Just What America Needs: More Red Tape

The IRS has taken upon itself a task no one asked it to do: regulate small, independent tax preparers.


Adding another aphorism to the English language, George Will recently observed that "as government expands, its lawfulness contracts." Will offered two examples, concerning the UN and education. But he has fallen short of the First Law of Journalism, which states: Any three anecdotes make a trend. He needs a third case study. Here it is.

The IRS has taken upon itself a task no one asked it to do: regulate small, independent tax preparers. And like any federal regulation worthy of the name, its rules are byzantine, unnecessary, redundant, legally dubious, and hostile to free enterprise.

The rules require anyone who accepts payment for filling out income-tax returns to register, pay fees, take special tests, and complete annual continuing-education requirements. "Having made tax filing so complicated that most Americans need help with the forms," The Wall Street Journal tartly notes, "Washington now wants to raise the price of such counsel by regulating advisers in a way that may reduce their supply."

But not all advisers. CPAs won't have to obey the new rules. Neither will lawyers. Not just tax lawyers, mind you—any lawyers, even those who specialize in patent law or personal injury. Neither will any tax preparers who are supervised by CPAs, or "enrolled agents" at, e.g., big tax-prep companies.

That still leaves about 350,000 other people who fill out tax forms part-time—people such as Sabina Loving, a longtime accountant who opened up a tax-prep storefront in a rundown Chicagoneighborhood. Watching people like Loving with a gimlet eye might make sense if people like here were ripping customers off, or defrauding the government, left and right. But they aren't. The IRS recommends sanctions against fewer than 500 tax preparers per year, and prosecution of even fewer than that. Some of those may work for nationwide accounting firms. But even if all were independent agents, that still comes to less than two-tenths of 1 percent of all mom-and-pop tax preparers. How much further would regulation reduce that number?

Sabina Loving has filed suit to fight the new rules. She is joined by Elmer Killian, a retired Korean War veteran in Eagle, Wisconsin, and John Gambino, a Certified Financial Planner and former equity analyst in Hoboken, N.J. None of them prepares more than 100 returns a year. They are being represented by the Arlington, Va.-based Institute for Justice.

The Institute for Justice (IJ) says the IRS has no statutory authority to impose the new licensing requirements. Instead, the agency is relying on an obscure 1884 law—i.e., one passed before the establishment of the federal income tax—concerning the representatives of people who were owed money by the federal government, not vice versa.

Of course, Congress delegates many rule-making powers to the Executive Branch, so perhaps Congress is fine with the IRS' unilateral assumption of power here. But it isn't. In 2008, Congress considered – and rejected – an amendment authorizing the IRS to regulate tax preparers. Now ask yourself: If the IRS already had the authority to regulate tax preparers, then why did Congress need to consider such an amendment?

Mark Ernst, a deputy commissioner of the IRS who had a hand in crafting the new rules, is a former CEO of H&R Block. You will be as shocked as Captain Renault to learn that big tax-prep companies—H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt, Liberty—all support the new regulations, for the same reason big tobacco companies go after roll-your-own smoke shops: It's in their interest to stifle low-cost competitors.

And while the big boys might couch their support in the usual consumer-protection language, the Swiss investment bank UBS has noted that the new IRS rules would aid H&R Block (and by implication others) by adding "barriers to entry (or continuation) for small preparers [and] provid[ing] revenue as Block may sell their continuing education and competency tests to others." As Timothy Carney, author of The Big Ripoff: How Big Business and Big Government Steal Your Money, noted a while back, the IRS regs provide further evidence that regulation often serves big corporate interests more than it serves consumers.

This might be a fairly minor matter, were it not part of (yes) a larger trend. In a 2010 paper published in the British Journal of Industrial Relations, Morris Kleiner of the University of Minnesota and and Alan Krueger of Princeton note that less than 5 percent of the U.S. workforce was required to be licensed in the 1950s. By 2000 the figure had surpassed 20 percent, and now stands just shy of 30 percent. The result: higher prices—and economic sclerosis.

"Everyone," said President Obama six months ago, "knows that small businesses are where most new jobs begin. And you know that while corporate profits have come roaring back, smaller companies haven't." Perhaps he should pause to ask himself why.

NEXT: Medicare Under Paul Ryan's Budget Plan

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  1. Mark Ernst, a deputy commissioner of the IRS who had a hand in crafting the new rules, is a former CEO of H&R Block.

    I had it figured out before getting to this line. They’ve already helped create an unnavigable tax coade. Can’t have the little guy cutting into big tax preparers’ business wading through it.

    1. How is this relevant? Is Mark Ernst getting some kind of payout from H&R Block because of this?

      1. He probably has tons of H&R stock. Which will go up in value if they get a cartel-like hold on the market via “regulation”.

        1. He almost certainly doesn’t. That would be a clear violation of ethics rules and criminal statutes. He also has to file public financial disclosures as a senior administration official, so if that’s true, please provide the evidence.

          1. please provide the evidence

            Stocks aren’t the only avenue available. You pretend there’s no ‘revolving door’ problem with DC and larger companies that can afford expensive lobbyists.

