I had to laugh while reading all the tax profession “insiders” – i.e. representatives of various membership organizations, fast food tax preparation chains, software providers, and the IRS itself – complain about the terrible earth-shaking consequences that will come from the shutting down of the IRS tax preparer regulation regime by the US District Court.
I have been preparing federal and state income tax returns for individuals in all walks of life for over 40 years. Prior to the initiation of the IRS program in 2011, the tax preparation business has never been regulated to any real degree. Obviously crooked tax preparers, when discovered, were prosecuted for tax fraud and other crimes, and there were certain regulations under Circular 230, and “preparer penalties”.
But for as long as I have been in business, and for the years before, there were no real restrictions to or regulations for being able to prepare income tax returns for a fee. As I said in my post on preparer regulation/licensure/certification – any cafone could hang out a shingle as a “professional tax preparer”. And while many a cafone did, many competent and ethical individuals also did, and in doing so provided an invaluable service to our voluntary tax system.
And this tax system has survived and functioned all these years.
As I stated in a previous post here at TPP, I did not object to the IRS regulation regime, except for two of its regulations, and would gladly accept industry-based, or even IRS, oversight of the tax preparation business. But I would also be just as happy to continue operating without regulation or stricter oversight, as I have been for the past 40 years.
Some kind of certification program, required or voluntary, would benefit the industry and the public. But continuing to have no special certification or regulation program would not hurt the industry and the public.