They join hair braiders, interior designers, lactation consultants and a raft of other occupations that are subject to licensing by professional groups or other government regulation.
Some economists and think-tank analysts say all that occupational licensing ends up costing consumers more than it helps them. Occupational licensing costs consumers more than $35 million a year, the Texas Public Policy Foundation reports. States that require more licensing had 20 percent lower employment growth from 1990 to 2000, according to the foundation.
"It is a balancing act how much level of government intervention is necessary," said Jean Ann Fox, director of financial services for the Consumer Federation of America. Licensing can protect consumers from bad apples -- or limit the number of choices they have.
But that line is drawn too often toward over-regulation, some economists and conservatives contend.
"Licensing has its role," said James Gattuso, senior fellow in regulatory policy at the Heritage Foundation. "But the most important thing is providing information to consumers."
For most occupations, he added, governments should only require that licensing information be made public, not that licenses be required. "It should be a consumer's choice."
Rena Steinzor, president of the Center for Progressive Reform, supports licensing. It gives service providers a clear guideline of how their job should be done, she said. And it gives consumers some assurances about the competence of the person who can hang that license on the wall.
Pooh-poohing licensing is "to go back to the 1700s ... the days of 'let the buyer beware,'" she said.
But the melange of licensing requirements throughout the country is a comedian's dream come true. To wit:
-- In Nevada, it's a crime to rearrange a clients' furniture without a license. About two dozen states require licensing for interior designers. Good thing they are not left unregulated, Gattuso said, tongue in cheek. "Think of the consequences: You have colors clashing across America."
-- Some lactation consultants must be licensed. But so far no one has found a way to regulate unwanted advice from in-laws.
-- A falconer -- who takes care of birds -- must be licensed in some places. Yet the nanny who babysits the family children is unregulated.
-- The number of cab licenses -- medallions -- has been largely unchanged in New York City for 70 years as the population has burgeoned. (And stood fruitlessly on street corners on rainy days.) Robert Crandall, senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution, said cabbies already must have a driver's license, so why make them get a taxi license, too?
Even legal and medical professionals, Gattuso said, may be over-regulated. Some of the services they provide don't need the level of training that goes into being licensed. You don't want someone unqualified opening a corner store doing neurosurgery, he said. "But do you need someone who's spent three years (studying) criminal law to write a will for you?"
These days, the Internet allows consumers to find out a lot about the qualifications of people they hire. "You can tell pretty quickly if a locksmith is doing his job well or not," Gattuso said.
Consumers can vote with their feet without needing licenses in many occupations, Crandall said. "You can go to the hair cutter once, and if they don't do a good job you go somewhere else," he said.
But Steinzor said beauticians deal with hazardous chemicals -- albeit in much smaller quantities than some industrial workers who are unregulated. "I wouldn't want to save $10 on my haircut and have my scalp burned," said Steinzor, a law professor at the University of Maryland.
Conservatives complain that the regulations drive up the price of services because it costs money to meet the licensing requirements.
And sometimes the drive for more licensing comes from the workers who don't want competition. "They serve as a barrier to entry to protect incumbents," said John Berlau, a policy analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
In the case of the tax preparers, H&R Block and others in the business say they welcome the new IRS regulations. In a statement, H&R Block said its own internal standards already exceed the new IRS rules, which will be phased in. The company also called for volunteer tax preparers to come under the rules.
The IRS rules are unlike most other occupational licensing because they are federal, not state, rules, Berlau said.
Gattuso said he worries that giving the IRS power to regulate tax preparers could cow them into being less effective advocates for their clients. "How do you know your tax preparer is not pulling punches?" he asked.
Fox pointed out that several studies have shown high error rates among tax preparers. And consumers should have some assurance of competence and ethics from someone with access to their most personal financial information.
She said the line of when to regulate and license should be drawn based on "if there are safety issues, financial abuse possible, health and safety involved."
Gattuso added one more category:
"Maybe you should have a license to regulate or impose taxes on someone."