The Guardians of the New Internal Revenue Code

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Douglas C. Michael


The proliferation of electronic filing (e-filing) of income tax returns creates new problems and opportunities for the regulation of the tax return preparation industry. Now that e-filing is universal, the rules of the law are, for many taxpayers, the code of the tax software, not in the Internal Revenue Code. The natural consequences of universal e-filing are unremitting complexity in a tax code which is also used to deliver social benefits in the form of tax credits. This, combined with the political pariah status of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), makes it imperative that the IRS work with the tax return preparers to ensure that their products are safe and accurate. More importantly, the existence of such an industry creates great opportunities for the IRS to leverage its relationship with this private sector group to improve the tax return filing experience for many taxpayers. The existing voluntary relationship between the IRS and the industry is likely no longer viable, but this article provides the blueprint for government-supervised self-regulation which can solve the problems with the new code.

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