The IRS will be holding a series of public discussions for input on establishing standards for tax preparers. It’s about time, I say.

July 14, 2009: The Internal Revenue Service today announced a series of public forums at which individuals and representatives of diverse constituent groups will be able to provide input on the development of tax preparer performance standards. The public forums, a crucial part of an effort launched in June by IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman to help ensure tax preparers are qualified, ethical and provide a high level of service, will kick off on July 30 in Washington, D.C.

“These public meetings will be an important part of the dialogue as we move toward a set of comprehensive recommendations by the end of this year,” Shulman said. “We want an open discussion on how to strengthen the overall integrity of our tax system.”

Knock wood. Tax preparation isn’t an occupation known for deceptive practices. Sure there are problems but nothing as scandalous as “investment advisors” like Madoff, Harkless, or Stanford. Nevertheless, tax preparers have your social security number and all of your investment account information. Someone with bad intentions could do a lot of damage quickly.

Presently only three states require licenses for tax preparation: California, Oregon, and Maryland.

I think a little accountability (no pun intended) would go a long way to increase consumer confidence. Having a national standard would improve the overall quality of services delivered, even if the federal government leaves the responsibility of oversight to the individual states.

What do you think? What qualifications do you look for in a tax preparer?

Tip ‘o the green shade to Kay Bell at Don’t Mess with Taxes for pointing out the IRS initiative.

By day, Helen engineers new materials to make computer chips cheaper, better, and faster. When the son goes down (pun intended), she writes about personal finance at Affine Financial Services.

Image credit: BeckyKP at Flickr.