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Tax Guru-Ker$tetter Letter
Sunday, December 29, 2002
Useful Tax References

As has become an annual tradition for me this time of year, I have been spending the last week taking care of my official continuing professional education (CPE) requirements for my Arkansas CPA license, which mandates at least 40 hours each calendar year. My California CPA license requires 80 hours each two year renewal period, ending every other August.

As someone who tries as hard as possible to be as thrifty as I can with both money and time, I have long found the self study method to be the most efficient approach for me. Living deep in the boonies, just the travel time I save over having to drive to live seminars is huge in itself.

While the list of self study CPE providers continues to grow each year, I have been very pleased for the past several years with the course offerings from The CPE Store. In fact, the most difficult aspect to using them is deciding on which courses to purchase. I generally see at least a dozen or so different courses each year that I'd like to take. This year, I bought one 20 hour and two ten hour classes. After reading through the texts that come with each course, I just circle the True-False and multiple choice answers on the answer sheet and fax it to The CPE Store. By the next day, I have my score and my certificate of completion faxed back to me. I was actually surprised to receive the last certificate today (Sunday) after just faxing it in last night (Saturday). You can't get much more convenient than that.

Over the past few years, I have noticed an improvement in the quality of the text books included by The CPE Store with its courses. For example, my 20 hour course this year included an excellent reference book from Nolo Press that is now on my shelf with the dozen or so other Nolo titles I have. I have been using Nolo Press books for at least the past 20 years and have always considered them to be excellent and very useful.

What really surprised and impressed me were the texts for the other two courses I took this year. They were written by a licensed tax preparer in California, Holmes F. Crouch. To be honest, at first glance, I was expecting them to be ivory tower type texts like they use in college, where the author has no practical experience and relies on the IRS instructions and treats the IRS as the all perfect all knowing deity that most people assume it to be. Boy, was I wrong. Mr. Crouch has written some very practical reference books, including several real life examples of dealing with the IRS and the Tax Court. Best of all, he has the same attitude regarding the IRS that I have; frequently mentioning where they are screwed up, incompetent, and downright dishonest as they pursue their goal of squeezing as much money out of people as they can, legally and illegally. When our rulers in DC start whining about the bum rap the poor IRS has gotten for "alleged abuses of power," these books would be very enlightening. I believe every word in them because I have seen the exact same kinds of IRS behavior in my 27 years of representing clients against them.

Mr. Holmes has been quite prolific in his literary output. He currently has dozens of different tax related books available from his company's website, AllYear Tax Guides. They would be very appropriate for anyone interested in better understanding the tax system in this country; taxpayers, as well as tax professionals.

Of course, now that I've said something positive about a non-CPA, I guess I can expect a nasty-gram from the Board of Accountancy. Back when I had my offices in the PRC, whenever I dared mention in any of my newsletters or speeches that people other than CPAs, such as Enrolled Agents, are just as capable of helping people with their tax needs, I would receive threatening letters from the California Board of Accountancy saying that I would be subject to discipline if I continued to imply that anyone other than CPAs could be competent in tax matters. I was a danger to the CPA profession because I was jeopardizing the public's perception of a CPA monopoly on tax related skills.

If that does happen again, my response to them will be the same as always. They can stuff their censorship rules where the sun doesn't shine and learn to respect my First Amendment right to freedom of speech. They have never claimed that anything I said was false or incorrect in any factual sense. My crime in their eyes was admitting that we CPAs aren't the only people who can be capable in areas of taxation.


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