Bunching your deductions
Amending tax returns for
'marginally employed' taxpayers

John Stossel's tax accountant issue

This year's anti-tax rant winner is Fox News' John Stossel. But it's not just taxing jurisdictions that make Stossel's list. He also has no love for his accountant.

The complexities of the tax system, Stossel said last week during an appearance on colleague Bill O'Reilly's show, forces him to pay "several thousand dollars" to Bob, his accountant.

If he didn't pay for tax accounting help, Stossel figures that he could be spending that cash on 200 steak dinners, 100 massages, a motorcycle, a cruise.

Stossel has a point about the complexities of the tax code. No one anywhere on the political spectrum thinks the Internal Revenue Code and how we must comply with it are easy or even acceptable.

Heck, the Treasury Secretary screwed up using tax software and the IRS Commissioner himself says he uses an accountant because he finds the tax code too complex.

And the Fox pair's tax and accountant conversation (which starts at around 3:20 of the video segment; FYI, I had to click a couple of times to make it work) was somewhat tongue in cheek.

But Stossel's comments understandably irked some members of the accounting profession. 

In response to a report on the program by CPA Trendlines, CPA Brian Wendroff offered a rebuttal:

John Stossel is an idiot… Using Stossel's logic, why should we pay doctors to solve complicated health issues? Why didn’t God make our bodies easy enough to figure out for ourselves? Or for that matter, why do we pay mechanics to fix our complicated cars? Or contractors to build our complicated houses? Life is complicated, and when you live in a huge country like the United States, one does have to comply with some things that are difficult to support the greater infrastructure. I'm personally sick and tired of these arguments always attacking everything.

Wendroff elaborates at the CPA Trendlines site and in the post's comments' section.

So does reader Kathleen, who points out that plenty of folks would be ecstatic to have Stossel's problem of making so much money he has to hire a professional to help him pay as few taxes as possible.

She also challenges Stossel to prepare his own taxes next year.

Now watching an overpaid TV talking head's do-it-yourself tax filing frustrations might just be a reality television/Fox News program that I'd watch!

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You guys totally missed his point. He was saying that with a simpler tax code that didn't have loop holes that the rich take full advantage of, CPA's would have to find different work to do. The CPA above is actually saying that he is benefiting from a complex tax code. (Which makes sense for him to support a complex tax code because he needs the complexity to attract customers.) If the tax code were simplified, as Stossel and the CPA, I gather must know to be true, then many other people wouldn't feel the need to pay CPA's a lot of money to do their taxes in order to get the most money back. John argues that this simpler tax code would work out better for the economy because money would be spent by the earner instead of given to a professional who spends way too much time and effort working out a nonsensical government tax codes. As it is right now Tax Professionals owe their jobs to the house ways and means commitee who intentionally make a large tax code that the average man and woman don't have the time to figure out. Also comparing car mechanics to the tax code is completely insane. Over the years cars have become far more reliable and are in less need of mechanical repairs. Contrast this with the fact that the tax code year in and year out has become more and more complex. It almost requires you to hire a tax professional in order to file them properly.


The weenie could take the standard deduction, throw everything into AGI, and be done with it. He pays an accountant because he wants to take advantage of tax preferences to reduce his taxes. But he isn't obligated to make it complicated for himself. He just wants to take preferences in the law -- and probably would object if Congress were to act to eliminate them. No sympathy for the jerk.

Toni McIntyre

Tax return preparation fees vary widely. He should shop around. I suspect he can find a preparer that is every bit as good as the one he is using now who is much more reasonably priced. Maybe an E. A.


I think there is some misunderstanding amongst the public, that someone who appears on TV is in any way smarter than the average person. Mr. Stossel, according to wikipedia, merely has a BA in Psychology. At least O'Reilly has dual masters degrees (non-honorary) though neither has anything to do with mathmatics, finance, or accounting. I take their rants (well I would if I bothered to watch them) with a heaping tablespoon of salt. But, in reality, these are two guys who barely passed college algebra.


That was a humours video, I`m Canadian and don`t know too much about U.S. taxes but I do know our taxes are somewhat simple, just need a calculator and a little know how, then done. Hope everyone has a good weekend!


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