The Honorable Xavier Becerra
1119 Longworth House Office Building
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Congressman Becerra:
As President of the National Association of Enrolled Agents, I would like to thank you for your leadership in authoring HR 5716, The Taxpayers Bill of Rights of 2008. The National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA) has been on the forefront of the policy debate on ensuring that all paid preparers are competent and ethical. Our members support HR 5716 and we look forward to working with you and the Committee on Ways and Means for its earliest passage.
As the Committee begins its efforts to consider this important legislation, though, we ask that you consider two issues of importance to the over 40,000 enrolled agents throughout the country. First, because our members believe strongly in the necessity of ensuring a basic level of competency for all people receiving a credential from the federal government, we urge you to omit any provision permitting grandfathering paid preparers. Once the government steps into the marketplace and both attests to the competency of a preparer AND promotes such a preparer to the general public, then the government must have the highest level of certainty that the preparer is in fact of the highest caliber. Anything less will leave a taxpayer signing a return prepared by the newly licensed individual vulnerable to penalties both civil and criminal.
Second, the NAEA supports the consolidation of regulation of all paid tax return preparers and all people practicing before the IRS under the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). Further, we believe that in order to ensure the success of this new program, the Director of OPR must have adequate resources to both administer the law and enforce its requirements. For these reasons, we urge the Committee to add back the provisions strengthening and clarifying the position of OPR and the ability of its Director to retain both registration fees and penalties for administration, enforcement and promotion of all Circular 230 practitioners and preparers. We understand the jurisdictional issues this might raise, but hope that these important provisions may be added back to the legislation at some point in the legislative process.
Once again, we thank you for your strong leadership and look forward to working with you on passing HR 5716.
Diana Thompson, EA