The IRS estimates that there are about one million paid tax preparers in the U.S. and obviously a lot of them are not CPAs.
As you know by now, the IRS has proposed substantial changes in the regulation of tax return preparers. In the future all preparers must register with IRS and obtain a preparer tax identification number (PTIN) and take an IRS test.
CPAs who prepare tax returns must have a PTIN but will be exempt from the testing requirement. But here’s the rub. IRS says those that help prepare tax returns, but do not sign the returns, must also have a PTIN and must take the examination. INCLUDING EMPOYEES OF CPA FIRMS!
Now that’s just going too far.
CPA firms are responsible for their work and the work of their staff. They are licensed and regulated by state boards of accountancy and subject to disciplinary action for sub-standard work. A CPA's signature on a tax return certainly gives the IRS all the information it needs to resolve any tax return preparation quality issues caused by a CPA or a CPA’s staff. Enough already!
Most CPAs probably have no quarrel with the PTIN requirement for those that prepare and sign tax returns, but non-signing employees of CPA firms should not be required to have a PTIN nor should they be required to take any IRS exam. The training and supervision given to CPA firm staff is far more intensive than any number or exam created by IRS.
If you agree, you might want to participate in AICPA’s call for CPAs to express their concerns over these issues directly to IRS. You can send your comments to the IRS via email to *firstname.lastname@example.org.