Up-to-the-minute advice, information, resources, and, on occasion, commentary on federal and New Jersey state income taxes, and the various New Jersey property tax rebate programs, and insights and observations on tax policy and professional tax practice, by 40-year veteran tax professional Robert D Flach.
Monday, December 9, 2013
HERE'S A THOUGHT - A FEW MORE CENTS ON A VOLUNTARY CREDENTIAL FOR TAX PROS
Here is a thought.
As I mentioned in
my post on the “Should the RTRP Survive? My More Than 2 cents Worth”, the
Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation, a non-profit independent
testing, accrediting and monitoring organization established in 1973, currently
offers the Accredited Tax Preparer (ATP) and Accredited Tax Advisor (ATA)
credentials.The ATP is for 1040
preparers and the ATA is for preparers of estate and trust and business entity
returns. The Council also offers two
additional accounting-related credentials.
require the applicant to pass a 100 question multiple-choice test, and the ATA
also requires five years of experience in tax preparation, compliance, tax
planning and consulting, of which 40% must be in tax planning and consulting.
The exams are
conducted by PSI, an independent organization that provides assessment and
evaluation programs for businesses, state governments and professional
associations. PSI develops a range of assessments for pre-employment selection,
evaluation, placement, and licensure and certification.The cost of the exam for each credential is
$200 plus a $50 registration fee.
ACAT offers online
ATP and ATA preparatory courses and practice exams.
Maintaining the ATP
credential requires 72 hours of CPE during each three-year cycle or 24 CPE
hours per year.The 72 hours includes at
least 68 hours in taxation or related subjects (accounting, finance,
technology, business law) or subjects that relate to your particular area of practice
or employment plus 4 hours in ethics (better than 2 hours per year).The ATA credential calls for 90 hours of CPE
during each three-year cycle or 30 CPE hours per year, again 4 of the 90 being
in ethics.I personally believe these
CPE requirements are more appropriate than those under the IRS mandatory RTRP
There is an $80
annual renewal fee for each credential, or $125 if you possess both.Neither credential allows the holder to
practice before the IRS.
“affiliated” with the National Society of Accountants (the “other” NSA). The
NSA website explains that the ACAT was “established
in 1973 by NSA”.I expect the ACAT
is administered by an NSA staff person.
If the IRS does not
decide to go ahead with a voluntary RTRP program after it loses the appeal of
Loving v IRS, I have proposed an independent industry-based organization to
administer a voluntary RTRP-like tax preparer credential in my ACCOUNTING TODAY
editorial “It’s Time for Independent Certification for Tax Preparers”.The ACAT could be this organization by
severing its direct ties to NSA to become a truly independent organization and
expanding its affiliations to include, along with NSA, the National Association
of Tax Professionals, the National Society of Tax Professionals, and any other
existing legitimate non-profit tax preparer membership organizations, with
representatives of these organizations given seats on its Board of Directors.
While the IRS would
not necessarily endorse the ACAT credentials, nor would it allow those
possessing these credentials to practice before the Service, it could be asked
to acknowledge that the ATP and ATA designations are legitimate in representing
the level of tax competence and currency of those who possess and maintain
The bottom line - why go through the long and expensive process of creating a totally new organization when one already exists.
I have not
discussed this idea with any ACAT or NSA representatives, but certainly welcome
their comments on this idea.