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Life Health > Running Your Business > Certification

CFP Certification Exam Will Test Knowledge of New Tax Law

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The new tax law will soon have a place in the Certified Financial Planner examination required of all advisors who want to earn the designation. Beginning with the fall exam, administered Nov. 6-13, the exam will test CFP candidates about their knowledge of the new law.

“Given the breadth of changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 we believe it is important for the public have candidates for CFP certification tested on the new law as quickly as possible, “ said John Loper, CFP Board’s managing director for professional practice. “Equipping future CFP professionals with the latest information will help them serve their clients.”

(Related: The New 20% Pass-Through Tax Deduction: An Advisor’s Guide)

The new tax law includes numerous changes that could affect planners’ clients, including reduced marginal income tax rates, limited state and local tax deductions and 20% deduction of qualified business income for many pass-through entities.

(Related: CFP Board Expands Fiduciary Duty for Planners)

Given the number and breadth of tax changes, the CFP Board decided to give its education partners “ample time to integrate the new laws in their coursework” and its exam candidates “adequate time to prepare,” according to a press release from the CFP Board. As a result, questions about the new tax law will not be included in the July CFP exam. That exam will continue to test knowledge and use of the 2017 tax law and tax tables.

(Related: 4 Tips to Navigate Surge of Client Tax Questions)

“The reality is we’re going through an extensive process of updating the exam,” said CFP Board spokesman Dan Drummond. “That takes some time. This is being done as soon as possible.”

The six-hour CFP exam is one of several requirements for CFP certification and typically includes questions about taxes as well as retirement, college planning and other personal finance topics. The test can only be taken after a candidate has completed a CFP Board-registered education program.

In addition, candidates must earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college within five years of passing the CFP exam, work three years full time in personal financial planning or two years as an apprentice in the field, and they must pass a background check, disclosing any criminal or job termination history and agreeing to abide by ethical standards.

Once a candidate is certified, he or she must complete 30 hours of continuing education by an approved provider every two years in order to be recertified. Those hours must include two hours on ethics. Other relevant topics such as taxes can be included but aren’t required.

“We don’t have that [tax] requirement but you’d be pretty behind the times if you didn’t make yourself current,” says Loper, a CFP certificant.

— Check out Pass-Through Tax Break Can Benefit Boxed-Out Service Businesses After All on ThinkAdvisor.


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