            People remember favors in DC.

          2. He’s a deputy commisioner, he doesn’t have to file public disclosures.

            1. adam = pwned
              I notice the H&R shill disappeared.

      2. You don’t find it at least suspicious when someone writes rules that obviously benefit his old friends and colleagues?

        1. Why would he care whether it benefits his old co-workers? Do you like most of your co-workers enough to risk having your career ruined, jail, etc.?

          Also, “had a hand in crafting the new rules” is vague journo-speak for “I don’t really know how whether this guy actually influenced or approved the rules, but I’m going to smear him anyway.

          1. Why would he care whether it benefits his old co-workers?

            Guess you don’t know how “networking” works.

      3. How is this relevant?

        You’re joking, right?

        1. No. Please explain how he would benefit from this rule.

          1. “Please explain how he would benefit from this rule.”

            The revolving door of regulation and big business allows people to move from one to the other. Not only is there indirect collusion and benefit through personal and business connections (who wants all of their colleagues and social acquantances to hate them?) but also direct compensation in the form of future high paid jobs once a person leaves the regulatory agency. So, if a person is looking to advance either by going into the regulatory sector from the private sector or vice versa they have an incentive not to fight or resist the agency or industry they are supposed to remain separate from but in fact have incentive to collaborate and collude with them.

          2. You don’t have to look farther than Monsanto/FDA and EPA and Goldman Sachs/Treasury Department to see how this works. Both of these revolving doors have resulted in major catastrophes (financial sector) or serious corruption that endangers public health (pollution, chemicals allowed to pass inspection despite evidence of its dangers, special favors in gene patents – monsanto).

    2. If Ernst still owns stock in H&R: yes. This is known as regulatory capture.

      1. It’s flat out corruption if he still owns H& R stock.

        It’s an example of regulatory irregardless.

        1. missing word followed by a non-word.

          +5 pts for Style.

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  2. Naturally, one searches in vain for any Congressional grant of authority to the IRS to regulate tax preparation.

    “Delegation” of rulemaking authority to agencies was never more than a fig leaf, but the IRS is tossing outside the fig leaf here.

    1. I remember when I took Administrative Law in law school, thinking that about 90% of the delegations were unconstitutional. Of course, no point in raising that in class more than once.

      1. Were you warned about the ghosts of Holmes, Brandeis, Cardozo et al haunting you?

        1. In the end, theory doesn’t play well in most law school classes when courts won’t entertain the theory. What’s the point?

      2. . Of course, no point in raising that in class more than once.

        You’d look like a Paul supporter at a GOP caucus.

        1. AKA a Terrorist.

        2. That, too.

  3. I think we can officially say that regulatory overreach has gone fucking nuclear under Obama. Every petty scumbag bureaucrat in the government has gotten a hardon for what they feel they can take over at this point. Score one more for Obama.

    1. Hey, at least we’ll be the ones that get to witness the end.

      I’ll see you in hell.

    2. But the objectivists will continue to tell you that this is better and safer and more reasonable than breaking the monopoly the state has over the administration of justice, violence and currency.

      Its kind of like the balls Obama has in campaigning on his record. Objectivists keep arguing that the nation state is the best bet-


      But, anarchy…………..OMG, all of civilization will be destroyed if anarchy prevails.

      1. OMG, all of civilization will be destroyed if anarchy prevails.

        You have no accurate concept of what Anarchy means.

        Law must exist for liberty and property to be protected. Without Law, there can be no meaningful contract.

        1. Do you mean law as administered by one entity with the power to exempt itself from the same?

          We have tried that. In case you have not noticed, it hasn’t really worked so well.

          1. Yes, law administered by whatever individual or cartel has enough balls or money to create it out of whole cloth with no enforcement mechanism outside itself is much better. Oh wait, that’s basically the same thing isn’t it?

    3. I have realized for a long time that the government and those loyal to it are my enemys. I wasn’t raised this way. My personal experiences and obsevations have made me a revolutionary.

      1. Same here. I was raised to respect authority figues, obey the rules, etc. Now, I’m skeptical of anyone in power, think most rules are fucking horrible, and pretty much hate everyone that buys into the bullshit. Oh, and one of my favorite phrases now is “fuck off, slaver.”

    4. Is an enabling act for the protection of the American people still unthinkable?

      1. When gas prices hit $10/gallon, that’ll provide the justification for a Law to Remedy the Distress of People and United States.

    5. I think we can officially say that regulatory overreach has gone fucking nuclear under Obama.

      It’s a seller’s market!

  4. If I dare suggest that the shockingly warm temperatures in the eastern half of the country, temperatures that by a gigantic margin make up the biggest March heat wave in recorded history and quite possibly the warmest March in over 100,000 years, were indicative of climate change, commenters would say I am no better than someone suggesting a single snow shows that climate change isn’t happening, so here’s a couple of other points about our changing climate:

    1. Climate change is leading to the rapid proliferation of bark beetles, destroying ecosystems, possibly dooming some species to extinction, and severely threatening the North American forestry industry.

