House Bill bans ‘free’ government tax preparation software like TurboTax

  • The House of Representatives passed the Taxpayer First Act on Tuesday, which includes a provision prohibiting the Internal Revenue Service from creating a free electronic tax filing program.
  • Many lawmakers who led the bill through the House Ways and Means committee have benefited from campaign donations from tax preparation companies like H&R Block and Intuit.
  • Bill also has a Senate companion.
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WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill that includes language that would permanently bar the Internal Revenue Service from creating a free electronic service for Americans to file taxes, furthering a primary industry goal for-profit companies like Intuit and Bloc H&R.

The bill was passed by voice vote after being chaired by the House Ways and Means committee by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, many of whom benefited from campaign donations from tax preparation companies for profit. lucrative.

Read more: The 20 companies and groups that spend the most money to influence lawmakers

The Taxpayer First Act includes a handful of reforms for the IRS. But in the bill, co-sponsored by Republican Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania and Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, is a provision prohibiting the IRS from creating its own free version of tax preparation software.

Companies like Intuit – which produces TurboTax – and H&R Block allow most Americans to report for free as long as they made less than $ 66,000 for the year. Corn most eligible Americans do not benefit of that, with only 3% free deposit.

The bill, if passed into law, would ensure that the system continues – a long-standing goal of large for-profit tax preparation companies.

H&R Block and Intuit have made large campaign donations to some of the members of the House Financial Services Committee and the Ways and Means Committee.

In 2018, H&R Block donated to campaigns of the layout’s main sponsors, Kelly and Lewis, as well as 11 of the 25 Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee, including its chairman, Rep. Richard Neal. H&R Block donated to nine of the 17 Republicans on the committee, including its non-commissioned member, Rep. Kevin Brady.

Neal also received a hunk of Intuit, who in 2018 donated $ 6,500 to his campaign, as well as donations to dozens of other lawmakers.

The bill has a companion in the Senate, which also has a bipartisan component preventing the IRS from developing its own electronic tax filing system. The Senate version is sponsored by Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon and Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa.

In a statement, Grassley rebuffed the claim that the IRS would not be allowed to let Americans file their taxes for free.

“The The Taxpayer First Act of 2019 would continue the IRS’s free file program, which is important to many low- and middle-income taxpayers. Nothing in the legislation would prevent the IRS from continuing to provide taxpayer assistance online or from developing new online options to help taxpayers, ”he said. “Arguments to the contrary are not based on fact and are based on misunderstandings or misleading vested interests. The current provision requires the IRS to continue the Free File Program, which was originally developed under the Bush administration, extended by the Obama administration, and continued by the Trump administration. “

“Congress supported the program and provision of the Taxpayer First Act enshrines this support in law. This certainly does not preclude the IRS from helping taxpayers file their taxes, “he added.” This is simply not true.

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