NSA News

  • 13 Feb 2013 9:39 AM | Anonymous

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


    Contact:   Al Rickard
                      703-402-9713
                     arickard@associationvision.com

     

    Tax Return Preparation Fee Averages $246

     

    National Society of Accountants survey finds

    average cost for an itemized return is reasonable

     

    ALEXANDRIA, VA, January 24, 2013 undefined The last-minute tax law changes have finally passed. Nobody fell off the fiscal cliff.

    Now what?

    For millions of taxpayers, it means digging through records and deciding how to complete their ever-more-complicated tax returns.

    Many will decide that hiring a professional tax return preparer is a good idea – someone who deals with tax laws for a living and is up-to-speed on the latest changes.

    Fortunately, the National Society of Accountants (NSA) reports that hiring a tax return preparer is still an affordable option, costing an average of $246 to prepare an itemized Form 1040 with Schedule A and a state tax return. If a professional tax preparer can catch even one more deduction or credit that a taxpayer may have missed, that can easily pay for the tax return preparation fee.

    “I think most people would say this is worth the money,” says NSA Executive Vice President John Ams. “Especially when you think about how long it will take you to do the return. Just reading the instructions can take hours, let alone filling it out. Let a professional take the hassle out of it.”

    Rates for non-itemized returns are also low – the average cost to prepare a Form 1040 and state return without itemized deductions is only $143.

    Fee information was collected in a biennial survey of tax preparers conducted by NSA. The tax and accounting firms surveyed are largely owners, principals, and partners of local “Main Street” companies who have an average of more than 26 years of experience.

    “Members of NSA are highly qualified tax professionals who typically hold multiple credentials that demonstrate their expertise,” Ams adds. “Taxpayers receive personal service from people who live and work in their community and fully understand local and state tax laws in addition to their deep knowledge of the federal tax code.”

    Most of them hold widely respected credentials such as Enrolled Agent, Certified Public Accountant, Accredited Tax Preparer, Accredited Tax Advisor, and others.

    The survey also reported the average fees for preparing other Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax forms, including:

    • $205 for a Form 1040 Schedule C (business)
    • $556 for a Form 1065 (partnership)
    • $759 for a Form 1120 (corporation)
    • $717 for a Form 1120S (S corporation)
    • $468 for a Form 1041 (fiduciary)
    • $628 for a Form 990 (tax exempt)
    • $59 for a Form 940 (Federal unemployment)
    • $134 for Schedule D (gains and losses)
    • $155 for Schedule E (rental)
    • $185 for Schedule F (farm)

    Fees vary by region, firm size, population, and economic strength of an area. The average tax preparation fee for an itemized Form 1040 with Schedule A and a state tax return in each U.S. census district are as follows:

    • New England (CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT) – $237
    • Middle Atlantic (NJ, NY, PA) – $258
    • South Atlantic (DE, DC, FL, GA, MD, NC, SC, VA, WV) – $253
    • East South Central (AL, KY, MS, TN) – $279
    • West South Central (AR, LA, OK, TX) – $226
    • East North Central (IL, IN, MI, OH, WI) – $225
    • West North Central (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD) – $196
    • Mountain (AZ, CO, ID, MT, NV, NM, UT, WY) – $233
    • Pacific (AK, CA, HI, OR, WA) – $288

    Nearly 90 percent of accounting firms offer prospective clients a free consultation, which can be worth well over $100 based on the hourly fees of most tax preparers.

    Sixty percent of accounting firms do not require payment until returns are completed and clients are satisfied. Others may require a portion of the fee upfront or payments throughout the tax return process.

    All fees assume a taxpayer has gathered and organized all necessary information. Taxpayers should also make sure they provide information on time to avoid additional fees. Some will charge an average fee of $41 to file an extension, an average fee of $73 to expedite a return, and an average fee of $80 if information is not provided by 15 days in advance of a filing deadline.

    For more information and to use an online search directory to identify a qualified tax preparer in your area, visit www.nsacct.org and click on “Find a Professional” or call 800-966-6679.