    2. In the last 2 years, a mere 42 million Asians have been displaced due to unusually severe weather.

    1. 3. Say adios to many of our world’s rarest forests. I recommend flying to visit them now, preferably on a jet that maximizes climate change.

      4. Climate is changing so rapidly that scientists can see major changes in vegetation in a geological blink of an eye.

      5. For as much as we believe in technology more than any other religion, technology is flat out not going to get us out of this mess.

      But hey, I can wear shorts in March so fuck it.

      1. Bill McKibben really sums up my thoughts on the matter:

        Caution: It is vitally important not to make connections. When you see pictures of rubble like this week’s shots from Joplin, Missouri, you should not ask yourself: I wonder if this is somehow related to the huge tornado outbreak three weeks ago in Tuscaloosa, or the enormous outbreak a couple of weeks before that?together they comprised the most active April for tornadoes in our history. But that doesn’t mean a thing.

        1. cont.

          It is far better to think of these as isolated, unpredictable, discrete events. It is not advised to try and connect them in your mind with, say, the fires now burning across Texas?fires that have burned more of America by this date than any year in our history. Texas, and adjoining parts of Oklahoma and New Mexico, are drier than they’ve ever been?the drought is worse than the Dust Bowl. But do not wonder if it’s somehow connected.

          1. cont.

            It’s far smarter to repeat to yourself, over and over, the comforting mantra that no single weather event can ever be directly tied to climate change. There have been tornadoes before, and floods?that’s the important thing. Just be careful to make sure you don’t let yourself wonder why all these records are happening at once: why we’ve had unprecedented megafloods from Australia to Pakistan in the last year. Why it’s just now that the Arctic has melted for the first time in thousands of years. Focus on the immediate casualties, watch the videotape from the store cameras as the shelves are blown over. Look at the anchorman up to the chest of his waders in the rising river.

            1. the drought is worse than the Dust Bowl.


              fires that have burned more of America by this date than any year in our history.


              Tuscaloosa, or the enormous outbreak a couple of weeks before that?together they comprised the most active April for tornadoes in our history.


              Climate is changing so rapidly that scientists can see major changes in vegetation in a geological blink of an eye.


              1. For as much as we believe in technology more than any other religion, technology is flat out not going to get us out of this mess.

                YOU CAN SEE THE FUTURE!? Cool story bro.

                In the last 2 years, a mere 42 million Asians have been displaced due to unusually severe weather.

                This has nothing to do with there being MORE ASIANS THAN EVER BEFORE IN THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF THE WORLD?

                1. technology is flat out not going to get us out of this mess.

                  Of course it won’t.

                  Because this is not a ‘technical’ problem.

                  It is a crisis of faith and like all crisis of faith only religious devotion will cure it.

              2. Citations here:


                1. blog whore

                2. lol, nice link to a blog for a citation.

                  1. The blog contains links to the stories of extreme climate and weather events.

                    1. The blog contains links to the stories of extreme climate and weather events.

                      Exactly. Stories.

            2. You are aware that it was unusually warm in the northeast U.S., but not the globe as a whole, right?

              1. Which is why I pointed to other extreme weather and climate events from around the world.

                But keep repeating your comforting mantra that climate change doesn’t exist! It’s so much easier than looking at the evidence.

                1. Of course climate change exists, nit wit, we’ve had many cycles of ice age and inter glacial warm periods (even warmer than current) many times. The dispute is that you claim the current warming is entirely man-caused, and not just a part of the natural cycle, and have failed to prove your contention as the actual climate has stubbornly refused to follow the predictions of your models.

                  1. True, except for the thousands of scientific papers suggesting that climate change is human-caused and the zero scientific papers suggesting climate change isn’t happening.

                    1. Science doesn’t prove negatives and suggesting (as well as consensus) isn’t science.

                    2. Holy texts

                      He has holy texts you heathens.

                      Believe and repent before Gaia smites you.

                    3. I guess you’re just gonna toss those climate models, that haven’t predicted dick, out the window?

                      Science is NOT consensus.

                      And the fact that you have to blame humans tells me everything I need to know about you.

                    4. “the zero scientific papers suggesting climate change isn’t happening.”

                      No one thinks that climate change is not happening (well maybe some idiots). Climate always changes.
                      Even if everything you suggest is true, so what? It’s still pleasant to have warm weather in March. And there is nothing you or I can do about it. You really think that a bunch of rich Americans being “aware” and buying Priuses is going to stop the third world from developing? Even if the US and Europe stopped burning stuff right now, the rest of the world woudl still burn up as much oil as they can. If technology isn’t going to solve the problem, then nothing is. So you might as well enjoy it as much as you can.

              1. I wish I had kept the article, but a scientist from The Ohio State University came to the conclusion that humans add 4% to the total of greenhouse gases.

      2. 1. Climate change is leading to the rapid proliferation of bark beetles, destroying ecosystems, possibly dooming some species to extinction, and severely threatening the North American forestry industry..

