There’s not a lot new on the tax preparer licensing front. The PTIN registration for 2012 returns opened and as anything new and on the computer, there were issues the first few days. The big one is that preparers who mailed in their applications last year are having a little problem renewing online. There is a letter that is suppose to be going out to them, but most haven’t received it yet.
Testing is still starting sometimes soon. No official date yet. But I have seen a copy of the “Candidate Information Bulletin” that Prometic has put together. I assume you get to download a copy but when or where is a mystery. I couldn’t find it on the IRS site today and the Prometic site links back to the IRS.. (Sorry, can’t give you an URL for the booklet. As soon as I get a public link, I’ll post it.)
Here’s what I gleaned:
- You have to schedule an appointment to take the test. The fee must be paid at that time not when you take the test. (No mention of the cost yet) Scheduleing will be through the IRS PTIN site.
- If you have to re-schedule, you may have to pay an additional fee. Between 29 and 5 days before the scheduled date there will be an extra $35 fee and if you wait until less than 5 calendar days to reschedule you get to pay the whole thing again.
- If you’re late to your appointment, you have to reschedule and pay another full fee. If they have an emergency closing, you won’t have to pay again when you reschedule. But if the weather is bad and you can’t get there – yup! You pay again.
- If you have an ADA disability, you need to call Prometric and have them send you an accommodation request form. FYI, English as a second language is not considered a disability so no special treatment.
- You have to have a current (non-expired) ID. It must be government issued, have your picture and signature and the name must exactly match the name used to register including name suffixes.
- The test is given on a computer. You will get an overview of the procedure and have the option to take a pre-test computer tutorial. There will also be an IRS video “What to Expect on Test Day” coming on the IRS site.
- The test is 120 questions, 20 of which are considered experimental and will not be graded. You won’t know which are graded and which are experimental. Questions will be multiple choice or true/false. The multiple choice questions will be direct question, incomplete sentence or all but format.
- You will be provided reference materials (Pub 17, Form and instructions 1040), on onscreen calculator, scratch paper and pencils. You may not use your own. Nor can you take any scratch paper with you. That will be an act of misconduct.
- Two and a half hours are allotted for the test with no breaks. If you need a break, the clock keeps ticking. And you can’t use any phones or electronic device while on break. If you take too many breaks, the test center administrator will be notified.
- You can’t bring in any personal/unauthorized things into the test room. They have to be left in a locker. Pockets will be checked out for contraband items. If you have to have something from your locker during the test, you have to get permission first.
- Anytime you leave the test room you will have to sign out. Upon returning, you will have to show id, sign back in and be scanned with a metal detector.
- You can’t talk to others taking the test, look at their notes or screens.
- You will be monitored while taking the test by video, proctor walk-throught and observation window.
- You can’t share any part of the test for any reason. In fact, it is prohibited. Seriously prohibited.
- What you wear in must stay on. No removing jewelry or jackets in the test room.
- You can bring your own soft ear plugs or use the noise blocking headphones the testing center has.
- The guide give the impression that test taker will not know if they passed or failed until they receive printed test results with in 60 days. You will be told if you passed but not the score. If you fail, you will be given info to help identify problem domains.
I know that Prometric is an expert at this kind of thing and all of these procedures have been developed for a reason but the rules read like High School detention. I took the SEE in 2002 at the Federal Court House in Wichita. No reference materials or calculators were allowed. We signed in only when we entered the Courthouse, the same for metal detector scan. The biggest security issue was having to be escorted to the rest room by a proctor. We could take our test books with us and most of us marked our answers in the book. In fact, the IRS provided back test books and answer sheets as part of the study materials they offered. And 60 days is a lot quicker than the 4 months I had to wait for results. All the same, I’m glad I don’t have to take this test.
New - the link to the RTRP Candidate Test Booklet