    # # #
    

    NSA and its affiliates represent members who provide accounting, auditing, tax preparation, financial and estate planning, and management services to approximately 19 million individuals and business clients. Most members are sole practitioners or partners in small- to medium-size accounting firms. NSA protects the public by requiring its members to adhere to a strict code of ethics. For more information, visit www.nsacct.org.

  • 02 Feb 2013 9:54 AM | Anonymous

    IRS Reopens PTIN System 

    After a two week review, the IRS has concluded that the recent Loving v. Commissioner court ruling does not affect the requirement for paid tax return preparers to have and use a PTIN.  Consequently, the PTIN system is now reopened for processing renewals and new applications.

    Please note the alert that is located on the login screen if you go to the IRS website to renew or acquire a PTIN:

    ALERT:  The PTIN system is being updated to reflect current requirements.  Until those updates can be completed, a screen titled Continuing Education (CE) Completion may appear during PTIN renewal.  Please check either one of the boxes on that screen.  This information is NOT being collected, but you must check a box to advance to the next screen.  We apologize for any inconvenience.
     
    The IRS will make a formal announcement about the PTIN system availability on Monday, as well as update the information on the IRS website.  The PTIN helpline is also tentatively planned to reopen on Monday.
     
    We also have numerous paper renewals and applications in inventory that we will begin processing expeditiously on Monday.
     
    Please note:  The link to the newly reopened PTIN  system is: http://rpr.irs.gov.  This web address link is not currently listed on IRS.gov.
     
    NSA will provide any updated information as it becomes available.
  • 22 Jan 2013 3:33 PM | Anonymous

    The IRS, in a court case, has been found not to have the authority to license tax preparers, essentially throwing out the RTRP regulatory system that the IRS has already begun to implement. The IRS rules requiring all paid tax return preparers to pass a competency test and meet continuing education requirements are all part of the regulatory scheme the court found invalid.

    The IRS today issued a statement saying in part that, “In accordance with this order, tax return preparers covered by this program arenot currently required to register with the IRS, to complete competency testing or secure continuing education. The ruling does notaffect the regulatory practice requirements for CPAs, attorneys, enrolled agents, enrolled retirement plan agents, or enrolled actuaries.”

    The statement is available at the following URL on IRS.gov:
    http://www.irs.gov/uac/IRS-Statement-on-Court-Ruling-Related-to-Return-Preparers

    Things You Should Know
    So, where do we go from here?

    NSA participated in a conference call this afternoon with Carol Campbell, Director of the IRS Return Preparer Office. On this call, Ms.Campbell and other IRS personnel made the following statements:
    1) The IRS has stopped scheduling tests, so after today, you cannot schedule the exam.
    2) The online PTIN system is currently unavailable.
    3) Continuing Education is no longer required for current RTRPs and RTRP candidates, but can be completed voluntarily.
    4) The IRS will issue guidance to CE providers shortly.

    Of course, we will continue to closely monitor this ongoing situation and will keep you informed of any developments. 
  • 18 Oct 2012 11:39 AM | Anonymous

    ALEXANDRIA, VA, October 18, 2012 - Paying for college is never easy.

    But the National Society of Accountants (NSA) Scholarship Foundation has made it easier by offering scholarships to promising accounting students across the country. The Foundation awards scholarships to undergraduates who are U.S. or Canadian citizens enrolled part-time or full-time in a degree program at an accredited two- or four-year college or university in the United States.

    Applicants for awards are judged on the basis of academic record, demonstrated leadership, and participation in school and community activities, honors, work experience, statement of goals and aspirations, and an outside appraisal. They must have a “B” (3.0 on a 4.0 scale) or better grade point average.

    Scholarship award amounts range from $500-$2,000, depending on available funding at the time of the awards.

    Last year the NSA Scholarship Foundation awarded 32 scholarships totaling $30,000 to worthy recipients from across the country.

    The Foundation is now accepting applications for its 2013-14 scholarship program. Scholarship applications must be postmarked by March 10, 2013 and sent to Scholarship Management Services, a division of Scholarship America, which manages the application process. The scholarship application guidelines and additional information can be found online at http://sms.scholarshipamerica.org/nsacct.

