AICPA Meets with IRS to Discuss Range of Practice Issues

October 18, 2012

American Institute of CPAs’ members and tax staff met recently with Carol Campbell, the new director of the IRS Return Preparer Office, to discuss a range of issues important to tax practitioners, including the Service’s plans to implement elements of the registered tax return preparer program and practitioner compliance visits.

Patricia Thompson, chair of the AICPA Tax Executive Committee, Jeffrey A. Porter, vice chair of the Tax Executive Committee, and Anita Soucy, Tax Executive Committee member, met with Campbell as part of the AICPA’s ongoing effort to keep IRS staff informed about the concerns of CPA tax practitioners.  AICPA staff members who participated in the meeting were Edward Karl, vice president of taxation, Melissa Labant, director of tax advocacy and professional standards, and Benson Goldstein, senior technical tax manager.

The group discussed the data base of individuals who have Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (PTINs) that the IRS intends to develop and make available on its website for use by taxpayers so they can verify that the tax practitioner’s PTIN is valid.  The AICPA reiterated its longstanding request that the data base display multiple designations so users could tell whether the PTIN holder is a CPA, attorney or enrolled agent.

AICPA representatives asked about the status of the IRS’s fingerprinting proposal, and IRS officials said the proposal is still on hold.  Thompson’s Oct. 7, 2011 comment letter to the IRS and her testimony at an IRS hearing emphasized that the fingerprinting requirement proposed by the IRS for nonsigning staff working under the supervision of a CPA is too costly and burdensome.  Thompson’s letter and testimony urged the IRS to consider an alternative that would allow CPA firms to use a consumer reporting agency regulated by the Federal Trade Commission to learn of any felony histories of their supervised employees.

Other discussions with Campbell included the IRS’s plans for a preparer compliance initiative for the 2013 filing season.  The IRS said it will continue the initiative for the coming filing season.  The AICPA will be watching for details of the program to be released.  The AICPA’s concerns this year, as in previous years, revolve around the importance of not conducting visits to CPAs’ offices during filing season and refining the process by which IRS selects tax preparers for the program so that it targets preparers most appropriately.  AICPA’s efforts last year resulted in IRS not visiting CPAs after early January.

On Oct. 31, AICPA staff will discuss these issues, as well as others relating to tax advocacy, during a Washington Tax Brief webinar.  It is available to all AICPA members.