CPA letters: the important difference between affirmation and attestation

Small businesses often face requests for letters from their accountant. This blog post focuses on the different types of responses that are allowed by a CPA.

Statement of fact (affirmation)

Sometimes the requirement can be met easily by confirming a fact. For example, suppose a bank asks for a letter from you CPA that your business was in operation. The CPA can write “I read the tax returns of the business for the prior reporting year from January 1, 2023 to December 31, 2023 and the tax return contains reports of revenues and expenses incurred during that time.” That would be a statement of fact.

Statement of opinion (attestation)

Suppose the bank want an accountant’s statement that the business is still in operation. The CPA is not allowed to write “The business is still in operation” because this is subject to a range or interpretations and does not meet the standards that allow a CPA to offer a written opinion.

There are types of attestations that a CPA can make including, most commonly, compilations or reviews of financial statements. Those are not covered in this short blog post.

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