After two court defeats, the IRS is still at it. A federal judge in D.C. said it couldn’t license tax preparers . The D.C. Circuit said it couldn’t license tax preparers . Now the agency is going to Congress and saying: let us license tax preparers .

You don’t need anyone’s permission to do your own taxes. I just did mine. But the IRS is trying to make sure you need the IRS’s permission to make a living preparing other people’s taxes. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen made the case to the Senate Finance Commission this week.

Koskinen argued that oversight would ensure that preparers provided good service. And committee Chairman Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, pointed out that some tax preparers commit typos—or even fraud . But crimes and mistakes are possible in all sorts of productive activities, and that doesn’t mean you should need the government’s permission to make a living. And if Congress really wants accurate tax returns, there’s no solution but to make the tax code simpler.

The courts’ decisions can't stop Congress from giving the IRS the power to license tax preparers: the courts only ruled that existing laws did not already give it that power. Congress could give it that power in a new law.

What could stop Congress from giving the IRS the power to license tax preparers? In the long run, the same thing that can protect hair stylists , dairy farmers , and transportation providers : a culture that affirms everyone’s right to live, and to make a living, without having to get the government’s permission.



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