RTRPs, CPAs, Attorneys and Grandfathering

Many, if not most, RTRPs and enrolled agents seem to believe that CPAs and attorneys should be required to take the RTRP exam in order to prepare tax returns.

Not me.

I am open to Robert Flach’s idea of grandfathering unlicensed tax preparers such as himself, who can demonstrate a certain amount of experience and a certain amount of continuing education.

I am not open to the idea of requiring a CPA or an attorney to take the RTRP exam.

I agree completely that it’s wrong for the public to automatically assume that CPA equals “tax expert.” As an enrolled agent, I am as annoyed as anyone over that misconception.

But forcing a CPA or an attorney to take an open-book exam over basic tax law would be insulting to CPAs and attorneys. They have already passed much, much more rigorous tests. They are already held to ethical standards by their state boards, and I believe one of those standards is to not practice in an area in which they don’t have knowledge.

And anyway, what would it prove? The RTRP exam is an open-book test over basic tax law. I understand that people who have passed the RTRP exam say that it’s actually harder than it sounds. Regardless, it’s still a test over basic tax law — it’s not designed to be a “tax expert” test. It’s a basic, entry-level exam for people who haven’t already passed a licensing exam.

More to come in future blog posts.

(UPDATE: Robert Flach has posted a response to this post on his “The Tax Professional” blog.)

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“This blog post, along with comments that may follow, should not be considered tax advice. Before you make final tax or financial decisions, please secure a professional tax advisor to give you advice about your unique situation. To secure Jason as your accountant, please click on the ‘Services’ link at the top of the page.”


  1. says

    Insult or no, anyone, and I mean anyone who preps a return should be required to verify they have a idea by what they do, if that means taking one stupid test (once) and being required to take 15 of Tax related CPE, then so be it… if you wanna play in the tax prep world then lets all be required to do the same thing.

    That way the consumer is assured justifiably.

  2. says

    I am with Bruce. If you are dealing with other people’s tax returns and governmental laws and regulations you should be certified just like a lawyer or doctor. And the only way to do that is qualified CPE credits and courses.

  3. says

    I totally agree with the comment provided above. Tax preparer community should be well trained and certified in order to prepare tax returns for others. So many people claim to know how to prepare a tax return using off the shelf tax software. More than 90% do not know the basics of tax laws. RTRP test would be best way to filter them out