April 15, 2019

Duckworth Helps Re-Introduce Legislation to Make Tax Preparation and Filing Simpler, More Affordable

Taxpayers spent an average of 11 hours and $200 preparing and filing their tax returns last tax season


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and 9 of their colleagues in introducing a bill to make the tax filing process easier and less costly for millions of American taxpayers. The Tax Filing Simplification Act would return free-filing by directing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to develop a free, online tax preparation and filing service that does not require the sharing of private information with third parties. The legislation would also prohibit the IRS from entering into agreements that restrict its ability to provide these services while eliminating red tape for all taxpayers and ensuring that more eligible individuals – including millions of low-income Americans – receive the important tax refunds they deserve, like the Earned Income Tax Credit.

"Our current tax filing system is far too costly and time-consuming for everyday Americans," Duckworth said. "I'm proud to support Senator Warren's legislation that helps consumers save money by using a free online tax preparation and filing option, while also enhancing fraud protections and simplifying the process."

"Taxpayers waste too many hours and hundreds of dollars on tax preparation each year, which disproportionately burdens low-income and minority taxpayers," Warren said. "This bill will require the IRS to offer easy, free, online tax-filing for all taxpayers. This is a simple idea with a long history of support from both Republicans and Democrats, and it's time to make it a reality."

The Tax Filing Simplification Act makes several commonsense changes to simplify and decrease the costs of the tax filing process for millions of American taxpayers by:

  • Prohibiting the IRS from entering into agreements that restrict its ability to provide free online tax preparation or filing services;
  • Directing the IRS to develop a free, online tax preparation and filing service that would allow all taxpayers to prepare and file their taxes directly with the federal government instead of requiring that they share private information with third parties;
  • Enhancing taxpayer data access by allowing all taxpayers to download third-party-provided tax information that the IRS already has into a software program of their choice;
  • Allowing eligible taxpayers with simple tax situations to choose a new return-free option, which would provide a pre-prepared tax return with income tax liability or refund amount already calculated;
  • Mandating that these data and filing options be made available through a secure online function and requires any participating individual to verify his or her identity before accessing tax data; and
  • Reducing tax fraud by getting third-party income information to the IRS earlier in the tax season, allowing the agency to cross-check this information before issuing refunds. 

The bill is endorsed by the National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients), the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, Americans for Tax Fairness, Economic Security Project Action, the Hispanic Federation, Americans for Financial Reform, and Public Citizen.

The bill’s fact sheet can be found here.