Why you should become a Certified Taxpayer Representative™

You shouldn’t.

Seriously. You shouldn’t. It provides you with ZERO marketing benefit as a practitioner, because the general public has no clue what it means.

Same thing goes, by the way, for literally every industry certification that exists. As a practitioner in private practice, the vast majority of industry certifications are utterly worthless.

This is a song I’ve been singing for years, and it’s one that I’ll never stop harping on about: The only thing that matters is your license to practice. The rest is just noise.

Industry certifications were created, as in made up, by companies and trade associations to advance branding and recognition of the company or the organization. They are all fabricated — totally made up. A tiny number of them have managed to get themselves codified into statute so that they actually do mean something. For example, many states recognize the Certified Financial Planner designation as a substitute for other testing and regulation for the provision of paid financial advice to clients. That’s a result of good lobbying, and nothing else.

Since the general public has absolutely no clue what our industry certifications mean, what’s required to obtain it, etc., it has zero marketing utility. None. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada. They are completely made up, artificial, industry-only jargon at this point. In fact, to many members of the public, the use of excessive alphabet soup comes across as pretentious, and can actually backfire. Funny British guy and YouTube star John Oliver has gone off about this a few times on his show, including this hilarious (NSFW) bit about financial advisors.

At best, the fancy certificate on the wall makes you look like smarty-smart. That might be about it.

With all that said, why on Earth do I offer not only one “credential”, but TWO?

It’s because YOU like credentials, and those fancy wall certificates.

Yes, that’s why these exist in industries like ours. It’s to make US feel like we’ve accomplished something, and to feel like we’re superior to our colleagues. It’s an ego thing, through and through. Since the general public has no clue what any of it means beyond “CPA” and “attorney”, the only rational explanation for the existence of credentials beyond our license is to make us feel better within our own ranks. That’s the only logical explanation I can come up with. Oh, right, and promoting the agenda of the organization supplying the certification.

So, for kicks and giggles, I created the RTR™ and CTR™ credentials in 2014, totally as a lark. I openly excoriated credentialitis then, and still do today. But as more people ask me about it, it has become clear that I should embrace the joke and run with it. I will call it an “anti-credential”, and put it out there into the world.

So, here are the rules…

How to Become a Registered Taxpayer Representative™ (RTR™)

  1. Provide evidence of current licensure in good standing as an attorney, Certified Public Accounting (CPA), or IRS Enrolled Agent (EA).
  2. Successfully attend and complete all 16 grueling hours of our IRS Collections Levels 1 and 2 curriculum.
  3. Make a $100 donation to your local humane society or animal shelter and send us the receipt.

Do these things, and I’ll send you a real fake certificate suitable for framing on your wall, and I’ll grant you permission to use my trademarked phrase “Registered Taxpayer Representative” and the initials “RTR” amongst your other alphabet soup. You’ll also become an associate member of the American Institute of Certified Taxpayer Representatives (AICTR). Yep. That’s going to be a thing.

Want to take your anti-credential to the next level? Boom, I gotcha covered!

How to Become a Certified Taxpayer Representative™ (CTR™)

Yep, you, too can make the leap from being “registered” to being “certified”. Certified by whom, you ask? Well, by ME…the exact same way all our other industry certifications work!

  1. Provide evidence of current licensure in good standing as an attorney, Certified Public Accounting (CPA), or IRS Enrolled Agent (EA).
  2. Successfully attend and complete all 32 mind-numbing hours of our entire IRS Collections criteria. Levels 1, 2, 3, and 4. Yeah, baby, see what we did there? Let’s sell some seminar seats.
  3. Make a $200 donation to your local humane society or animal shelter and send us the receipt.
  4. Submit evidence of successful case closure for at least ten (10) IRS or state collection cases on behalf of clients. Acceptable evidence includes case closure letters, such as IRS Form 433-D, or state or IRS transcripts reflecting IA, CNC, or OIC status.
  5. Make a $200 donation to your local humane society or animal shelter and send us the receipt.

Do these things, and you’ll get a fancy schmancy wall certificate, and permission to use my trademarked phrases “Certified Taxpayer Representative” and put the initials “CTR” after your name. You’ll also eventually be a founding, full fledged member of the American Institute of Certified Taxpayer Representatives (AICTR).

Doesn’t this all sound like fun? It sure does to me!

In the near future, we’ll be providing updates on the AICTR, and what this new non-profit organization can do for you. And yes, I’m actually creating it, just to keep a joke going. We have fun around here, and so can you. Become an RTR™ or CTR™ today!