Tax preparer standards – pros and cons

My earlier blog on the question of the need for formal standards for tax preparers in Canada generated a number of thoughtful responses. Thanks to all of you who commented.

My earlier blog on the question of the need for formal standards for tax preparers in Canada generated a number of thoughtful responses. Thanks to all of you who commented.

Clearly there is a range of opinions on the desirability of formal tax preparer standards. While many readers support some form of certification or registration process, some argue that existing checks and balances, including CRA’s efile registration program, civil penalties and the courts, are sufficient. Others worry that new standards would add unneeded bureaucracy without preventing unqualified or unscrupulous preparers from doing returns.

Emery Steiner points out that CPAs could be exempt from additional certification requirements beyond those they have already met to earn their designation. Professional codes of conduct governing the CPA profession could be incorporated in a registration or certification program and thus extended to other tax return preparers, reducing potential for duplication and bureaucracy.

Neal Jennings puts the issue in an interesting light, following his experience in going through the (now-suspended) examination process for the U.S. tax preparer registration program: “I honestly believe I'm a better U.S. tax preparer for having gone through the examination process – if anything, this will help give better accreditation and support for those preparers who don't wish to obtain professional designations.”

Finally, many readers pointed out that it is ultimately up to taxpayers to ensure the accuracy of their tax filings.

Join in the conversation … Your perspectives are helpful input as we consider our own position on this issue. As a follow-up question, if CPAs were automatically qualified under a new registration or certification system based on their professional code of conduct, disciplinary processes and professional development requirements, would you be in favour of regulation?

Post a comment below, or email me directly.


Conversations about Tax is designed to create an exchange of ideas on tax policy and practice developments and issues and their impact on Canadian accountants who practice tax. Comments received can provide helpful input to the public interest advocacy positions developed by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada.

About the Author

Gabe Hayos, FCPA, FCA, ICD.D

Vice-president, Taxation, CPA Canada