The Internal Revenue Service has launched a new, online public directory of tax return preparers as part of its effort to promote its Annual Filing Season Program for testing and continuing education of tax preparers on a voluntary basis.
This searchable directory on IRS.gov will help taxpayers find a tax professional with credentials and select qualifications to help them prepare their tax returns.
“This new directory will be a practical tool for the millions of Americans who rely on the services of a paid return preparer,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in a statement. “Taxpayers can also look to these tax professionals for help if they have questions about the new health care provisions on this year’s tax forms.”
The directory is a searchable, sortable listing featuring the name, city, state and zip code of attorneys, CPAs, enrolled agents and those who have completed the requirements for the voluntary IRS Annual Filing Season Program. All preparers listed also have valid 2015 Preparer Tax Identification Numbers, or PTIN.
Taxpayers can search the directory using the preferred credentials or qualifications they seek in a preparer, or by a preparer’s location, including professionals who practice abroad. Tax preparers with PTINs who are not attorneys, CPAs, enrolled agents or Annual Filing Season Program participants are not included in the directory, nor are volunteer tax return preparers who offer free services.
The IRS said the directory can also be a resource for taxpayers who want to get help from tax professionals on the Affordable Care Act tax provisions that affect returns filed this year.
To help taxpayers navigate the different types of professional tax help available, last December, the IRS unveiled IRS.gov/chooseataxpro, a page that explains the different categories of professionals. Taxpayers can also use a new partner page available on IRS.gov that provides links to the web sites of national non-profit tax professional groups, which can help provide additional information for taxpayers seeking the right type of qualified help.
In 2010, the IRS launched the Tax Return Preparer Initiative, which generally requires anyone who prepares federal tax returns for compensation to obtain a PTIN from the IRS. As of the start of the filing season, more than 666,000 tax return preparers have active PTINs for 2015. Currently, anyone with a valid PTIN can prepare federal tax returns for compensation. At a minimum, taxpayers should make sure their tax preparer has a valid PTIN and includes it on the tax return.
However, in 2013, a federal court invalidated the IRS’s efforts to require mandatory testing and continuing education of tax preparers in the case of Loving v. IRS, which an appeals court upheld in 2014. In response, the IRS unveiled the Annual Filing Season Program last year to provide testing and continuing education on a voluntary basis.
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