Website of the Month: National Association of Tax Professionals

By Susan B. Anders

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MARCH 2006 - The National Association of Tax Professionals’ (NATP) website, www.natptax.com, is an excellent resource for all tax practitioners, whether they are members of the NATP or not. The organization was formed in 1979 and has chapters in 35 states. Its membership includes enrolled agents, accountants, attorneys, financial planners, and CPAs. Respondents to The CPA Journal’s 2003 annual tax software survey indicated that the NATP site was useful in their tax practices. Although some materials are restricted to members, many features are available to the public.

The NATP homepage and main pages are organized with a consistent banner header containing links to “about us,” “contact us,” and “find a tax pro.” The center of the homepage is in a newsletter format, presenting “news alerts” on current events in taxation, “upcoming education” for access to NATP continuing education and self-study courses, and “NATP news.” The subsidiary main pages look similar to the homepage, generally utilizing a simple text format presentation with embedded or bulleted hyperlinks.

The main navigational tool is a left-side topical index that includes “what’s new,” “membership,” “federal tax info,” “publications,” “state information,” and “press room.” Some topics offer drop-down menus with more selections. Navigation is inconsistent and could be improved by offering summary main pages for each topical area.

Federal Tax Information

The Federal Tax Information section is one of the best-developed resources on this website. Its subsidiary main page presents a table of contents of a variety of resources, which include the “NATP Research Center,” “tax news,” “tax facts,” “tax tip of the week,” “Revenue Rulings,” “Treasury decisions and regulations,” “IRS publications,” and “tax links.” The NATP Research Center offers research services to members for a nominal charge, after the first free question. Nonmembers can also submit questions, but for a higher rate than members.

Tax news presents a varied collection of items, accessible by hyperlinks to PDF documents. This section could benefit from reorganization (and renaming), as users may miss some of the great materials. For example, tax news includes links to the 2004 IRS Enrolled Agents Exam booklets and answers. Tax facts also includes some odds and ends, such as standard mileage rates and where-to-file IRS addresses.

Revenue Procedures, Revenue Rulings, Treasury decisions and regulations, and IRS publications provide selected documents in PDF format directly through the NATP website. Selected IRS Notices are available from the homepage. Tax Act summaries cover the major tax acts from 2001 through 2005.

Tax links is one of the jewels of this website. Besides offering an extensive collection of tax-related websites, it is one of the best-organized website lists available and contains many good and rare links. This feature should be on the homepage and not hidden under “federal tax info.”

Other Features

Under “education,” users can access information about NATP’s online and self-study courses, workshops, and conferences. “Find a tax pro” connects to a separate website, www.taxprofessionals.com, which permits users to search the directory of NATP members.

“State information” is another excellent section. It provides links to the 35 states in which NATP has chapters. The subsidiary state pages include links to the state board of accountancy, the state government, chapter information, and others. The individual chapters appear to have contributed customized information that would interest tax practitioners in that state.

Members have access to additional resources, such as state tax assistance, downloadable worksheets, and a newsletter and journal. Access to a student website is available only to members. A suggested improvement is to allow nonmember students some unrestricted access via a main link on the homepage.


Susan B. Anders, PhD, CPA, is an associate professor of accounting at St. Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure, N.Y.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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