Report: ‘New rules start for tax preparers’

Gannett reports on new federal rules for tax preparers. The first rule to take effect: paid preparers must register with the IRS.

It requires any paid preparer to obtain an identification number from the IRS and provide the agency with the preparer’s business address, professional certifications and the previous year’s personal tax returns.

It’s a move to reel in an industry the IRS and legitimate tax-preparing firms say has been a breeding ground for fraud.

“This will help to eliminate some of the fly-by-nights,” said Greg Storen, owner of Storen Financial Group in Brownsburg, Ind. “Before, you could hang a shingle out, know nothing about taxes and start doing returns. There was nothing to stop you.”

The IRS hopes the number, officially called the Preparer Tax Identification Number, or PTIN, is the first step in holding the industry accountable.

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‘IRS to Boost Oversight of Paid Tax Preparers’

The Wall St. Journal reports the IRS will require the registration and testing of paid tax preparers.

The changes are in response to a six-month IRS study of the tax-preparation industry, and to calls from taxpayer rights’ organizations for stronger oversight of paid tax preparers.

The changes will take several years to implement and will not be in effect for the 2010 filing season, the IRS said.

All paid tax preparers will have to register with the IRS and obtain an identification number, which will be included on any returns they prepare.

Besides passing a competency test, paid preparers will also have to meet continuing education requirements.

The new regulations do not affect lawyers, CPAs, or enrolled agents who are subject to oversight by the bodies that license them.

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