On April 2, the US House Ways and Means Committee passed H.R.1957, the Taxpayer First Act of 2019 (the “Act”). Widely cited as a win for private online tax preparation companies such as TurboTax, opponents claim it will prohibit the IRS from creating competing free software to assist citizens in tax preparation and filing which could threaten the profits of these companies. Anyone in the US who makes under $66,000 a year is entitled to file their taxes for free, and while private companies do provide free filing products, only three percent of eligible U.S. taxpayers make use of them. Critics argue that these free services are “deliberately” un-promotedsimply and simply used as a tool to upsell other products and services to taxpayers. Those who support the Act, however, argue that the IRS will still be able to create its own software, and that other elements in the Act offer valuable consumer assistance, such as providing protections from private debt collectors.
The Act was passed with support of Democrats and Republicans.
Congress Is About to Ban the Government From Offering Free Online Tax Filing. Thank TurboTax., ProPublica, April 9, 2019.
House backs bill barring IRS from offering free tax filing services, The Washington Post, April 9, 2019.
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