What will the new Registered Tax Preparer be like?

On June 9th IRS held a teleseminar for the tax community, to clarify some of the issues surrounding the new registration requirements for tax professionals. The event has been archived and will be available on the IRS website in about 2 weeks.  Most likely, it will be on IRS’ video website.

The official name of the newly minted tax professional will be “Registered Tax Preparer.”

Here’s an overview of that discussion.

The first thing that really surprised me, because I read IRS’s initial recommendations a bit differently? California CTEC and Oregon licensed preparers WILL have to go through the testing, just like all other unlicensed tax preparers in the country. I expected them to be excluded from the new provisions, since they have passed a rather rigorous set of requirements. That’s really a shame. I would have exempted them.

Moving on:

EVERYONE must get a new PTIN and pay the fee later this year. That includes those of us covered under Circular 230 (EAs, CPAs, Attorneys, etc.

) The fee will be determined soon. It could be anywhere from $75 – $300. All the funds will be used towards paying for the new program.

All Registered Tax Preparers (RTP) will have to efile. The requirement will phase in gradually, sort of. Next year, all RTPs preparing 100 or more tax returns will have to efile. In 2012, anyone preparing 10 or more will have to comply. Naturally, you may exclude specific returns where there is a harship or problem with efiling. But you cannot have an entire practice where your clients opt out of efiling. That will bring the wrath of IRS down upon you. You may as well create your IRS e-services account now. https://www.irs.gov/taxpros/article/0,,id=109646,00.html

The new RTP will have to be in compliance. That means, to get licensed they will have filed all their own tax returns – and paid all their taxes due. If they have an unpaid balance due, it had better be covered under an installment agreement that is being paid on a timely basis.

They will have to get an education in tax. Hooray! It’s good to know that your tax professional will have to stay current. 2 hours must be devoted to ethics. 3 hours to new law updates. And the other 10 hours may be in anything tax-related.
There will be two tests for RTPs to pass. One for those who only prepare individual tax returns. Another exam for those who also prepare business returns. The tests are not meant to be tricky. They are intended to ensure that people who are preparing tax returns currently know enough tax law to be able to prepare those returns. So, if you’re already current on the things you to properly complete your clients’ tax returns, you shouldn’t have a problem.

If you haven’t stayed current on the laws, you won’t pass – and should not be in the business anyway.

The testing will start in mid-2011.
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You will have three years from this summer to pass the exams.
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Once the RTP program is put into place, you won’t be able to get a PTIN at all until AFTER you pass the testing. For now, anyone can get the PTIN – and I advise you to scramble to get your new PTIN in September, when they make it available. (not now!) Your PTIN will be valid for three years. After that, if you don’t pass, you won’t be permitted to prepare tax returns.
There will be more news. I am waiting for some answers from IRS. They promised to provide more information by next week.

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