Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Atlanta-based RTRP David Kempe responded to my last two posts on the RTRP competency test requirement.  See the comments section of these posts (click here and here)

Thank you, David, for taking the time to comment on my RTRP exam posts and for sharing your “story” – which is indeed similar in ways to mine.

I am pleased that you have verified that I should have no problem passing the test – as I expect, despite my sincere hopes, I will have to eventually sit for it.

Let me in turn respond to David’s comments -

·   I am at the end of my career.  I hope to be able to last 9 more tax seasons so I can say I have done it for 50 years.  It appears that you are barely in the middle of your career.  If I had 25 more years in the business ahead of me I would very seriously consider using flawed and expensive tax preparation software.

·   I do not have to submit the 1040s I prepare electronically because I do not “file” the returns under the IRS definition.  All my clients sign a statement that says –

My tax return preparer Robert  Flach has informed me that he may be required to electronically file my 20-- federal individual income tax return if he files it with the IRS on my behalf.

I do not want to file my return electronically and choose to file my return on paper forms.  My preparer will not file my return with the IRS.  I will file my paper return with the IRS myself.

I was not influenced by Robert D Flach to sign this statement.”

·   I believe that the registration of previously unenrolled preparers and the issuance of a RTRP designation - NOT the initial competency test – is long overdue.

·   I certainly agree that many of our competitors are little more than data entry workers – especially those who work for the overpriced fast-food commercial preparation chains.

·   Exempting all CPAs and attorneys from having to take the test smacks of much more dangerous favoritism then grandfathering long-time preparers who have proven they have remained current via extensive annual CPE.

·   I do agree that required annual CPE is a small price to pay for “less gross incompetence in the tax field and a better, more knowledgeable field of tax professionals” – but will never change my mind about the test.

Thanks again David!


Friday, June 22, 2012


TAXPRO TODAY took a look at the RTRP initial competency exam that I do not want to be forced to take in “Takers of the RTRP Exam Discuss Their Experience”.

The article pointed up another reason why I do not want to take it -

Part of the test anxiety may stem from regulations at test centers. "When you go into the testing office, you're nervous. They check everything in your pockets”, said Ramon. "They don't want you to carry even a handkerchief in there," added Weinberg. Tests are given in cubicles, with regimented start and countdown times. Weinberg recalled thinking, "'What happens if this computer just slows down?' There were also more questions than I expected on IRS procedures."

Another indignity – being treated like a schoolchild.  I had heard a few stories of the ridiculous procedures for taking the test at a CPE class last year.

I am not worried about the actual test itself.  It is not a question of worrying that I will not pass.  The article explains –

Those who've already taken the 120-question test generally agree that it can be passed with proper study by those with solid tax-prep experience.

The article also indicated that I should do better on the test than most preparers (highlight is mine) –

. . . an Enrolled Agent of 19 year's tax-prep experience wrote, "The more you relied on tax software in the past for preparing returns, the harder this exam will be to pass”.

The EA went on to say -

“Don't let the open-book thing fool you. Many preparers that have taken the test tell me that you don't have time to look these answers up," this reader added, citing test questions on moving expenses, income and assets, IRAs, "a lot of things that are not being addressed regularly."

I am interested In hearing from readers who have sat for the test, as well as from those who agree there should be grandfathering.


Thursday, June 21, 2012


To celebrate the beginning of summer I want to make a very special offer to tax professionals.

As you probably know, I have been preparing 1040s since 1972. Over the years I have developed a collection of forms, schedules and worksheets that have proven very helpful in my practice. 

Some of my “homemade” forms are given to clients to help them provide me with the information I need to properly prepare their returns. Some are used as “memos” to the client’s copy and my office file copy to back-up items reported on the returns. Others are used as attachments to the returns.

I generally offer this compilation for $6.00.  As a special summer offer you can have this forms package for only $3.00 if your order is postmarked by July 31, 2012!

The package will be sent as a “word document” email attachment, so you may edit and revise them as you see fit to personalize them to your firm, customize them be more relevant to your particular practice or clients or specific professions, or update them for annual COLAs or tax law changes.

Here is a listing of what is included in the package.


1. Supplement to Schedule A
2. Medical Expense Worksheet
3. Medical Expenses – Out of Pocket Anaylsis
4. Charitable Contribution Listing – for non-cash contributions
5. Charitable Contribution Record – for cash contributions (2 pages)
6. Charitable Mileage Record
7. Contribution Worksheet
8. Employee Business Expenses – generic format, can be customized 
9. Employee Business Expenses – Police Officer – example of customized
10. Conventions, Conference and Education
11. Miscellaneous Expenses #1
12. Miscellaneous Expenses #2
13. Summary of Casino Gambling Activity Log

SCHEDULE C – (some of these forms can also be used for employee expenses)

1. Allocation of Expenses
2. Automobile Expense Worksheet
3. Auto Mileage Log
4. Business Expenses of a Freelance Writer
5. Business Travel Record
6. Computer Use Log
7. Election to Deduct Organization Expenses 
8. Employee Expense Report
9. Employee Time Card
10. Home Office Deduction Worksheet
11. Cell Phone Log - in “landscape” format - sent separately.

