More than 3,600 Oklahoma tax preparers must take a competency exam by the end of next year or they will not be able to get paid for preparing tax returns, the Internal Revenue Service said Wednesday.
“Although the (Dec. 31, 2013) deadline may seem distant, the IRS is urging tax preparers to take it soon in case they have to retake it, and also to avoid a flood of last-minute exam-takers,” said David Stell, IRS spokesman in Oklahoma City.
About 60 percent of taxpayers pay someone to prepare their federal individual income tax returns. Last year 87 million returns were prepared by paid tax preparers.
Three years ago the IRS launched a program to register paid preparers and require them to pass a competency test. Certified public accountants, enrolled agents and attorneys are exempt from the test because they already have other testing requirements as part of their credentials.
Paid return preparers also are expected to take continuing education courses and meet ethics standards.
After Dec. 31, 2013, only tax preparers who have taken and passed a competency examination can stay in the business of preparing tax returns for compensation.
In Oklahoma, so far 39 tax preparers have passed the competency examination and, as a result, have been given the new credential of Registered Tax Return Preparer. Another 3,628 Oklahomans who hold a Preparer Tax Identification Number are among those who must take the examination by Dec. 31, 2013, to stay in business.
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How to take it
The competency test is available at more than 260 vendor testing centers nationwide. Preparers can determine if they have a test requirement by going to their online PTIN Account at www.irs.gov/ptin. Preparers also can set a test date, time and location through their online PTIN Account.