Congress Introduces New Bill to Regulate Tax Preparers

A pair of Republican lawmakers have introduced legislation to require professional tax preparers to undergo examinations, take annual continuing education classes and submit to a background check. The Internal Revenue Service tried to require continuing education and competency examinations for tax preparers in its Registered Tax Return Preparer program, but a federal court in 2013 invalidated the program, ruling in the case of Loving v. IRS that the IRS had exceeded its statutory authority. A federal appeals court later upheld the ruling. Since then, the IRS has introduced a voluntary program for tax preparer education, known as the Annual Filing Season Program. CPAs, Enrolled Agents and tax attorneys already are subject to examination and continuing professional education requirements in order to practice before the IRS. In January, a pair of Democrats in the Senate, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., introduced a bill to give the IRS the authority to regulate all tax preparers (see Senators Unveil Bill to Regulate Tax Preparers).On Tuesday, Cardin teamed up with another Democrat, Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., to introduce a bill known as the Taxpayer Rights Act of 2015, which also includes a provision giving the IRS the ability to regulate tax preparers (see Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Protect Taxpayer Rights). Black and Meehan’s bill aims to assure a minimum level of competency for preparers and prevent tax fraud. It would also authorize the Treasury Department to set up a public database of tax preparers, which the IRS has already set up for its Annual Filing Season Program. The IRS’s Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications includes the name, city, state, zip code, and credentials of all attorneys, CPAs, enrolled agents, enrolled retirement plan agents and enrolled actuaries with a valid Preparer Tax Identification Number, or PTIN, as well as all Annual Filing Season Program – Record of Completion holders. Source: