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Friday, January 20, 2012

IRS encouraging individuals to help monitor return preparers

The IRS released an "FS" (Fact Sheet) today on "Tips for Choosing a Tax Return Preparer" (FS-2012-5).  Among the tips is to be sure the preparer signs the return and puts their PTIN on the form. The last tip:

"Make sure the preparer signs the form and includes his or her preparer tax identification number (PTIN). A paid preparer must sign the return and include his or her PTIN as required by law. Although the preparer signs the return, you are responsible for the accuracy of every item on your return. The preparer must also give you a copy of the return."

The IRS will have to see if this works. Certainly one outcome of requiring over 300,000 preparers who are not attorneys, CPAs, Enrolled Agents or supervised/non-signers, to pass a test to continue to be able to prepare 1040s, is that some may decide to continue to prepare but just not sign. (Click here for more information on the IRS Program to regulate return preparers);

I think the IRS is going to have to ask Congress to enact a new penalty on taxpayers who pay someone to prepare their return, and that preparer does not sign the return. How else can IRS regulate paid return preparers? There are too many of them. And it is not obvious from looking at a return whether it was self-prepared or done by a paid return preparer.

What do you think?

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