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Highlights

Paid preparers are a cornerstone of the U.S. tax system, as they prepare approximately 60 percent of all tax returns filed, and their actions have an enormous impact on the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) ability to administer tax laws effectively. In previous work, GAO found that taxpayers were not always served well by their paid preparers, and GAO proposed stricter oversight of preparers. In 2010, IRS began implementing new requirements for paid preparers and believes that the requirements will increase taxpayers' compliance. This testimony addresses (1) prior GAO work on paid preparer performance, (2) IRS's progress in implementing the new requirements, and (3) how IRS can use the requirements to improve taxpayer compliance. It is based on GAO's March 2011 report on IRS's implementation of the paid preparer requirements and other GAO reports related to paid preparers. Further, GAO identified additional steps IRS has taken to implement the requirements since the March report was issued. GAO discussed the new information with IRS officials, and they concurred with the findings.

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