After launching the registration exercise in which 740,000 tax preparers thus far has participated, now the IRS is contemplating fingerprinting the preparers in its ongoing bid to further regulate what IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman called ‘unscrupulous preparers’. Each fingerprinting will cost between $60 and $90. The IRS has made it a rule that all paid tax preparers including CPAs, tax attorneys and enrolled agents must register themselves and obtain their Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). According to IRS statistics, more than 60% of tax preparers do not fall into the above three groups. These ones will also be subject to a compulsory competency test, which is not required for CPAs, tax attorneys and enrolled agents. So far, so good.
But when it comes to fingerprinting tax preparers, it may be another ball game altogether simply because of the intimate personal nature of the exercise. The IRS says it is needed to help the IRS weed out problems like in cases where tax return preparers try to steal your personal data. One party that has objected to the proposed fingerprinting exercise is the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) who contend that the exercise would put undue burdens on accounting firms who have many assistants preparing the tax returns but do not sign them. Having to fingerprint non-licensed and non-signatory tax assistants is too troublesome, according to the AICPA. The AICPA also says fingerprinting duplicates the work done by some CPA firms when hiring staff. In addition, the AICPA feels that CPAs should be exempted from fingerprinting because of their regulation by state boards of accountancy.
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