    # # #

    NSA and its affiliates represent members who provide accounting, auditing, tax preparation, financial and estate planning, and management services to approximately 19 million individuals and business clients. Most members are sole practitioners or partners in small- to medium- size accounting firms. NSA protects the public by requiring its members to adhere to a strict code of ethics. For more information, visit www.nsacct.org.

    The National Society of Accountants (NSA) Scholarship Foundation is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization formed in response to NSA member commitment to education and the accounting profession. Through its national scholarship program, the Foundation encourages the next generation of accountants by providing financial assistance to college students majoring in accounting.  The Foundation also administers an Educational Grant Program which provides grant funding for the development or enhancement of educational programs, surveys, research and other education activities for those currently in the profession. The NSA Scholarship Foundation, a tax-exempt organization, relies on voluntary, tax-deductible contributions received from individuals, businesses and organizations to fund the activities necessary to sustain its programs.

    Al Rickard, CAE
    President
    Association Vision
    4501 Hazelnut Court
    Chantilly, VA 20151
    703-402-9713
    arickard@associationvision.com
    www.associationvision.com

  • 07 Jun 2012 9:01 AM | Anonymous

    ALEXANDRIA, VA, May 22, 2012 -Owing money to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can strike fear in the hearts of even the bravest souls and owing a lot of money to the IRS can be downright paralyzing.

    Yesterday the IRS announced it is expanding its "Fresh Start" initiative by offering more flexible terms to its Offer in Compromise (OIC) program that will enable some of the most financially distressed taxpayers to clear up their tax problems, in many cases more quickly than in the past.

    An OIC is an agreement between a taxpayer and the IRS that settles the taxpayer’s tax liabilities for less than the full amount owed.

    But taxpayers should beware of radio and television ads feature spokesmen offering fast, low-cost fixes to any and all tax problems, presumably through the OIC program. They often promise that you will pay “only pennies on the dollar” of the taxes you owe. They even claim that their professionals know how to do all of this because they used to work for the IRS. It seems like the place to turn to for help when facing tax debt. Or is it?

    Paul Thompson, Chair of the National Society of Accountants (NSA) Federal Taxation Committee, cautioned that taxpayers should beware of any “professional” who promises quick and low-cost results and pointed out that the State of Texas sued “TaxMasters,” alleging that the company misled consumers.

    Thompson offers this advice: “There are specific requirements that must be met before the IRS will even consider an OIC, so it can only help in limited circumstances. A tax professional can help you decide if an OIC is right for you and what your alternate options may be. You should meet with a tax professional in person to decide if you should hire them.”

    Despite their exaggerated claims, many so-called “tax debt resolution” companies do little more than fill in the IRS form and submit it for taxpayers. They offer no further help and many times do not bother to tell the consumer that he or she does not even qualify for the type of relief they are asking for. Thompson recommends, “If you are compelled to check out one of the TV ‘experts,’ go to the Better Business Bureau where the company is located to check out its rating and any complaints that have been filed.”

    NSA President Sharon Cook agrees that only properly trained professionals should be used, explaining, “If you choose to use a tax professional to prepare and file your OIC, protect yourself by selecting a qualified, credentialed tax professional who has a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) provided by the IRS.”

    She cautions that there are no guarantees when making a filing. In fact, in 2011, only 20,000 of 59,000 (34 percent) of applications for OICs were granted. In 2010, only 14,000 of 57,000 (24 percent) OIC applications were granted.

    “A professional will work with you to come up with a backup plan such as installments or other means of paying your tax debt,” Cook says, “’Pennies on the dollar’ is not always true. It is more a question of what assets you have and what the IRS thinks you can pay. Clearly, I would have to review a client’s personal situation before I would ever consider making a claim like that.”

    When looking for someone to help, you should ask:

    • Does the tax professional have a PTIN provided by the IRS?
    • How many Offer in Compromise filings have they done?
    • How many of their OICs have been successful?
    • What is their fee? Is it hourly?
    • Does the fee include document preparation, backup documentation, and negotiating with the IRS?

    Cook estimated that the cost for hiring a tax professional for filing an OIC can run $1,500 or more. Most professionals will charge on an hourly basis for this work. A 2011 NSA survey of tax preparation fees shows the average hourly fee for tax services at $132.47.

