Friday, April 15, 2016

Big Tax Preparation Firms Bribe Congressional Conservatives To Keep Tax Filing Complicated And Expensive


My accountant just e-mailed me that I'm not going to owe much on my taxes this year. Whew! But what a hassle the process is anyway! I think everyone agrees with that regardless of which political party you belong to. The Republican professional politician response though always involves killing the IRS and making it easier for the super-rich to cheat with even more alacrity than the already do. Blue Dogs and New Dems-- the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- often go along with the Republican schemes.

Elizabeth Warren has a better idea. In the Senate today, she introduced the Tax Filing Simplification Act of 2016 along with co-sponsors Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Al Franken (D-MN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Edward Markey (D-M). The idea, which no Republicans embraced, is meant to simplify and decrease the cost of filing tax returns. The average taxpayer spends 13 hours preparing their taxes and $200 in associated costs, about equal to 10% of the average annual federal tax refund. Her bill directs the IRS to develop a free, online tax preparation and filing service that taxpayers can use to prepare and file their taxes directly with the federal government, if they choose to do so. Taxpayers would, of course, still have 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.

One of the problems, and why Republicans are opposed, is because the tax preparation industry-- H&R Block, Intuit (Turbotax), Jackson Hewitt-- are major campaign donors to conservative politicians and "have blocked," according to Warren, "the IRS from implementing laws that would make tax preparation and filing easier for taxpayers. Corporate capture of the filing process means that taxpayers have to absorb billions of dollars in costs and share their personal information with third parties just to file their taxes... Congress should be making it easier for Americans to file their taxes each year, not bowing to the interests of the tax prep industry." Those 3 companies alone have spent nearly $40 million in the past couple of decades lobbying Congress to oppose return-free filing.

You probably guessed that Bernie was in full accord. He pointed out 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. We must make tax filing as easy as possible, not direct profits to private companies at the expense of working families." Even Republican voters agree, even if their corrupt elected officials don't.

Hillary: "me too, me too."

Ted Cruz:

Hey, it's Friday night... let's party down. Enjoy; see you tomorrow.

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