In case you weren't paying attention, the IRS's Registered Tax Return Preparer (RTRP) program just […]
Our resident tax nerd, Joe Kristan, touched on the IRS competency exam a couple of weeks ago but yesterday the IRS officially rolled out the red carpet. So, if you prepare tax returns but aren’t a CPA, lawyer, or enrolled agent, you now have the distinct pleasure of spending $116 to spend a few hours with everyone’s favorite test vendor – Prometric – whose proctors will keep a watchful eye on you to make sure your ostomy bag isn’t a secret answer bank, that you aren’t packing heat and your gum is appropriately disposed of. What’s the point of all this, you ask? IRS Commish Doug Shulman can answer that:
“This is another major step forward in our effort to enhance tax preparation service to millions of taxpayers. People should feel assured that the person they hire to prepare their federal tax returns has a working knowledge of the tax code,” said Doug Shulman, IRS Commissioner. “The majority of tax return preparers are reputable professionals but the few bad apples cause great harm to taxpayers and the industry.”
Got it? It’s for the good of the country. Just make sure you don’t have a runny nose on the day of your test. That’ll get you in trouble.
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.