Congress never gave the IRS the authority to license tax preparers, and the IRS can't give itself that power.
But last year the IRS imposed a sweeping new licensing scheme that forces tax preparers to get IRS permission before they can work. This is an unlawful power grab that exceeds the authority granted to the IRS by Congress.
The burden of compliance will fall most heavily on independent tax return preparers and small businesses. Unsurprisingly, big firms such as H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt support the licensing scheme. As The Wall Street Journal explained: "Cheering the new regulations are big tax preparers like H&R Block, who are only too happy to see the feds swoop in to put their mom-and-pop seasonal competitors out of business."
These regulations are typical government protectionism. They benefit powerful industry insiders and at the expense of entrepreneurs and consumers, who will likely have fewer options and face higher prices. But tax preparers have a right to earn an honest living without getting permission from the IRS. And taxpayers—not the IRS—should be the ones who decide who prepares their taxes.
That is why on March 13, 2012, three independent tax preparers joined the Institute for Justice in filing suit against the IRS in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. This lawsuit challenges the IRS's statutory authority to impose this licensing scheme, and seeks to overturn regulations that would affect an estimated 350,000 tax return preparers, forcing many of them to stop working in the occupation of their choice.