Washington, DC, (January 22, 2013) When a federal judge on Friday granted a permanent injunction to stop IRS’ plan to require all tax preparers to be registered, pass a competency test and complete continuing education, a blow was dealt not only to IRS, which has funneled heavy staff resources and millions of dollars into the effort, but to American taxpayers who continue to be at the mercy of ignorant or fraudulent tax preparers.
“This decision is—at least temporarily—a setback for taxpayers, and for tax administration,” said Robert Kerr, Senior Director, Government Relations at the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA), the organization that represents over 45,000 enrolled agent tax practitioners. “Some would argue, in fact, that the decision is a victory for those who would like the right to remain incompetent, to remain completely ignorant of the many annual changes in tax law and administrative procedure, and to foist the cost of their willful ignorance onto their clients.”
Judge James Boasberg referred to the IRS requirements as an “invalid regulatory regime,” siding with the position of the Institute for Justice, the Libertarian organization that filed the suit, that IRS’ efforts are a “power grab.”
Members of NAEA, who are tested by IRS, must undergo a background check and complete continuing education in order to maintain their federal licenses, are in a unique position to witness the damage done by unregistered preparers.
“As an enrolled agent, I frequently find myself repairing the damage done by poor return preparers,” said Mickey Reedy, EA, of Associated Tax Matters, Inc., in Los Alamitos, CA. “The taxpayers may not have looked into the preparer’s credentials on the first go-around, but once bitten they want to be sure they’re dealing with a licensed professional.”
Kerr went on to urge taxpayers who are considering hiring a return preparer to keep in mind that enrolled agents (or “EAs”) are committed, serious professionals and that no one should entrust the most important financial document most Americans assemble each year to anyone less than a licensed professional.
“Without any sort of regulation of all tax return preparers, we regress to a world of ‘buyer beware,’” said Kerr. “Unless they are hiring a licensed tax preparer, taxpayers must be extremely careful when trusting anyone to do their taxes, especially so now that IRS is no longer allowed to require basic competence.”
The National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA) is the professional society representing federally-licensed tax practitioners with unlimited rights to represent taxpayers before IRS. To find an enrolled agent in your area, visit the “Find an EA” directory at www.naea.org.