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Treasury Seeks Legislative Assistance in Wake of ERC Issues

The Department of the Treasury is reaching out to Congress to get the appropriate tools to combat the wave of Employee Retention Credit fraud and other future issues.

In a September 14, 2023, letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, the agency made two specific requests. First, the IRS asked for authority to regulate paid preparers, which it sated “could help protect taxpayers from penalties, interest, or avoidable costs of litigation that result from the poor-quality advice they receive.”

Second, the IRS asked for legislation specific to the ERC, but it was more vague in what it wants, asking Congress “to consider other ways to help reduce fraud and abuse associated with the ERC, while protecting honest taxpayers. For example, legislating targeting contingency fee practices would help prevent overzealous promoters from profiting off small businesses.”

During a September 14, 2023, conference call with reporters, Laurel Blatchford, chief implementation officer of the Inflation Reduction Act at the Treasury Department, said that having the ability to regulate paid preparers would make it easier to target ERC mills that have popped up in recent months.

“Congress should pass legislation making clear these mills have to play by the same rules as other professionals who prepare returns for taxpayers,” Blatchford said. “These mills may claim they aren’t paid preparers, but they receive compensation for their advice.”

And while the IRS and Treasury could promulgate regulations for something like banning contingency fees that would prevent mills from collecting a portion of the money refunding through the credit,“a legislative prohibition takes effect far more quickly.”

By Gregory Twachtman, Washington News Editor

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