By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA
Although I understand the tax blogosphere has decided to “ignore” this topic for varying reasons, I am going to throw out my last ball anyway.
In response to the comment at my post For Cry’in Out Load – Another Tax Blog Throw Down – here are my rambling thoughts:
First, I am a Certified Public Accountant, not a Certified Public Tax Preparer, so why in the world would I be threatened by unenrolled preparers and believe that they could in any way take from my education or my license as is suggested at the comment?
I propose that anyone wondering about what accounts really do, look at my post addressing this subject for more clarification.
True my CPA license does afford me the right to perform certain functions that non-CPAs cannot. However, these functions are not related to tax preparation. As a CPA, I can and do perform attestation engagements. In addition, I can represent a client in tax court. But I ask you – so what? This ability has nothing to do with tax preparation.
At the post comment, I am asked – if I believe a non-CPA rendering opinions on financial statements (i.e. attestation engagements) of clients is a professional accountant – well no – I would call them a criminal.
The person commenting at my blog appears to be confusing criminal activity with professionalism. Let us not confuse these terms. If society has determined that one must be “licensed” to perform a job function, then someone performing these functions without such a license would be a “professional” criminal.
Now ask me if I think someone working in the capacity of a corporate controller for 30 years is a professional even if he or she has no formal education- well yes – of course, I believe they are a professional – in this case the person would be a professional “controller.” For me the distinction lies in the substance of the job function. A person acting in the” capacity” of a professional is a professional – self taught does not equate to “not a professional.” A controller position requires advance knowledge of accounting. It is not the sort of job that someone could walk into. Of course, someone who has obtained the knowledge to be able to be in this position is a professional – regardless of how the knowledge was obtained.
Likewise, tax preparation requires advance knowledge but not a license. If a person has obtained this knowledge, then this person is a professional. The act of preparing the return does not make this person a professional, the knowledge obtained, which allows a person to prepare the return properly, is what makes the person a professional.
I wonder If the person commenting at my blog is trying to argue that tax preparation is not a profession. If this is the case, then I would like to hear more about how he has come to this conclusion.
Stacie, Thank you for the well thought out and intelligent response to my comment. I appreciate the dialogue.Someone who holds the title of corporate controller is not a member of a profession just because of that title. Nor is she a member of a profession just because she has held that title for 30 years. Or 50, or 100, or a 1000.Again, what makes someone a member of a profession is that they are licensed and regulated by a recognized and independent third party.Stated another way, if a job does not require any specified minimal level of education, does not require proof of core competence through some kind of licensing or testing procedure and does not require continuing education, it is not a profession.That's because if there are no standards, no barriers to entry and no continuing regulatory requirements, anyone can claim membership.I agree that the fact that a person is not a member of a profession does not mean that he or she is incompetent or incapable of acting professionally. I never said a CPA was a professional tax preparer. I said a CPA was a member of a professon.Unenrolled tax preparers clearly are not.By the way, Florida imposes criminal sanctions for the unlicensed practice of law and I believe there have been cases where non-lawyers have been prosecuted for practicing tax law without a license.The cases are quite similar to those where non-CPAs prepared financial statements.
PeterThank you for your comment.Although it is your belief that a professional must be regulated, statements of opinions are not facts. You have not in any of your posts or responses to posts presented any information that would support your argument as fact. Restating the same un-compelling points at different posts does not bolster your opinion or elevate it to a level of authority. The generally accepted "opinion" regarding this topic does not appear to support your thesis. Based on the "grey" nature of the topic, I believe that the generally accepted opinion is the winner in this debate.
Stacie,I demand a recount!I never said you have to be regulated to be professional.I agree wholeheartedly that professionalism is a character trait that has more to do with how one conducts oneself that it does by what qualifications or memberships one holds. And I already have acknowledged that there are CPAs and lawyers who act unprofessionally and unenrolled preparers who act very professionally.But that is not my point.I merely said that a member of a profession must be licensed and subject to regulatory standards.Unenrolled preparers do not belong to a profession. That is why the issue of IRS regulation of preparers is important. Some, but not all, of them soon will be.By the way, the term unenrolled preparer is used to describe all of those preparers who do not belong to a profession. It's a catch-all category.Of course, all of this will be moot when IRS regulation gets here. Then it will be fun to watch those newly licensed and regulated unenrolled preparers (who now insist they belong to a profession along with all other unenrolled preparers) attempt to professionally distinguish themselves from those unenrolled preparers who fail or refuse to comply with the new standards.Incidentally, nice blog.
Stacie-Your eyes are brown. Saying that your eyes are blue over and over and over ad naseum will never make your eyes blue.TWTP
Everyone keeps saying I'm wrong over and over again. Ad nauseum.LOL.