        Amazing. First we’re told species will go extinct because of climate change, and then we’re told that we’ll be overwhelmed by one particular species due to climate change.

        Which is it?

        1. Which is it?

          Whichever one seems to best advance teh narrative, of course.

        2. All of it. Hot and cold simultaneously.

        3. Look it’s just…like…bad okay? Now gimmie your fuckin’ money!

          1. Exactly. The leap to taxation as a ‘cure’ for whatever problem currently occupies the twisted panties exposes the real motivations behind this activism.

        4. I don’t think you have to choose one of those. Some species might go extinct and some might proliferate.

          Look, whether or not climate change is primarily a result of human action at the moment, it is something that happens and it can have negative results for people in places (of course it can also have positive results, which people like to ignore). It’s dumb to pretend that we are going to “fix” climate by regulating what people do, but it is equally dumb to pretend that it cannot cause problems that will have to be dealt with. The bark beetles, for example, are a big fucking deal for many ecosystems and local economies, whatever the reasons for their expansion and proliferation.

        5. Many outside groups became involved in the dispute, such as the lumber industry (which supported intervention because of possible profit to be made), or some local politicians, afraid that tourists would turn back from a forest decayed after a beetle invasion. The anti-intervention side got support from entomologists from the Czech Academy of Sciences and from several environmental organizations, such as Friends of the Earth. At the height of the dispute, there were cases where activists literally defended the trees with their bodies, tying themselves to the trunks, and the dispute was widely covered in the main Czech daily newspapers and on TV news.

          As usual, “enviromentalists” are completely nuts, and anything they say is not to be trusted.

    2. IRS = Climate

      I see it now. It’s climate overreach.

      1. Uh, yeah. Where’ve you been? Climate change (which man has definately caused… this time) which will without a doubt lead to catastrophy in 30 years (when we said that 30 years ago we were only kidding) can only be averted with extremist taxation policy. The science is settled, damit!

    3. Wow, you know someone who was alive 100,000 years ago? Did Jesus really ride on dinosaurs?

      1. Yes, but side-saddle. Because His dick was just that big.

        1. Made me laugh, you bastard.

          1. it’s mental images like that one that make me wish I could draw well.

            WDWJR: what dinosaur would jesus ride?

              1. but there is no laser on the T-rex head

        2. So you are saying that the brontosaurus might not have actually had a long tail?

          That what paleontologists thought were tail marks left in mud by bronto tails was really just JC’s hawg dragging?

    4. Climate Change happens. Don’t be a dick.
      The real problem is you can’t prove that the cure is not worse than the disease.

      1. That is a nice, concise way to put it.

    5. I dare suggest you have confused weather with “climate” to fit your narrative – which conviently can be solved by massive government / anti-business intervention.

      You seemed to be ignoring the weather in Europe. How many people have to die of hypothermia before you notice?…..sts_Europe

      1. Hypothermia = climate change.

        More rain = climate change.

        Less rain = climate change.

        hotter weather = climate change.

        Did you see the word “warming” anywhere in there? Exactly. Get with the program. We didn’t switch the term to “climate change” by accident.

    6. The real question here is: what is the IRS going to do about it?

      1. Obviously – suppressing economic activity so we use less fossil fuels.

        1. It will also reduce childhood obesity rates.

    7. the warmest March in over 100,000 years

      Did Hanson discover some lost temperature records?

      1. Yes, but nobody can ask for it because he would have to kill them once they’ve seen the records.

  5. Never will I use H&R Block, I will advise customers away from them for as long as I live.

  6. They are directed by congress. Congress comes up with a budget (when they get their shit together long enough to actually make one) and then leave the IRS to figure out to raise the money.

    This is a win-win towards that goal.
    1. Make the law so damn complex you have to hire a specialist to figure out what you owe.
    2. Tax the specialist not only via income but extra special fees.
    3. Make hiring a specialist so expensive people just take the standard deductions and leave more of their hard-earned money in the treasury.

    1. Umm, no. Congress writes the tax laws, not the IRS. The IRS isn’t left to figure out how to raise the money. You can put the fault for its complexity squarely on Congress.

      1. Congress writes the tax laws, not the IRS. The IRS isn’t left to figure out how to raise the money.


  7. Tax preparation caters to the 1%. If you’re in the 99% and don’t have stocks and bonds and portfolios and corporate dividends and CDs and money markets and payrolls you just file your 1040ez and you’re done. If you don’t like having complicated taxes, don’t be a fatcat. Plain and simple.

    I’d like to see those corporate fatcats do their own taxes. Maybe they’d have less time to play games with our economy.

    1. As someone who owns a small business and has complicated taxes, I say heartily “Fuck You”

      1. you damn Small Business FatCat. *shaken fist*

    2. Those corporate fatcats like Warren Buffet who have been fighting the IRS for years and owes a billion dollars in back taxes? Or those corporate fatcats like Tim Geithner and the other members of Obama’s cabinet that were behind on their taxes?

      I’m not a fatcat by any stretch of the imagination. I may have to work overseas this year. Our tax code is so fucked I will need the help of a preparer to make sure I file correctly because unlike those assclowns, I won’t get offered a cabinet level position to have it swept under a rug. In short: Fuck you mustard.

