Agency In Crisis

imagesThe IRS has been struggling for years to keep up with their workload. Because of budget cuts some say the IRS is in crisis. With an 87% drop in funding, the IRS is not able to answers about 40% of the phones received, cannot answer written correspondence within its own 45 day deadline and is making refund errors at an alarming rate. A recent Boston Globe article is both alarming and illuminating.

What is not good news for taxpayers may be important news for your firm. Differentiating the level of service you give clients is a big marketing opportunity for tax preparers and firms of all sizes.

There were 32 million returns submitted in 2011 by preparers who are regulated in their own field, such as accountants and tax lawyers. But there were 42 million returns in 2011 that were submitted to the IRS by preparers who are not formally licensed and regulated, according to the IRS. That’s right…more returns completed by “preparers” who had no formal training.

“Right now anybody can say they are a preparer,” John Koskinen, the IRS commissioner, said in an interview. “There are a lot of people hanging out a shingle and you can do it without any qualifications at all.”

Under federal law, a person can call him or herself a tax preparer as long as an identification number is obtained from the IRS. Getting such a number is easy. The main requirements are that an applicant pay the $64.25 fee, provide personal information and a recent tax return, and give “explanations for felony convictions (if any),” according to the IRS website.

Professional, trained tax-preparers can use this information to help clients understand why there may be a disparity in fees. The level of service and expertise you provide are not available from ill-trained tax preparers or even the IRS.