Hopefully Iowa Will Exempt EAs from the Preparer Licensing Bill

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

This past tax season, I had to prepare an Oregon tax return for a client who had moved from Iowa to Oregon.

I’d never prepared an Oregon return, but this type is situation is pretty basic stuff a preparer deals with all the time.

Except, I had a moment of panic when I was reviewing the return. My software generated a warning saying I needed to enter my Oregon tax preparer information or exemption.

I had a momentary panic attack.

Oregon requires preparers to be licensed with the state.

Unfortunately, Enrolled Agents are not exempt. Of course not.

CPAs and attorneys, of course, are exempt. But since EAs are the freaks in the attic of the tax world, we of course are not exempt. EAs who want to prepare Oregon tax returns must pass a test over federal and Oregon tax law.

Thankfully I discovered an “out” for myself when I noted that an out-of-state EA who doesn’t solicit for clients in Oregon is exempt. I was only preparing an Oregon return because my client had moved there, so I didn’t have to be licensed there.

The Iowa legislature is kicking around a preparer licensing proposal that seems to be modeled closely after Oregon.

Not only are EAs not exempt from this proposed law in Iowa, but the Iowa proposal specifically calls out EAs and explicitly states that we are not exempt — but CPAs and attorneys are exempt.

Oregon’s law does the same thing — it explicitly calls out EAs and says EAs aren’t exempt.

These laws and proposals don’t “forget” about EAs — they specifically call us out as being different and not as good as CPAs or attorneys.

I’m confused as to why the lawmakers who come up with these ridiculous laws would think a CPA would know more about state taxes than an EA.

True, the EA exam doesn’t cover state tax issues. But neither does the CPA exam!

Is it just that EAs are so unknown that we generate no respect? Or lawmakers don’t know what an EA is so they assume we’re inferior?

Next year when Iowa’s legislative session starts up again, a group of us EAs in Iowa is going to go to the statehouse and educate our “dear leaders” on what an EA is, and why we should be exempt from the Iowa licensing proposal.

(Personally, I think these preparer licensing laws are no good to begin with, but my main concern is not in fighting against the proposal itself, but rather with making sure EAs are understood and respected.)

This is all we EAs can do — try to educate people so they understand what we are.