Congress has passed a bill on unemployment that would require electronic filing by all return preparers “except those who neither prepare nor reasonably expect to prepare ten or more individual income tax returns in a calendar year.”  The measure is effective for returns prepared after Dec. 31, 2010.

The term “individual income tax return” includes returns for estates and trusts as well as individuals.

Benson Goldstein, senior technical manager at the American Institute of CPAs, said the bill was in the form of a Senate amendment to H.R. 3548, which initially was only concerned with unemployment benefits. “The Senate version retained the unemployment focus of the House, plus added a number of general tax provisions,” he said.

Under the language of the provision, a preparer who expected to complete less than 10 returns but ended up doing 15, probably wouldn’t have a problem for one tax season, according to Goldstein.

The bill, now called the "Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009," also extends the First-time Homebuyer Credit to apply to residences purchased before July 1, 2010, by any taxpayer who enters into a written binding contract before May 1, 2010, to close before July 1, 2010. In addition, the bill would expand the temporary NOL five-year carryback provision to cover 2009 losses, and would allow any businesses, not just small businesses, to claim the carryback.