    The changes to the OIC program just announced by the IRS include:

    • Revising the calculation for the taxpayer’s future income.
    • Allowing taxpayers to repay their student loans.
    • Allowing taxpayers to pay state and local delinquent taxes.
    • Expanding the Allowable Living Expense allowance category and amount.

    These changes can make it easier for taxpayers to explore the option of filing an OIC.

    Finally, Cook says, “Dealing with the IRS need not be the frightening and daunting task that it is often made out to be. With the right kind of help from a tax professional, you can more easily navigate your way through the stormy waters of tax debt.”

    Further information about OICs is available on the IRS website at www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=243822,00.html.

    NSA has a searchable database of professional tax professionals who can help taxpayers find a solution to their tax debt. Visit www.nsacct.org and click on “Find a Professional.” More information is also available by calling NSA at 800-966-6679.

    
    
    # # # 
    
    NSA and its affiliates represent 30,000 members who provide accounting, auditing, tax preparation, financial and estate planning, and management services to approximately 19 million individuals and business clients. Most members are sole practitioners or partners in small- to medium-size accounting firms. NSA protects the public by requiring its members to adhere to a strict code of ethics and maintain an annual continuing education regimen. Learn more at www.nsacct.org.
  • 01 Jun 2012 4:48 PM | Anonymous
    Alexandria, VA, June 1, 2012 - A total of 31 students are gaining a boost to their college educations in accounting by earning scholarships from the National Society of Accountants (NSA) Scholarship Foundation.

    The Foundation has provided more than $1 million since 1969 to deserving undergraduate and graduate students who are committed to pursuing a career in accounting, helping to develop more qualified young accountants.

    The students will receive scholarships ranging from $500 - $2,000. These recipients were selected from nearly 500 applicants on the basis of an overall outstanding academic record, demonstrated leadership and participation in school and community activities, honors, work experience, stated goals and aspirations, and financial need.

    “We are delighted to see continuing strong interest from students looking to enter the accounting profession,” explains NSA Scholarship Foundation President  Martha A. Bell, EA, ABA, ATA, ARA, “These scholarships will help them reach their educational goals and we look forward to seeing them join the profession in the future.”

    The 2011 scholarship recipients are listed below with their universities, the NSA Affiliated Organizations or the named scholarships that provided funding, and the amount of each scholarship:

    Joshua D. Anderson
    Florida State University – Tallahassee, FL
    Stanley H. Stearman Award: $2,000 (Year Two)

    Lauren D. Brimhall
    Arizona State University – Tempe, AZ
    Arizona Society of Public Accountants Merit Scholarship: $1,000

    Nicole K. Cartier
    Babson College – Babson Park, MA
    Maine Association of Accountants: $1,000

    Kirsten K. Cerbone
    University of Arkansas at Little Rock – Little Rock, AR
    Ronny Woods Memorial Award: $1,000

    Amy J. Coogler
    University of Alabama – Tuscaloosa, AL
    Alabama Association of Accountants: $1,000

    Robert J. Cope
    Lee University – Cleveland, TN
    Ronny Woods Memorial Award: $1,000

    Mallory D. Coulombe
    Southern New Hampshire University – Manchester, NH 
    Sidney Weinberg Memorial Award: $1,000

    Christine G. Davids
    DePaul University – Chicago, IL
    Independent Accountants Association of Illinois: $1,000

    Molly J. Diamond
    Regis University – Denver CO
    Steven Desdier Memorial Award: $1,000

    Shelby L. Diehl
    University of Nebraska – Omaha, NE
    Nebraska Society of Independent Accountants: $1,000

    Amy T. Diestler
    St. Norbert College – De Pere, WI
    Wisconsin Association of Accountants, Inc.: $500

    Daniel P. Dunnigan
    Saint Bonaventure University – St. Bonaventure, NY
    New York Society of Independent Accountants: $750

    Shane W. Fairchild
    University of Oklahoma – Norman, OK
    Stanley H. Stearman Award: $2,000

    Athena M. Gardner
    University of Central Florida – Orlando, FL
    Florida Society of Accounting and Tax Professionals: $500

    Sonja M. Gooding
    Walla Walla University – College Place, WA
    Washington Association of Accountants: $1,000

