Where To Find Free Ethics CPE Credits

When you’re working through your CPE credits, don’t forget that each state has its own ethics CPE requirements. New York, for instance, requires four hours of ethics CPE every three years, whereas California requires four hours of ethics CPE every two years.

Public accounting firms usually have an inventory of free CPE webinars, but they rarely include ethics CPE. So it’s likely you won’t find too many ethics courses in the CPE calendar.

Ethics CPE credits tend to be pricey, but if you don’t have the budget for them, free ethics CPE courses do exist. They’re just very limited.

Here’s everything you need to know about the ethics CPE requirement and where you can find free resources.

What is Ethics CPE?

As you’re probably already aware, continuing professional education (or CPE) is required for CPAs to maintain their license. It supports professional development in accounting professionals and equips them with the skills and competency needed to better serve their clients and the public.

While CPE requirements vary by state, the typical average is about 40 CPE hours a year. Most states also incorporate ethics requirements, which usually include a minimum number of ethics CPE hours and passing an ethics exam.

So why are there specific CPE requirements dedicated to the field of ethics?

It’s necessary because a strong ethical foundation is considered vital in helping CPAs maintain integrity and objectivity.

It encourages accountants to exercise prudent judgment and to protect public interest. It also grounds them in transparency and honesty in their financial and tax reporting, bookkeeping and consulting, among other responsibilities.

Common topics covered in ethics CPE include:

  • Understanding independence rules
  • Ethical decision-making
  • Professional skepticism
  • Corporate culture

By following ethical practices, CPAs can maintain their status as trusted professionals and advisors to the public.

Do Free Ethics CPE Exist?

Free ethics CPE are not as readily available as other CPE topics.

Even CPA Academy, a reliable source of frequent and free CPE resources, charges for their live and self-study ethics CPE webinars. (Although at $20 a credit, it’s still affordable.)

While free live webinars in the ethics field of study are rare, there are several self-study options available.

Free Ethics Self-Study CPE Courses from AICPA

AICPA offers two free self-study courses in the field of behavioral ethics. Both are intermediate-level courses for 2 CPE credits each, and they’re free to both AICPA members and non-members.

  1. Oversight of Corporate Culture: A Core Asset in Driving Performance focuses on culture in the workplace. This self-study course highlights practices on assessing and strengthening a company’s corporate culture and detecting fraud and misconduct.
  1. A New Focus on Corporate Culture: How to Assess Culture and Why explores how to set the right tone at the top of an organization to strengthen ethics and compliance. This self-study course shares how to analyze qualitative and quantitative data to effectively assess company culture.

Before you commit to these self-study options, check your state ethics CPE requirements. For instance, New York state only accepts professional ethics CPE, and behavioral ethics are not accepted as a substitute for professional ethics.

Because some jurisdictions have state-specific requirements, you’ll want to confirm whether your state will accept these credits.

Free State-Specific Ethics CPE Courses from Paychex and Wolters Kluwer

Paychex and Wolters Kluwer have partnered up to provide free self-study CPE courses, including a few options for the ethics requirement.

The free state-specific ethics courses are only available in certain states. A Basic Ethics Guidebook offers 4 CPE credits in the field of regulatory ethics. The courses cover basic ethical frameworks and state-specific content for the following states:

  • Arizona
  • Connecticut
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • New York
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Oregon

For CPAs licensed in other states, there’s an option for you too. Paychex and Wolters Kluwer also offer an ethics CPE self-study course in the field of regulatory ethics that you can take.

Regulatory Ethics Guidebook for CPAs: AICPA Code of Professional Conduct covers basic ethical frameworks and rules governing CPA practices and responsibilities. This self-study course also offers 4 CPE credits, but (at the risk of sounding like a broken record) make sure you check with your state to confirm whether these credits will be accepted.

How to Gain Access to the Paychex CCH CPELink Center

Gaining access to these self-study options can be tricky if you don’t know where to look. The trick is to register through the Paychex CCH CPELink Center. Paychex and Wolters Kluwer both have their own separate portals with CPE resources, but it’s the Paychex CCH CPELink Center that will activate the discount program that allows you to access these courses for free.

Follow these step-by-step instructions for free ethics CPE:

  1. Create an account with the Paychex CCH CPELink Center. This registration will give you access to the Wolters Kluwer CPE database and to the Paychex discount program, which allows you to take up to five self-study courses for free every year. Keep in mind you’ll need to enter an address to complete the registration.
  1. Go to their Ethics CPE catalog.
  1. Select the state in which you’re seeking CPE credits, and click “Continue.”
  1. Register for the self-study course you want to take. There should be no fee for these courses since you’ve signed up for the Paychex discount program. If you see a fee associated with the self-study courses, check to see if you’re logged in. (You’ll see live webinar options on this page as well, but they’re not included as part of the discount program.)
  1. You should see the Paychex discount applied when you check out. You will not be required to enter credit card details.

Meeting the Ethics CPE Requirements

There’s a good reason ethics CPE are a requirement in most states. These ethics CPE hours serve as a reminder that maintaining independence and integrity is a priority in the accounting profession.

Most CPAs likely have already taken at least one hour of ethics CPE. Share your recommendations for ethics CPE resources in the comments below.

11 thoughts on “Where To Find Free Ethics CPE Credits”

  1. Thanks very much for your recommendations. I took advantage of the AICPA course on Assessing Corporate Culture and found it to be very good.

  2. OMG, those are awesome suggestions. I am going to complete my required CPE for FREE through Paychex CCH CPELink Center as per your recommendations 🙂

  3. I signed up for the Paychex CCH CPELink Center asyou suggested. I’m in my account, but I am being charged $85 for the NY Ethics course. Am I missing something?

    • Hi there, did you follow the instructions under the “How to Gain Access to the Paychex CCH CPELink Center” section? If so, you should see a Paychex discount automatically applied when you check out (see below), and your Grand Total should be zero. Checkout page

  4. Thanks for posting all this detail. This was super helpful to complete year end requirements for North Carolina, Michigan, and Florida!

    • Hi there, it should still be available. Per their website:

      The Paychex CCH CPELink CPE program includes 5 complimentary self-study courses per year. You can choose five free courses per year on any topic, most for multiple CPE credits. … Select from a library of more than 300 courses, including accounting, tax, ethics and more.

      As long as you haven’t reached the 5-course-per-year limit, the discount should be applied automatically.

  5. Bless you and this blog/article. I was able to sign up for my 2.0 CA regulatory review via Paychex and my 4.0 CA ethics via AICPA. THANK YOU SO MUCH!


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