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New York suspends tax preparers for failing to file personal returns

By Laila Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York state has suspended 40 registered tax preparers who failed to file their personal tax returns, following the adoption of a set of strict new guidelines earlier this year, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday.

The crackdown is aimed at regulating and increasing ethical standards for the tax preparation industry in a state where 70 percent of tax returns are completed with the help of a professional, Cuomo said.

"By disqualifying those who fail to live up to their responsibilities, we are strengthening the system and ensuring that the millions of New Yorkers who use a tax preparation service receive what they paid for," Cuomo said.

State officials sent out 56 suspension letters to tax preparers working mostly in New York City as part of the recent action, he said. Of the recipients, 16 filed objections, allowing them to temporarily avoid suspension.

In March, Cuomo announced the adoption of stricter regulations for the state's 40,000 registered tax preparers, who are required to register with the state, in an effort to reduce fraud and scams in the profession.

The new rules require tax preparers to pass a competency examination, receive annual education on the profession and have a high school diploma. It is one of just four states with such rules.

The disciplined tax preparers, who didn't submit their personal 2011 and 2012 returns, will be unable to legally file a client's state tax return for pay, Cuomo's office said.

“It’s this simple: if you don’t file your own taxes, you shouldn’t be allowed to file returns for other New Yorkers," New York Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Thomas Mattox said in a statement.

(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Edith Honan and Eric Beech)

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