NCCPAP urges Senate to pass tax preparer regulation

The National Conference of CPA Practitioners is urging two leading members of the Senate Finance Committee to pass the Taxpayer Protection and Preparer Proficiency Act of 2019, which would give the Internal Revenue Service the authority to regulate tax preparers.

In a letter to Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, the organization wrote, “This legislation would require those who hold themselves out as tax return preparers to take continuing education classes to keep themselves current with changes in tax law. Currently, anyone can call themselves a tax return preparer, regardless of whether or not they are knowledgeable with existing tax law.”

The TPPPA (S. 1192 and H.R. 3330) would give the Treasury Department and the IRS the ability to regulate preparers and establish requirements for competence and continuing education.

The IRS established a similar regime in 2011, but it was eventually struck down in court in part because the service did not have the legislative authority to require tax preparers to participate.

The NCCPAP letter noted that taxpayers who engage a CPA, Enrolled Agent or tax attorney to prepare their taxes can complain to the appropriate state authorities or the IRS if the practitioner prepares returns that are incorrect or fraudulent.

Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Ore. (left), shakes hands with committee chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.
Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Ore. (left), shakes hands with committee chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.

“However, if the paid preparer has none of these designations, there is no authority with which the taxpayer may file a complaint,” wrote NCCPAP president Neil Fishman and Tax Policy Committee chair Sanford Zinman.

Fishman told Accounting Today that according to recent IRS statistics, almost two-thirds of those who hold preparer tax identification numbers – which are required to prepare federal returns for money — are not CPAs, EAs or tax attorneys, which leaves them more or less unaccountable.

“As an organization, we have seen firsthand how incompetent and unscrupulous tax return preparers have manipulated the system and the Tax Code,” Fishman and Zinman wrote to Grassley and Wyden.

“While we know that there are many way that someone can circumvent any law, we feel that this legislation is a first step in protecting the American taxpayer from those who would do more harm than good,” they concluded.

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