Conservatives want you to believe they have the market cornered on fixing the tax code. Well, Senator Elizabeth Warren may beg to differ. On Wednesday, the progressive Senator from Massachusetts introduced a bill that would significantly reform the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is one of seven co-sponsors of the bill and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton has already expressed her support as well.
The proposed legislation targets the inherent complexity of the tax code which Warren contends benefits private industry more than the independent taxpayer.
“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 statement.
Called the Tax Filing Simplification Act of 2016, the bill would allow taxpayers with the most basic tax filing situations to avoid filing a return at all. They could simply request the IRS send them a completed return to review and sign. Warren’s office estimates between eight million to 60 million households could benefit from every year from this change.
For taxpayers with more complex returns, the TFS of 2016 requires the IRS to develop a free program that would allow the individual taxpayer to calculate and complete their own returns directly with the IRS. This would eliminate the need for tax preparation services like TurboTax and H&R Block. Warren’s office further contends that the average American spends $200 on tax preparation services which eats up nearly 10 percent of the average return.
Sanders was also vocal in his support and the need to make tax day about the average American and not big business.
“Tax Day has become an opportunity for corporations to profit off of confusion over our complicated tax code. That is wrong,” Sanders said. “We must make tax filing as easy as possible, not direct profits to private companies at the expense of working families.”
The road forward for the proposed legislation will likely be a rocky one. According to the Sunlight Foundation, tax preparation services have spent nearly $28 million to lobby for their interests with Congress since 1998. Intuit, the parent company behind TurboTax, has been the largest player in the group. According to OpenSecrets.org, Intuit spent over $2.2 million in federal lobbying last year alone.
It’s also important to remember that these figures don’t include money spent in PAC or direct campaign donations. With the introduction of Tax Filing Simplification Act of 2016, we can be sure some fresh checks are being written this week.
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