The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) highlighted its members’ concerns about online publication by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (PTINs) registration information in its testimony for the record of the House Ways and Means Committee hearing Examining the 2017 Tax Filing Season.
“Paid return preparers are concerned about the online IRS publication of PTIN registration information,” AICPA Tax Executive Committee Chair Annette Nellen, CPA, CGMA, Esq. wrote in the April 26 testimony. She explained that the Freedom of Information Act requires that the registration information, which includes addresses, phone numbers, websites, email addresses and professional credentials, be available. The IRS has now made it available online so it can be downloaded by anyone at any time from the IRS website. Previously, the information was available only on a CD-ROM for a $35 fee for those who submitted a special request to the IRS. Consequently, many small business practitioners operating from their homes who have registered their PTINs to their home addresses are concerned about privacy. PTIN holders are experiencing more unwanted vendor solicitations, too, she noted.
Nellen stated that “releasing the contact information of PTIN holders online minimizes the original intent of PTINs and the identity protection it offers to tax practitioners.” Previously, Social Security numbers were often used by tax return preparers as an identification number on the returns they signed. She urged Congress to allow the IRS to continue issuing PTIN holder information on a case-by-case request basis in order to limit the publication of tax preparers’ personal contact information. Alternatively, she suggested, the IRS could remove the posting of email and business addresses from the downloadable online database.
The testimony also covered such other tax filing season concerns as IRS taxpayer services, tax-related identity theft, information reporting and Forms 1099, due diligence requirements, deadlines related to disasters and guidance needed on emerging issues.