    Kayla N. Henderson
    University of Arkansas – Fayetteville, AR
    Arkansas Society of Accountants: $1,000

    Louis W. Henry
    Coastal Carolina University – Conway, SC
    Florida Society of Accounting and Tax Professionals: $500

    Shelly K. Knox
    Everest College Springfield – Springfield, MO
    Missouri Society of Accountants: $1,000

    Lenka Konecny
    Arizona State University – Tempe, AZ
    Arizona Society of Public Accountants Scholarship: $2,000

    Arienne L. Kvetkus
    Quinnipiac University – Hamden, CT
    New Jersey Society of Public Accountants: $1,000

    Anh Q. Lee
    Northeastern University – Boston, MA
    Massachusetts Association of Accountants: $500

    Kalliopi Makris
    Fairfield University – Fairfield, CT
    New Jersey Society of Public Accountants: $1,000

    Carrie B. Munns
    Eastern Washington University – Cheney, WA
    Washington Association of Accountants: $700

    Lindsey M. Petersen
    Bradley University – Peoria, IL
    Independent Accountants Association of Illinois: $800

    Stephanie A. Phillips
    Indiana University of Pennsylvania – Indiana, PA
    Pennsylvania Society of Public Accountants: $1,000

    Sara E. Schneider
    Western Wisconsin Technical College – Mauston, WI
    Wisconsin Association of Accountants Inc.: $500

    Veronica N. Schneider
    Northwest Christian University – Eugene, OR
    Oregon Association of Independent Accountants: $1,000

    Hannah E. Stover
    Post University – Waterbury, CT
    Millard D. Ashley Award: $1,000

    Micelle Tawch
    Suny College at Geneseo – Geneseo, NY
    Milton Brown Award: $1,000

    Matthew K. Van Thiel
    University of Wisconsin Green Bay – Green Bay, WI
    Wisconsin Association of Accountants, Inc.: $500

    Holly K. Vaughan
    University of Phoenix – Phoenix, AZ
    Montana Society of Public Accountants: $500

    To learn more about the NSA Scholarship Foundation program or to make contributions, visit www.nsacct.org/foundation and search under “Education” for the “NSA Scholarship Foundation.”

    # # #
    NSA and its affiliates represent 30,000 members who provide accounting, auditing, tax preparation, financial and estate planning, and management services to approximately 19 million individuals and business clients. Most members are sole practitioners or partners in small- to medium- size accounting firms. NSA protects the public by requiring its members to adhere to a strict code of ethics. For more information, visit www.nsacct.org.

    The National Society of Accountants (NSA) Scholarship Foundation is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization formed in response to NSA member commitment to education and the accounting profession. Through its national scholarship program, the Foundation encourages the next generation of accountants by providing financial assistance to college students majoring in accounting.  The Foundation also administers an Educational Grant Program which provides grant funding for the development or enhancement of educational programs, surveys, research and other education activities for those currently in the profession. The NSA Scholarship Foundation, a tax-exempt organization, relies on voluntary, tax-deductible contributions received from individuals, businesses and organizations to fund the activities necessary to sustain its programs.

  • 16 Mar 2012 11:39 AM | Anonymous
    ALEXANDRIA, VA, March 16, 2012 - The National Society of Accountants (NSA) has announced the latest programs in its series of ConnectED Webinars, which are all approved for continuing professional education (CPE) by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

    The following webinars of interest to accounting and tax professionals are scheduled to be held May-August 2012:

    May 22, 2012
    IRS Collection Division Representation
    During the past couple of years there has been a dramatic jump in IRS enforced collection actions. This class will discuss the methods the IRS is using in this new enforcement environment. 
    CPE: 2 Hours/Taxes

    June 5, 2012
    Successful Financial and Estate Planning in 2012 - Essential Estate Planning Considerations
    Despite the generous transfer tax exemption we have today, it is essential to plan now for a potential reduced opportunity in the future. 
    CPE: 2 Hours/Taxes

    June 7, 2012
    Specific Estate Planning Techniques to Consider in 2012
    Take advantage of gifting opportunities with the increased transfer tax exemption afforded by outright gifts, gifts in trust, gifts to education and medical care providers, generation-skipping gifts, and spousal estate reduction trusts.
    CPE: 2 Hours/Taxes

