Thursday, January 07, 2010

235 years....

A completely ridiculous argument by the Wall Street Journal editorial page (in criticizing new licensing requirements for tax preparers):

The U.S. has survived for 235 years with an unregulated tax prep industry, but the Obama crowd can hardly resist grabbing one more corner of the private economy it doesn't control.

This is complete nonsense, for three reasons:

1. We haven't had the income tax for 235 years; the Sixteenth Amendment legalizing the direct income tax was passed only in 1913.

2. As someone who has done tax preparing before, I can say it is just not true that the industry is unregulated. In California, you must be licensed and bonded before preparing tax returns.

3. "We've survived for 235 years with an unregulated tax industry" is just a horribly illogical argument. The fact a country can survive with something doesn't mean that thing is beneficial. We "survived" for 200+ years with slavery, but I don't think the Journal would argue that it was wrong to abolish slavery. We certainly survived the 1950s with a 91% top tax rate, but I won't hold my breath waiting for the Journal to call for a return to that rate.