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The GOP Tax Overhaul Is Already Generating Economic Gains—For Accountants

Republicans say the tax overhaul bill, which President Trump signed into law Friday, will spur massive economic growth and job creation (“Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!” the president cheered on Twitter, after the bill passed both houses of Congress with no Democratic votes).

And while many policy experts disagree, one profession is almost certain to see a bump.

You guessed it: tax preparers.

"I think there's going to be a lot of confusion," said Lisa Vivens, President of the Ohio State Society of Enrolled Agents, an association of federally-licensed tax preparers. And that confusion, she said, likely means more business for tax professionals like her.

Still, Vivens said she's not breaking out the champagne just yet. 

It may be the most comprehensive change in the tax code in 30 years, but she says her clients want to know how they'll be affected now. That means doing research, reading newsletters, and breaking out the calculator to game out different tax scenarios.

"It makes me do a lot more work, but it also brings in extra fees," said Lee Blazey, who is a part-time CPA, and a professor of taxation and accounting at Case Western Reserve University.

"For the next probably nine months, I'm sitting at my desk with a compendium of tax changes so when I talk to someone I can say, 'This applies to you, that doesn't apply to you.'"

Blazey added that while the tax code changes could create new customers, he could also envision a drop in demand for services like his: a bigger standard deduction under the new law would simplify tax filing for many individuals so that, for them, assistance from a professional tax preparer may no longer be necessary. 

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