    June 12, 2012
    2012 Representation Update
    Over the past several years the IRS has dramatically increased its enforcement efforts. This class will discuss the methods the IRS is using in this new enforcement environment. 
    CPE: 2 Hours/Taxes

    June 26, 2012
    Penalty Games: Reducing IRS Penalties
    Each day the Internal Revenue Service asserts millions of dollars in tax penalties against taxpayers. Many of those penalties are subsequently abated because of quality representation by experienced practitioners. This class will cover the basics of supporting reduction of IRS tax penalties. 
    CPE: 2 Hours/Taxes

    July 12, 2012
    Money Laundering and Foreign Bank Accounts
    Many of our client's may be engaged in either cash transactions or have opened foreign bank accounts to avoid IRS scrutiny. This class will alert you to IRS enforcement efforts and the compliance requirements for both cash transactions and foreign accounts.
    CPE: 2 Hours/Taxes

    July 26, 2012
    How to be More Appealing to the IRS: Appeals Representation
    As IRS enforcement efforts have increased dramatically over the past three years, taxpayers have increasingly needed to seek the assistance of the IRS Appeals Division. Taxpayers who are audited usually have a right to appeal any determination by an agent. 
    CPE: 2 Hours/Taxes

    August 9, 2012
    Avoiding Ethical Violations
    During 2011 the IRS announced major revisions to Circular 230. We all try to the right thing but many of us have busy practices and those pressures may cause us to inadvertently face an ethical problem.
    CPE: 2 Hours/Ethics

    August 14, 2012
    Family Business Succession Planning Issues
    This session will address the difficulty of getting clients to do business succession planning and how to overcome their reluctance. 
    CPE: 2 Hours/Taxes

    All upcoming NSA ConnectED webinars are two hours and begin at 2:00 p.m. EDT. For NSA members the advance registration fee is $95 and the regular member price is $105 for registrations the day of a webinar. The nonmember price is $210. 

    NSA is approved as a provider of continuing professional education by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, the IRS, the Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation, and the California Tax Education Council.

    A complete list of webinars can be found at webinars.nsacct.org, including a full lineup of recorded on-demand CPE webinars that can be viewed at any time. More information is also available by calling NSA at 800-966-6679.

    # # #
    NSA and its affiliates represent 30,000 members who provide accounting, auditing, tax preparation, financial and estate planning, and management services to approximately 19 million individuals and business clients. Most members are sole practitioners or partners in small- to medium-size accounting firms. NSA protects the public by requiring its members to adhere to a strict code of ethics and maintain an annual continuing education regimen. Learn more at www.nsacct.org.

  • 02 Mar 2012 3:45 PM | Anonymous

    ALEXANDRIA, VA, March 2, 2012 – Still looking for a tax preparer to help you with this year’s tax return?

    With the many changes in the tax code, it’s probably a good idea to hire a professional who knows the tax code and may be able to find those extra deductions you might miss on your own. Plus it will save you time and hassle!

    There’s still time to hire someone if you act quickly before their schedules are full. The National Society of Accountants (NSA) offers these six tips to help guide your search:

    1. Ask Your Friends and Business Colleagues –Firsthand recommendations from friends and colleagues is still one of the most popular ways to hire any type of professional, and this holds true for tax preparers. Ask people what they like most about their tax preparer and find out if the types of returns the person does are similar to your needs.

    2. Interview Three Candidates –Don’t hire the first person who comes along. Interview three candidates, explain your needs and tax situation, and ask about their experience, approach, fees, and billing arrangements. Ask for references. Build a rapport and look for preparers who ask you lots of questions to learn about your situation.

    3. Check Out Credentials –Many credentials can be earned by tax preparers to validate their experience and expertise. Find out which ones your tax preparer has and check them out. Some common high-level credentials include Certified Public Accountant (CPA), and Enrolled Agent (EA), Accredited Business Accountant (ABA), Accredited Tax Advisor (ATA), and Accredited Tax Preparer (ATP). The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) also requires all tax preparers to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN), so make sure your tax preparer has this.

