In early August, the DC District Court ruled in favor of the IRS in the lawsuit filed by the AICPA to discontinue the Annual Filing Season Program – AICPA v IRS. As you may recall, the Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) is the IRS program that now allows preparers to opt in, with the benefit that those who sign on appear in an online searchable database of preparers. The AFSP also imposes a cost to those who do not opt in; they are not permitted to engage in limited representation of the clients whose returns the IRS audits. The American Institute of CPAs is now appealing the court decision that upheld the Internal Revenue Service’s voluntary program for tax preparer education and testing. The IRS introduced the Annual Filing Season Program in 2014 after the federal courts invalidated a mandatory program it had instituted requiring all tax preparers to be tested and undergo continuing education. The AICPA filed suit to challenge the voluntary program, but the lawsuit was dismissed by the same federal judge, James Boasberg, who had invalidated the IRS’s earlier Registered Tax Return Preparer program in 2013 in the case of Loving v. IRS. He said … Read More
The AICPA has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the IRS questioning the legality of the new voluntary Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP). In June, the AICPA had written a letter to the IRS warning that the AFSP would be illegal; however, IRS Commissioner Koskinen stated that the agency’s Office of Chief Counsel and the Treasury Department’s General Counsel had reviewed the matter carefully and assured the IRS that it had the legal authority to proceed. “By implementing a purportedly ‘voluntary’ program that is mandatory in effect, the rule is an end-run around Loving v. IRS, a federal court ruling which struck down the IRS’s earlier attempt to regulate tax return preparers,” Melancon (AICPA President and CEO) stated. “The IRS simply does not have the authority to proceed with the new rule. By doubling the number of categories of tax return preparers to eight, the rule will also confuse consumers. Worse yet, the new rule will do nothing to address the problem of unethical or fraudulent tax return preparers—which should be a top priority. As a result, the AICPA has filed suit in federal court to prevent the IRS from moving ahead with this unjustified and unlawful program. The IRS … Read More
Today we’re announcing a new program that will help taxpayers by improving the tax know-how and filing season readiness of paid tax return preparers. We intend to have this voluntary education program in place by the beginning of the 2015 filing season. This is part of a broader effort the IRS began a few years ago to achieve a minimum level of competency across the federal tax return preparer community. Taxpayers need to be confident that the preparer they hire knows enough about taxes to help them with their federal income tax returns. That’s especially important now, because we have a very complex tax code, and the majority of taxpayers in this country use the help of a paid return preparer to do their taxes each year. About 60 percent of paid tax return preparers in the U.S. operate without regulation or oversight. Although many of them do a good job, we have found that others are poorly equipped to assist taxpayers in preparing returns. For that reason, the IRS had started a mandatory program of education and testing for unregulated tax return preparers who did not have professional credentials. But we had to suspend that program because the courts … Read More
New IRS Filing Season Program Unveiled for Tax Return Preparers Voluntary program to focus on continuing education for unenrolled preparers IR-2014-75, June 26, 2014 The Internal Revenue Service announced today that guidance will soon be issued outlining a new voluntary program designed to encourage education and filing season readiness for paid tax return preparers. The program will be in place to help taxpayers during the 2015 filing season. The Annual Filing Season Program will allow unenrolled return preparers to obtain a record of completion when they voluntarily complete a required amount of continuing education (CE), including a course in basic tax filing issues and updates, ethics, and other federal tax law courses. “This voluntary program will be a step to help protect taxpayers during the 2015 filing season,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “About 60 percent of tax return preparers operate without any type of oversight or education requirements. Our program will give unenrolled return preparers a way to stay to up-to-date on tax laws and changes, which we believe will improve service to taxpayers.” Tax return preparers who elect to participate in the program and receive a record of completion from the IRS will be included in a database … Read More
The commissioner of the IRS, John Koskinen, is expected to announce a new program within the next couple of weeks to encourage voluntary certification of all unlicensed tax preparers. The program is due to kick off July 1st and will be presented at each of the five IRS Tax Forums scheduled for July and August. The AFSC (which is a voluntary program) will require continuing education consisting of a refresher course (Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course) as well as general tax law and ethics hours. The certification will also require annual testing which will be based on the AFTR course. Both the AFTR course and exam will be offered and processed by the continuing education providers. The IRS will issue the certificate once the practitioner has met all of the requirements of the annual certification program. As the Return Preparer Office releases additional details, we will pass those onto you. In anticipation of this new program the NSTP will be scheduling the AFTR course and the accompanying test along with the Federal Tax Update Seminars. The RTRPs are likely to be exempt and not have to take the AFTR exam and only need 15 hours of CE, not the 18 hours … Read More
May 22, 2014 – Carol Campbell, Director of the Return Preparer Office (RPO) announced today in a National Public Liaison (NPL) conference call that the RTRP program is officially dead, that the RTRP credential no longer exists and cannot be used by those who had qualified earlier. The IRS is working on a voluntary certification program which may include those who had taken and passed the RTRP exam.