Dems offer bill directing IRS to create free online tax filing service

A group of Democratic lawmakers announced Friday that they are reintroducing legislation in the House and Senate to instruct the IRS to create its own free, online tax-filing service.

The push comes days after some lawmakers expressed frustration with a bill passed by the House this week that would codify the IRS' partnership with tax-preparation software companies like H&R Block and Intuit, which makes TurboTax.

"Taxpayers waste too many hours and hundreds of dollars on tax preparation each year, which disproportionately burdens low-income and minority taxpayers," Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenHarry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list' Warren offers plan to repeal 1994 crime law authored by Biden Panel: Jill Biden's campaign message MORE (D-Mass.), a lead sponsor of the Senate version of the bill, said in a statement. "This bill will require the IRS to offer easy, free, online tax-filing for all taxpayers."


Warren offered the bill along with several other senators, including fellow presidential candidates Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersHarry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list' The exhaustion of Democrats' anti-Trump delusions Warren offers plan to repeal 1994 crime law authored by Biden MORE (I-Vt.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerCastro qualifies for next Democratic primary debates Eight Democratic presidential hopefuls to appear in CNN climate town hall Biden, Buttigieg bypassing Democratic delegate meeting: report MORE (D-N.J.). In the House, the legislation is being reintroduced by Rep. Brad ShermanBradley (Brad) James ShermanHillicon Valley: Trump seeks review of Pentagon cloud-computing contract | FTC weighs updating kids' internet privacy rules | Schumer calls for FaceApp probe | Report says states need more money to secure elections Here are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment Maxine Waters says her committee will call in Zuckerberg to testify about Libra MORE (D-Calif.), along with presidential candidate Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) John RyanBiden, Buttigieg bypassing Democratic delegate meeting: report Tim Ryan jokes he's having 'dance-off' with Andrew Yang The Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape MORE (D-Ohio) and freshman Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOmar says US should reconsider aid to Israel Pro-Trump Republican immigrant to challenge Dem lawmaker who flipped Michigan seat 3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 MORE (D-N.Y.) and Katie HillKatherine (Katie) Lauren HillAnti-Trump vets join Steyer group in pressing Democrats to impeach Trump House Dems, Senate GOP build money edge to protect majorities Live coverage: House Oversight examines Trump family separation policy MORE (D-Calif.).

The legislation, rolled out days before the April 15 tax-filing deadline, includes a number of provisions aimed at simplifying tax filing.

It would direct the IRS to create a free, online tax-preparation and filing service, and bar the agency from entering into agreements that would restrict its ability to offer such a service.

It also would allow taxpayers with simple situations to use a return-free option, under which they would receive a pre-prepared tax return.

To protect taxpayers' identities, the legislation would require taxpayers using a new filing option created by the IRS to verify their identities before accessing tax data.

The legislation has been introduced in past years as well, but may receive new attention this year due to controversy over a bipartisan IRS reform bill that passed the House this week.

The House-passed bill includes a provision to codify the IRS's "Free File" program — an agreement the IRS has in place with tax-prep companies for those companies to offer free software to low- and middle-income taxpayers. Under the current Free File program, the IRS agrees not to offer its own free filing service, though the IRS could terminate the agreement and offer its own service with 12 months' notice.

Some progressive lawmakers, including Hill and Ocasio-Cortez, criticized the Free File provision, arguing that it is the result of corporate influence by the tax-prep companies who want to prevent the IRS from creating its own filing service. Still, the IRS bill with the provision passed the House by voice vote. The measure also included a host of other provisions aimed at modernizing the IRS.

Leading sponsors of the Senate version of the IRS modernization bill dispute that the measure would bar the IRS from creating its own free filing service.