The oversight initiatives contained in the IRS Return Preparer Review are helpful for taxpayers — and those who care about accurate tax returns. The Computer & Communications Industry Association has a history of working with the IRS to protect consumer/taxpayer interests, and today expressed support for the recommendations, which are intended to increase oversight of paid tax preparers through such initiatives as mandatory registration, competency testing, and enhanced enforcement.
In addition to oversight of live preparers, the Review also calls for establishment of a task force to address identified risks associated with dependence on tax preparation software.
“The technology industry is committed to working with the Government to develop the most appropriate strategy regarding industry standards related to tax software. Our industry has developed and delivered the modern electronic tax preparation and filing capabilities in the American tax system today, greatly increasing the accuracy of returns, and simplifying and sharply reducing the cost of compliance,” said CCIA President & CEO Ed Black.
“The technology industry has donated millions of free tax returns and e-filing to low-income Americans over the past decade through the Free File program, a public service program unequaled by any other industry. As a longtime supporter of Free File, CCIA welcomes this discussion of possible industry standards and accountability,” Black said.
Free File already operates under tough standards and metrics, which are a model of effective governance and consumer protection. It voluntarily eliminated offerings of such products as Refund Anticipation Loans, which the Review targets as problematic.
CCIA also believes that the IRS strategy for education, testing and registration should apply to all preparers. The IRS proposal applies only to aid preparers, leaving an unnecessary risk gap for the American taxpayer. All tax practitioners, whether paid or unpaid, should be included in the effort towards greater accuracy and accountability, and should be subject to continuing education, testing, certification and registration. These requirements should be triggered by return volume, rather than whether the service is paid or unpaid.