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CFP exam to test candidates on new tax laws

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Future CFPs, it’s time to study up on new tax laws. The CFP Board is updating its exam for new candidates come November.

"I'm glad to see that [the CFP Board] has responded quickly since so much has changed in the system," says Wade Pfau, professor of retirement income at the American College of Financial Services, which teaches a CFP certification program. "Studying the old system no longer tells the story."

The nearly six-month window from this month until the November examination period, from Nov. 6 to Nov. 13, will provide candidates adequate time to study changes from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law in December, the board says.

“Given the breadth of changes … we believe it is important for the public to have candidates for CFP certification tested on the new law as quickly as possible,” John Loper, the board's managing director for professional practice, said in a statement.

The CFP Board’s relatively quick timeline contrasts with that of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, which will require aspiring CPAs to master tax law changes in time for the January 2019 Uniform CPA Examination.

"CPAs really have to know the ins and outs of everything going into taxes, whereas tax planning is about understanding the broad basics and when to seek assistance from a CPA," says Pfau, who has already incorporated tax changes into the retirement planning curriculum he teaches.

The CFP Board’s July 2018 exam will be the last that tests the old tax law, the board said in a release. That exam testing window lasts from July 10 to July 17 and registration ends on June 26. On its website, the board publishes tax tables for that exam.

To qualify to sit for the exam, a CFP candidate must demonstrate that he or she has successfully completed a course of study from a CFP registered program. The education verification deadline ends on June 12, 2018.

The cost to take the exam is $695 through the education verification deadline of June 12, and $795 after.

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