Free electronic tax-filing programs have been banned in a bill that was passed by the US House of Representatives on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. The bill which includes terminology that would permanently ban the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from ever creating any type of free electronic tax filing service for US citizens pushes forward the primary goal of companies like Intuit and H&R
Block and the entire for-profit tax-filing industry.
The bill, called the Taxpayer First Act, first went through the House Committee on Ways & Means and was then passed by a bipartisan group of lawmakers through a voice vote. Many of the lawmakers have received campaign contributions from for-profit tax preparation companies.
According to Business Insider only 3% of most eligible Americans take advantage of free services which are offered by H&R Block and Intuit, which produces the electronic tax filing service called Turbotax, as long as they earn less than $66,000 annually. The Taxpayer First Act bill will make sure this practice continues if it becomes law.
The Taxpayer First Act bill will include some reforms for the IRS which will include wording that will ban the IRS from forever creating its own version of a free tax preparation service. The bill was cosponsored by Democrat Rep. John Lewis of Georgia and Republican Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania.
Members of the committees on Financial Services and Ways & Means have received large contributions from companies like H&R Block and Intuit. Records show that in 2018, H&R Block gave campaign donations to the bills lead sponsors, Representatives Lewis and Kelly, as well as to 11 of the 25 Democrats and 9 of the 17 Republicans on the Ways & Means Committee. This includes the chairman of the committee, Democratic Rep. Richard Nealand ranking Republican member Rep. Kevin Brady.
Intuit also gave a sizable donation of around $6,500 to Chairman Neal’s 2018 campaign as well as to giving donations to several dozens of other lawmakers.
There is also a companion bill in the US Senate which is also bi-partisan sponsored that also calls for the banning the IRS from creating its own electronic tax-filing system for US citizens. Democrat Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon and Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa are the cosponsors of the Senate’s version.