I have long been a proponent of smaller and simpler government. While I don’t self-identify as a Libertarian, I do lean that way. So it is with some sheepishness and reluctance that I have to say I agree with one area in which Big Brother is increasing it’s oversight and control: regulating tax preparers.
Anyone can prepare taxes and anyone can be paid to prepare taxes. Prior to this year there have no restrictions or requirements placed on unenrolled tax preparers (those that aren’t CPAs or Enrolled Agents). Starting this year, however, unenrolled preparers will be required to pass competency tests and to register for a PTIN (Preparer Tax Identification Number) with the IRS. They will also be required to pay a $64.25 for the privilege of acquiring this new identification number.

You may ask, “Isn’t this the same as states and municipalities requiring people to register to be a barber or requiring the cute kids to have a permit for their lemonade stand?” Yes and no. It’s similar in that the government is grabbing more control and money. It’s different in that the tax code is far more complex than lemonade stands and barber shops. Because of this complexity it makes sense that there be some standard for return preparers. After all, not just anyone can practice law (or remove lead paint).

The bottom line: the government has created an extremely complex tax code and is now telling us that because they have made it so complex, we now have to register and pay for the right to competently interpret it. It makes me uneasy, but it needs to be done.

Barber shops, however, that is entirely different and….never mind…..I’ll save that for another post.