Earlier this month, a district court judge for the District of Columbia basically shut down the IRS's registered tax return preparer program. The purpose of the program was to better regulate hundreds of thousands of people who prepare tax returns with little, if any, supervision - unlike lawyers or CPAs or enrolled agents who prepare tax returns. The regulations require that previously unregulated preparers who charge for their services pass a test, pay the government a fee, and meet a continuing education requirement. Three tax return preparers sued, claiming that they would have to raise their fees to meet the requirements, which would cost them customers, or would just close their shops altogether.
... It makes sense to me that if you own a gun you should register it and have a license for it (I know many responsible gun owners who all agree with me there). An IRS audit might not be as dangerous as a gun, but you might get a different opinion from someone who has been through one because of a shady tax return preparer. I don't believe everyone should be allowed to drive a car - in fact, I see about 10 people a day who should have that privilege revoked. So, by extension, I don't think just anyone should handle the potentially dangerous instrument that is a tax return.As a result of the court's ruling the IRS will lose a lot of money in fees, honest return preparers will be confused, the victors in the case will scream liberty has been vindicated and for a while we can all discuss how many angels dance on the head of this pin. The IRS has already moved to overturn the court's ruling, and libertarian forces are forming to oppose the tax collector on this issue. It should all be entertaining; of course, we taxpayers will foot most of the bill for the entertainment. But when all is said and done, the IRS will get its return preparer registration program. Because - and here's a novel idea - it makes sense.
View Chris Bergin's opinion in its entirety on the taxanalysts® Blog.
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