The IRS has finally, sort of, set a date to open registration for the new competency testing for the RTRP (Registered Tax Return Preparers) designation. According to IR 2011-111(not on the IRS website yet), tax preparers can begin scheduling their test date next week (week of Nov. 28). (We’ll see!) The test will be administered at Prometric testing sites and will cost $116. At first, not all Prometric locations will offer the test but the IRS expects to add sites quickly and soon offer testing in all 260 US offices. But the first test takers will not know if they passed the test for 2 to 6 weeks. The IRS wants the time to figure out what is pass/fail and to “validate” the exam. Once the test is vetted, the IRS says that candidates for the RTRP will know if they passed once they finish the test. But the early birds will have to wait until mid- January 2012 for their results. Still 2 to 6 weeks is better than the 2 to 6 months it could take the IRS to issue the SEE exam results for EAs. Then the Service would look at questions with high error rates and pull them out of grading consideration if it could be argued the question wasn't clear. I remember 6 or 7 questions that were given to everyone for that reason.
But back to the RTRP. The IRS has put the fingerprinting requirement on hold for now. This doesn’t mean that they are backing off of their requirement to make sure RTRP candidates have not engages in unsuitable (fraud, perjury, theft) behavior. But there are some concerns about fingerprinting. The IRS is looking at who they want fingerprinted and who will actually do the fingerprinting. However, use of the RTRP designation will not wait on background check. Once a paid preparer has their PTIN and passed the competency test and tax compliance check, they will receive their RTRP certificate. They may still be subject to the background check once the IRS figures out the procedures.
A reminder - PTINs must be renewed annually. The cost this year is $63 and can be done online on the IRS web site.