Tuesday, February 5, 2013


My one “crusade”, if you will, has always been to educate the often misled, sometimes purposely and sometimes as a result of ignorance, taxpaying public, and ignorant financial journalists, of the fact that a CPA is not AUTOMATICALLY a tax expert by the mere existence of the initials.  CPA does not = tax expert!

Having the initials CPA after one’s name is no indication that the person knows his/her arse from a hole in the ground when it comes to preparing 1040s.  The only initials that have any bearing on 1040 competence and currency is EA (for Enrolled Agent) and, had the IRS regulation regime not been shot down, RTRP (for Registered Tax Return Preparer).

The “urban tax myth” that CPA = tax expert is unfortunately perpetuated by ignorant financial journalists and bloggers who, when reporting on a tax deduction, credit, strategy, or technique, will tell readers to “consult your CPA”.  What they should be saying is “consult your tax professional”.

A particular CPA may indeed be a tax expert – and many are.  But it has nothing to do with the initials CPA.  This person will be a tax expert only because of his/her individual education, training, and experience and his/her remaining current via annual CPE in federal taxation.

My support for a certification program for tax professionals, whether mandatory or voluntary, has always been because I believed such a certification, whether it be RTRP or CTRP or something else, would grant the competent, experienced, and current “previously unenrolled” paid tax preparer with the recognition and respect due his/her education, training, and experience.

If I may be permitted to ask a favor –

Whenever you come across a tax-related article, column, or blog post that says “consult your CPA” please submit a comment to point out the error and explain that the proper advice is “consult your tax professional”.




  1. Robert - I wholeheartedly agree!!! Interestingly, Intuit decided to perpetuate this recently when they excluded ALL tax professionals (including EAs) from a program they are calling "TurboTax CPA Select." I posted on Intuit's forum much of what you have been saying on this very subject. Boy, did I get shot down by some CPAs who got highly offended!

    Keep up the good work!

    --Owen S. Arnoff, EA, CTC, Fellow NTPI
    Sacramento CA

  2. And if someone needs advice on patents, don't tell them to consult their lawyer. Not all lawyers are experts on patents. On the other hand, all patent agents are experts on patents.


  3. Mostly true for big firm CPAs, but small firm and sole proprietors are basically tax people.