This is from the November issue of the Ohio Society of CPAs' CPA Voice:
OSCPA submitted a comment letter to IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman and Director of the IRS Return Preparer Office David R. Williams, regarding fingerprinting of certain non-signing PTIN applicants.
Written on behalf of OSCPA’s more than 22,000 members, the letter commended the IRS for its efforts to increase compliance, ensure high ethical standards for tax preparers and exempt non-signing return preparers who are supervised by CPAs from the continuing education and testing requirements of the preparer registration program.
However, the letter expressed concern that “those same factors appear to have not been considered given the services’ proposal to impose fingerprint requirements as a means to conduct in-depth criminal record checks of these supervised, non-signing return preparers.
OSCPA reminded the IRS that “the CPAs, attorneys or Enrolled Agents who sign the returns are already subject to return preparer regulations, penalties, Circular 230, and, in the case of CPAs, regulation and potential sanction for improper activity by state licensing boards. Potential actions by state licensing boards include possible fine and/or suspension up to the revocation of a CPA’s license to practice.”
OSCPA also requested clearer guidance as to a consistent definition of the types of felonies (and explanations) that would permit someone to still serve as a supervised preparer. Rules regarding criminal records vary from state to state; some states may treat offenses as misdemeanors while the same offense might be a felony in another state.
In the letter, the OSCPA asked the IRS to consider expanding the approach taken in Notice 2011-6 to eliminate the fingerprinting and in-depth background checks for non-signing, non-licensed return preparers supervised by CPAs, attorneys or Enrolled Agents.
Citing similar concerns raised by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), OSCPA encouraged the IRS to address these issues before expanding the tax return preparer program further.
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