reap when it comes to volunteer positions. Not only does it enable you to expand your professional skillset by applying aspects of financial management that you may not use in your day job, but it also improves your ability to communicate your expertise with non-accounting professionals and beyond.

Below are some items CPAs should think through when considering volunteer positions.

Technical skills

Important for CPAs to understand their role in the organization and as noted under Rule 203 of the CPABC Code of Professional Conduct, CPAs must sustain professional competence by staying informed of, and complying with, developments in professional standards in all functions in which you provide professional services or are relied upon because of your calling. Depending on the role, you may be required to take additional courses to ensure you are professionally competent in areas you may be relied upon. For example, direct education programs and short courses that cover topical governance issues.

Background of the organization

Not for profit organizations (NFPO) often attract volunteers due to their operating nature, but there are many considerations to take note of. It is helpful, and sometimes imperative, to understand the nature of the NFPO operations and practices, including the integrity, attitude and reputation of management, directors, and others of influence. It is also important to know the difference between a NFPO and a registered charity as defined by CRA which are treated differently for income tax purposes. There may also be specialist knowledge that is required as it relates to the management, including financial statement preparation, of an NFPO. CPAs should ensure that they are clear on their volunteer role, for example a CPA in a governance volunteer role would offer their financial knowledge and expertise and not be expected to replace or perform the duties of those involved in the operations of the organization such as the CFO or financial controller. Additionally, CPAs considering governance volunteer roles should be clear on the organization’s D&O insurance coverage as well as their indemnification policies.

Licensing requirements

Members are reminded that CPABC Bylaw 100 defines public practice as “…offering to provide public accounting or other regulated services to the public.” This public practice definition encompasses assurance, compilation , and taxation engagements as well as statutory related filings such as GST, PST, and payroll services. If providing services that meet the definition of public practice in a volunteer position, even without remuneration, you might be considered to be engaged in public practice, and as a result would require the appropriate licensing. The consequences of unlicensed public practice include sanctions and the possibility of suspension or cancellation of membership.

Members preparing tax returns at volunteer tax clinics for low-income taxpayers must apply for exemption from public practice licensure. To learn more about this and how to apply, please see the Volunteer tax page.

Compliance with the Code

Members are reminded that all the provisions of the CPABC Code of Professional Conduct apply. Specific Rules of the Code of Professional Conduct that may apply when considering volunteer opportunities include:

  • Rule 201 Maintenance of the good reputation of the profession
  • Rule 202 Integrity and due care and objectivity
  • Rule 204 Independence
  • Rule 205 False or misleading documents and oral representations
  • Rule 210 Being aware of any actual or perceived conflicts of interest

Should you have further questions on the items above, please discuss those with our advisors at ProfessionalAdvisory@bccpa.ca.


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