Dueling Jingos (Squeal Lahk Ah Pig!)

Wow. I guess staying up doing his taxes was just too much for Matt Yglesias’ brain, as he unleashes one of the most idiotic rants evah!

A couple weeks ago, Paul Jacob, The World’s Dumbest Felon™ came to EXACTLY the same paranoid conclusion about what’s happening in the world of taxes, although from Jacob, who, when not busy trying to pass stealth laws in states he doesn’t live in, holds up the Ayn Rand banner of ME!ME!ME! and SCREW YOU! YOU! YOU!

Evidently Yglesias managed to buy the same brand of Koolaid at the supermarket. Seriously.

Idiocy first; explanation after.

Yglesias on  SLATE:

From an ideologue’s perspective, it makes perfect sense. But for you, the next time you find yourself struggling with IRS forms, remember that it’s big business aligned with anti-tax conservatives, not the government, that are causing you the pain.

Really?

Paul Jacob on his unintentionally-ironic Common Sense blog/radio show/whatever media thing:

These plaintiffs are suing the IRS because that bureau of plunderers has ruled that Ms. Loving and Mr. Killian — who provide tax preparation services — must be regulated and schooled and certified by the IRS itself. The IRS says that these independent tax preparers (independent in that they are not part of big businesses) can’t just offer their services on the market, they must undergo an expensive annual education and certification process.

The overreach part is that the IRS has no statutory authority to regulate these businesses. Congress rejected precisely such regulation back in 2008. So the clever kleptocrats now argue that a pre-IRS law hailing from way back in 1884 authorizes their regulatory powers…

Rereading them, I get this feeling that Yglesias cribbed some of his outrage from Jacob. The blind leading the blind in this case.

Jacob in a recent mugshot

You see, tax preparation is the last profession in America where you can just hang out a shingle and make whatever cash you want.

And tax-preparer fraud is a long litany of abuses. Let me give you some:

There’s nothing to stop the tax company from coming to your town, taking all your personal information, having you sign an “automatic deposit” statement, putting their bank account number into it and skipping town with all your records and personal data (which they then sell to identity thieves).

When you don’t receive the refund, you call the IRS. Eventually, you get through. They tell you that it was deposited weeks ago.

You go to your tax preparer. The shop is vacant, the window shuttered, the trailer gone, or a nice lady tells you about their lunch special … in the restaurant that’s gone in since April 15.

That’s right. They’re long gone.

And it’s happened and while you can pursue criminal charges, etc. nothing much will come of it. And then, your credit card bill arrives.

Too late for Life-Lok™.

There is no requirement that, even IF the preparer is honest, they be accurate. You signed that away when you signed the waiver taking responsibility and that you’d read the return prepared.

Oh, and all the tax records and receipts you gave them? They’ve long since been dumped (minus the valuable stuff, like all your account numbers) into a land-fill just outside of town.

THAT is the problem that the IRS is addressing with their new licensure program.

They’ve tried to do this for years, but powerful forces in Congress block it, for a variety of idiotic reasons.

Tax preparer fraud is real, and it’s a big problem (especially if that taxpayer is YOU). H&R Block and others only actually use their office space three and a half months a year, although they’ll keep the lease if they’re in a good high-traffic area. Many of the big ones are filled with seasonal workers who have to, at least, have passed the COMPANY exam on tax preparation, but may not have worked before and may not ever work in taxes again.

Now, like in any profession, there are a multiplicity of good preparers and honest, long-standing local businesses for every one fraudulent preparer. But the recourse is very minimal if you happen to get screwed. You can’t get a massage many places nowadays without the massage therapist having a certification credential on the wall. But any yokel can say they’re a tax preparer.

I understand the whole regulation scheme from the inside: you see, I’m an Oregon Licensed Tax Preparer.

I am required to pass a three-hour competency test (administered in an unused county fair building that’s REALLY cold and drafty when it’s raining and gusting outside, at least in my personal experience) and then to have 30 hours a year of continuing professional education.* We’re the only state that does that.

[*There are other ethics, record keeping etc. rules, but, again, I'm speaking in general terms.]

And we’ve been doing it for decades now, using a board and state resources ENTIRELY paid for by license fees, without costing the taxpayers of the state a red penny from the budget.

(A couple of other states license, as in you pay a fee for a license to go on your shingle, and one recently adopted the Oregon model, so please understand that I’m generalizing here.)

And the IRS became interested in that model when they noticed that we had the fewest mistakes and audits in the USA.

This was some legislature’s bill, and is what you call the best of democracy in action. Win-win-win.

Guarding our liberty

My wife has attended at least one forum in Washington, D.C. as the IRS shaped this policy, and, while the national regulatory and testing program is a very dumbed-down version of the Oregon model, it began from the Oregon model.

