The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants made recommendations to the Internal Revenue Service about the procedures it should follow in approving continuing education providers and courses for registered tax return preparers in an Aug. 17 letter and praised the IRS for dropping an earlier proposal that would have required continuing education providers to get pre-approval from the IRS before offering continuing education courses to the public.
“We believe that by not mandating a course-by-course pre-approval process, the IRS will ensure that continuing education courses are timely and that the ultimate system for monitoring course quality will allow the IRS to effectively manage its limited resources,” Patricia Thompson, chair of the AICPA Tax Executive Committee, said.
The IRS solicited comments about continuing education providers as part of the program it is implementing to regulate paid tax return preparers following release of its 2009 report on the paid tax return preparer community. The IRS’ report was triggered by compliance studies issued by the Government Accountability Office and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration that implicated the “unenrolled” preparer community as a major source of compliance problems. Tax preparers who are not CPAs, attorneys or enrolled agents are known as “unenrolled” preparers. Minimum continuing education requirements will be mandatory for registered tax return preparers. In general, CPAs, attorneys and enrolled agents have their own continuing education requirements.
Thompson noted that continuing education providers that are now accredited by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy to provide continuing professional education courses for CPAs, attorneys and enrolled agents should continue to automatically qualify as approved continuing education providers for registered tax return preparers. The AICPA and state CPA societies are NASBA-registered CPE providers.
Additionally, the AICPA said the IRS should establish a lookup database accessible through the IRS website so that as soon as a provider is approved, or loses approval, that information would be available to the public.
A copy of the AICPA letter can be found at http://www.aicpa.org/interestareas/tax/resources/irspracticeprocedure/downloadabledocuments/aicpa_comments_ce.doc