The Internal Revenue Service and tax preparers are starting to go through a weird evolution of purpose.
Instead of just being the people who squeeze money out of us, they’re becoming people who try to help us through hard times (with, for example, the Earned Income Tax Credit) and try to help us be more fiscally responsible (by, say, setting aside money for retirement).
In some areas, the IRS and tax preparers have been major sources this year of information about how poor people can sign up for government health programs.
If you’re one of the readers who finds the whole idea of the government getting involved in this morally offensive: I respect your view and waver back and forth between agreeing with.
Certainly, government efforts to shape public behavior through taxes and tax policy can be corrupt. They certainly complicate the tax code, in ways that may promote golden child goals over equally, or more, important goals.
But, in the current system, whatever its faults might be, the cover of the tax instruction booklet, the banners on the IRS website and the walls of tax preparers’ cubicles are valuable marketing real estate.