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Now Non-CPAs Can Taste the CPA Exam Experience!

The IRS Commissioner and his subaltern for preparer regulation this week spilled some of the beans about the “competency tests” that they are imposing on the unwashed (non-CPA, non-lawyer, non-enrolled agent) preparers. Some key bits, as reported by Tax Analysts (sorry, subscriber-only link):

This confirms the obvious: the competency test will be a joke. It has to be, or too few preparers would survive to prepare the nation’s returns. It won’t be completely open-book, but it sounds like you will be able to pass if you have adequate skills at reading and using an index.
This all makes it look like the cynics are right – it’s all about extending IRS power over preparers.

Don’t believe me? Listen to Shulman’s own words:

Today, I want to talk for a little bit about some of our priority programs, such as the Return Preparer Program, the evolution of our relationship with our largest corporate taxpayers, including Schedule UTP, and our work on what we’re calling a real time tax system.

The common thread that runs through them is points of leverage and working smarter.

Points of leverage sounds like what a wrestler uses to pin an opponent. The IRS can use these “points of leverage” to make preparers more subjects of the government and less advocates for their clients. And in their own sweet time, they will.

AICPA Enthusiastically Offers the IRS Its Help Developing the Registered Tax Return Preparer Exam

Not unlike the overachiever that sits in the front row of class waving their outstretched hand like some ecstatic cruise ship passenger, the eager beavers at the AICPA have put the IRS on notice that they are willing and able to help out with the registered tax return preparers (“RTRPs”) exam.

As the national professional organization of certified public accountants comprised of approximately 370,000 members, the AICPA is well situated to provide input to the IRS on the technical issues related to developing and administering competency examinations. AICPA members provide services to individuals, not-for-profit organizations, and small and medium-sized businesses, as well as America’s largest businesses.

The AICPA offers to assist the IRS build on the Service’s already significant experience with the Special Enrollment Examination. Our own experience with the Uniform CPA examination has shown us that there are a number of critical steps in the test development process, including: (1) defining the material to be tested; (2) developing the test questions; (3) pre-testing or trying out test questions; (4) constructing and reviewing test forms which require that the final test be fair to all candidates regardless of which test form they take; (5) reviewing candidate comments on test questions; (6) protecting the security of the examination (including the examination questions and candidate data); and (7) conducting an annual review of the quality of the examination.

Despite the hint at a compliment (e.g. “Service’s already significant experience”), you can’t help but think that AICPA doesn’t quite trust the IRS to pull this off. What with the security issues, lack of warm bodies and beating terroristic threats off with a stick.

IRS Comp Examination

[via AT]

Pictures of the Day: A Compelling Argument for a Computerized Exam

London’s ExCeL Centre was packed to the rafters today with almost 4,000 would-be accountants sitting their ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) exams in Corporate Reporting, Financial Reporting and Preparing Taxation Computations. The exams are part of ACCA’s global exam series, with an estimated 73,806 students taking these exams around the world today.
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Why are the proctors dressed like riot police?