In 2011, the IRS began regulating non-attorney, non-CPA tax-return preparers. New regulations require them to pass an exam, pay an annual fee, and take fifteen hours of continuing-education courses each year. The new rules threaten to drive many preparers out of business, and raise costs to others.
The IRS has only one small obstacle to implementing these new rules – the U.S. Constitution. Congress has never given the IRS and Treasury authority to regulate tax preparers.
The IRS argued that an 1884 statute gave the requisite authorization when it allowed the IRS to regulate “representatives” who “practice” before it. The court did not agree that tax return preparers are representatives practicing before the IRS, and issued an injunction against the new rules.
The Institute for Justice represented the preparers in this case. Depending on where they are on the political spectrum, many can’t stand the Institute for Justice, while others celebrate their efforts to confront unconstitutional government action.
Loving v. Commissioner, Case No. 12-385, January 18, 2013, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia