IRS Rebuts AICPA Challenge to Annual Filing Season Program

As of May, 2017, the IRS and the AICPA are still in court, arguing about the agency’s statutory authority to implement its Annual Filing Season Program.

The AICPA challenged the Internal Revenue Service program in 2014. The IRS won at the District Court level in 2016 and the matter is currently on appeal at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Recently the IRS, in an April 26 brief, said the program helps return preparers obtain additional training and that the lower court correctly ruled that the AICPA has no cause of action.

As readers are aware, preparers in the voluntary program must complete 15 hours of continuing education training annually and pass a written examination. The IRS lists those who pass the exam and receive a “Record of Completion” in its online “Directory of Federal Tax Law Return Preparers.”

The AICPA’s position is that the Administrative Procedure Act prohibits the IRS from acting without statutory authority, and that the program would allow competitors to peddle misleading credentials to win business.

The IRS said in its brief that 31 U.S.C. Section 330 is a taxpayer-protection statute giving the Treasury secretary explicit authority to regulate the conditions under which persons may represent taxpayers before the IRS. “The competitive interest of the Institute’s members are directly contrary to the purpose of the statute; their interest in reducing the qualified competition harms taxpayers,” the IRS said. AICPA obviously disagrees.

Oral arguments have yet to be scheduled in the case.

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