Dem bill would let Treasury regulate accountants to ensure competency, 'good character'

He said a district court ruling earlier this year found that the Internal Revenue Service did not have the authority to regulate paid tax preparers. That decision, he said, leaves taxpayers at risk of "possible dishonesty, negligence or fraud with little recourse."

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"In these challenging economic times, the last thing hardworking Americans need is to be made vulnerable by a tax preparer that is unfit to do the job," he said. "This common sense bill would provide the IRS with tools to ensure consumers are choosing from only the most competent pool of preparers when it is time to file their return."

Under his bill, H.R. 1570, the Treasury Secretary could regulate accountants through a new power to license them. Licenses would be conditioned on accountants demonstrating "good character, good reputation, necessary qualifications to enable the person to provide to persons valuable service, and competency to perform the functions of a tax return preparer."

The bill would also let Treasury impose a fee for licensing accountants, and says fees must be "reasonable, as determined by the Secretary."

Richmond's bill is one of several tax-related bills that were introduced April 15, the day federal taxes are due for most people. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) re-introduced legislation that would make it easier for people to donate money to the government to help pay down the debt.

This is the so-called "Buffett Rule Act," which is aimed at making the point that wealthy taxpayers who might favor higher tax rates are free to donate more to the government whenever they want, without having to formally raise taxes. The House approved similar legislation in 2011, but the Democratic Senate did not take it up.

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) proposed a bill to end energy tax subsidies and lower the corporate income tax rate.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) and several other Democrats introduced three tax bills on Monday. His bills are aimed at closing down offshore tax havens, ending "international tax avoidance," and preventing companies from using tax treaties to dodge U.S. taxation.

Another Democrat, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), proposed legislation that would adjust individual income tax rates to reflect regional differences in the cost of living, which would reduce taxes for people in his home state.