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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sen. Baldwin co-sponsors legislation to simplify tax filing process


WASHINGTON, D.C. – United States Senator Tammy Baldwin has cosponsored legislation introduced by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to simplify and decrease the costs of the tax filing process for millions of American taxpayers. This year, taxpayers will spend an average of 13 hours preparing and filing their returns, and will pay $200 for tax preparation services - a cost equal to almost 10 percent of the average federal tax refund.

"American taxpayers are forced to spend too much time and money filing taxes when it doesn't have to be that way," said Senator Baldwin. "If Congress would simply act on commonsense reforms at the IRS, we can simplify tax filing and make it less expensive for taxpayers."

The legislation introduced today, the Tax Filing Simplification Act of 2016, would direct the Internal Revenue Service (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, and would prohibit the IRS from entering into agreements that restrict its ability to provide free online tax preparation or filing services. The Act would give all taxpayers 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.

"Congress should be making it easier for Americans to file their taxes each year, not bowing to the interests of the tax prep industry," said Senator Warren. "The Tax Filing Simplification Act is a commonsense bill that would help taxpayers all across this country file their taxes with less stress and fewer costs, and it would push the IRS to use the authority it already has to simplify Tax Day for all Americans."

In conjunction with the introduction of the Tax Filing Simplification Act, Senator Warren released a staff report that describes how - for decades - the tax preparation industry has blocked 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.

The legislation has been endorsed by dozens of law professors and economists including Austan Goolsbee of the University of Chicago, Emmanuel Saez of the University of California - Berkeley, and Joe Bankman of Stanford University. In addition to Senators Baldwin and Warren, the Act was introduced with original cosponsors Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.)

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