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IRS, Maryland prepare for tax season

IRS, Maryland prepare for tax season

The Frederick News-Post via Yellowbrix

Jan. 6—Although the dreaded April 15 deadline for paying income taxes is some time away, the Internal Revenue Service and Maryland Comptroller’s Office are gearing up for the filing season.

At both the state and national levels, officials are moving to license preparers and help consumers avoid fraudulent preparers.

In last year’s General Assembly session, Maryland enacted a licensing requirement for individual tax preparation services by June 1, 2010. Licensing will require an examination, though preparers with at least 15 years of experience will be exempt from the exam.

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The license will need to be renewed every two years and requires 16 hours of continuing education.

In Maryland, some professionals are exempt, such as CPAs, attorneys and employees of local, state or federal government (only during performance of official duties); individuals enrolled to practice before the IRS; and employees or assistants to licensed tax preparers.

In Maryland, preparers who do 300 or more returns are required to file electronically this year. That decreases next year to those doing 200 or more returns, and 100 or more the following year.

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot said electronic filing will save the state millions of dollars in processing costs, ensure greater accuracy and privacy. Consumers will also get their refunds more quickly.

Those refunds can be sent to at least two separate bank accounts in Maryland.

This week, the IRS sent letters to 10,000 preparers nationwide who did large volumes of filings and where frequent mistakes were found. Those preparers will be visited by IRS agents, according to James Dupree, IRS field media relations in Baltimore.

IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman is pushing for a requirement that all paid tax preparers who do federal returns register with the IRS and obtain an identification number. The preparers will be subject to compliance checks to ensure they have filed federal personal, business and employment returns and paid all taxes due on those.

Shulman also is advocating competency tests for paid preparers, with exemptions for CPAs, attorneys and enrolled agents who are active and in good standing with licensing agencies. The commissioner wants to require continuing professional education and extend ethical rules to include paid preparers.

For more information visit the Comptroller of Maryland or The sites offer tips on doing your own taxes and details on tax laws.

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