Tax Preparation Industry Alarmed Over Plan For IRS Free Tax-Filing System
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An anonymous reader quotes a report from the New York Times:
The Biden administration’s $80 billion overhaul of the Internal Revenue Service is facing a new line of attack, this time from lobbyists representing tax preparers who fear that the agency’s growing power will cripple their businesses and infringe upon taxpayer privacy. The fight is over a potential plan for the I.R.S. to create its own tax-filing system that would allow taxpayers to submit their returns directly to the federal government at no cost. That type of free service could diminish the need for those provided by tax preparation companies like H&R Block and TurboTax. The idea, which is still being studied, is stoking backlash from Republicans and business groups who argue that President Biden’s plans to bolster the I.R.S. will give it even more power over ordinary taxpayers.
The I.R.S. received a giant infusion of money as a result of the Inflation Reduction Act, a sweeping climate and energy bill that Congress passed last year. That legislation set aside $15 million for the I.R.S. to conduct a study to determine how it could develop a program that would let Americans file their tax returns directly with the agency. The I.R.S. is expected in the coming days to release its plan for how it intends to spend the $80 billion that it was allocated as part of that legislation. Republican lawmakers have maintained firm opposition to the funding, which will help the agency hire 87,000 employees, and have been taking steps to claw it back. […] Democrats have long pushed to make filing free for everyone, seeing that as a way to make the process easier and less costly. But that ambition could upend the business models of the multibillion-dollar tax preparation industry, which earns hefty fees for helping people navigate the tax code.
Several companies already provide free tax-filing services through the I.R.S. website to those who earn less than $73,000, and the agency provides forms that taxpayers who do not need any guidance can use to file their returns for free. Some other software platforms offer limited free services for simple tax returns that also do not offer guidance through the process. Initially, a tax-filing system developed by the I.R.S. would be similar to the existing free options. But proponents of the idea believe that over time it could evolve to become a more comprehensive system that would provide taxpayers with returns that are already filled out based on wage data that the I.R.S. tracks. At that point, taxpayers could just sign off on their returns as easily as responding “yes” to a text message.