Weekly business rail, with a look at tax-preparer designations, the most common barriers to productivity at work and more.
Tip of the Week
Tax professionals can have a variety of designations, each reflecting various areas of specialization. A designation alone, however, does not always demonstrate tax-preparation experience. Here is a guide to the most commonly known designations.
- EAs: Are required to pass an extensive tax exam that is administered by the IRS, pass a stringent background check and maintain sufficient continuing education credits in taxation to retain their certification. EAs, as well as CPAs and attorneys, are qualified to represent taxpayers in audits before the IRS.
- CPA: Has a college degree and has passed an exam required for certification. CPAs are especially qualified to maintain business records and financial statements. Many also prepare tax returns.
- ATAs/ATPs: Accredited tax advisers and accredited tax preparers specialize in the preparation of personal and business returns. ATAs also offer comprehensive tax planning. Both require the completion of an exam in taxation.
- CFPs: Specialize in assessing individual needs and financial planning. They handle investments and advise on "big-picture" planning to help individuals achieve their financial goals using the most advantageous means available.
-- The National Association of Tax Professionals
According to the 2008 Global Productivity Report by Proudfoot Consulting, these are the top barriers to productivity in U.S. workplaces:
1. Staff shortages and an insufficient labor pool
2. Legislation and regulation
3. High staff turnover rates
4. Quality of supervisors
5. Problems with IT and communications technology
6. Internal communication problems
Number to Know
21,137: The number of mass layoffs (50 or more workers cut) in 2008, according to the Labor Department, the second-highest figure since numbers started being tracked in 1995. This number was up from 15,493 in 2007 and is expected to be much worse in 2009.
Quote of Note
"We don't see much relief (for the economy) until much later this year. We are passing through the darkest part of the storm right now."
Tim Quinlan, economic analyst at Wachovia Securities in Charlotte, N.C., as quoted by Reuters. Quinlan was responding to the latest jobless-claims report, which showed that claims jumped to a record number in mid-January.
GateHouse News Service