The Taxpayer Advocacy Panel recommended that tax preparers adhere to a basic standard of competence, with the responsibility of certifying and registering all tax preparers delegated to the various national tax associations. The VITA exam given by the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program would be the basic testing mechanism, and current preparers would be grandfathered into the program through an application, subject to approval by the Internal Revenue Service. TAP, a volunteer group that works to improve customer service and satisfaction at the Internal Revenue Service, made the recommendation as part of its annual report to the Treasury Department. Other recommendations made by the panel include eliminating the option to apply for refund anticipation loans through the IRS FreeFile Web site; informing taxpayers if all or a significant portion of their return will be outsourced to a location outside the United States; and clarifying that the earnings of newspaper carriers under age 18 are not subject to self-employment tax.
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