Sen. Elizabeth Warren Wants to Make Tax Day Easier
Tax Day is just around the corner, and Senator Elizabeth Warren wants to make the complicated system of filing taxes a lot easier for Americans.
Warren introduced a bill on Wednesday called the Tax Filing Simplification Act of 2016, which aims to create a free online tax preparation and filing service similar to paid programs like TurboTax. According to the International Business Times, the bill would grant citizens access to information about their tax returns and allow them to file directly with the federal government.
The legislation is an effort to fight back against the tax prep industry, which has spent years lobbying to keep the system difficult.
The IRS has brokered a number of agreements over the years with private companies, such as Intuit (which runs TurboTax) and H&R Block, under the Free File Alliance. While these corporations do provide free access to tax software for disadvantaged taxpayers under the program, Vox.com points out that only 3 percent of taxpayers are able to use the software due to overly complicated eligibility rules.
Warren’s bill would effectively kill the Free File program once and for all by creating a “return-free” filing option. The new system would make life easier for a lot of people by sending millions of citizens pre-filled tax returns, which can then be sent back unchanged if a person doesn’t have any issues.
“Congress should be making it easier for Americans to file their taxes each year, not bowing to the interests of the tax prep industry,” Warren said in a press release. “The Tax Filing Simplification Act is a commonsense bill that would help taxpayers all across this country file their taxes with less stress and fewer costs, and it would push the IRS to use the authority it already has to simplify Tax Day for all Americans.”
The legislation has received endorsements from dozens of law professors and was co-sponsored by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse, Tom Udall, Al Franken, and Tammy Baldwin, as well as her Massachusetts colleague Edward Markey, New Hampshire’s Jeanne Shaheen, and Vermont’s Bernie Sanders.
The Democratic presidential hopeful echoed Warren’s sentiments in the press release, saying in his statement that it’s time to curb corporate abuse of the confusing tax system.
“Tax Day has become an opportunity for corporations to profit off of confusion over our complicated tax code. That is wrong,” Sanders said. “The Tax Filing Simplification Act would end the absurdity of Americans having to pay private companies hundreds of dollars to pay their taxes. We must make tax filing as easy as possible, not direct profits to private companies at the expense of working families,”