Ask the Advocate June 2020 Tax News

Education and Outreach during COVID-19

Susan Maples, Taxpayers' Rights Advocate.

Susan Maples, CPA
Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate
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Many things have changed due to COVID-19 and the new social distancing requirements, including how education and outreach is being presented to tax professionals. Similar to the distance learning classes that students of all ages are now attending, continuing professional education (CPE) for tax professionals is now entirely online. A recent update from CSEA let us know that their 2020 Super Seminar will consist of 29 live webinars beginning June 2 and ending on August 6. A quick check of the Spidell and Western CPE websites show their upcoming Review and Update seminars and conferences are being presented online as well.

I know that many of us miss having a day out of the office, perhaps now our “home office” to attend a chapter meeting, seminar or conference. These events allow us to meet with other tax professionals and hear from great speakers while earning the CPE we need to keep current with changes in the tax laws and meet our professional licensing requirements.

I try to attend several of the larger update seminars each year along with some smaller chapter meetings. I will definitely miss these, especially not having the opportunity to meet in person with you. As I have said many times, the one on one conversations I have with you at these events help me learn firsthand about any concerns you and your clients have when doing business with FTB along with the areas where we can improve. I am hopeful that by next year, things will be back to normal and we can all safely meet in person again.

You may have already read that FTB’s education and outreach in-person events have also been cancelled. But like the others, we are doing our best to adapt. Over the past several weeks, my staff and I have made presentations and virtually attended some of your chapter meetings using the different online platforms. There has definitely been a learning curve for us, but I feel that we adapting well to these changes and getting the information out to you that you need.

While the shift to exclusively presenting online has created some challenges for everyone, I am optimistic that these changes will help those of us who provide content improve how we do this virtually and will ultimately make more information available to tax professionals everywhere, whether in-person or at a distance.