People often think: I am capable of preparing my tax return myself using tax software, such as TurboTax. These people believe that they can research online whatever they need or have questions about. All too often, people misread the tax code and IRS regulations or they search the internet until they find an answer that they want. They think everything is good, until they get a letter from the IRS or state department of revenue stating that they are going to be audited. The damage is done at this point, and while we as CPAs can help you organize everything and deal with revenue agents on your behalf, there are still hefty fines, penalties, and interest on what you thought was researched correctly.
So, what value can CPAs provide to you when preparing your tax return? Most importantly, we have been to school and studied the tax regulations as part of our learning. After we graduate school and pass the CPA exam, we are required to obtain Continuing Professional Education every year. This keeps us up to date on all of the ever-changing tax law. Did I mention that when you are researching online, you can definitely be misled depending on the date of the article? This is why CPAs have to take Continuing Professional Education, so that we are up-to-date on everything. We’ve got the knowledge, tools and resources to ensure that you are preparing your tax return correctly.
The requirements are different in every state, but in North Carolina the following Continuing Professional Education requirements must be met:
1.) Obtain 40 hours of Continuing Professional Education every calendar year
2.) 2 of the 40 hours must be professional ethics
3.) Keep track of all courses that were attended – you get a certificate upon completion and you also must keep any materials you received at the class
4.) Every year, by June 30, you have to renew your license. Part of the process is submitting all Continuing Professional Education classes that were taken.
5.) We are expected to take classes that will contribute and enhance our professional competence. So, if a CPA only prepares tax returns, then there would be no need for the CPA to take a class on auditing and attestation.