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doontoothers, I don't think david is quite right that you only need "minimal prep." You probably know the tax part very well. From what I've heard, you really need to study Circular 230 (something not in your everyday repertoire) and practice looking up things in the online version of Pub 17 (even though you usually navigate the print version with ease). I believe the test only covers individual returns, so you're not going to have to memorize the rules for basis in S corps or guaranteed payments for partners.
I think a lot of preparers just haven't had to take a test for so long that even though they know the tax content inside and out, they're afraid of the test-taking itself. Block preparers take tests all the time so maybe this fear doesn't apply to them. What you need is to build your confidence. When you tackle those tax returns you know you get them right (or 99% of them). Take that attitude to the test site. I can do this, I do it all the time!
It's shocking that the IRS can't match CPEs with PTINs. They match zillions of W2s, 1099s, and other information reporting documents with what's reported on millions of tax returns every single year. The PTIN holder universe in infinitely smaller, so you'd think they could do that matching in seconds. The whole point of registering preparers was to make sure they had adequate training. I just can't believe the technology isn't there yet. This just reinforces the opinion of many that the whole registration thing was just a money grab. I really believed their hype that the purpose was to enhance the quality of tax prep. Maybe someday....
According to IRS, you had until 12/31 to complete all the CE hrs, but you can renew your PTIN and pay for it now if you think you will complete all the CE by 12/31. All hours are reported electronically to IRS by the CE provider. So don't spread the rumor that IRS cannot match your CE hours. IRS does not need to know how many hours you completed until 1/1/2013
I have 3 students taking our basic income tax course this years because all of them failed the exam more than once. All of them had been working for high volume tax firms for more than 10 years as preparer.
I asked them whether they want to take the Exam prep class only for the CE hours. They said they had done the easy way by taking the internet class already. So they ratheer start from Basic to relearn everything.new
arnoldtaxinator: HRB pays the $116 RTRP test fee and the $63 PTIN fee. You are right that the Basic Tax Course fee is paid for by the individual, but you surely can't expect them to reimburse that too. No employer would pay for you to take the classes necessary to get into the business. After that you can take all the classes you want for $20/year, certainly a bargain.
Its true as a Block tax pro we are used to taking tests. I studied our prep book and took online tests for about 2 weeks. Most of the circular 230 questions were true-false. But I still don't think I did that great on that part. There is no reference for that while taking test. Online use of Pub 17 wasn't that easy, I don't think there was a 'search' box. But practice this before the test. There were a number of questions on 'what line' on the 1040. which was pretty easy to answer once you bring up the form. I had plenty of time to go thru all the questions and go back to look up about 20 that I had marked. I found the questions to be easier than than questions in study courses. The test is made so beginners can pass. You only need a 70 to pass. I think ALL experienced preparers should breeze thru this test. If you like what you do the $116 for the test and cost of a study course shouldn't deter you.
My understanding is that this is the only year the IRS will not be able to collect CPE data and record it under the PTIN. They intended to have that interface available for the CPE providers this year, but didn't get all the kinks worked out in time so rather than have a fiasco from a rushed project, they simply delayed it until the following year. They still intend to audit randomly, and preparers need to be prepared to show evidence of the CPEs required if they do returns for compensation in the 2012 tax season.
No fear of test, David. The course I did take was probably 20 times more difficult, with 1/2 the questions on passive activities, corps, and partnerships, as I really needed a "brush up". I did find Circular 230 more difficult on testing, barely passed, and took a 2nd course this morning from Liberty on a webinar that was great and cleared up all my cobwebs. Not that I'll retain all that info, much of it common sense with conflict of interest, but getting into unconscionable fees and contingent fee took the brain a while to sort it all.
My problem is sheer laziness. Having to drive to the next town for the test, in a heavy traffic area, where parking will be UGH, and not knowing how long it takes to sign in and get ready for the test, and will I need the entire 3 hours, then fight traffic on the way home...... makes it easier to postpone the test till the very last minute. I'm not comfortable in a new place I've never been to & what happens if I need the bathroom during the test? Is it allowed? If I could take the test on the internet, I would have been the first to sign up.
doontoothers, don't let your test anxiety stop you from taking the test. I took the test and passed it two months ago and found Prometric to be very professional. I arrived 30 minutes prior to my appointment (as was requested). The check-in process took 10 minutes and they didn't make me sit around for the next 20 minutes. I was given the option to start the test right after check-in, which I did. You are given 2 1/2 hours which is plenty of time. I read every question at least twice before I answered, just to make sure I wasn't missing a key word or something. I marked about 20 questions for review and still had no problem finishing. Test anxiety is much worse than the actual test so just go ahead and take it!
It's better to take it sooner rather than later because it's true what the IRS is saying about test center congestion if you wait. There are a limited number of centers and they all have a limited number of seats. And don't forget that there are other professions that use Prometric. Even when I took it in August, the testing center was fairly busy.
One last thing: if you work for Block, you've already had a lot of testing and should have no trouble passing the RTRP.
P.S. I agree with wishfulthinkin27, those 10 year tax pros who couldn't pass the test should find another profession!