When discussing my proposed industry-administered National Institute of Registered Tax Return Preparers I used RTRP as an example for the designation the organization would provide participating preparers.
But RTRP is not the proper designation. While the court case shut down the IRS regulation regime – the RTRP testing and CPE requirements - it did not end the need for those who prepare tax returns for compensation to “register” and receive a PTIN. So, in reality, all individuals with a PTIN are “registered tax return preparers”.
The obvious choice of designation is “Certified Tax Return Preparer”, as this is a voluntary certification program. However I expect that the AICPA would be up in arms at the use of the term “certified”.
“Tax Return Professional” is an option – but this would do a disservice to those preparers who are true tax professionals that choose not to seek the designation. The new program is, after all, voluntary. One does not need to have to participate in this program in order to be a “tax professional”.
I would not use “Licensed Tax Preparer”. As I said in a previous post here, the term license implies government involvement and a legal requirement or distinction.
The designation “Chartered Tax Professional” has been used, but the term “chartered” confuses US tax preparers with European preparers, as the equivalent of a CPA in Europe is a Chartered Accountant.
There currently are “Accredited Tax Preparer” and “Accredited Tax Advisor” designations. But I do not think “accredited” is the proper title. And these titles are already in practice and may be copyrighted by ACAT.
It would seem that “Certified Tax Preparer” would be the best choice. Do you think the AICPA would protest? Do we really care if they do?
Whatever title we choose for the designation, if the concept goes beyond the proposal state, I do not want to repeat the error of the “Enrolled Agent” designation – which totally confuses the public.
So what do you think the professional designation for tax return preparers should be?