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The IRS’ New Voluntary Certification Program

July 8, 2014

The IRS will soon be rolling out a new voluntary certification program meant to prepare paid tax preparers for the 2015 filing season and to encourage them to learn more about tax law and any changes that have been made to the tax code over the past year. This program is completely voluntary. Those that elect to participate will be required to complete continuing education in tax filing basics, ethics and other tax law courses.

This new program is part of the IRS’ effort to protect taxpayers from unscrupulous or unqualified tax preparers. Previous efforts include the IRS’ issuance of Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (PTINs); anyone who prepares any federal tax return or refund claim for compensation is required to obtain a PTIN and include it on every tax return they prepare.

During the 2015 tax filing season, taxpayers will be able to research tax return preparers that participated in the program. This will help them to choose a legitimate tax preparer to prepare their returns.

Unenrolled return preparers will receive a record of completion after clearing the required amount of continuing education (CE) and other courses. This ensures that only qualified tax preparers are allowed to professionally prepare tax returns. It is not necessary for enrolled return preparers, like the enrolled agents employed at Tax Defense Network, to complete the Voluntary Certification program because in order to maintain their credentials, they are required to complete vigorous continuing education courses.

“This voluntary program will be a step to help protect taxpayers during the 2015 filing season,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “About 60 percent of tax return preparers operate without any type of oversight or education requirements. Our program will give unenrolled return preparers a way to stay to up-to-date on tax laws and changes, which we believe will improve service to taxpayers.”

“Tax professionals with recognized credentials will be publicly listed on IRS.gov, and we plan to help inform taxpayers about the professional options available,” John Koskinen.

Tax preparer fraud is a widespread. Every year, thousands of taxpayers lose their tax refunds to scammers. With the PTIN and the new voluntary certification program, taxpayers will hopefully have an easier time differentiating between fraudulent tax preparers and legitimate tax preparers.


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