Author: University of Baltimore Law Review

Issues to Watch

The Annual Filing Season Program: A Brief Examination of AICPA v. IRS and the Resulting Regulations on Tax Return Preparers


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*Brenton Conrad

I.  Introduction

On August 14, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Annual Filing Season Program, which was enacted to serve as a means of combatting the growing concerns involving fraudulent tax returns.  AICPA v. IRS, No. 16-5256, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 22583 (D.C. Cir. Aug. 14, 2018).  This program seeks to incentivize unenrolled tax preparers (preparers not subject to any licensing requirement with the IRS) to voluntarily obtain a “Record of Completion.”   Id. at 3.  A Record of Completion grants these preparers a “limited practice right” in representing a taxpayer in the audit and tax return process and places their names on the IRS’s online directory of tax preparers.  Id. at 3, 4.  While on its face the IRS’s program may benefit taxpayers, the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) disagrees.  Then-AICPA President Barry C. Melancon made this clear when he stated, on behalf of the association and its constituents, “[w]e believe a voluntary program would create confusion regarding the relative proficiencies of the various types of preparers.”  Isaac M. O’Bannon, AICPA Says IRS Voluntary Preparer Regulation System Doesn’t Protect Taxpayers, CPA Practice Advisor (May 21, 2014), https://www.cpapracticeadvisor.com/news/11474865/aicpa-says-irs-voluntary-preparer-regulation-system-doesnt-protect-taxpayers.  Then-chair of the AICPA Tax Executive Committee Jeffery A. Porter said that “any voluntary regime constructed would still not address the problems with unethical and fraudulent tax return prepares.”  Id. (more…)