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.”