      1. Designate, take your family with you and expat yourselves – you will be far better off doing what you can to distance yourself from the reach of the revenue ruffians and their mass murdering pals in the CIA, FBI, Pentagon, NSA et al.

        1. There is no one in the world who is safe from the grip of the cia, nsa and pentagon.

        2. Whinertarians will never find anyplace they have nothing to complain about. Maybe Somalia.

          1. And your 12:31 pm post is not whining?

            Screaming for campaign finance reform is not whining?

            1. Take that Orwellian crap somewhere else.

              1. You obviously have no clue what the term Orwellian means.

              2. Thanks for the tip, Big Brother.

                1. Oh, mustard knows what Orwellian means… he is, after all, a Team Blue fellator.

          2. Whinertarians? Wow. That’s almost as good as… Fibertarians.

            1. I’d prefer Winertarians, since that implies a certain level of class befitting to the top-hatted and monocled denizens of Libertopia.

              Of course, then there’s the issue of that looking kind of like “weinertarians” which might give some people the wrong idea. Or, worse, the right one.

              1. How ya doin’?

              2. Tequilatarian?

          3. Go the fuck back into exile, mustard.

          4. “Somalia.”
            It’s comforting to know that statists in the U.S. have in common with statists in Canada – and probably everywhere – the Statists Guidebook to Nonsensical Arguments, wherein Chapter 1, Line 1 reads: “When getting into with with libertarians, ust mention Somalia. That’ll teach ’em.”
            You statist douchebag don’t even recognize your own tired cliches when you spout them.
            I hope you die.

      2. Buffett doesn’t owe back taxes. Its a wingnut lie.

        Berkshire put a note in their 10-K that they have a dispute with the IRS without specifying the amount. Some wingnut blogger guessed at the amount and the rumor did the wingnut blog rounds.

        1. also, christfag

        2. Buffet is a fat cat who is playing games with our economy he needs to pay his fair share.

          1. What is his fair share?

            He paid 16% on $62 million of income last year.

            1. He has much too much money and needs to pay so that children can go to school and hospitals do not shut down.

              1. Could we educate children in hospitals? Think of the savings! And we’d be turning out more doctors, too!

            2. Well, since he wants the rest of us to pay a higher rate than 16%, I think he should pay at least the top marginal rate (34%, I think?).

              Also, christfag.

            3. Gotta be a shrike spoof. Real shrike would bitch about… oh, wait, real shrike LOVES Buffett.

            4. He paid 16% on $62 million of income last year.

              According to some of the 99 percenters, that surely is not enough.

          2. mustard|3.20.12 @ 1:24PM|#
            …”pay his fair share”

            Which will be a number you pulled out of your ass.

          3. Stop spoofing me. I have a rep to uphold.

        3. shrike|3.20.12 @ 1:13PM|#
          “Buffett doesn’t owe back taxes. Its a wingnut lie.”

          Hey, shriek, is the IRS a ‘wingnut’? Is Bloomerg? Or are you a sleaze-bag?
          “Buffett’s NetJets Countersued by U.S. for Unpaid Taxes”

          1. Jordan Hansell is the CEO of NetJets and made the decision to sue the IRS. The IRS sued back and the amount is far less than a billion.

            Pissing contest with the IRS? Berkshire wins them all. They know the tax code better.

            Berkshire owns a big chunk of IBM too. Did Buffett write code for them?

            1. Bring those goal posts right back!

          2. is the IRS a ‘wingnut’?

            *serious consideration*

        4. Wait, which part is the wingnut lie? The back taxes or the billion dollars?


          Is that not right wing enough for you?

          Oh, and thanks for the christfag, it made me lol.

          1. HuffPo sourced Murdoch?

            They both suck on financial news.

            1. That’s just the first link I found. Granted the 1 billion dollars does sound pretty inflated. But come on, you can admit that Berkshire at least did (as of last year) owe back taxes.

    3. The vast majority of the “fat cats” give money to your politicians, the ones that spout your equality and 99% bullshit. They are the ones that benefit the most from the never ending rules, small businesses suffer the most.

      1. If we had realistic campaing finance reform in this country the fatcats wouldn’t be able to buoy politicians and that wouldn’t be a problem.

        1. How about reducing the siZe and scope of gobmint?

          1. So then we can take our orders from the corporations? No thanks. Corporate officials aren’t even subject to elections.

            1. Logic fail?

              How would we be taking orders from the corporations if the size and scope of gobmint is reduced?

              No rent seeking / No coercion to play ball with big pharma or big war or big oil.

            2. “Corporate officials aren’t even subject to elections.”

              You’re right; they just get fired.

              1. Yeah, I’d hate to be forced to buy Nike shoes instead of Adidas or Puma or Converse or on and on and on. Fucking mustard is a fucking statist. Fuck him and all those like him.

              2. And leave with a stack of dough.

            3. I love that people like you envision a future where corporations have somehow seized all the guns and force you to live the way they want.

