The Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation has begun accepting exam applications for the Nov. 28 – Dec. 19, 2011 testing period.

The exams are open to industry professionals seeking to earn either the Accredited Business Accountant/Advisor (ABA), Accredited Tax Advisor (ATA), Accredited Tax Preparer (ATP), or Accredited Retirement Advisor (ARA) credentials.

The exams will be administered at computer-based testing centers throughout the country.

The ABA is a national credential that verifies technical proficiency in financial accounting, financial reporting, financial statement preparation, taxation, business consulting services, business law and ethics. The emphasis is on a practical approach to public accounting.

The ATA is a national tax credential for practitioners who handle sophisticated tax planning issues, including planning for owners of closely held businesses, planning for the highly compensated, choosing qualified retirement plans and performing estate tax planning.

The ATP is a credential for tax practitioners who demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the existing Tax Code and the preparation of individual tax returns with an expertise in comprehensive 1040 issues including supporting schedules, self-employed returns, and ethics.

The ATP exam will not be offered beginning in 2012, although ACAT will continue to support recertification and promotion of this credential for tax practitioners who earned it before then.

The ARA recognizes professionals who have a thorough knowledge of topics relevant to retirement planning and special issues of senior citizens including tax planning; preparing clients for retirement; tax preparation for decedents, the essentials of estates and trusts; financial planning; and applying your knowledge and skills in real-life situations when serving aging clients.

The National Society of Accountants offers preparatory course study guides for some of the exams. For more information, visit or call (800) 966-6679.

Next spring, the exam-testing dates will be June 16 - July 7. There will also be a separate window for colleges to proctor a paper exam in their schools from May 21- June 18, 2012.

For more information, visit

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