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What is the biggest challenge facing tax preparers today?
Carter: Complying with the regulations and requirements in today's tax environment. Most tax preparers embrace the recent changes and look forward to working in a more professional industry.
What is your association doing to help them?
Carter: Our focus is on the RTRP. Our goal is to give [preparers] all the resources needed to both obtain and then maintain the RTRP designation. We offer our members 15 hours of CPE each year, an exam simulator for the RTRP exam and many other benefits. When we started the organization, we saw there were other organizations already working with the tax preparer population in general but no one focusing on solely helping the RTRP navigate through the new IRS requirements. Our goal is to be an advocate and resource for the RTRP.
Why should a preparer join an association?
Carter: An association gives them access to a greater amount of focused information and resources to assist in tax preparation and staying current on changes in the industry. Whether [you're] a sole practitioner or a member of a franchise group or large firm, opinions and strategies from outside sources are invaluable.
What should practitioners look for in an association now?
Carter: It sounds simple, but ... an association that best meets their individual needs. It's always nice to have a membership certificate hanging on the wall, but the association should foster professional development and provide tangible benefits and services that the tax practitioner desires.
Where do you see tax-preparer associations five years from now?
Carter: Getting stronger. As RTRP candidates enter the industry, they will need guidance and support to obtain the RTRP designation and stay current with the yearly requirements. Tax preparer associations are a great way for new and seasoned preparers alike to network and stay informed about happenings in the industry.
See our other Q&As with association leaders:
• The National Society of Accountants' Harlan Rose.
• The National Association of Tax Professionals' Kathy Stanek.
• The National Association of Enrolled Agents' Frank Degen.