Wow, where did the month of May go? I just realized I’ve only posted one article for the entire month of May…how did that happen? Well, I’ve got a few articles in process on tax strategies, including at least one more on the popular Registered Domestic Partners in Community Property states topic, but this is just a quick post on something that hit my Inbox recently.
According to IRS Return Preparer Office Director David Williams, nearly 2/3 of all paid tax preparers have absolutely no professional credential whatsoever!
In an interview with Taxanalysts’ Nicola White on May 26, David Williams discussed the IRS’ new requirement for all paid tax return preparers to register for a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Out of over 700,000 individuals who registered, 62% had no professional certification at all! Not CPA’s, not Enrolled Agents, and probably in many cases not even college graduates.
The new PTIN efforts by the IRS are definitely a step in the right direction. Finally, people who get paid to help others with the most significant financial transaction of the year for most people–filing an annual income tax return–are at least required to be registered and demonstrate basic proficiency. But let’s be clear this is only a very small step. The new requirements demand only that such individuals complete 60 hours of training and pass a basic proficiency test. It’s roughly the equivalent of passing a single 4 credit-hour freshman college class. Better than nothing, but still…
Just goes to show that if you’re going to pay a professional to handle your taxes, or even (as we always suggest) review your work, you need to make sure that “professional” is truly an expert. Turns out 2 out of 3 “professionals” have nothing to demonstrate this kind of knowledge or experience. When considering a tax preparer, make sure you’re working with a CPA, Enrolled Agent, or Tax Attorney. Mistakes on a tax return routinely cost thousands of dollars. With stakes that high, you can’t afford to work with somebody who lacks one of those critical professional designations.