So, a week ago I finished sitting through the, thankfully, free 4 CPE hours (4 50-minute hours) of webinars that are required as part of my annual registration as a preparer of NY state income tax returns.
FYI - Click here to read my “review” of last year’s required NYS CPE and here to read the “review” of the 2015 CPE. In both reviews I stated that the 3 1/3 hours I spent were a total waste of my time.
I first “enrolled” in “New York State Updates and Department Messages” – which were in the past updates of the previous year’s tax filing rules and NOT the upcoming current one (i.e. the information reported last year at this time was for 2015 returns, the returns prepared during the tax filing season that ended in April of 2016, and not for 2016 returns). Like last year, instead of an actual “webinar” it was a PowerPoint-like series of slides. At the end of a series of slides I was asked multiple choice questions. If I answered correctly a check mark appeared. If I entered a wrong answer I was told so in a box, which also provided the correct answer. I could then select the correct answer and could proceed to a new section. As I said in the past, I really do like this method.
This year I needed to complete three (3) required courses and one (1) course chosen from among 4 optional topics. The required topics were –
1. New York State Updates and Department Messages– 45 minutes
2. Tax Preparer ID Numbers and Permissions – 40 minutes
3. Standards of Conduct and Penalties – 75 minutes (of course the longest was redundant ethics)
For my optional topic I choose NY State Subtraction Modifications scheduled for 40 minutes.
Like the past two years, the entire process was a total waste of my time. While it appeared the update session may have been about 2017 returns, there was minimal information provided that actually applied to the NYS tax returns I prepare (only IT-201 and IT-203). There was relevant information on various tax credits, but only one applied to my clients. It appears that there is nothing new relating to the actual returns I prepare for my clients. The other 2 required sessions were truly redundant – the same information from last year. The optional topic was truly basic. I learned absolutely nothing new by sitting through these sessions.
Some good news. While I will not tell you the exact amount of my time that was wasted, I will say that it was much less than the “advertised” 200 minutes. So, thank God for small favors. I did “satisfactorily” complete all the required CPE, and was able to print certificates for each class.
Every January as part of the NJ chapter of NATP’s “Famous State Tax Seminar” there is a session on New York State tax updates led by NY preparer Kathryn Keane. It is an excellent presentation, and actually covers what is new for the upcoming tax filing season for NYS tax returns, and allows for questions from participants. But, of course, this presentation does not satisfy the state requirement.
I would much rather pay a fee and attend a live half-day seminar offered by the NY or NJ chapter of NATP, or John Sheeley’s organization, than waste my time with the free NYS offering.
After finishing the CPE, I attempted to pay my annual $100 extortion fee. I tried multiple times over the past week without luck. Each time I was told “Our records indicate that you have not completed your mandatory tax preparer education requirements”, despite the fact that I had in hand printed certificates for, and email confirmations that I had completed, each of the 4 required classes. As of this writing I have still not been able to give NY my $100. I will call the number provided on Monday morning (the day this post first appears). What a total pain in the arse!
As I wind down my practice toward retirement (after completing 50 tax filing seasons), I truly look forward to the point where I prepare less than 10 NYS income tax returns (I currently do at least 20), so I do not have to deal with this nonsense every year – neither the CPE time-waste nor the $100 fee.
FYI – I add a special line item charge on the invoice sent to each client for whom I prepare a NY state income tax return for $5.00, which I identify as “NYS Tax Preparer Extortion Fee Surcharge”.
So, do any of you have any comments on the NYS registration process and its CPE and fee requirements?
I found out why NYS would not accept my $100 extortion fee payment. They were apparently correct when they told me in an error message “Our records indicate that you have not completed your mandatory tax preparer education requirements”.
The state lied – the CPE requirement is NOT 4 CPE hours (4 50-minute hours of 200 minutes). I had to take 230 minutes. It appears that one must take 1 class each from 2 separate optional groupings. So, I chose a class titled “Tax Computation Credits and Other Taxes” advertised as 30 minutes.
I now have a printed “Certificate of Completion” for “successful completion of 2018 Registration Education Requirements”!
I will wait for my completion of the final class to be processed and try to give the state my extortion money later today. Hopefully they will finally take it and this nonsense will be over for another year.