IRS Begins new Registered Tax Return Preparer (RTRP) Exam this Week: Pacific Northwest Tax School Partners with 30 Colleges to Offer test Preparation Courses

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Thirty colleges & universities partner with Pacific Northwest Tax School to deliver online tax education courses to an estimated 350,000 tax professionals who will be required pass the test or be forced from the industry.

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Spokane Community College

It is inconceivable to me that anyone looking to ready themselves for a comprehensive income tax exam can hope to develop the level of knowledge needed to pass the test without completing a comprehensive tax course .

Bunker Hill Community College, Spokane Community College and the University of Hawaii Honolulu Community College are among 30 colleges and universities across the country that have partnered with Pacific Northwest Tax School(PNWTS) to deliver its leading online tax education programs. The partnerships will provide students and residents of California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington immediate access to online tax education courses and the opportunity to earn a certificate of completion through each school's continuing education and workforce development departments. The number of college and university partners is expected to exceed 100 by next fall.

The new IRS exam mandate is part of a three-pronged approach to clean up an industry that has long been plagued by unscrupulous and incompetent tax preparers. While more than 60% of filers use paid tax preparers to prepare their tax returns, until now there has been no requirement that tax preparers demonstrate competence, obtain education in tax law, pass a background check or maintain a license.

The exam is expected to affect approximately 350,000 existing tax preparers nationwide who must pass the IRS exam by the end of 2013 or be forced to leave the industry. No grace period is allowed for new tax preparers however, who beginning April 18th, 2012 must pass the IRS exam before they will be allowed to prepare tax returns as paid preparers. With testing requirements looming over the industry, a wide range of organizations have moved to bring tax courses to market, however Pacific Northwest Tax School’s courses stand out with a 10-year track record of successfully readying students for tax preparer exams.

PNWTS courses provide more than 72 hours of federal tax law education which is delivered through an online platform that includes full-length lecture videos, interactive Q&A Forums and a curriculum that focuses on, building knowledge, enhancing critical thinking, and developing test-taking skills. “In addition to teaching tax law and testing skills, our programs focus on tax return mechanics, a critical area frequently overlooked by most educational institutions which tend to emphasize theory over practical application”, said April Gutierrez, Pacific Northwest Tax School CEO. “Our overriding goal is to ensure that every student who graduates from our programs understands tax law and knows how to apply tax law to accurate preparation of tax returns.”

Marie Rustemeyer, Director of eLearning & Continuing Education at Spokane Community College, said “Two of SCC’s four core themes are workforce education and community responsiveness. We really attempt to support both the personal and professional growth of our students and promote the economic success of our region. Our partnership with Pacific Northwest Tax School aligns with those goals and being able to offer this course in a flexible, just-in-time format will meet the needs of students and tax career professionals throughout eastern Washington.”

The new IRS test mandate is modeled on a licensing and testing regime that has operated in the State of Oregon since 1973. Oregon began licensing and testing tax preparers back in 1973 in response to widespread concerns that the majority of tax preparers were incompetent or dishonest. The Oregon Board of Tax Practitioners requires tax preparers to complete a minimum of 80 hours of education in federal and Oregon tax law from an approved education provider. The Board monitors and publishes the pass rates of each approved school annually. “Even with these minimum standards, most tax schools average dismal pass rates of just 50-60%. It is inconceivable to me that anyone looking to ready themselves for a comprehensive income tax exam can hope to develop the level of knowledge needed to pass the test without completing a comprehensive tax course. PNWTS’ online tax preparer course has achieved an impressive pass rate of 91-97% over the past three years and is a proven resource our college partners are eager to provide to their students.”

Despite high standards for its own tax preparers, Oregon’s 4,000 tax preparers will still be required to pass the IRS competency exam. California currently has 44,000 CTEC registered tax preparers already subject to the California Tax Education Council (CTEC) education requirements and they too will now also be subject to the IRS exam.

Pacific Northwest Tax School was formed in 2001 to address the chronic shortage of licensed tax preparers in the State of Oregon by providing high-quality tax education programs. The school is dedicated to delivering beginner and advanced tax education courses that provide students with the knowledge needed for delivering competent tax preparation services and building clientele in the competitive tax preparation industry. For more information, visit their website at: http://www.pnwtaxschool.com.

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Baruch Valenzuela

Marie Rustemeyer