Unscrupulous tax prep supports a lot of metaphors. For every leak the profession plugs two more spring up. For every bug you catch there are a dozen you never see. Abraham Lincoln once likened an endless task to shoveling fleas across a barnyard.

Whatever image you pick, the profession has tried for years to coordinate, regulate, certify and monitor a vocation where the only tool to control illegal financial trickery is the good will of professionals who probably work hard to obey the law anyway. The latest efforts include the IRS’s RTRP initiative and, more recently, the service’s contested proposal for voluntary preparer certification.

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