              1. It is pretty funny.

                1. I am such a cunt.

            4. Corporate officials are subject to being voted in or our by their stockholders of, well, the corporation.

              Will mustard admit that he’s 100% dead wrong on everything?

            5. Yes, they are, actually. Well, the Board is. More of a Parliamentary system.

        2. Yes and if only we had the right laws, husbands would not cheat on their wives and people would not take drugs.

          What you really want is that your enemies cannot give money to politicians, because the fact is that your man has received more money from fat cats than anyone in history, I highly doubt you are against him getting all that money.

        3. If we had realistic campaing finance reform in this country the fatcats wouldn’t be able to buoy politicians and that wouldn’t be a problem.

          Because the problem of the oligarchy of wealth capturing the levers of government only arises in democracies without government-controlled campaigns.

        4. mustard|3.20.12 @ 1:00PM|#
          “If we had realistic campaing finance reform in this country…”

          Uh, somehow I’d bet mustard thinks only he and dumbshits like him should be able to ‘contribute’.

        5. If we had realistic campaing finance reform in this country the fatcats wouldn’t be able to buoy politicians…

          Fat cats are dumping politicians in the ocean and tethering them to eternally float in place?

          Cool, sound like we need more fat cats.

          Way more.

    4. “If you don’t like having complicated taxes, don’t be a fatcat. Plain and simple.”

      Serfs have it easy.

      1. aside from the toiling, yeah, Easy Street.

    5. Take your 1% shit and shove it. I’m far from rich, but gave up doing my own taxes years ago.

    6. If you’re in the 99% and don’t have stocks and bonds and portfolios and corporate dividends and CDs and money markets and payrolls you just file your 1040ez

      A very small percentage of the 99% fill out 1040ezs. Otherwise, the 99% wouldn’t be bitching about housing prices, you know, dropping.

      Or wait, did the 99% just figure out some crazy tax loophole to only fill out an EZ while owning a home that’s underwater?

      Fuck you sideways.

      1. I have never been able to use 1040ez. And I am most definitely not rich.

    7. I’d like to see Congress, Obama, the Supremes, and all Treasury Department employees do their own taxes. Maybe they’d have less time to fuck up the economy.

      1. Taxes are for little people. So little, they’re only 1%.

    8. Yeah, those corporate fat cats are hiring small, independent accountants to do their taxes. Fuck off.

    9. You are SO freakin’ wrong. The people with the greatest need for a tax preparer are the poor. I make less than 100K – if I make a mistake on my return, I’m only liable for interest and penalties on around 20 to 25% of my error. I’m unlikely to face a problem bigger than 10% of my annual income, unless I’m a complete moron. Joe Minimum wage, who is raising his cousin’s kids can get into a bind that will cost him half a year’s pay easily. There are many dollars for the family making under the low 30’s, but the rules are complex, poorly understood and damnably arbitrary. Unfortunately, the people who qualify for these programs either need to take a tax course or get help.

      1. The people with the greatest need for a tax preparer are the poor.

        but the rules are complex, poorly understood and damnably arbitrary.

        And that’s why the IRS doesn’t like people to use tax professionals for their preparation. It’s easier to intimidate poor people without professional help.

    10. My wife and I had $29k of taxable income last year and also spent thousands and thousands of dollars on lawyers and accountants for tax prep.

      Try running a small business sometime. The amount of accounting and filings that have to be done once you have employees, capital assets, and gross revenues over the six figure mark is insane. Oh, and the penalties if you screw up can be hundreds of thousands of dollars (TFRP) or jail.

    11. Bullshit. What about people for whom English is not their first language, those who have lots of charitable contributions, people who are self-employed cleaning houses for extra income, people who are just plain bad at math, those with no internet access, or first-generation college students who are unaware of the deductions for educational expenses?

  8. So you’re saying that H&R Block is a big contributor to Obama?

    1. No, they’re a big contributor to the tax code.

  9. CPAs won’t have to obey the new rules [which include mandated special tests and annual continuing education]. Neither will lawyers [or] tax preparers who are supervised by CPAs, or “enrolled agents”

    But IRS agents themselves will have to obey the new rules, right? Right?

  10. Why does a tied-up man have clothes on? Why does Barton Hinkle hate female orgasms?

    1. Females have orgasms? Where have I been?

      1. too busy trying to fill out your tax forms I bet.

        1. Indifferent is my guess.

      2. “Females have orgasms? Where have I been?


      3. In a gay bar.

  11. They must’ve found lead in the unlicensed tax preparers imported from China.

  12. It looks like I’ll have to do my mom’s taxes for free, now.

  13. More “rules” means more “jobs” at the IRS and that means the “middle” managers and top level managers are “worth more money” because they have so much more “work” with all the “new” people “under them”

    Time to pull the plug

    1. More testicles means more iron.

  14. Another reason election day should be moved to the first Tuesday after April 15.

    1. This.
      Here’s another proposal. Every workday two random IRS agents should have to compute the taxes of a sample case. If they do not come up with exactly the same bottom line, both should be fired.

