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History of the Office of Professional Responsibility

In 2009, the New York State Legislature directed the Commissioner of Taxation and Finance to convene a task force to:

  • determine and adopt an appropriate regulatory scheme for tax return preparers,
  • set appropriate qualifications for tax return preparers, and
  • study abuses involving refund anticipation loans and checks.

The legislation creating the task force was the result of rising concerns about incompetence and fraud in the tax preparation industry.

The task force consisted of stakeholders from the tax preparation industry, including attorneys, CPAs, and IRS enrolled agents. The task force also included representatives from government, education, and consumer protection groups.

The report that was issued by the task force contained detailed findings about:

  • tax preparers that file fraudulent returns,
  • incompetent preparers, and
  • protecting tax payers who obtain refund anticipation loans and checks.

To address these issues, the task force recommended that the Tax Department promulgate regulations:

  • setting minimum age and education standards for tax return preparers,
  • establishing a competency exam and a system of continuing education for tax return preparers, and
  • creating a system to discipline tax return preparers who are found to be incompetent, disreputable, or noncompliant with their duties and responsibilities.

In December, 2013 the Tax Department promulgated regulations implementing the task force's recommendations. See 20 NYCRR Part 2600.

In addition, the department created an Office of Professional Responsibility to:

  • ensure compliance with the regulations,
  • investigate complaints that are filed against tax return preparers, and
  • assist in the Department's outreach with individuals that use tax return preparers and the tax return preparation industry.