“Edit: having researched this bill some more, I have changed my mind. This bill bans the development of FreeFile and enshrines the tax preparation industry as the holders of all electronic tax filing code. I heartily disapprove of that. This bill is pushing the burden of tax paperwork off onto private companies. Tax collection shouldn’t be privatized. That path is rife with abuse as plenty of history has shown. Whether I pay more or less in taxes aside, I WANT A EASIER TAX PROCESS! I don’t know why we “the citizens” have to file anything anymore anyway. The government already gets all the information. Why do we still do it? The IRS has pretty much all of the information they need to fill out our tax return, so why don’t they just send us a partly or fully completed return for our review? I want something like the return free filing system they have in Spain. I mean, we already don’t do our property taxes ourselves? So why income? You’d figure typical deficit-hawk conservatives would be happy to save the money the IRS wastes every year confronting the American taxpayer’s inability to subtract correctly. And in fact Ronald Reagan himself endorsed return-free filing in 1985. The likely reason for the resistance is that the proposed set-up would make tax “simplification” —lopping off upper tax brackets, mainly—a much harder sell. If you’re trying to paint U.S. taxation as hopelessly burdensome, the last thing you want to see is the IRS transformed into an agency that just mails Americans a refund check automatically every year.
Meanwhile, special-interest groups are in the trenches trying to shoot down return-free pilot plans. In 2005, California adopted a program called ReadyReturn, which allows qualified residents to opt for a pre-completed tax return rather than fill out their own. The state estimates that the new process has saved millions a year in prep fees and about a half a mil in government administrative costs, and taxpayers who’ve used the service are overwhelmingly pleased. Thing is, not many Californians take advantage of it—in 2012, only 90,000 out of the approximately one million eligible—and officials complain they've had a hard time getting the word out. That’s because software manufacturer Intuit, the maker of the prep app TurboTax, wants it that way: according to a 2013 investigation by the nonprofit journalism outfit ProPublica, the company spent more than $3 million in lobbying and campaign contributions between 2005 and 2009 fighting ReadyReturn. Intuit didn’t manage to kill the program outright, but the state’s budget for marketing it was cut to a dinky $10,000.
Perhaps wary of incurring the deep-pocketed wrath of Big Tax-Prep and its pseudo-“small-government” allies, other states have seemingly been in no big hurry to follow California’s example. But the dream remains alive in D.C.—last April, Elizabeth Warren became the latest senator to propose (doomed) legislation introducing return-free filing. Somehow, I don’t see a lot of progress on this front any time soon. Being evidently opposed to paying any taxes at all, our president seems unlikely to expend much effort on making it simpler to do.”