      1. And, no cheating!

        1. Shut up Turbo!

      2. But then every single IRS agent would be fir…oooohhhh, I see what you did there.

    2. 51% of Americans don’t pay income tax, and many of the remainder get their refund (aka “free govt money” in idiotspeak) around that time.

      1. They are the 99%!11!

  15. Accountants for the accountants, attorneys for the attorneys. Jobs program!

  16. People, people, please. The IRS won’t have time to enforce this. Let me make it perfectly clear: The IRS is going to be tied up for the next year or two going over GE’s taxes with a fine toothed comb.

  17. Free tax preparation with every $1500 palm reading.

    1. “Palm readers, tarot dealers, diviners, and any other psychic practitioners must obtain proper license and meet specific continuing education requirements, after paying the ‘fuck you, that’s why’ fee.”

  18. Note that this is another reason we will never simplify the tax code in this country…there are too many entrenched interests which depend on having it be complicated. H&R Block, J Hewitt, plus all the tax attorneys and even charitable organizations all would have to find honest work if we ever had a flat tax.

    1. a better idea is just to get rid of the taxes

  19. I have a bit of a problem with the reporting in this story. First off, CPAs absolutely do have to pay the preparer fees (for PTIN renewals), as well as the the preparers that are supervised by CPAs (for PTINs where they weren’t previously required to have them). Second, the CPA licensing exam makes the preparer’s exam redundant for them. Third, in order for CPAs to keep their license they already have to take CPE – more CPE hours than the IRS’ requirements.

    So if what you mean by exempt is already subject to stricter requirements by their home states and professional organizations, then you may be right.

    I don’t know any professionals who like the requirements. It’s a money and a power grab, and everyone knows it.

    1. You are correct that anyone who prepares taxes for compensation has to obtain a PTIN and pay the PTIN fee, but the PTIN regs are not the same as the new licensing regulations being discussed in the article that are being challenged in the lawsuit.

      The licensing regs for “registered tax return preparers” (RTRPs) are what’s at issue, and CPAs are exempt from those requirements. In addition, CPAs (as well as attorneys and enrolled agents) got a special exemption such that anyone they supervise at a law firm, CPA firm, or a “recognized firm” is also exempt from the RTRP licensing requirements. See IRS Notice 2011-6.

    2. Also, while the CPA exam is apparentely quite difficult, it is not focused on testing the same subject matter as the RTRP exam. The RTRP exam is exclusively focused on questions related to preparing 1040 series tax returns, whereas questions on “Federal Taxation of Individuals” only make up only about 15% of the REG exam (1 of the 4 CPA exams). Since they make up a relatively small percentage of the total questions, one need not do particularly well on those questions in order to pass the REG exam.

      As far as CPE goes, CPAs aren’t required to take exclusively tax-related continuing education courses like RTRPs are.

      And, as a practical matter, many CPAs don’t do taxes very much or at all, and instead are focused on corporate audits.

    3. That is not to say that many CPAs aren’t perfectly qualified to prepare tax returns. Many certainly are (as are many preparers who aren’t CPAs, attorneys, or enrolled agents).

      It’s just very peculiar that the IRS claims that these licensing regulations are designed to make sure that everyone who prepares tax returns for compensation is competent to prepare tax returns, but then writes in huge exemptions for all CPAs, all attorneys (who, on average, likely know much less about taxes than CPAs), and even the preparers they supervise.

      It’s almost as though these special exemptions were lobbied for by interest groups for these favored professions, like the American Institute of CPAs…and in fact, they were.

  20. It would be interesting if the IRS required its advisors to jump through the same hoops:
    “IRS Gives Faulty Advice To One In Five Taxpayer Callers”…..le_ID=6237
    Who’s regulating whom? And why?

    1. 1 in 5???? BS – if you get a right answer half the time, you must have just graduated from Hogwarts and have the “make bureaucrats smart” spell down pat!

    2. There are quite a few studies out there showing high error rates among IRS employees in answering a single tax question (as opposed to the number of questions one needs to answer in order to prepare a tax return).

      In one study done by Treasury Department auditors, only 45% of IRS employees at IRS help centers gave a correct & complete answer to a tax question. See

  21. You fags are not capitalists, capitalism is about government making ever more regulations, that is why Soros and Buffet are such successful capitalists, they know what capitalism is about.

    1. The best spoof of me yet.

      1. It is not a spoof if it is identical to what I say all the time.

        1. I am for laws that protect property. Those are the regulations I like.

          I know. I am a fucking socialist on this site for that.

          1. I also support government run health care, nationalizing companies, nationalizing entire industries, public education, ever more financial regulation, higher taxes, welfare for poor people, bailouts for failed companies. But hey that does not make me a socialist I am a capitalist.

            1. All lies, you asshole (except financial regulation).

              1. I am going to pretend that when I said we should copy the European health systems and thus lower costs, that was not really me. Likewise I am going to pretend I did not support GM bailouts. Also I am going to pretend that my support for social security was an evil twin brother.

