In a letter to the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, the American Institute of CPAs offered a number of suggestions on draft legislation that aims to redesign the Internal Revenue Service.

The letter recommends the creation of a Practitioner Services Division within the IRS, in addition to a “well-defined” approach to regulation of tax preparers. It also expressed support for other provisions in the proposed legislation, such as a single point of contact for victims of tax-related ID theft.

“The AICPA firmly thinks that creating a Practitioner Services Division and the regulation of tax return preparers will make a substantial difference in taxpayer awareness, confidence and compliance, thereby instilling trust in the tax administration system as a modern functioning IRS of the 21st century,” wrote Annette Nellen, CPA, CGMA, Esq., chair of the institute’s Tax Executive Committee, in the April 6 letter.

The proposed division would “engage with the tax professional community,” maintain “robust” telephone hotlines that are capable of handling the more complex issues that professional preparers deal with, create online accounts for tax pros, and train its employees to a level of technical competence that matches that of the professional preparer community.

AICPA building in Durham, N.C.
AICPA building in Durham, N.C. Photo: AICPA

As part of its support for strengthened regulation of tax preparers, the institute suggested subjecting all tax preparers to the Circular 230 standards of Congress, and recommended that Congress mandate that the IRS create a testing and continuing education program similar to the one that was struck down by a federal court in 2014 for lack of statutory authority.

Nellen also wrote that the AICPA supports the development of online accounts and portals for taxpayers and return preparers, as well as the development of an internet portal to help taxpayers file Form 1099, and the expanded use of electronic systems.

She also urged the subcommittee “to seek active engagement of taxpayers and their practitioners in the development of the IRS strategies and comprehensive plans.”

The draft of the Taxpayer First Act was released in late March. (See “Lawmakers introduce bill to reform the IRS.”) Among other things, it would codify the IRS Independent Office of Appeals and provide more congressional oversight over decisions to withhold taxpayers from the administrative review process.

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Daniel Hood

Daniel Hood

Daniel Hood is editor-in-chief of Accounting Today and Tax Pro Today, and has covered the tax and accounting field for over 20 years.