October 14, 2019

October 14, 2019

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IRS Commissioner Asks Congress to Overturn Loving

Following a report by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) that criticized the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for failing to protect taxpayer financial information from cybersecurity threats, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has requested that US Congress give the IRS the power to license tax preparers.  Prior efforts by the IRS to regulate paid tax preparers by forcing them to pass a competency exam and meet continuing education requirements had been struck down in a 2013 federal district court decision which was later affirmed unanimously by the US District Court for the District of Columbia in Loving v. IRS, 742 F.3d 1013 (DC Cir. 2014).

Having failed to achieve its goal in court, in 2014 the IRS turned to Capitol Hill to grant it the authority to enforce nationwide certification requirements on independent tax return preparers.  Imposing competency requirements on tax return preparers is an idea supported not only by the IRS but also by National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olsen and other tax policy leaders.  Proponents have long argued that government regulations are needed to address ineptitude among “mom-and-pop” tax preparers and unscrupulousness among other preparers who take advantage of uninformed taxpayers.  Efforts to pass the legislation in Congress, however, had stalled.

Now, Commissioner Koskinen is using the recently issued GAO report to renew the push to established minimum standards for tax preparers.  It would seem unlikely, however, that these new efforts will bear any fruit.

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Joshua Ellenberg, McDermott Will Emery, special appeals attorney, international tax matters lawyer, taxation legal counsel
Associate

Joshua (Josh) M. Ellenberg* focuses his practice on US and international tax matters.

Josh was previously a judicial intern for the Honorable Shirley M. Watts of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals and for the Honorable Rudolph Contreras of the US District Court for the District of Columbia. While in law school, Josh earned a CALI Award for academic excellence and was recognized for "truly extraordinary academic performance." He was also a member of the Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy.

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Kevin Spencer, McDermott Will & Emery LLP , Tax Litigation Attorney
Partner

Kevin Spencer is a partner in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP and is based in the Firm's Washington, D.C., office.  He focuses his practice on tax controversy and litigation issues. 

Kevin represents clients in complicated tax disputes in court and before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at the IRS Appeals and Examination divisions.

In addition to his tax controversy practice, Kevin has broad experience advising clients on various tax issues, including tax accounting, employment and reasonable compensation, civil and criminal tax penalties, IRS procedures, reportable transactions and tax shelters, renewable energy, state and local tax, and private client matters. After earning his Master of Tax degree, Kevin had the privilege to clerk for the Honorable Robert P. Ruwe on the US Tax Court.

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