June 6, 2017

 

Re: Adam Steele, et al. v. United States of America Ruling and PTIN Fees

On June 1, 2017, a federal district court ruled that while the IRS may continue to require the use of Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (PTINs), the agency may no longer charge fees to those who obtain and renew them. The ruling also requires the IRS to refund PTIN fees already paid by preparers, an amount that could well exceed $300 million.

On June 5, 2017, the IRS confirmed that it is suspending its PTIN registration and renewal program.

The National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA) has been working for years to minimize licensing fees paid by tax preparers for the privilege of conducting business with the IRS. We are not completely opposed to the idea of IRS fees, however, as long as a legitimate service is provided in return.

NAEA recognizes the IRS is in a difficult position given the lack of federal funding relative to the enormity of the task the agency faces. NAEA supports the idea of stronger federal oversight of tax return preparers if doing so will ensure that those who hold themselves out as tax specialists must first be required to demonstrate basic tax proficiency, competency and ethical standards.

The recent court ruling is merely the latest blow to a tax administration system still reeling from the fallout of the Loving case. Congress should take action now to empower the IRS or the Treasury Department to exert stronger oversight over tax return preparers. Just as importantly, Congress needs to identify the top priorities they want IRS to focus agency efforts around and then fund IRS properly so they can fulfill that mission.

Cedric Calhoun, FASAE, CAE
Executive Vice President
National Association of Enrolled Agents

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