Robert J. Fedor, Esq., L.L.C.

Ohio measure seeks to require that tax preparers obtain certification

Barring a formal extension, U.S. citizens are expected to file their taxes by the 15th of next month. While some individuals are brave enough to attempt to decipher complex tax rules and complete their own taxes, according to the Internal Revenue Service, an estimated 63 percent of Americans seek the assistance of tax preparers. However, some may be surprised to learn that a sizable percentage of the estimated 1.2 million American tax preparers have no formal training or certification.

While certifications and licenses are readily required in many professions, in most states, such requirements do not pertain to individuals who make a living preparing taxes. As such, industry experts assert that unlicensed tax preparers may be filing tax documents that contain numerous errors. If and when such errors are identified, it's often the individual taxpayer and not the tax preparer who is subject to IRS imposed fines and penalties.

Concerns over the lack of certification requirements for U.S. tax preparers have resulted in some states calling for stricter requirements. For example, in Ohio, a measure has been proposed that would require tax preparers to go through a certification and state registration process. Proponents of the measure contend certification is necessary to ensure that tax preparers are competent and aware of both current and updated tax laws.

A similar measure, that was proposed by the IRS, requiring that tax preparers obtain certification was recently struck down by a federal appeals court. In its decision, the appeals court argued that only the president and U.S. Congress have the power to enact such regulations.

Individuals who are facing criminal charges related to alleged tax crimes would be wise to seek the advice and assistance of a criminal defense attorney. An attorney who handles tax matters can help an individual navigate the legal system and ensure for a more favorable legal outcome.

Source: The Huffington Post, "The Scary Truth About Your Independent Tax Preparer," Elaine Povich, Feb. 25, 2014

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