Mandated competency is coming finally to the tax-preparation industry. The IRS this week announced plans to make anybody who charges a fee to fill out a tax return register with the federal government. Those who aren't formally schooled in the fine art of tax filing will have to go through 15 hours of continuing education each year (relax CPAs and lawyers, your professional stature earns an exemption from the education requirement).
The federal program more or less mirrors one already enforced by some states, including California, where the L.A. Times reports that H&R Block is happily going along with the rule and that it's also endorsed by the National Association of Tax Professionals. "This has been a long time coming, and we're pretty pleased with the reasoned and rational approach," Paul Cinquemani, a CPA and an association executive tells the newspaper. "The whole idea of a competency exam just raises the bar. That's a great idea."