Stop Tax Preparer 'Pros' From Swindling the Poor
Too many fraudsters are exploiting poor clients, writes Alex Levy
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 8, 2014 11:59 AM CDT

(Newser) – Unethical tax preparers are getting rich preying on poor people in the US, and it's time Congress did something about it, writes NYU law student Alex Levy in the New York Times. Just four states—Oregon, California, New York, and Maryland—currently regulate preparers, meaning pretty much anyone can hang out a shingle and declare himself to be an expert. And too many are doing just that in low-income neighborhoods, the better to swoop in and take a big chunk from any money their clients are getting back. Considering that many such clients qualify for the earned-income tax credit, the results are devastating.

It's time for national regulations, argues Levy. Small-government activists led by the Koch brothers have successfully kept such rules from materializing, but Levy sees this one as a political no-brainer. "Republicans have long been tough on fraud in the earned-income tax credit program," he writes. "And Democrats should stand up for vulnerable families victimized by tax preparers." Cracking down on fraudulent tax preparers would help both causes. Maybe we'll get a simplified tax code some day, concludes Levy, but until then, "Congress must act to protect low-income Americans from swindlers posing as tax professionals." Click for his full column.

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Showing 3 of 17 comments
Chris Farley
Apr 10, 2014 7:00 AM CDT
And notice the people are not complaining. When you pay 2G in taxes, but are getting a 8G return, you dont care about the 300 dollar fee or the crazy high interest rate on the one day return. We could look at why taxes are a windfall for some and one of the highest bills for others.
Apr 9, 2014 10:46 AM CDT
Did my taxes this year with two different online services, one which coast about $80 for federal and state, the other about $22 for both. Got the same result. Then I took advantage of the "free" income tax review from one of the major preparers, and guess what? They all came up with the same amount! And they all pretty much asked the same questions.
Apr 8, 2014 10:16 PM CDT
The same happens when I go to the Food Bank with farm surplus...many of the poor folks there don't know how to cook, so fresh food means little to them. Poor folks should be able to fill out their own taxes, given how high the levels are for not filing. (Although those workers that already have had too much withheld need to file to get their own money back...I swear many of those use it as the only savings plan that they have.)