Friday, February 1, 2013

RTRP Program Suspended - Answers to Your Questions

As you are probably aware, on January 18, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a permanent injunction preventing the IRS from enforcing the RTRP regulations. On Wednesday January 23, the Justice Department, on behalf of the IRS, filed a motion to suspend the injunction pending resolution of the appeal that the IRS intends to file. On January 28, the Plaintiffs filed opposition to the IRS motion to suspend the injunction.

With all of these injunctions, motions, and oppositions you probably have questions about your participation in the RTRP program. Here are answers to some of those questions.

Will I still have to take the RTRP test? – No. At this time the RTRP test is no longer required. As such, the test is no longer offered by Prometrics. However, the Department of Justice, on behalf of the IRS, has filed a motion to suspend the judge’s ruling pending the IRS’s appeal. Stay tuned. The test may be reinstated in the future.

Will I still have to complete 15 hours of continuing education (CE)? – The answer is no, unless you are an EA, CPA or attorney. However, if you prepare individual federal income tax returns, in my opinion, it is in your and your client’s best interest to learn about the new tax laws and regulations affecting 2012 filings. CE is not currently mandatory for RTRPs, and any option to proceed with registering for or participating in a CE program is strictly voluntary.

Do I have to renew my PTIN to prepare tax returns for 2012? – We don’t know at this time. However, the IRS posted the following message on their Facebook page on January 29:

Currently we are working diligently to resolve issues surrounding the issuance of Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (PTINs) for the filing season. Additional information will be provided shortly as to how to obtain PTINs.

May I schedule a date to take the RTRP test? – No. The Federal Judge’s ruling has effectively closed the RTRP testing and registration process for the time being.

I am scheduled to take the RTRP test later this year, can I still take the exam? – No, not at this time. The Prometric testing system for RTRPs has been suspended until further notice. They have indicated that you will be notified when additional information is available.

I have already received my RTRP certificate. Can I continue to use the RTRP designation? – The future of the RTRP designation is currently unclear; however, I have seen nothing that would indicate you could not continue to use the RTRP designation if you have passed the exam and received your certificate.

Can I take the RTRP test prep course for CE? – Currently the judge’s order makes continuing education voluntary, but no CE will be awarded.

I expect that if the IRS does not win their appeal, Congress will pass legislation giving them the power to regulate unlicensed tax preparers…but when that might occur is anyone’s guess. What do you think?