IRS Launches Dialogue on Preparer Standards


An IRS public dialogue on new standards for tax preparers gets under way this week with public forums and a formal request for comments.

 

The Service announced last month it would propose a new regulatory regime for paid tax return preparers, one that would include so-called unenrolled preparers—those who are not CPAs, licensed attorneys or enrolled agents. Unenrolled preparers currently have no federal minimum training requirements and relatively little administrative oversight. The IRS said it would seek recommendations from tax professionals, taxpayers and organizations in formulating proposed standards for qualified, skilled and ethical service.

 

On Thursday starting at 9 a.m., the Service will hold two panel discussions at the Ronald Reagan Building amphitheater in Washington. People wishing to attend are asked to send notification by e-mail to CL.NPOL.Communications@irs.gov. One panel will be of representatives of tax professional groups including the AICPA. The other will be of consumer groups. A series of meetings later this summer will hear from representatives of federal and state organizations, IRS advisory groups, individual tax preparers and associated private firms. In addition, small groups of tax preparers will meet with IRS representatives during IRS Nationwide Tax Forum sessions this summer in four cities. For details, see IRS news release IR-2009-66.

 

On Friday, the IRS in Notice 2009-60 (2009-32 IRB ___), requested comments on standards for preparers and their role in increasing taxpayer compliance, particularly in response to these questions:

 

  • What types of individuals, entities and professionals currently work as tax return preparers? How are their tax return preparation services currently monitored or regulated by professional organizations or the government? How could this monitoring and regulation be improved?
  • How do differences in regulation and oversight affect how the various groups of tax return preparers interact with the Service and taxpayers?
  • Is there a minimum level of education and training necessary to provide tax return preparation services? If so, who should be responsible for ensuring that a tax return preparer meets this minimum level, and how should that be done?
  • What, if any, service and outreach should be provided to tax return preparers and taxpayers? Who should provide (and bear the costs for) these needed services?
  • Should tax return preparers be subject to a code of ethics, and, if so, what specific behavior should that code promote or prohibit? How would that code of ethics interact with existing ethical standards that may already be applicable?
  • What, if any, responsibility should the firms or businesses that employ tax return preparers have for the conduct of the individuals they employ?
  • What, if any, responsibility should tax return preparer professional organizations have for the education, training and conduct of their members?
  • If tax return preparation services should be regulated, what, if any, special regulatory provisions should be made for individuals who are already tax return preparers, licensed attorneys, CPAs, enrolled agents or software providers?
  • What, if any, additional legislative, regulatory, or administrative rules should the Service consider recommending as part of its proposals with respect to the tax return preparer community?

 

Written comments may be sent by e-mail to Notice.Comments@irscounsel.treas.gov with “Notice 2009-60” in the subject line, or sent by postal mail to CCPA:LPD:PR (Notice 2009-60), Room 5203, Internal Revenue Service, P.O. Box 7604, Ben Franklin Station, Washington, DC 20044. Comments must be received by the IRS by Aug. 31.

 

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