Proposed legislation could require regulations for professional tax preparers

The Tax Return Preparer Competency Act was introduced to Congress last week and would require professional tax return preparers to submit to background checks and take examinations and continuing education classes. The requirement for a preparer tax identification number, or PTIN, would remain.

The legislation was introduced by Reps. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) and Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.). It would give the IRS more authority to regulate preparers. The bill provides exemptions for CPAs, enrolled agents and tax attorneys who have credentials that are similar to the requirements in the proposed legislation. 

The examination would test knowledge and competency to prepare a return and the ethical standards for doing so, according to the bill. At least 15 hours of continuing education credits would be required annually.

Additionally, a database of tax preparers who meet the requirements of the bill would be made available one year after enactment of the bill.

Congress and the IRS have tried before to license tax preparers.