Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Al Franken and eight other senators said Wednesday that they plan to reintroduce when Congress reconvenes in two weeks the Tax Filing Simplification Act of 2017 to simplify and decrease the costs of filing taxes.
The legislation would direct the Internal Revenue Service to develop a free, online tax preparation and filing service that taxpayers can use — if they chose — to prepare and file their taxes directly with the federal government, and would prohibit the IRS from entering into agreements that restrict its ability to provide free online tax preparation or filing services.
The Act would give all taxpayers the right to download third-party-reported tax information that the IRS already has, and would provide those with simple tax situations with a return-free option, the senators said.
The senators noted that this year, taxpayers will spend an average of 13 hours preparing and filing their returns, and will pay $200 for tax preparation services, or almost 10% of the average federal tax refund.
The bill, introduced in the 114th Congress, will be reintroduced with original co-sponsors Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.; Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.; Sanders, I-Vt; Franken, D-Minn.; Tom Udall, D-N.M.; Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.; Edward J. Markey, D-Mass.; Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.; Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.; and Maggie Hassan, D-N.H.
“The tax preparation industry wants to keep Americans locked into a difficult and expensive tax filing process – that’s how they turn big profits,” Warren said in a statement announcing the bill. “Some tax prep companies even resell taxpayer information to third parties or use tax filings to push new financial products. I am reintroducing the Tax Filing Simplification Act to stand up to these companies and give all taxpayers the option of free, simple tax filing.”
Sanders added that “tax day has become an opportunity for corporations to profit off of confusion over our complicated tax code. That is wrong. The Tax Filing Simplification Act would end the absurdity of Americans having to pay private companies hundreds of dollars to pay their taxes.”
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