A survey by an independent arm of the Internal Revenue Service found that most commercial tax preparers who are not registered with the agency do not accurately fill out federal tax returns for their clients. About two-thirds of the returns with errors underpaid the government, while the other third overpaid or received a refund that was less than what was owed. There are some 300,000 to 600,000 nonlicensed tax preparers, as opposed to about 41,000 preparers -- typically certified public accountants or financial planners, tax lawyers and actuaries -- who have completed the necessary training and testing that allows them to enroll with the IRS as preparers or agents.

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