by Michael Lodge
Every year when we get close to the tax season the IRS comes out with a lot of bulletins and statements on tax practitioners around the United States. At one time the IRS was going to issues and test and a license, but that was turned down by the Federal Courts. The issue is that Congress never gave Congress the right to license. So the IRS has been pushing for a licensing program, however I take the position that it is up to the states to license tax preparers just as they do the state CPA exam. In the State of California through the state run California Tax Education Counsel (CTEC) issues a California Registered Tax Preparer (CRTP) designation after you have completed 60 hours of tax education, post a bond. And then every year after they have to complete 20 hours of CPE credit in New Law, Current Law, Ethics and California Tax Law. The CTEC program is approved by the IRS and all educational hours get posted to the IRS. Only New York and California have this program. If you want to look up a tax preparer in California you can look them up on www.ctec.org. So it is my position that every state should have this same tax preparer program and the IRS should not be involved in the licensing business.
The IRS has it’s own process of allowing you to see any issues with a tax practitioner.
The Internal Revenue Service’s Office of Professional Responsibility has created a new online lookup table that allows the public to find out more easily if they have hired a rogue tax practitioner.
The new disciplinary look-up tool is basically just a Microsoft Excel file, but it includes searchable information about practitioners who have been censured for Circular 230 misconduct or received suspensions or disbarment from practicing before the IRS for the past 25 years.
“Currently, members of the public can only learn that a practitioner was sanctioned by reviewing each of the announcements of discipline published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin on irs.gov, or by using a commercial subscription service (such as Tax Notes Today) that reports instances of Circular 230 discipline,” said the Office of Professional Responsibility in an email Wednesday. “The OPR’s solution is to compile the information into a searchable Excel document file.”
The list includes basic information from the past 25 years on more than 3,000 censures, suspensions, disbarments and other restrictions on practitioners. Examples include permanent injunctions and denials of limited practice to unenrolled tax return preparers due to misconduct.
The IRS’s OPR plans to keep the document up to date with any new entries whenever a disciplinary announcement is published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin. The OPR will also update the information to reflect when a tax preparer has been reinstated to practice before the IRS after the end of a practitioner’s suspension or disbarment, and to remove any data related to a disciplinary sanction once the date it was imposed passes the 25-year mark for the OPR’s record retention requirement.
The list includes the last name, first name, and middle initial (if applicable) of tax practitioners, along with the city, state, designation, disciplinary sanction, effective date, and ending date (when the practitioner is now in good standing and may represent taxpayers before the Service). The spreadsheet can be searched using the “Sort & Filter” and “Find & Select” features.