Wednesday, February 12, 2014

OED trumps IRS

More decisions like this one (from the DC Court of Appeals), we hope;
In our view, at least six considerations foreclose the IRS’s interpretation of the statute. 
First is the meaning of the key statutory term “representatives.” In its opening brief, the IRS simply asserts that there “can be no serious dispute that paid tax-return preparers are ‘representatives of persons.’” ...Beyond that ipse dixit, however, the IRS never explains how a tax-return preparer “represents” a taxpayer. And for good reason: The term “representative” is traditionally and commonly defined as an agent with authority to bind others, a description that does not fit tax-return preparers. See, e.g., OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY 660 (2d ed. 1989) ([4] “One who represents another as agent, delegate, substitute, successor, or heir”)...
Which precedes;
BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 1416 (9th ed. 2009) ([1] “One who stands for or acts on behalf of another . . . . See agent”)...

So, the plain English meaning of a word actually means something in court. And Americans are free to make a buck helping others complete their tax returns.

Too bad John Roberts didn't use the OED when deciding that the ACA was constitutional as a tax, not as a mandate (which is what the law actually read).

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