IRS BEGINS ENFORCING RETURN PREPARER RULES

Washington, D.C. - The Internal Revenue Service has begun taking steps to stop tax preparers with criminal tax convictions or permanent injunctions from preparing tax returns, sending letters to 19 tax preparers proposing to revoke their Preparer Tax Identification Numbers.

This is just one of several recent moves to improve the quality and oversight of the tax preparation industry. More than 700,000 tax preparers nationwide have registered with the IRS and obtained Preparer Tax Identification Numbers, or PTINs. This nine-digit number must be used by paid tax return preparers on all returns or claims for refund. Paid preparers must renew their PTINs annually to legally prepare tax returns.

By comparing the new PTINs with a database managed by the IRS's Office of Professional Responsibility, the IRS was able to identify 19 tax preparers who applied for PTINs and either failed to disclose a criminal tax conviction or have been permanently enjoined from preparing tax returns. A permanent injunction is a court order used by the Department of Justice to stop a preparer who repeatedly prepares erroneous or fraudulent federal tax returns.

The IRS sent letters to all 19 individuals proposing revocation of their PTINs. Preparers facing revocation have 20 days to file a written response and provide supporting documentation as to why their PTIN should not be revoked.

With the end of the tax-filing season, the IRS also will initiate a review of tax returns that were prepared by preparers who used an identifying number other than a PTIN, did not use any identifying number, or did not sign tax returns they prepared. The agency will send notices to those preparers who used improper identifying numbers. The IRS is also piloting methods to help identify returns that appear to be professionally prepared but are unsigned by the preparer.

The IRS is still registering approximately 2,000 preparers a week. Anyone who prepares for compensation all or substantially all of any federal return or claim for refund must register for a PTIN.

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