The American Institute of Certified Public
Accountants (AICPA) has called for all US tax return prepares to be
subjected to the same penalties and ethics standards that apply to
CPAs, attorneys and enrolled agents.
Speaking at an IRS hearing, AICPA tax
executive committee vice chair Patricia Thompson said uniformity is
an effective way for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to improve
the competence and ethics of tax preparers.
Thompson also recommended that all paid tax
return preparers be issued with a unique identification number.
“The IRS needs a useful way to identify and
track tax preparers who have high error rates or are engaging in
fraud,” Thompson said.
“Requiring all tax preparers to use a unique
ID number should provide big administrative gains for the IRS and
help protect taxpayers.”
The US tax collector is currently seeking
feedback on preparer tax identification numbers (PTIN) and plans to
begin registering preparers in September.
However, Thompson said the AICPA opposes a
provision in the proposed regulations that would require all
accountants involved in the preparation of tax returns to receive
PTINs, regardless of whether they sign off on the return.
“PTINs are not necessary for non-signing
preparers in CPA firms,” she said. “Tax returns prepared in CPA
firms are generally reviewed and signed by a CPA, who is
responsible for the overall accuracy of the return under both the
Internal Revenue Code’s preparer penalty provisions and the CPA
profession’s ethics rules.”