Democrat Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Tom Carper of Delaware are urging the IRS to simplify the tax filing process and expand access to free e-filing options as it prepares to implement an operating plan to revitalize the tax collection agency.
"A key objective of the IRS should be to improve the taxpayer experience and make the process of filing income taxes simpler and more efficient," read a letter signed by Warren, Carper, and 29 other Democrat senators sent Tuesday to IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel. "Better, more accessible e-filing tools can improve taxpayer compliance, minimize unintentional errors, and help taxpayers claim refunds quickly.
"As you know, the recent investments in the IRS under the Inflation Reduction Act present a unique opportunity to show how the agency can work better for the American people, and we strongly urge you to prioritize expanded access to simple, free e-filing options as part of this effort."
The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 gave $15 million to the IRS to study how Americans could file their taxes online through a federal website or program without cost. The agency must engage independent third parties to study new options for a free, online direct tax-filing system.
The IRS said it's working with nonprofit organization New America to develop the report on the new system, and it said the report will be delivered to Congress in May.
House Republicans are not enamored with having the IRS running an e-file program. A news release from the Ways and Means Committee in March said the IRS would become "tax collector and tax preparer — a program for which the supposedly 'impartial' organization has long advocated."
In a letter to then-Acting IRS Commissioner Douglas O'Donnell on March 6 — Werfel was confirmed by the Senate as commissioner a week later — Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith, R-Mo., and Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight Chair David Schweikert, R-Ariz., criticized the pick of New America because it's supposed to be independent but has ties to Democrats.
"The characterization of New America as a strictly nonpartisan, nonprofit is surprising since the organization is known to be a left-leaning think tank," the letter stated. "Specifically, some of the nonprofit's top officials include alumni from the Obama Administration, a former aide to Secretary Hillary Clinton, and other top officials of the organization are tied to left-leaning mainstream and openly left-wing media outlets."
House Republicans also criticized the IRS for using Ariel Jurow-Kleiman, a tax attorney and law professor at Loyola Law School, who is working with New America to give third-party analysis of the report and make sure it's in line with existing U.S. tax law.
"Plain and simple — New America and Professor Jurow-Kleiman are neither objective nor independent third parties," the lawmakers wrote. "They bring radically biased points of view that will undoubtedly shade any evaluation of the issues they are tasked to evaluate."
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