The Internal Revenue Service has announced it will be doing better monitoring of tax preparers. That's not a bad thing.

Currently, anyone can hang a shingle and proclaim themselves a "professional" tax preparer. The IRS admits there are a lot of bad preparers out there and it wants to crack down on them, which in turn protects the public.

As a result, the IRS will soon be requiring preparers to be tested before doing returns for others. Such a regulation could occur as early as 2011.

Meanwhile, the Internal Revenue Service has sent notices to many tax preparers who have made frequent errors.

The IRS also plans to audit as many as 10,000 preparers this year, most chosen at random, to determine their compliance and competency.

According to the IRS, more than 80 percent of taxpayers use a paid preparer.

If you use a paid preparer, the IRS requires that the individual who was paid must sign your return. Getting it signed not only is the law, it protects you, the taxpayer.

The IRS is also concerned that many tax preparers are giving poor advice. This is another reason the tax collection agency wants to tax preparers.

The only concern is that many preparers, if required to take an annual test, might increase their fees. On the other hand, a larger fee is a small price to pay for having someone incompetent do something as important as filing your taxes.

You could be over-paying by having someone do taxes who isn't qualified to do your filing. Or, you might be taking deductions that aren't permitted and result in more headaches down the road.

It's good the IRS is getting more involved with preparers. Any preparer who is doing his or her job properly has nothing to worry about.

Something as important as doing other people's income taxes should be better regulated.

By Ron Gower

rgower@tnonline.com