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Have your say on tax preparer regs

I'm at a Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP) meeting in Nashville, and my colleagues and I just got some great news.

The IRS has announced a series of public forums at which it will solicit comments about development of tax preparer performance standards.

As soon as IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman put out the word in early June that his agency is looking at creating formal standards for tax preparers, the tax pro community has been abuzz.

The goal, says Shulman, is to help ensure tax preparers are qualified, ethical and provide a high level of service.  Everyone can agree on that.

But there's been a lot of debate over just how to best do that.

The arguments for, against, how to implement and how much tax preparer regulation is appropriate will become official on July 30 in Washington, D.C. That's when the IRS will hold its first public meeting on the matter.

"These public meetings will be an important part of the dialogue as we move toward a set of comprehensive recommendations by the end of this year," Shulman said today in announcing the hearings. "We want an open discussion on how to strengthen the overall integrity of our tax system."

Mark your calendar: Two panels will meet on July 30.

The first gathering will give consumer groups an opportunity to provide recommendations. This will be representatives of AARP, Consumer Federation of America, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, National Community Tax Coalition and Low Income Tax Clinics.

The second panel will be made up of tax professional groups, including the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the National Association of Enrolled Agents, the National Association of Tax Professionals and the National Society of Accountants.

The two panels will convene at the Ronald Reagan Building amphitheater in the nation's capital starting at 9 a.m. on that last Thursday in July. If you'd like to attend, send an e-mail to that effect to  [email protected].

More meetings to come: The IRS will also meet with other constituent groups later this summer and fall.

At these subsequent meetings, Shulman and his staff will be seeking input from:

  • Federal and state organizations,

  • Unaffiliated and individual tax preparers and groups,

  • Private firms that support tax preparers, and

  • IRS advisory groups.

TAP supports some regulation: That last segment is what's got TAP members so jazzed. The IRS specifically says it wants to know what we on TAP think about the proposal.

TAP_logo The consensus is that we agree with the National Taxpayer Advocate that there should be some standards and some type of licensing.

Our leadership has already been working on this issue in preparation for a private meeting with Shulman. I'm sure an official statement of what we recommend will be delivered to him for inclusion in the record of comments received on this matter.

Other tax-related advisory groups that also have been asked for their opinions include the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Committee (IRSAC), the Information Reporting Program Advisory Committee (IRPAC), the Electronic Tax Administration Advisory Committee (ETAAC) and the Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities (ACT).

Comments from Forum attendees, too: In addition, the IRS says that small groups of tax preparers will be able to meet with IRS representatives to talk about tax pro regulations while they are attending Nationwide Tax Forums.

The Forums at which the tax pro standards will be a focus group topic are scheduled for Aug. 4-6 in Orlando; Aug. 25-27 in New York; Sept 8-10 in Dallas; and Sept. 22-24 in Atlanta.

If you'd like to attend any of these Forums, be sure to check out my earlier post on these annual events. It has info on what you can expect (in addition to telling the IRS what you thing about tax pro regs), as well as provides the early registration deadlines so that you can get the best deal on the Forum fee.


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