Posts Tagged ‘Certified Public Accountant’

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Tested or Not?! Calling all Registered Tax Return Preparers!

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Education,Family,Taxes on February 21, 2013 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , , ,

ExamRTRP Program Up in the Air: Testing and Continuing Education are Voluntary


Calling all Registered Tax Return Preparers! You know how the IRS now requires every paid tax return preparer to pass a competency test and meet continuing education requirements in order to be called an RTRP? Not anymore. On January 18, a federal judge ruled that the mandatory RTRP regulatory system is invalid because the IRS had to stretch a law to make it apply to preparers in the first place. Prepare to be very, very confused.


In short, the ruling means the IRS does not have the authority to license tax preparers. Which means that as of right now, according to the IRS, “tax return preparers covered by this program are not currently required to register with the IRS, to complete competency testing or secure continuing education.” The regulatory practice requirements for CPA’s, attorneys, enrolled agents, enrolled retirement plan agents, or enrolled actuaries are unaffected by the ruling.


MH900054685Required is the key word in all of this. The IRS filed a motion to suspend the injunction, which was denied on Feb.1 by the same judge. However, he did clarify that the IRS can allow preparers to “voluntarily obtain credentials that might distinguish them from other preparers.” Thus, the IRS’ testing and continuing-education centers will remain open. Indeed, it might be a good idea to complete the RTRP requirements anyways: the IRS can appeal the judge’s full ruling and his decision could eventually be reversed.

The judge also clarified that the injunction does not affect PTINs, which means that those requirements and fees are still active. The IRS has reopened the online PTIN system, but it’s being updated to reflect current requirements. All of this confusion comes at a bad time with tax filing season just ahead. Tax return preparers need answers from the IRS and they need them fast.

Man pointing chartAnd what does all this mean for us, the tax payers?  Always check your tax preparer‘s background, credentials and ask for references!  “Google” the tax preparer’s name and check out his/her background as much as you are able before you make the hiring.  Just because it is NOT required to be licensed, does not mean that anyone off the street can and should prepare your tax returns!  Hire a reputable tax preparer will paid off in the long run!


On the Money, Sufen Wang, Wang Solutions

M.S.Accountancy, Long Beach, CA 562-856-0793

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A Perfect Match:

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Taxes on January 16, 2012 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , ,

What to Look for in a Tax Return Preparer

It’s already that special time of the year, folks: people are getting ready for tax returns. You might be tempted to forget about filing because you plan on having a professional do it for you. But how do you know that you’ll find the right person for the job? After all, as the taxpayer, you are legally responsible for everything written on your tax return – even if you don’t prepare it. Here are some tips to keep in mind so that you can ensure your paperwork ends up in good hands. 
 
First and foremost, the preparer MUST have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) – otherwise he won’t be able to sign your return and enter this number, which is now required for all paid preparers. Once you have his official digits, you’ll want to dig a little deeper. Steer clear of any individual who has had a particularly unpleasant relationship with the Better Business Bureau or a bad record with the State Boards of Accountancy for certified public accountants, State Bar Associations for attorneys, etc.  You get the drift?!
 
You’re obviously going to be charged for the preparer’s services, but how you pay is crucial. Avoid anyone who bases their fee on a percentage of your refund.  Or take your business elsewhere if the preparer tells you that your refund will go into his bank account first, and he will then write you a check, after deducting his fees. Your tax refund is your money and should be deposited directly into an account in your name.  You should pay your tax preparer separately for his services. 
 
How you file is also important. The IRS is pushing for e-file because it’s faster and safer, and your preparer should at least make this option available to you.  And if you choose not to e-file, then be sure to read my last week’s blog, Hello E-File!, as a reference to understand your responsibility in this process.
 
The tax preparer needs to be easily accessible to you, both by telephone and in-person. You don’t want to show up a few days before your returns are due and find a “Gone Fishing” sign on the door. You also don’t want your preparer to mysteriously leave town (with all of your personal information) after the return has been filed, so make sure you will be able to contact him for future questions.
 
Once you chose a preparer, you still need to keep your eyes open for any signs of bad business practices. A good preparer will ask you tons of questions to double-check your financial information, and should also request all of the necessary records and receipts. Think about it: how can someone accurately file your return if they don’t have the required documents, or a full understanding of your financial detail? 
 
Returns are like checks – never sign a blank one. That means you need to review the completed return in its entirety before signing it. Ask your preparer any questions you may have, because if something is incorrect, you’re the one who will have to deal with it later. So, ask questions, and do no stop until you get satisfactory answers from your preparer.  Finally, once the preparer has signed your return and included his PTIN, don’t walk out of the office until you have a hard copy in hand. Tax preparers are supposed to make things easier for taxpayers. Don’t let one get off easy if he tries to swindle you: report abusive tax preparers with Form 14157, available on www.irs.gov.
 
On the Money
Sufen Wang
Wang Solutions

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An Education with Benefits:

In Accounting & Finances,Business on November 14, 2011 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , ,

Why Everyone Needs a Little Accounting in Their Life
 

My students for Basic Accounting Principles 101 crept sluggishly into the classroom as if they were entering a death chamber. It was the first day of the Fall Quarter at Westwood College. One young man immediately heaved an enormous sigh and declared, “I hate accounting and I am terrible at math. Oh, I’m getting a headache just by being in this class.” I couldn’t suppress a smile as I said, “Let me set a few things straight. First of all, accounting has very little to do with math, but it has a lot to do with logic and common sense.”
 
“What?!” cried all of students in the classroom, their sleepy ears perking up.  Well, that definitely got their attention!  “Yup, accounting is about how an individual “accounts” for a transaction, how one “reports” the data, and how one “translates” the information. The math portion simply plays a supporting role in the big picture. Whether it’s for business purposes or personal reasons, one wants to know where his money is coming from, how much of it he can generate, and how much he has left over at the end of the day.
 
“So accounting is really a medium that helps you keep track of your business transactions, report these transactions correctly according to accounting guidelines and principles, and most importantly, make your next business move. In other words, an accounting background is like having a secret weapon in the business world!” I exclaimed to my students. I continued to stand on my soap box and preach that everyone should have some accounting knowledge as he or she travels through life. Regardless of your chosen profession, you must be able to understand what your CPA, your tax preparer, your bookkeeper and/or your financial advisor is telling you about your financial status.
 
“When you’re a successful professional and have a family of your own ten years down the road, you’re going to be making big decisions about your money. It’s imperative that you know how to read a Balance Sheet and an Income Statement. How often have you heard on the news that a celebrity or business owner was cheated out of his/her life savings? It’s bad when an accountant steals from his clients, but it’s almost worse when a business owner doesn’t know how to read his own financial statements or check his bank accounts. 
 
“I would go so far as to say that it’s fun to run a business once you know how to read and interpret its financial statements. Accounting functions as a safety net for your pocketbook – you can even think of it as the CSI of Numbers!  Armed with accounting know-how, you can keep your financial advisors honest and your bank account secure. Remember to always check the integrity of your data – numbers don’t lie, people do – without principles and integrity, your financial statements would read like a fiction novel on the New York Times Best Seller list.”
 
 
On the Money,
Sufen Wang
Wang Solutions