Monday, November 30, 2015
This rant is more for tax professionals than taxpayers. Although the opinion of taxpayers, who are supposed to receive additional help from what I will be ranting about, is welcomed and solicited.
Last week I talked about the “NATP Year End Tax Update Workshops” in a post here at TWTP. My description of the first day of classes, known as “The Essential 1040”, included the following –
“And, of course, the annual 2 hours of redundant ethics preaching. No reflection on the seminar leader, but, for me (not legally required) this is a total waste of 2 hours, and I usually zone out or daydream during most of the presentation.”
I have also complained in the past that this 2 hours of redundant ethics preaching can actually turn into 4 or 6 hours of wasted time each year, as most organizations who offer day-long CPE sessions feel they must include 2 hours of ethics preaching, regardless of the intended main topic, to insure maximum enrollment.
Forced ethics CPE will not reduce tax fraud! I have said time and time again over the years that if a person is crooked, forcing him or her to sit through 2 hours or redundant ethics preaching every year ain’t going to turn him or her honest!
I have been preparing 1040s for over 40 years. If I ain’t honest by now – and I probably wouldn’t have been able to remain in business for 40+ years if I were not – a 2-hour class ain’t going to perform a miracle.
This annual 2-6 hours of redundant ethics preaching not only wastes our time but also our money – we are paying for 8, or 16, or 24 50-minute CPE hours of actual tax return related education, but are only receiving 6, or 12, or 18 CPE hours!
I recently wrote an article for the NJ-NATP chapter newsletter on the newly required 4 or 16 hours of tax-related CPE for “unenrolled” tax professionals who want to prepare New York State tax returns. There is an ethics component in these required classes as well, which is truly redundant. Thankfully they only waste time and not money, as the classes are offered online for free.
I do not need to take basically the same class on depreciation each and every year. I only need to be told of any new depreciation-related law or developments. So why am I forced (although not actually required) to sit through 2 hours of ethics each and every year to be able to properly prepare 1040s? If there is a true change or new development in the area of ethics or preparer penalties it can be mentioned along with other new law or development as part of the annual update presentation.
The forced inclusion of 2 hours of redundant ethics preaching in the annual “The Essential 1040” presentation can actually diminish the benefit of the class for tax preparers. The discussion of important topics can be cut short, and/or one or more court case, or new revenue ruling or other development, although included in the text, is often skipped over in the classroom presentation and discussion, when it really is important enough to be reviewed in detail, because the instructor must be sure to have 100 minutes left at day’s end for the ethics nonsense.
So, fellow tax preparers, what do you think about the annual forced 2 hours of redundant ethics preaching? Does it provide any real value for you? Or do you agree with me that it is truly a waste of time and money? I sincerely want to hear your thoughts and comments, whether by submitting a comment to this post or via an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Ethics Discussion” in the subject line.
And I also want to hear from the taxpayer public, who use our services, on this issue as well.