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October 2, 2023

Kids! Join the Voluntary Tax Accountant Extinction Movement!


The world doesn’t owe us a living.

Of course you know that.  If you thought the world did owe you a living, you wouldn’t have gotten that Accounting degree.  You’d have gone for that much easier Critical Gender Studies or 19th-Century American History ticket.  But even when you get that first tax accountant job, a new career path in produce (or, God forbid, auditing) is only one piece of legislation away.

After the Paul Ryan budget promised to eliminate a bunch of tax breaks to be named later, a fellow tax toiler who owns a specialty boutique dedicated to milking one code section told me how cleaning up the tax law would be a job killer.  After all, we are an industry justified by years of existence.  Just imagine if he, me and all of the people in Statue of Liberty suits suddenly were out on the streets.  The humanity!

If I wanted to be a jerk (okay, I really wanted to be, but controlled myself), I would have suggested creating even more jobs by requiring that all returns be transcribed from the computer-generated forms to old-fashioned paper by hand, with fountain pens, on pain of imprisonment.  And if that doesn’t create full employment, require an additional copy in mirror-writing.

Sure, a drastic tax simplification would be financially awkward for me, but I can still grind meat and cut up chickens, so Plan B remains viable.  Yet I don’t spend much time practicing my meat-cutting skills.  Back in 1984, before many of you strivers reading this were born, I went to my family dentist for one last filling before taking my first Big 8 job (yes, there were 8 then).  When I told him what I was going to be doing for work he scoffed, “what are you going to do when they pass the Flat Tax?”  It’s only been 28 years, but I’ve so far dodged that bullet.

So, kids, the tax game has inherent career risks, but it’s a pretty good bet.  The politicians have talked reform for 30 years, but they continue to make the tax laws worse.  In fact, the 1986 tax reforms were the best thing to happen to my career, except for getting fired from PriceWaterhouse.  You can even salve your conscience by mocking the tax law and advocating drastic simplification, smug in the knowledge that reform is almost as likely as Caleb ordering one of the 54-ounce Belly-Busters at Rubes.

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