Naturally, in the new scheme, we don’t get “grandfathered in” because, of course, the same old eternal administrative madness rules that ruled when a boy I knew had his gym shoes stolen from his locker, and, when after the obligatory football coach/gym teacher rant, no one stepped forward, EVERYBODY had to run laps as punishment.

Including the kid whose sneakers were stolen, because “I can’t make an exception, because the rules have to apply to everybody.”

And, we’re a little state, and what would Faux Nooz™ do if it was found out that Oregon (GASP!) didn’t have to take that HORRIBLE AWFUL NEW TEST that is, in the words of our dueling jingos:

Who Wants Taxes To Be More Complicated?

An unholy alliance of tax prep firms and conservative activists, that’s who.
By Matthew Yglesias|Posted Monday, April 16, 2012, at 4:50 PM ET

… for the vast majority of the population, most of the pain of tax compliance could be eliminated by a few keystrokes at IRS headquarters.

So why don’t we do it?

Two reasons[:] One is lobbying by the tax preparation industry to discourage states and the feds from developing easier tax-paying systems, as California recently did.

The second is lobbying by anti-tax conservatives. When the Golden State implemented its ReadyReturn system, it did so over the objections of Grover Norquist and his anti-tax pressure group Americans for Tax Reform, which fears that if taxes become less annoying voters might be less unhappy about paying them.

After all, if the government did something to make your life easier it would be harder to tout the difficulty of tax compliance as a reason to abolish the progressive rate structure.

From an ideologue’s perspective, it makes perfect sense. But for you, the next time you find yourself struggling with IRS forms, remember that it’s big business aligned with anti-tax conservatives, not the government, that are causing you the pain.

Er, less paranoia and more research, dude.

Ah. And here’s mom and pop being harassed by the EVIL FEDERAL GOVERNMENT:

March 22, 2012

IRS Overreach

[by Paul Jacob] 

The taxman puts his hands in our pockets. But it’s one thing to reach into our bank accounts and take our money, it is quite another when governments engage in different kind of overreach, where they go beyond the rule of law and just start pushing people around.

Take the case of Sabina Loving and Elmer Killian.

The Institute for Justice has.

These plaintiffs are suing the IRS because that bureau of plunderers has ruled that Ms. Loving and Mr. Killian — who provide tax preparation services — must be regulated and schooled and certified by the IRS itself. The IRS says that these independent tax preparers (independent in that they are not part of big businesses) can’t just offer their services on the market, they must undergo an expensive annual education and certification process.

[...]

“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,” writes A. Barton Hinkle in Reason magazine, “for the same reason big tobacco companies go after roll-your-own smoke shops: It’s in their interest to stifle low-cost competitors.”

Like Ms. Loving and Mr. Killian.

As we prepare our tax returns in the next several weeks leading up to April’s filing day, perhaps we should burn a little incense along with our midnight oil in support of the plaintiffs and the Institute for Justice. For, really, they are fighting for us, too — eternal vigilance and all.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Well, they’re reading from the same playbook, at least.

Or eating from the same bowl of crazy salad:

Paranoid delusions about BIG BUSINESS and BIG GOVERNMENT colluding to keep YOU, Mr. and Mrs. America from entering the lucrative and rewarding business of TAX PREPARATION, and enjoying cruises in the Bahamas after having only worked THREE AND HALF WINTER MONTHS a year … my ghod, what is happening to our FREEDOM??!?

Well, we seem to have lost it … or, instead, perhaps, our minds.

It’s to protect YOU, Mr. and Ms. Taxpayer! Who in their right mind WOULDN’T want some regulation in a field that requires our most delicate personal financial information? You wouldn’t bank with anybody that was this unregulated and potentially unscrupulous. But it’s all a PLOT to keep big TAX and big GOVERNMENT sucking the juices from your veins?

I dunno. They’re big-time media hotshots. And me?

I’m just some schmuck who actually DOES the work and walks the walk, and this is just my FOREVER’s worth.

As for the “complexity” versus “simplicity” model, please see this week’s “So How Come the Tax Code is so “Unfair”?” 11 April 2012

Courage.

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2 responses to “Dueling Jingos (Squeal Lahk Ah Pig!)

  1. This is my eighth year preparing tax returns. This season has been the highest in terms of IRS rejections because “Primary TIN has already been used on another tax return”. All of them claimed they had not filed before (“claimed” is important. A few eventually admitted they went for those holiday Refund Anticipation Loans in December.)

    • Thanks xulon. There are an awful lot of scams out there, and even here, with a full-time investigator, several people set up shop and manage various frauds every year.