New IRS Rules for Tax Pros

Today TaxMama hears from Bill in the TaxQuips Forum, who is angry  I don’t want to pay a fee nor spend my time and money on exams and continuing education that I do not choose. I spent my money going through H&R Block tax courses and subscribe to magazines and websites to keep up-to-date with the ever-changing tax laws. Another reason for dislike – Attorneys, CPA’s and EA’s have gotten themselves exempted from these new rules being proposed on the rest of us.” There’s more – a lot more. Please read it.

Well Folks,

Bill got a detailed answer from Kristine Hicks, EA, who explained why EA’s, CPAs, and attorneys ‘got themselves exempted.” Kris outlined the amount of CPE we already have to do – and the money we already spend to stay up to date. Please read her note.

TaxMama replies: Bill, you’ve missed the point of Kris’ post.  And you’ve missed the point of the IRS’ new regulations.

 1) CPAs, EAs, and tax attorneys have always been required, in order to keep their licenses, to do extensive continuing education, in order to keep up with the changes in the laws and reporting requirements.

 2) Unenrolled preparers have had no regulation and oversight whatsoever – except in Oregon and California, until recently. Which means, ANYONE could open a tax office in 48 states, plus the US territories without ever knowing anything at all about how to  fill out a tax return – or about any tax laws at all. And they did.

 3) There have been a flood of fraudulent tax returns prepared by such operators around the country – and, after audits, the taxpayers were the victims, facing the back taxes, penalties and interest. Protecting them from fraudulent or ignorant tax professionals is one of the reasons for the law.

 4) There are some very competent unenrolled tax practitioners out there.  But in order to stay up to date with the tax laws, they have all be been doing continuing education courses; they have been members of professional organizations like NATP or NSA, or other professional societies that provide publications with articles about the tax law changes. These preparers’ pocketbooks really won’t be affected. They are already spending the time and money to stay up-to-date.

 5) It doesn’t need to cost anything to keep current. IRS provides online teleseminars year-round. Also IRS and your state provide workshops on things like electronic filing, payroll taxes, and other updates, generally for free. You can use those courses to fulfill your education requirements. Besides the new education requirements for tax practitioners are far lower than those for EAs, CPAs and tax attorneys. This should only be a burden to those tax practictioners who have been lazy and haven’t kept up.  And they should be weeded out, for the protection of all.

 6) Do I want to see individuals doing their own tax returns rather than going to an incompetent or fraudulent tax preparer? YOU BET! They’d be better off.

 Now, Bill, I doubt very much that you are among the lazy, ignorant or fraudulent community of fly-by-night tax offices. This will not be a burden on you. You’re already doing the education you choose. And you’ll continue to be able to choose the education you do. But it will take a year to adjust. After that, you’ll be fine.

And remember, you can find answers to all kinds of questions about tax professionals, and other tax issues, free. Where? Where else? At www.TaxMama.com.

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