MACPA leaders went to the “Hill” during the spring meeting of the AICPA Council meeting this week to represent issues facing CPAs currently in Congress. Shown in the picture are MACPA members Larry Kamanitz, Art Flach and Bill Riley.

The top three issues we discussed were as follows:

  • Dsc00550The AICPA successfully convinced Reps. Rick Boucher (D-VA), Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Steve Chabot (R-OH)  to introduce H.R. 2365 to limit damages and other legal remedies available to holders of patents for tax planning methods.
  • Fixing the Alternative Minimum Tax: We appealed to our members of Congress to fix the unintended consequences of the AMT on middle-class taxpayers. Because the AMT was not indexed, it is affecting more taxpayers every year, causing people to get hit unexpectedly with large tax bills and pay for costly calculations to determine their tax liability.
  • Individual income tax preparer requirements — S 1219: This bill sets minimum “paid tax preparer standards” and creates an examination and continuing education requirements. CPAs are exempt, along with other “Circular 230” practitioners. The issue we will continue to watch is making sure that a proper examination like the enrolled agent exam (Part 1) is used, and making sure CPAs and staff in practice and industry are not adversely impacted with any additional requirements.

This is also happening at the state level with the Maryland Tax Preparer Act we reported on previously. We have found a disturbing trend in which unlicensed groups in several states have tried to insert another credential — Accredited Tax Preparer/Adviser from the National Society of Accountants — as a requirement to be a paid tax preparer. These credentials involve a short exam created by the NSA or just taking continuing education courses. The issue is that these “accredited tax preparers” may confuse the public into believing they are dealing with a professional who has much higher standards. Our suggestion is to use the  national enrolled agent exam (developed by the U.S. Treasury), Part 1, for individual income taxes as the baseline.

To make matters worse, we have discovered that a well-known CPE developer/provider — Surgent — is the easiest way for an unlicensed person to obtain this credential (see this attached application). I found this to be quite disturbing — how a CPE developer who has made a living serving licensed CPAs would use those same courses to “credential” unlicensed individuals that have no minimum standards to speak of. Isn’t this creating public confusion and unfair competition for our small practitioners?

What do you think? Is this unlicensed credential no big deal or a real threat?

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