    4. Look for Longevity –Hiring a tax preparer who has been in business for a reasonable amount of time and appears committed to the profession can help ensure that the person will be available and in business if the IRS contacts you in future years with questions about your return. Experience and commitment to the profession count.

    5. Watch Out for Scams –Just as in any business, some unscrupulous tax preparers are out there. Warning signs include preparers who offer to prepare a return in exchange for a percentage of your refund, those who refuse to sign the return they prepare for you, refuse to include their PTIN on the return,or someone who asks you to sign a blank return.

    6. Use Online Resources –Many online resources can help you find qualified tax preparers. NSA, which represents “Main Street” accountants and tax professionals who serve individuals and small businesses, has a searchable database online at www.nsacct.org (click on “Find a Professional”).

    NSA Executive Vice President John Ams emphasizes the importance of credentials. “Most people would never hire a doctor, dentist, or lawyer without proven credentials,” he says. “It shouldn’t be any different for tax preparers. Proper credentials demonstrate a mastery of accounting and tax procedures and practices. For example, anyone holding an ATA credential, which is designed specifically to validate the ability of tax preparers to handle individual returns, should be highly qualified to handle these types of returns.”

    Membership in NSA is also important, since NSA requires it members to adhere to a strict code of ethics.

    For more information about NSA, visit www.nsacct.org.

    # # #

    NSA and its affiliates represent 30,000 members who provide accounting, auditing, tax preparation, financial and estate planning, and management services to approximately 19 million individuals and business clients. Most members are sole practitioners or partners in small- to medium- size accounting firms. NSA protects the public by requiring its members to adhere to a strict code of ethics. For more information, visit www.nsacct.org
  • 01 Dec 2011 4:59 PM | Anonymous

    Tax Season Provides Training Ground for Exam Preparation

    ALEXANDRIA, VA, December 1, 2011 - The IRS has just announced that preparers planning to become IRS “Registered Tax Return Preparers” may now begin taking the required exam to earn this designation.

    What should preparers do – and what should they know - before taking the exam?

    The National Society of Accountants (NSA) recommends that preparers wait until after April 15, 2012 to take the exam, because at that point the exam will be updated to reflect the 2011 IRS Tax Code. Until then, it is based on the 2010 Tax Code.

    “If you prepare a number of Form 1040 returns during tax season you will also be taking a cram course on the tax content in the exam,” says NSA Executive Vice President John Ams. “So why not take the exam right after that tax season ‘cram course?’”

    The exam is 2.5 hours long and includes 120 questions, which will be both multiple choice and true/false. Form 1040, the 1040 instructions, and Pub 17 will be available online at the test center only (you cannot bring your own copy with you). A handlheld calculator will also be provided.

    Pass/fail information will be available immediately except for the first 2,400 exam takers. The IRS will use these first exams to validate the test questions, so results will not be available for some weeks following the test.

    Beginning December 16, 2011, NSA will offer a web-based tutorial to help preparers learn what they need to know to take this type of examination. The IRS has also posted a video on “What to Expect on Test Day” at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5FbshBloCw and an online sample test to demonstrate how an online test works at www.prometric.com/clientfiles/irs/irsrp/index.htm.

    Preparers have until December 31, 2013 to successfully complete the test. NSA already offers a study course that can serve as a primary study guide or as a supplement to information preparers may already have. The course is available for purchase at www.nsacct.org.

    The IRS Preparer Office is interested in whether preparers know the Tax Code rather than how to merely input information into tax software.

    “Some NSA members who are older and have been tax professionals for some years are upset about the exam, and understandably so,” Ams adds. “However, as a group they are likely better equipped to take the exam than others. Why? Because they started preparing returns before tax software claimed to make everyone a tax expert. Many started by doing 1040s by hand and probably know more about deductions, credits, and limits than they care to admit. Moreover, they know where a particular number is supposed to be entered on a return and whether that number should be adjusted based on limits or other adjustments required by the Code.”

    For more information about NSA resources to prepare for the IRS Tax Preparer Exam, visit www.nsacct.org or call 800-966-6679.

