WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, filed legislation this week that is intended to do away with incompetent or fraudulent tax preparers.
With the end of the 2012 tax season, Richmond’s Taxpayer Protection and Preparer Fraud Prevention Act of 2013 would give the Internal Revenue Service more oversight to certify paid tax preparers and ensure they are “competent, of good character and able to render services.”
The legislation also would allow the IRS to financially penalize tax preparers who violate any set standards and are found to be disreputable.
“In these challenging economic times, the last thing hardworking Americans need is to be made vulnerable by a tax preparer that is unfit to do the job,” Richmond said in his announcement. “This commonsense bill would provide the IRS with tools to ensure consumers are choosing from only the most competent pool of preparers when it is time to file their return.”
Richmond’s bill comes in the wake of a January ruling in federal court in Washington, D.C., that the IRS did not have the authority to regulate paid tax preparers, which removed key requirements such as compliance testing. Richmond contended the ruling left taxpayers vulnerable to possible dishonesty, negligence or fraud with little recourse.
“I am hopeful that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle can come together and recognize the need to institute basic IRS protections,” Richmond added. “This bill is a long overdue step towards protecting average Americans who shouldn’t have to worry about being defrauded.”