IRS Considers Oversight of Tax Return Preparers
On June 4, 2009, the IRS announced plans for a comprehensive program aimed at tax return preparers. According to IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman, the recommendations of the Service will “better leverage the tax return preparer community with the twin goals of increasing taxpayer compliance and ensuring uniform and high ethical standards of conduct for tax preparers.”
Recognizing that “tax return preparers help Americans with one of their biggest financial transactions each year,” Mr. Shulman announced that the IRS “must ensure that all preparers are ethical, provide good service and are qualified.” Certainly, the need for such recommendations from the IRS is great. A recent study by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that 61% of tax returns completed by unlicensed paid preparers contained errors.
Moreover, the tax return preparation industry is enormous and getting bigger. According to IRS estimates, over 80% of taxpayers either hire a tax preparer or use tax-preparation software. And while enrolled agents, certified public accountants and licensed tax attorneys must register with the IRS and meet minimum training requirements, other, unregulated tax return preparers can work on tax returns without such safeguards. “Right now, there is no clear national standard regulation of paid tax-return preparers,” said Mr. Shulman.
Although still in formation, the IRS reports that the potential recommendations could focus on:
- a new model for the regulation of tax return preparers
- service and outreach for return preparers
- education and training of return preparers
- enforcement related to return preparer misconduct.
The process will begin with information gathering from agents, lawyers and accountants as well as unlicensed tax preparers and software vendors. The agency reported that it will also seek the input of consumer groups and taxpayers, and will open “a transparent and open dialogue about the issues,” according to Mr. Shulman. “At this early and critical stage of the process, we need to hear from the broadest possible range of stakeholders.”
Fuerst Ittleman will continue to monitor this evolving effort by the IRS, both for how it will affect our clients and friends, but also to remain actively involved in developing the recommendations with the agency.
For more information, contact Fuerst Ittleman today at 305.350.5690 or firstname.lastname@example.org.