IRS pushes for more tax preparer regulation

By Kevin Wheeler - bio | email

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM)- For so many people, using a professional tax preparer makes tax filing so easy. Taxpayers turn over their information, pay a fee, and the preparers handle the rest.

That's a major financial transaction," said IRS spokeswoman Dee Stepter. "You're providing social security numbers and bank account information."

In 2009, the IRS conducted a review of the tax preparer system in efforts to make sure taxpayers are being served through high standards.

"We want to ensure that tax payers are getting the same consumer protections that other people are afforded when they make financial transactions," Stepter added.

As of now paid preparers do not have to register with the IRS. They only have to provide their social security number or an optional tax identification number.

The IRS intends to require preparers to register with the agency and to pay a user fee. They also plan to make I.D. numbers mandatory.

Preparers who are not attorneys, public accountants or enrolled agents, will have to take a competency test.

They will also have to complete 15 hours of continuing education in three categories. All of this information on the preparers will be stored in a public database.

"They'll have the assurances that these preparers are being regulated, that they are registered," said Stepter. "They'll be able to check and make sure that these people are compliant."

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