The firm fka Andersen Consulting finally got around to announcing their latest gig for Doug Shulman & Co. today, landing the contract to develop the IRS’ return preparer registration (“RPR”) system.
Accenture has done big projects for the IRS in the past but that doesn’t mean they’re any less excited about this particular project:
“The RPR program is really a win-win-win situation in which the IRS will gain the ability to identify and regulate paid tax preparers, tax payers will have better information about tax preparers before selecting one, and tax return professionals will be able to differentiate themselves in this competitive market,” said Lisa M. Mascolo, managing director of Accenture’s U.S. Federal client service group.
If you assume that Accenture is going to make out all right on this deal, then it’s actually a win-win-win-win situation. That would be a quad-win for those of you scoring clichés at home.
Having digested Accenture’s POV on the sitch, we’ll remind you that there are plenty of losers in the IRS’ RPR, as Joe Kristan told us back in January:
When there are winners, there are losers. These include:
Small tax prep shops – A solo practitioner will have to manage the new bureaucracy alone, while his giant competitors will have full-time fixers. When a little guy’s competency exam gets lost by the IRS bureaucracy, he might lose a season’s worth of business; fixers and lobbyists will make sure nothing like that happens to the big boys. And of course the inevitable capture of the IRS bureaucracy by the big players will continue to squeeze the little guys.
Enrolled Agents – Now that the IRS will be creating a new lesser level of licensing, these professionals will have a harder time distinguishing their much higher standards to a confused public.
Consumers – The most obvious result will be an increase in prices, both to pay for the new compliance costs and because the rules will run smaller preparers out of the market. Supporters of the regulations will say that it will be worth it because the new standards will improve quality. That’s a pipe dream. A bozo test and a few hours of CPE won’t turn a quack into a brain surgeon.
Low income consumers will, of course, not have to pay for the fancy “licensed” preparers. There will still be plenty of folks with pirated copies of Turbotax preparing unsigned returns in their cars and apartments, and the higher prices of the licensed competitors will send them more business. Other consumers will either struggle through their own returns without benefit of CPE or drop out of the tax system entirely.
Obviously there has to be some losers. A win-win-win-win-win-win-win-win (an octo-win) situation would be ridiculous.