SCHEDULE D – 1. Cost Basis Worksheet


1. Owner-Occupied Multi-Unit Rental Property Expense 
2. Statement of Rental Income and 
3. Statement of Rental Income and Expenses – Vacation Property
4. Multi Family Building


1. Alternative Minimum Tax Worksheet
2. Does Not Have To File
3. Statement of Dividend Income
4. Statement of Pension Income – in “landscape” format- sent separately

Please be aware that these forms, schedules, and worksheets are copyrighted material, and are for your internal use only – and cannot be “shared” with other tax pros or firms.

Send your check or money order, payable to TAXPRO SERVICES CORPORATION, for $3.00 and your email address to –

PMB 304
JERSEY CITY NJ 07306-2806

Hey, for $3.00 you can’t go wrong!


Wednesday, June 20, 2012


I just don’t want to have to take the new RTRP initial competency test.

I have been preparing 1040s for compensation since February of 1972 – and just completed my 41st tax filing season.

I can count on the fingers of both hands the total number of face-to-face, sit down IRS audits I have had to attend – out of the probably 10,000+ federal individual income tax returns I have prepared over the years.  And more than half ended in “no change”.

I have never been charged a preparer penalty, nor have I ever been reviewed, warned, visited, or “chastised” by the IRS.

I never had an income tax course in college, and have no “formal” training in 1040 preparation.  I learned how to prepare 1040s the best way possible, by actually preparing 1040s (and 1040As) by hand.  On my first day of work back in 1972 my employer gave me a copy of a client’s prior year’s return and a briefcase with the current year’s “stuff” and told me to “jump in and swim”. 

I did take and pass a “correspondence course” on 1040 preparation in the mid-1970s, from I think the National Tax Training School, solely to establish an educational qualification.

Each and every year for the past 25+ years I have averaged at least 24 “hours” (1 hour = 50 minutes) of continuing professional education in federal and state income taxation.  Actually the average is probably more like 32 hours.

In 41 tax seasons I have never used flawed and expensive tax preparation software to prepare a federal income tax return.  Each year I do about 400 sets of returns the “old fashioned way” – by hand. 

As a result, when I identified myself at a CPE class several years ago as the only person in the room of tax pros who still did returns by hand the seminar leader, former IRS Director of National Public Liaison, and at the time Executive Director of the National Society of Tax Professionals, Beanna J. Whitlock shook my hand and announced that I was the only one in the room who really knew how to prepare tax returns.

Why should I, after 41 seasons of preparing 1040s for a fee without incident, have to take a test to prove that I know what I have been doing all these years?

Having to take such a test is even more distasteful when CPAs and attorneys, who may have never even looked at a 1040 other then their own (and then only to sign it), get a free pass.  No test requirement and no need to take CPE in taxation.  A CPA who just become certified last week does not have to prove competency in taxation to prepare 1040s for compensation, but after 40+ years of experience I do.

I am not perfect.  Like anyone I make mistakes, and occasionally I make mistakes on 1040s.  In the history of the US Tax Code there has NEVER been a paid preparer who has NEVER made a mistake.  The complexity of the Code and the workload demands of the limited filing season make it literally impossible for a paid preparer to complete a perfect tax return every time.

And I am not writing this to say, “Look at me – I am the best tax preparer in the country.  I, alone, should be exempt from taking a competency test”. 

There are many, many, many, many long-time “previously unenrolled” paid tax preparers out there with a similar story who should not be made to “prove themselves” in this way.

I am not saying years in the business automatically equals competency (just as having the initials CPA does not automatically mean the person knows his/her arse from a hole in the ground about preparing 1040s).  There are preparers who have been around for 3 or 4 decades who are not sufficiently competent and current in today’s tax law.  My formula for “grandfathering” is years of experience + proof of extensive ongoing professional education. 

I would exempt from the initial competency test all paid return preparers who have consistently been preparing 1040s full time (I mean during the tax season – not 40 hours a week all year round) for at least 5 full years (60 months), and who have earned a minimum of 50 hours of CPE in federal income taxation topics during the 3 years (36 months) prior to initial registration.

Now honestly – do you think I should be forced to take the IRS initial competency test to continue to make a living in my chosen profession?