Appraisers or Tax Preparers?

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By Eva Lang

The IRS and the Treasury Department issued final regulations last week on a new set of penalties for signing and non-signing tax return preparers. The final regulations include appraisers within the definition of "tax return preparers."

The American Society of Appraisers provided the following excerpt from the final regulations: Under Treasury Regulations in place since 1977 and the proposed regulations, an appraiser might be subject to penalties under section 6694 as a nonsigning tax return preparer if the appraisal is a substantial portion of the return or claim for refund and the applicable standards of care under section 6694 are not met. Several commentators have stated that appraisers should not be subject to penalties under section 6694 because they are subject to new, higher standards of conduct under section 6695A as set out in the Pension Protection Act of 2006, Pub. L. No. 109-280. The commentators have also urged that assessment of penalties under section 6694 against appraisers would result in imposition of a gratuitous and unnecessary layer of requirements and sanctions without any additional public policy benefit.

After consideration of the comment, the Treasury Department and the IRS continue to include appraisers in the definition of both signing and non-signing preparers, thereby providing the IRS with discretion to impose the section 6694 and 6695A penalties in the alternative against an appraiser depending on the facts and circumstances of the appraiser’s conduct. The IRS, however, will not stack the penalties under sections 6694 and 6695A with respect to the same conduct. A separate regulation will provide guidance under section 6695A.

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