Almost one year ago today, I posted my thoughts about the new Tax Preparer Registration standards that the IRS announced in an effort to hold preparers more accountable for the work they’re doing on behalf of other taxpayers. Here we are, one year later, and the IRS is moving full speed ahead with their plan!

On September 28, 2010, the IRS announced the availability of their new online registration system for all Preparers expecting to prepare returns in 2011. This launches the first phase of their initiative to ensure that all tax return preparers are competent and qualified. In short, this announcement requires that all Preparers either obtain or renew their Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) prior to January 1, 2011. This first phase will allow the IRS to more easily track and identify Preparers who don’t adhere to a standard code of ethics. Additionally, it also allows for some minimal pre-screening to occur before a Preparer can file a return on behalf of another taxpayer.

The next phase of the program is expected to begin in mid-2011. In this phase, each Preparer will be required to pass a competency exam. Once complete, these participants will be considered IRS Registered Tax Preparers. It is important to note that attorneys, CPAs or Enrolled Agents are exempt from the testing requirement. Lastly, each Preparer will ultimately be required to take continuing education courses. The start date for this requirement has not yet been posted but attorneys, CPAs and Enrolled Agents will also be exempt from additional continuing education outside of their current requirements.

These higher standards are good news for the Tax Preparation Industry! Those taxpayers seeking the help and advice of a paid preparer should feel an increased sense of confidence in knowing that their Preparer is accountable to the IRS now more than ever. Contact your local income tax preparation office to find a certified tax preparer in your area!

Disclaimer: Every effort has been taken to provide the most accurate and honest analysis of the tax information provided in this blog. Please use your discretion before making any decisions based on the information provided. This blog is not intended to be a substitute for seeking professional tax advice based on your individual needs.