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1. IRS introduces voluntary certification program for tax preparers  

BY Alistair M. Nevius, J.D.
After failing to win court approval for its mandatory tax return preparer regulation program, the IRS in late June introduced a voluntary certification program to take its place (Rev. Proc. 2014-42). Return preparers who sign up for the program and complete its continuing education requirements will be listed in an IRS database of return preparers.BACKGROUNDWhen the IRS lost its appeal in Loving, No.

2. AICPA sues IRS to stop return preparer program   WebExclusive

BY Alistair M. Nevius, J.D.
The AICPA filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Tuesday, asking the court to halt the IRS’s recently introduced Annual Filing Season Program. The AICPA’s three-count complaint asks the court to declare the rule implementing the program unlawful and stop its operation.The Annual Filing Season Program, introduced June 30 in Rev.

3. Complete rules for the IRS’s voluntary return preparer certification program are released   WebExclusive

BY Sally P. Schreiber, J.D.
On Monday, the IRS published guidance introducing its new, voluntary Annual Filing Season Program, which permits tax preparers who are not CPAs, attorneys, or enrolled agents to complete tax education requirements and receive a certificate, called a Record of Completion (Rev. Proc. 2104-42). (For prior coverage, see “IRS Reveals Details of Voluntary Preparer Certification Program”; “AICPA Reiterates Its Strong Concerns About IRS Voluntary Certification Program.”) Continuing education requirements Tax preparers who complete 18 hours of continuing education from an IRS-approved provider, including six hours of federal tax law updates (called a “refresher course”), 10 hours of

4. IRS reveals details of voluntary preparer certification program   WebExclusive

BY Sally P. Schreiber, J.D.
On Thursday, the IRS announced that it will soon introduce a voluntary program for tax return preparers called the Annual Filing Season Program (IR-2014-75). This program will permit return preparers to obtain a record of completion when they voluntarily complete 18 hours of continuing education, including a six-hour refresher course for tax season, 10 hours of federal tax law topics, and two hours of ethics.

5. AICPA reiterates its strong concerns about IRS voluntary certification program   WebExclusive

BY Alistair M. Nevius, J.D.
The AICPA on Tuesday sent a 14-page letter to the IRS, expressing its strong concerns that a proposed IRS voluntary certification program for unenrolled tax return preparers “would cause significant legal problems that may ultimately frustrate the IRS’s goals, confuse the public, and lead to litigation.” The IRS is expected to soon implement the program by the release of a revenue procedure.

6. New rules for providing written tax advice are finalized   WebExclusive

BY Sally P. Schreiber, J.D.
The IRS issued final regulations under Circular 230, Regulations Governing Practice Before the Internal Revenue Service (31 C.F.R. Part 10), on the rules for practitioners to provide written tax advice and certain other related provisions (T.D. 9668), adopting the proposed regulations (REG-138367-06) issued in September 2012 with some modifications.The new rules withdraw the old covered opinion rules in Circular 230, Section 10.35, which were widely considered unworkable, and replace the old rules with one standard for written tax advice in Circular 230, Section 10.37.

7. Practitioners suspended or disbarred from practice before the IRS can prepare tax returns   WebExclusive

BY Sally P. Schreiber, J.D.
The IRS has decided that, as a result of the recent decision preventing it from regulating unenrolled tax return preparers, disbarment or suspension from practice before the IRS cannot include a ban on tax return preparation or blocking an individual’s preparer tax identification number (PTIN). Therefore, the Service announced that certain tax return preparers who were sanctioned by having their PTINs blocked between Aug.

8. AICPA has “deep concerns” about IRS voluntary certification of return preparers   WebExclusive

BY Alistair M. Nevius, J.D.
Following the defeat in federal court of the IRS’s tax return preparer regulation program, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has commented that the IRS should consider a voluntary certification program for tax return preparers. On Wednesday, the AICPA sent the commissioner a letter, expressing its “deep concerns” about such a program.

9. Conflicts of interest and client consent  

BY Alistair M. Nevius
Section 10.29 of Treasury Circular 230, Regulations Governing Practice Before the Internal Revenue Service (31 C.F.R. Part 10), generally prohibits a practitioner from representing a client before the IRS if the representation involves a conflict of interest.Under Section 10.29(a), a conflict of interest exists if:(1) The representation of one client will be directly adverse to another client; or(2) There is a significant risk that the representation of one or more clients will be materially limited by the practitioner’s responsibilities to another client, a former client or a third person, or by a personal interest of the practitioner.However,

10. Report reveals breadth of criminal tax activities   WebExclusive

BY Sally P. Schreiber, J.D.
From shady tax preparation businesses to identity theft gangs to corrupt IRS agents, the IRS Criminal Investigation division’s annual report reviewing its accomplishments in 2013 reveals the wide range of criminal tax activities it investigated in the past year. And, the report points out, despite a continued significant decline in staffing, the division maintained a conviction rate of more than 93%, which it noted “reflects the quality of ...[its] casework” (IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) Annual Business Report, p.
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