In late 2011, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Form 14157 (PDF), Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. The form allows any taxpayer to report a tax return preparer or tax prep firm for illegal behavior and outlines 20 potential taxpayer complaints, as well as an “other” field.
Tax preparers can also use the form to submit a complaint if they believe that someone else is using their Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) to prepare returns.
The form can be submitted anonymously, although it includes a non-required area for contact information to allow the IRS to follow up on complaints. Tax preparer Trish McIntire, an Enrolled Agent (EA), raises questions about the potential for abuse with the form.
Submitted forms are routed to the IRS Return Preparer Office (RPO), which manages return preparer registration, rather than the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), which deals with standards for tax professionals covered by IRS Circular 230, including CPAs.
“I’d say the target audience is for those taxpayers who deal with the unenrolled preparer, which is where most of the problems come from,” VSCPA member Mark VanDeveer, CPA, said.
The Virginia Board of Accountancy (VBOA), the VSCPA and the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) all accept anonymous complaints against CPAs. Complaints made to the VBOA are made public only after an investigation is completed. Most findings are published on the VBOA website, with narrow exceptions. The VBOA does not publish information on complaints that are dismissed, but such complaints are subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.