    # # #

    NSA and its affiliates represent 30,000 members who provide accounting, auditing, tax preparation, financial and estate planning, and management services to approximately 19 million individuals and business clients. Most members are sole practitioners or partners in small- to medium- size accounting firms. NSA protects the public by requiring its members to adhere to a strict code of ethics. For more information, visit www.nsacct.org.

  • 01 Dec 2011 4:56 PM | Anonymous

    Survey Finds Average Cost for an Itemized Return is Reasonable at $233

    Alexandria, VA, November 21, 2011 - What can you buy for $233?

    How about this: the services of a professional tax preparer or accountant who can complete your 2011 tax return, relieving you of endless hours of hassle trying to decipher the ever-changing federal tax code (not to mention state tax law changes).

    A biennial survey of nearly 8,000 tax preparers conducted by the National Society of Accountants (NSA) showed the average tax preparation fee for an itemized Form 1040 with Schedule A and a state tax return is only $233. Rates for non-itemized returnsare also low – the average cost to prepare a Form 1040 and state return without itemized deductions is only $128.

    Both average fees are nearly the same as they were two years ago ($229 and $129 respectively), showing that tax preparers and accountants understand the financial challenges that Americans face.

    “This is one of the best values out there for any type of professional service,” says NSA Executive Vice President John Ams, “especially when you consider the complexity of the tax code. If a professional finds even one additional deduction or tax credit, it will probably more than cover the fee.”

    The accounting firms surveyed are largely local “Main Street” companies – small businesses that typically operate with fewer than six employees. The average annual billing of these companies is $250,000.

    “Members of NSA are highly qualified tax professionals who typically hold multiple credentials that demonstrate their expertise,” Ams adds. “Taxpayers receive personal service from people who live and work in their community and fully understand local and state tax laws in addition to their deep knowledge of the federal tax code.”

    The survey also reported the average fees for preparing other Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax forms, including:

    • $236 for a Form 1040 Schedule C (profit or loss from business)
    • $524 for a Form 1065 (partnership)
    • $695 for a Form 1120 (corporation)
    • $660 for a Form 1120S (S corporation)
    • $396 for a Form 1041 (fiduciary)
    • $566 for a Form 990 (tax exempt)
    • $61 for a Form 940 (Federal unemployment)

    All fees assume a taxpayer has gathered and organized all necessary information.

    Fees also vary by region. The average tax preparation fee for an itemized Form 1040 with Schedule A and a state tax return in each U.S. census district are as follows:

    • New England (CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT) – $238
    • Middle Atlantic (NJ, NY, PA) – $216
    • South Atlantic (DE, DC, FL, GA, MD, NC, SC, VA, WV) – $244
    • East South Central (AL, KY, MS, TN) – $145
    • West South Central (AR, LA, OK, TX) – $223
    • East North Central (IL, IN, MI, OH, WI) – $202
    • West North Central (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD) – $178
    • Mountain (AZ, CO, ID, MT, NV, NM, UT, WY) – $247
    • Pacific (AK, CA, HI, OR, WA) – $297

    Sixty-two percent of accounting firms do not require payment until returns are completed and clients are satisfied.Others may require a portion of the fee upfront or payments throughout the tax return process. Thirty-three percent accept credit cards.

    Some of the professional credentials held by NSA survey participants include:

    • Enrolled Agents (federally authorized tax practitioners) – 45.1%
    • Accredited Tax Preparers – 26.8%
    • Certified Public Accountants – 24.7%
    • Accredited Tax Advisors – 21.7%

    For more information and to use an online search directory to identify a qualified tax preparer in your area, visit www.nsacct.org and click on “Find a Professional” or call 800-966-6679.

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    NSA and its affiliates represent 30,000 members who provide accounting, auditing, tax preparation, financial and estate planning, and management services to approximately 19 million individuals and business clients. Most members are sole practitioners or partners in small- to medium- size accounting firms. NSA protects the public by requiring its members to adhere to a strict code of ethics. For more information, visit www.nsacct.org.

©2018, Virginia Society of Tax & Accounting Professionals, formerly The Accountants Society of Virginia, 
is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization.

PO Box 3363 | Warrenton, VA 20188 | Phone: (800) 927-2731 | Fax: (888) 403-0920 | asv@virginia-accountants.org

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