                1. Now THOSE are entertaining shrikeposts… even the spoofs, which are hard to discern in the immediately-above part of the thread.

                  1. We should get together and trade blowjobs, shrike.

                    1. Hold on, now… not until shrike services me and Soros first.

                    2. Just as soon as we determine the rule for taxing those services!

  22. Something to think about:

    In the highly unlikely event that a principled President who believes in separation of powers is ever elected, he can wipe away any and all agency regulations with a single executive order.

    1. Not really…Bush tried to do that with the Clean Air Act and carbon emissions and it didn’t quite work.

      1. I’m not familiar with that one. Handy linky?

        1. I am. It’s actually pretty complicated, but if you paint with the broadest possible brush and speak in extremely general terms, Tulpa is pretty much, generally, right in his characterization of the deal.

          The President can’t just issue an executive order eliminating all agency regulations – quite often the federal statutes enacted by Congress MANDATE and require the agency to promulgate certain regulations. There are provisions in all of the major environmental statutes allowing citizen suits against the EPA administrator for failing to perform a non-discretionary duty – i.e., for not doing something the law says he or she is required to do. The Sierra Club and other enviro groups know those citizen suit provisions well and use them all the time.

          1. What happens if the President dismisses the EPA administrator and doesn’t appoint another one?

            I’m pretty sure lawsuits can’t be brought against the President or his office for failure to execute the laws; that’s Congress’s sole jurisdiction.

            1. Ummm…what? The President is the head of the executive branch, whose job is to execute the laws of the United States.

    2. In the highly unlikely event that a principled President who believes in separation of powers is ever elected, he can wipe away any and all agency regulations with a single executive order.

      And he can also be assasinated. The blowback from that would be so massive, that some Earth Firster would pop a spring somehwere and kill him.

    3. You’re one of those Tenth Amendment terrorist, aren’t you, Dean?

      On the shit list you go!

      1. …thats not funny

  23. I’m a CPA with a small tax practice (probably 15 or so clients) but I already have to do continuing education etc for my CPA. Not sure why it’s a big deal to hold everyone else to the same standard.

    1. Because your guild makes you, everyone else should have to?

      1. Actually CA state law requires it.

    2. Because they’re not claiming to be CPAs?

      1. I must admit that is a sound argument phrased as a question.

        Point won.

        1. EA’s have to do it too.

    3. I’ll bet you do FASB updates as well. When the Statement of Change requirements came out in the late 80s I saw CPAs bewildered on that one.

    4. Because fuck you, that’s why. If your credentials aren’t enough to attract clients, that’s your problem. When you get the government to outlaw your competition, you’re an asshole.


  24. I just want these guys to send me a bill. If I don’t get a bill, I don’t know what I owe and I don’t know where to send it if I did.

  25. @RC Dean : Unfortunately, such a principled president would most likely not believe in such presidential autonomy.

    1. @RC Dean : Unfortunately, such a principled president would most likely not believe in such presidential autonomy.

      Eliminating laws which were not passed by a representative government gets a full pass. A full pass.

      If the Congress wants to involve itself after said executive order, let them do so. A government of the people, by the people and for the people, not a government of bureaucrats, by bureaucrats and for bureacrats.

      End Bureaucratic personhood now! It destroys democracy!

    2. Federal regulations are adopted by administrative agencies in the executive branch. They are executive action, can be changed or repealed by the agency.

      If the agency can repeal a regulation, why can’t the President?

      1. Again, though, the agencies don’t just pass regulations here and there on a whim because they feel like or want to or think it’s a good thing. They do it either because it is expressly (or in some cases, impliedly) authorized by statute or within the scope of their powers as necessary in fulfilling a statutory obligation – or in some cases, regulations are specifically required by Congress. Congress just leaves it up to the agency to develop the administrative details of how it will work, but sets forth requirements that the regulations much acheive. If the agency does not promulgate the required regulations, executive order notwithstanding, the agency will get sued – and EPA has been sued just like that and has lost.

  26. I think it’s reprehensible that there are still any jobs out there that don’t require licenses, fees, and continuing education.

    Janitors, fry cooks, register jockeys, all out there with the potential to cause massive harm to consumers due to their negligence.


    1. I’m sooooo wet after that post, wylie.

  27. while the Occupy movement and other social movements are challenging many of anti-democratic and anti-intellectual forces, the most effective form of protest is to limit the amount of money you give the government.
    this tax season we can all play a decisive role in the occupy movement.
    occupy the irs!

  28. Reuters has a story up about how the IRS is assembling a “SWAT team” to go after corporations over foreign revenues. How dare they set transfer prices between divisions in such a way as to not maximize accounting profit in their American operations!

  29. Someone certainly did ask them to do it, and that would be the CPAs and the big franchised tax-preparation vendors who stand to gain from having their smaller competitors squashed like bugs.

    This is just like any other regulation, its purpose is to raise barriers to competition.


  30. “And you know that while corporate profits have come roaring back, smaller companies haven’t.” Perhaps he should pause to ask himself why.”
    They don’t have the money for bribes, like GE.

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