Is your tax preparer certified by the IRS? Quite possibly not

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Financial stability is something that all of us seek. Having that stability disrupted by problems with our tax returns, and being subjected to a tax audit, can be a huge source of stress. However, many people don’t necessarily put the same care into preparing and filing their taxes as they do with obtaining and securing their wealth in the first place.

When it comes to having one’s taxes prepared by a professional, many New Yorkers might assume that some kind of certification or registration with the Internal Revenue Service is required. In fact, the IRS did issue regulations in 2011 that required people who act as paid tax-return preparers to become certified, complete several hours of continuing education training annually and pay an annual fee to the agency. According to the IRS, this would require action on as many as 700,000 tax preparers.

However, it did not come to pass. In 2013, a judge ruled that the agency wasn’t entitled to demand this from tax preparers. An appeals court agreed with that decision earlier this month. Basically, the courts have ruled that while tax preparers can assist taxpayers, they cannot represent them in a legal sense — such as the way an attorney could.

This is a crucial distinction: tax preparers might be able to file a return for you, but if things get complicated, it may be that a tax attorney is the best option — particularly if the IRS notifies you that a tax audit may be forthcoming.

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