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Barry Melancon. AICPAThe American Institute of CPAs has filed suit to block a new voluntary tax preparer program being rolled out by the Internal Revenue Service. The AICPA called the new program "an end-run" around a court ruling that struck down the IRS' attempt to regulate preparers last year.

"The AICPA has been a steadfast supporter of the IRS's overall goals of enhancing compliance by tax return preparers and elevating ethical conduct. However, the IRS's new rule regulating tax return preparers is an unlawful exercise of government power," according to a statement from AICPA CEO Barry Melancon.

Introduced in June, the Annual Filing Season Program, the new practice is described by the IRS as enabling "unenrolled return preparers to obtain a record of completion when they voluntarily complete a required amount of continuing education, including a course in basic tax filing issues and updates, ethics and other federal tax law courses." Those that complete courses would be included in a database that will be available to taxpayers for the 2015 tax season.


The AICPA argues the voluntary program violates Loving v. IRS, in which a federal court said the IRS lacked the legal authority to require registration of tax preparers and impose educational requirements on preparers, except for CPAs, Enrolled Agents and Tax Attorneys. Besides arguing about the IRS' lack of legal authority to conduct the voluntary program, "the new rule will do nothing to address the problem of unethical or fraudulent tax return preparers – which should be a top priority."

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