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Who's Doing Your Taxes? Bill Aims to Regulate CO Tax Preparers

March 11, 2014

DENVER - With just a little more than a month to go until the April 15 tax deadline, it's crunch time for Coloradans, thousands of whom will have their taxes done by paid tax professionals. In this state and 45 others, that job description is unregulated by the law.

Today a bill (HB-1285) will be heard in the House Business Committee that would require that preparers disclose their training, IRS ID, contact information and fee schedule to customers. Ali Mickelson, a tax policy attorney at the Colorado Fiscal Institute, explained the importance of greater consumer protection in this area.

"You wouldn't give your bank account information to your hot dog vendor or your Social Security number to your tattoo artist, but those are all professions that are more heavily regulated in Colorado than your tax professional," she declared.

Mickelson said the Institute has had several reports of taxes being done incorrectly, consumers being audited because of the way a form was filled out, and improperly-trained preparers targeting immigrant communities. Opponents of the legislation say the regulation is unneeded and that tax-preparer fraud is not a widespread problem.

Mickelson however said it's important to remember that even if you have your taxes done by a self-identified professional, it's your name and financial future that are at stake.

"And that's the thing that a lot of people don't realize as well, is that a lot of tax professionals aren't going to represent you in tax court, and ultimately you are responsible for that tax form that was signed by you and your preparer," she warned.

Oregon, Washington, New York and Maryland all have laws regulating tax preparers. Colorado is one of several states considering similar regulations.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - CO