CPA, CA, CMA, CGA: A Word on Tagging

At CPA NL we commonly hear of confusion related to tagging, questions like “what’s required?” or “how should the designations be used?” and “is it different for a member versus a firm?”
To help our membership better understand what’s required, we’ve prepared a brief summary.

MEMBERS

Members who use their designation on business cards, online profiles (LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook), letters, etc., are required by legislation to tag. The correct format for tagging your designation is: CPA, followed by a comma, followed by your legacy designation, in that order with no other credentials or designations between the CPA and the legacy designation.

Only new CPAs, having just completed the CPA program, can carry just a single designation. All other members must tag. Using either your legacy designation or the CPA designation alone is counter to the legislative requirements. Here are some examples of what is acceptable and what is not:

John Doe, CPA, CMA (Correct)
Jane Doe, CPA, CMA, CGA (Correct)
John Smith, CPA (Correct if you completed the CPA program, incorrect if you completed a legacy program – must tag)
Jane Smith, CGA (Incorrect – must tag)
Jane Doe, CPA, CA, CISA (Correct)
John Doe, CPA, CISA, CA (Incorrect – tagging must be directly after CPA)

SOLE PROPRIETOR/FIRM/PROFESSIONAL CORPORATION

The exception to the requirement to tag is with respect to a public practice firm name. The legislation in that case requires the Firm, Professional Corporation or Sole Proprietor, to only use the CPA designation. This can be confusing when the Firm name and the member name are the same, as in the case of a Sole Proprietor. In this situation the firm signage, letterhead, etc. should only display the CPA designation. Reference to the individual member on business cards, online profiles etc. must continue to be tagged. A business card for a sole proprietor would require tagging for the member name while the firm name on the top of the card would display only Chartered Professional Accountant.

We also often receive questions related to the appropriate way to conclude an audit or review engagement report. These should be signed by a licenced member, but under the signature line should only reference Chartered Professional Accountant.

In the example given above, it is common for licensed members in the firm to list their names with their tagged designations and contact details, etc. either off to the side in the header/footer or in the right/left margins within the body area of the page.

This is not meant to be prescriptive, but rather an illustrated example to help our members better understand the expectation.

If you have any other questions about tagging, or other topics you’d like to see discussed, reach out and let us know!