September 20, 2019

Tax Prep Regulations

IRS Throws Hissy Fit About Not Being Able to Regulate Preparers, Gives Up On Everything

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 […]

Memo to IRS: Regulating Tax Preparers Is Not ‘Mission Critical’

“We believe that the IRS has neither demonstrated the need for extending the non-signing preparer requirements to CPA firms nor that its proposed testing program merits shifting IRS resources away from other mission-critical programs.”

~ Thirty-one members of Congress sent a letter to Tim Geithner, asking TG, Doug Shulman & Co. to, pretty please, reconsider the requirement for non-signing CPAs.

Panic Isn’t Necessary if Your Tax Preparer Got Swept Up in “Operation Brass Tax”

With less than a week until April 15th, it’s safe to assume that some people are finally getting a tad anxious about the upcoming deadline. If you live in New York and happen to be one of these procrastinators, it may be wise to check with your tax professional, not only because they hate it when you show up on the 13th – 15th with nary a clue about what you earned in 2009 but also because if you’re really unlucky, your tax pro instead was just total shiester and got caught up in “Operation Brass Tax.”


First off, we’ll just say that we’re not sure who at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York or the IRS’s Criminal Investigation Division was given the modest charge of naming this particular operation but it obviously sucks. We’re not expecting you have an imagination like JK Rowling or anything but guys, c’mon.

But enough with trivial matters, the main concern is that there are many New Yorkers that are completely going batshit crazy because A) they recently found out that their tax preparer was a robbing them blind and B) they have no idea how they are going to get their tax return filed in less than a week without help because reading the instructions is NOT. AN. OPTION.

Twenty-six phony tax experts in Manhattan and the Bronx have been charged by the SDNY/IRS for pulling a smorgasbord of scams including, “stolen identities of children to falsely claim them as dependents on clients’ returns; claiming “business losses” from fictitious businesses; using stolen identities, including Social Security numbers, of deceased individuals to list as the ‘taxpayers’ on fraudulent returns, and taking the resulting refunds themselves.”

All this chicanery has U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara upset because these tax professionals are supposed to be the good guys!

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and IRS Special Agent-in-Charge Patricia Haynes unsealed charges Thursday against the tax preparers. Sixteen were in custody, four had been previously charged and face new charges, and six remain at large. “Professional tax preparers are supposed to be gatekeepers, not facilitators of fraud,” said Bharara in a statement.

Some might argue that this is just another reason why regulating tax preparers is the best idea the IRS has ever had. Of course then you remember that these regulations will probably drive these tax prep lemonade stands underground anyway.

While that’s another matter entirely, there’s no cause for concern. There’s plenty of tax gurus in New York like the guy who got mixed reviews on Craigslist. If venturing to Queens isn’t a solution then you can always, you know, file the extension.

26 NYC Tax Preparers Charged with Tax Fraud [Web CPA]
More New York Tax Trouble:
Investigation Reveals that 30% of Tax Preparers in NYC Lied About Rapid Refunds

Investigation Reveals that 30% of Tax Preparers in NYC Lied About Rapid Refunds

For whatever reason, people crave their tax refunds like Big 4 recruits crave tchothkes. Accordingly, someone came up with the bright idea of “refund anticipation loans” or rapid refunds. Web CPA is reporting that the New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs has investigated nearly 800 tax preparers throughout the City and issue over 2,000 citations for violations including illegal advertising of the rapid refunds.


Getting your refund ASAP is the personal mission of every tax-American but if preparers lie about the fact that they’re actually loan sharks, then that’s when the City will get after you:

Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz noted that RAL costs can amount to as much as a 500 percent interest rate. “The truth is that RALs are such a bad idea that tax preparers and lenders generally need to lie about them in order to sell them,” he said at a press conference Tuesday. “Lying about them in New York is illegal.”

Mintz’s investigators found that three out of 10 tax preparers in the city were misleading their customers about their rights, and in most cases telling them or deceptively advertising that a refund loan was just a rapid refund or a same-day refund. “In the Bronx, over half the preparers that we inspected got it wrong and were issued violations,” he said.

C’mon Bronx tax prep, you’re better than that…

The silver lining in this little story? The City will collect a $1 million and by the grace of God, tax preparers are actually messing up less, as the compliance rate reached 69% in the 2010 investigation up from 65% in ’09 and 56% in ’08.

We here at GC have harped on the upcoming tax preparer regulation, most recently the declaration by the IRS that the new regs are the most important step taken EVER. While that particular statement remains to be hyperbole of the highest order, the new regs will certainly drive these tax prep/loan sharks underground. Whether that’s good or bad depends on your comfort level with black market tax prep services. The IRS doesn’t care; they’ll be coming heavy either way.

NYC Cracks Down on Income Tax Preparer RALs [Web CPA]

You Don’t Like the Way I Prepared Your Return? Take Two Tylenol and Call Me in the Morning.

TYLENOL325.jpgEditor’s note: Joe Kristan is a tax shareholder for Roth & Company, a Des Moines, Iowa CPA firm, where he works with closely-held businesses and their owners. Prior to helping start Roth & Company, he worked for two of what are now the Final Four CPA firms. He writes the Tax Update Blog and is available for seminars, first communions, Bar Mitzvahs, etc. You can see his previous posts for GC here.
While the IRS is cracking down on tax preparers and proposing new rules to herd them into submission compliance, problem preparers aren’t a new problem.
Back in 1982, when the 1986 Code was just a gleam in Dan Rostenkowski’s eye, the nation’s headaches went untreated when people started dying from cyanide-tainted Tylenol. We still live with the hard-to-open containers for almost everything as a legacy of the murder spree. The killer has never been nabbed, but the tax world has supplied one suspect. The Chicago Tribune reports:

James William Lewis, a longtime suspect in the 1982 Tylenol murders, made a rare public appearance on public access television near Boston on Sunday night, hoping to promote his new self-published novel, “Poison! The Doctor’s Dilemma.”


Instead, Lewis was met with a barrage of questions from the show’s host and callers about whether he had a role in the unsolved cyanide poisonings that left seven Chicago-area residents dead, and if his novel had anything to do with the killings.

Why the suspicion?

Lewis said during the 48-minute interview that he regretted having written Tylenol’s manufacturer after the deaths, demanding $1 million to “stop the killing,” for which he was convicted of extortion.

A mistake anybody could make, especially after things have gone bad in your tax practice:

After his extortion conviction in 1983, Lewis served more than 12 years in prison. In the 1970s, Lewis was accused in Kansas City, Mo., of killing and dismembering a client of his tax-preparation business. Charges were dropped after a judge threw out most of the evidence.

That just shows how the new preparer regulations are long overdue. We can be confident that IRS Commissioner Shulman’s new preparer registration and CPE requirements — especially the two annual “ethics” hours — will keep anything like that from ever happening to a preparer today.