Local Tax Service Welcomes IRS Move to Regulate Tax Preparers
(January 20, 2011)
New IRS rules require an estimated 900,000 to 1.2 million CPAs, Enrolled Agents and unenrolled tax preparers to register and undergo screening by IRS. While many tax preparers may be worried about the new IRS regulations, Pacific Northwest Tax Service is welcoming them, believing they will protect tax payers by weeding out incompetent and unethical preparers.
Effective January 1, 2011 all paid tax preparers must, for the first time, register with the IRS and undergo a screening check. Additional testing and education requirements will be implemented beginning this summer. Pacific Northwest Tax Service founder April Gutierrez is excited to see the IRS begin implementation of new national standards that she believes will fundamentally change the tax preparation industry. "I originally entered the industry in 1992 after purchasing a franchise with one of the big national chains. However l found the franchise relationship frustrating because the franchiser emphasized computer software over preparer knowledge," said Gutierrez. "Any good tax preparer knows that computer software is not a substitute for knowledge and good ethical practices."
Recent study results published by the General Accounting Office and the IRS show that as few as half of all filed tax returns are accurate. This fuels Gutierrez' opinion that tax preparers who depend on computer software to "do-the-thinking" need to be educated, tested and trained in good-practice standards to ensure tax clients are receiving the services they are paying for.
"Income tax law is a complex field which demands years of study and experience to truly master. Taxpayers who turn to a professional tax service do so because they expect to receive expert service from a qualified and highly trained tax professional," said Gutierrez. "We welcome the IRS' initiative to regulate the industry as move that will improve tax preparer competence and also help educate the public about what to look for when choosing a tax service."
Oregon stands out uniquely as the one state in the country which requires tax preparers to obtain minimum education, pass a test and maintain a license through continuing education, however, even inside Oregon, the public is largely unaware of what credentials a tax preparer should have or who turn to if their tax preparer delivers incompetent or unethical services. "Tax preparers help tax payers with one of the biggest financial transactions they will engage in all year," Gutierrez, said. "Every tax payer who pays for professional tax return services has the right to expect his or her tax preparer knows tax law and knows how prepare a tax return correctly."
Pacific Northwest Tax Service was formed in 1995 and operates three year-round offices in Portland, Oregon. The company offers, tax, accounting, payroll and education services to individuals and small business. Sister company Pacific Northwest Tax School, also founded by Gutierrez, is a leading provider of in-depth tax education programs, including an 80-Hour Basic Tax Course that consistently achieves high-pass rates for students who sit Oregon's Licensed Tax Preparer Exam.