Should tax preparers be licensed by the IRS?

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Each year, countless Americans are duped by so-called tax preparers who commit identity theft or fraud, or at the very least, file incomplete or inaccurate returns. Possibly contributing to this problem is the fact that the IRS lost the ability to regulate the licensing of tax preparers who are not attorneys or CPAs last year following a Supreme Court ruling.

However, a new bipartisan bill that has been proposed in Congress would give the Department of the Treasury and the IRS the authority to regulate tax preparers once more. As a recent Forbes article reported, the bill would allow the two agencies to oversee “all aspects of Federal tax practice, including paid tax return preparers.”

Ultimately, this would mean people who prepare taxes for profit will once again have to pass exams, fulfill continuing legal education requirements and maintain a valid preparer tax identification number in order to be licensed to prepare taxes.

Nina E. Olson, the National Taxpayer Advocate, as well as Congress and the IRS think that the change could improve the service taxpayers receive and also weed out incompetent or criminal tax preparers. However, the author of the Forbes article thinks this belief might be too optimistic, which you can read more about here.

The bottom line is that it’s extremely important to have your taxes prepared by someone who knows what they are doing. While a license doesn’t guarantee that your tax preparer is honest and competent, having the IRS step in can help shut down at least some of those who are not.

As always, before trusting anyone with your tax issues, be sure to get their background information and references.

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