I just completed my annual required online New York State tax preparer CPE.
I barely prepared more than 10 NY state tax returns in calendar year 2020 – 14 total. And I will probably prepare at least a dozen NY state returns in calendar year 2021. So, I must register for calendar year 2021 and pay the $100 extortion fee (my invoice for a client with a NYS tax return includes a line item of $5.00 for “NY State Tax Return Preparer Extortion Fee Surcharge” – which will be $8.00 in 2021).
This year for the first time I was automatically enrolled in all the required sessions as soon as they become available – I did not have to separately enroll in each presentation.
And this year instead of a slide presentation followed by a multiple-choice questionnaire the NEW YORK STATE UPDATES AND DEPARTMENT MESSAGES and HOW TO FILE A SALES TAX RETURN offerings took the form of an actual audio presentation accompanying the slides - equivalent to an in-person seminar (only without the ability to ask questions) with no subsequent “test”. This format, in my opinion, is much, much more better. The format of the remaining sessions were the same as past years.
Here are my comments on the sessions:
UPDATES AND MESSAGES - I only prepare IT-201 and IT-203 returns for employees or retired individuals, and I do not accept any new clients from anywhere. I have absolutely no need for, or interest in, business, payroll, sales, or product-specific taxes or obscure personal credits and deductions updates. So, most of the update presentation was of absolutely no value to me – and under this new format the time wasted sitting in front of my computer screen was much more than in past years. It would certainly be “more better” if the update presentation was broken down into separate optional components for the different types of taxes.
SALES TAX – I had absolutely no interest in this topic and paid absolutely no attention to the audio presentation.
GIG ECONOMY WORKERS AND TAXES - None of my NYS clients are, or will be, “gig workers”, so this offering was a total waste of time. I quickly sped through the slides.
DEDUCTIONS – I actually reviewed more carefully some of the slides in this presentation – speeding through the bulk of them. This was for the most part an update on the rules for federal Schedule A before the GOP Tax Act.
STANDARDS OF CONDUCT AND ETHICS FOR TAX RETURN PREPARERS, PROTECTING YOUR CLIENT’S DATA, and RECORDKEEPING – As usual, redundant stuff. I quickly sped through the slides in all 3 presentations.
While the new format for the two presentations is certainly a substantial improvement over past years - as I say each year, the CPE requirement component of the registration process would still be much more effective if registrants could satisfy it by attending actual CPE seminars and workshops – in-person or online - offered by tax preparer membership organizations and commercial CPE providers.
Upon completion of the CPE sessions I could not immediately register and pay the extortion. I expect, like last year, it will take a few days for my completion to be processed.
Once again, this “continuing education” process was a total waste of my time. To be perfectly honest I did not learn anything. As I also say each year - I learn much, much more from Kathryn Keane’s NYS update presentation at the annual NJ chapter of NATP’s “Famous State Tax Seminar” than I do from the required state-created offerings.