Today, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing titled, “Protecting Taxpayers from Incompetent and Unethical Return Preparers.”

In his opening remarks, Chairman Wyden said, “[B]ecause the tax code is so byzantine, so complicated and so overgrown, nearly 80 million Americans pay for help preparing their tax return. Here’s the alarming thing: most of those paid tax return preparers don’t have to meet any standards for competence in order to prepare someone else’s return. Wyden added, “There are ways for Congress to help in this arena. For example, I’m a firm believer that comprehensive tax reform can simplify the code and make filing an easier process.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said, “Given the crucial role that return preparers play in our tax system, the IRS believes it is critical to ensure a basic competency level for tax return preparers and to focus our enforcement efforts on identifying and stopping unscrupulous preparers.” The Commissioner added, “While the preparer registration requirement is an important advance in our ability to ensure that all return preparers provide the proper level of service to taxpayers, the testing and continuing education components of our return preparer initiative are critical to making even more progress in this area. I again urge Congress to quickly approve the Administration’s proposal granting the IRS explicit statutory authority to regulate all paid tax return preparers, which will allow us to resume implementation of testing and continuing education requirements for certain return preparers.”

Testimony can be accessed via: http://www.finance.senate.gov/hearings/hearing/?id=331dea1b-5056-a032-5215-1df389f40a67