Senate Dem releases bill to simplify tax filing

Shaheen’s proposal comes as Democrats and Republicans continue to debate how to best overhaul the tax code, even as both parties acknowledge that the 4 million-word tax code needs to be simplified. The National Taxpayer Advocate, an in-house watchdog of the IRS, has also long called on Congress to make the tax code less complex.

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People in the U.S. currently spend around 6 billion hours a year trying to wade navigate the tax code, and Nina Olson, the taxpayer advocate, has said that the current system causes honest mistakes of taxpayers overwhelmed by the complexity.

At the same time, IRS officials have also complained that recent budget cuts have hurt the agency's ability to assist taxpayers, and to collect revenue. The IRS has also said that staffers could face furloughs after the completion of the current filing season.

Shaheen says up to 40 percent of people in the U.S. could be helped by her bill – to the tune of up to 225 million fewer hours spent on compliance, and as much as $2 billion in fewer payments for tax preparation.

According to the New Hampshire Democrat’s office, unmarried taxpayers who claim the standard deduction would at first be able to use the “simple return,” with eligibility to later expand to those with more complex returns.

Under the bill, the IRS would tell taxpayers if the “simple return” is an option, and send the one-page return to those who accept. Eligible taxpayers could then file electronically, after ensuring their information is correct.