The Sen. Warren bill to simplify tax filing

CREDO action
Stand with Sen. Warren: Tell Congress to simplify tax filing

Petition to Congress:
"Ignore tax preparation lobbyists and instead simplify and decrease the costs of the tax filing process for millions of American taxpayers by passing the Tax Filing Simplification Act of 2016."

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Dear 5849376,

Stand with Sen. Warren: Tell Congress to simplify tax filing

If you hate filing your tax return, blame corporations like Intuit, the maker of TurboTax. The company has spent millions lobbying Congress to make filing tax returns more complicated and cumbersome so people pay money for its products.1

But now, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and a host of Democratic senators are trying to simplify tax filing, with a new bill directing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to create a free, online system where we can file our returns directly with the federal government.2

Companies like Intuit and anti-tax crusaders like Grover Norquist all hate this idea – which is why we need to speak up and show that the American people support it.

Stand with Sen. Warren: Tell Congress to simplify tax filing. Click here to sign the petition.

The average taxpayer will lose 13 hours of his or her life preparing tax returns, and spend $200 for tax preparation services, too – nearly 10 percent of the average federal tax refund.3 And it's not just that returns are annoying. The complication costs people real money. Nearly 20 percent of poor Americans eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit will not receive it because of an incorrectly filed return.4 One report found that tax preparers target low-income Americans, who spend nearly $400 of desperately needed refunds on tax preparation.5

It is no secret who benefits from all the confusion and difficulty: Tax preparation companies like Intuit. Intuit spent $13 million lobbying Congress between 2011 and 2015, and once mounted a fake "grassroots" campaign against simple, free tax filing.6,7 These corporations have found natural allies in anti-tax radicals like Grover Norquist, who want to make filing returns as painful as possible so people hate taxes altogether.8

There is a better alternative to our broken system. The IRS could provide a free, online tool to directly file returns, with no profit-making middleman. In fact, since the IRS already has tax information provided by your employer and bank, you would have the option to complete your return without even filing if your taxes are simple — essentially, the IRS could do your taxes for you.9 We need to demand that Congress stop listening to TurboTax lobbyists and start making filing cheaper and easier for the rest of us.

Stand with Sen. Warren: Tell Congress to simplify tax filing. Click here to sign the petition.

Denmark, Sweden, and Spain have already found online, return-free filing to be simple and convenient.10 That is one of many reasons that more than 41 law professors and economists have signed on to support Sen. Warren's bill, and why Democratic Sens. Tammy Baldwin, Al Franken, Edward Markey, Bernie Sanders, Jeanne Shaheen, Tom Udall, and Sheldon Whitehouse have signed on as original co-sponsors.11 In years past, even conservatives like President Ronald Reagan and former Rep. Eric Cantor have supported this idea.12 It's long past time for Congress to overcome the self-interested opposition of tax preparers like Intuit, and simplify tax filings.

Stand with Sen. Warren: Tell Congress to simplify tax filing. Click here to sign the petition.

Thank you for speaking out,

Murshed Zaheed, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets

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  1. Dylan Matthews, "Why I'm boycotting TurboTax this year," Vox.com, March 29, 2016.
  2. Sen. Elizabeth Warren Staff, "Senator Warren Introduces Bill to Simplify Tax Filing," Warren.Senate.Gov, April 13, 2016.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Matthews, "Why I'm boycotting TurboTax this year."
  5. Jana Kasperkevic, "Low-income Americans spend as much as $400 to get tax refund, report finds," The Guardian, April 14, 2016.
  6. Liz Day, "How the Maker of TurboTax Fought Free, Simple Tax Filing," ProPublica, March 26, 2013.
  7. Liz Day, "TurboTax Maker Linked to 'Grassroots' Campaign Against Free, Simple Tax Filing," ProPublica, April 14, 2014.
  8. Matthews, "Why I'm boycotting TurboTax this year."
  9. Warren Staff, "Senator Warren Introduces Bill to Simplify Tax Filing."
  10. Day, "How the Maker of TurboTax Fought Free, Simple Tax Filing."
  11. Warren Staff, "Senator Warren Introduces Bill to Simplify Tax Filing."
  12. Matthews, "Why I'm boycotting TurboTax this year."

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