Before I get on with the topic of the morning I just want to “toot my own horn”. It seems that according to the FIRE FINANCE blog’s “Top 100 Personal Finance Blogs” for July 2008, THE WANDERING TAX PRO is #52 in the Sitemeter Rankings. The only other tax blog on the lost is DON’T MESS WITH TAXES, which is ranked #36 by Sitemeter.
And now – on to “Membership Organizations for Tax Professionals” -
Over the past 35+ years that I have been preparing 1040s I have belonged to just about all of the various tax professional and accountant membership organization applicable to my “status” at one time or another – NATP (National Association of Tax Professionals), NSTP (National Society of Tax Professionals), ASTP (American Society of Tax Professionals), and NSA (National Society of Accountants) to name most. I am not an Enrolled Agent so I have not joined NAEA (National Association of Enrolled Agents), although I have attended continuing education programs run by the California chapter, and I am certainly not a CPA.
I currently maintain membership in NATP (I have been a member continually for 21 years now) and NSTP (almost as long).
I would certainly highly recommend that any person serious about a career as a tax preparer join and take advantage of the educational and research programs of the National Association of Tax Professionals.
I have attended the NATP annual conference 17 times at various locations throughout the continental US. The past two years, with the additional cost and agita involved with air travel, I have elected to stay home in NJ – but I expect to attend next year’s conference in Reno. I also usually attend the annual year-end tax update workshop – also held at many locations throughout the US (I once attended the workshop in Honolulu, though usually I attend one of the sessions scheduled in New Jersey) – each November and December. This year I will be going to the one in Atlantic City.
NATP also has an excellent website, which I visit daily, and very good weekly, monthly and quarterly publications (I have written for the quarterly TAXPRO JOURNAL several times – including an article on tax blogs). And their Research Department, although I think it has gotten a bit pricey lately (a question was $10.00 in the early 2000s and is now $23.00 – although members do get one free question each year), has proven invaluable.
There are many state chapters (New Jersey and New York have one) which offer educational and other programs on the local level. The NJ chapter sponsors an excellent seminar on New Jersey taxes (payroll, corporate and individual income) which I attend each January.
If you are planning to join NATP I would ask that you mention my name (Robert D Flach) as your “referral”. Under the organization’s ‘Member Get A Member” promotion I will get a “gift card” to be used for future NATP purchases.
I also highly value the education programs of the National Society of Tax Professionals and have attended many of the organization’s annual National Conventions over the years. Lately they have offered the annual summer conference at several locations directly before the IRS Nationwide Tax Forum (i.e. Chicago, Atlanta and Las Vegas). I also frequently attend their year-end update workshops, the past two years in Atlantic City.
Of NATP and NSTP it is my opinion that NATP is the superior organization. My main concern with NSTP is that it’s benefits rely too much on the individuals at the top. When Tom Cooke, a tax law professor from Georgetown University, was the Executive Director we got a unique prospective on the tax scene from a Washington DC “insider”. Current ED Beanna Whitlock, former IRS Director of Public Liaison, is a perfect “replacement” for Tom, with a similar IRS insider’s prospective. Paul LaMonaca, NSTP’s other major workshop leader for many years, is also an excellent instructor. However, if Paul and Beanna decide to run off together to the Cayman Islands (or another tax shelter), and the new team is not of the same high caliber, then the organization’s effectiveness will be seriously diminished.
The “Research Department” of NSTP (basically a telephone-only hotline) is not as well organized or staffed as that of NATP – although there is no charge for a question. I actually received an incorrect answer to a tax question I submitted to the “hotline” from a former IRS high level manager.