June 27, 2023

Senators Warren, Carper, Representatives Sherman, Porter and Beyer Lead 99-Member Coalition to Applaud IRS Announcement of New Free Tax Filing Tool

“We stand in strong support of the IRS’s project to make a pilot version of this tool available to taxpayers in filing season 2024.”

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. – United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) and Tom Carper (D-Del.), alongside Representatives Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), Katie Porter (D-Calif.) and Don Beyer (D-Va.), led a coalition of 99 Democratic lawmakers in sending a letter to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Daniel Werfel and Deputy Treasury Secretary Adewale Adeyemo, applauding the IRS’ announcement of a pilot  of a free tax filing tool next year. The lawmakers shared their support for making a strong tool available to as many taxpayers as feasible in 2024 and for continuing to build the free and easier tax filing tool that Americans want and deserve.

Last month, the IRS released its long-awaited report demonstrating the feasibility and importance of a free, government-owned direct file tool, and announced its intention – at Treasury’s direction – to pilot such a tool during the next filing season. The tool will save many hardworking Americans the $140 on average they pay to file their taxes, and help provide low-income taxpayers the opportunity to claim thousands of dollars in benefits that have been missed due to the expense and difficulty of filing a return. The report also revealed that taxpayers would feel overall more secure filing their taxes directly with the government, than through a private tax software company.

“We urge you to make this pilot of the direct file tool available to as many taxpayers as is feasible, in order to deliver real value quickly to American taxpayers and demonstrate the value of modernizing the IRS, while also gathering data to make improvements and to better serve American taxpayers,” wrote the lawmakers. “We also know that next year’s pilot is only the first step toward the robust direct file system that Americans deserve.”

The lawmakers noted that the average American spends eight hours and $140 every year filing their personal taxes, often turning to tax preparation services that “should be free, are advertised to be free, but all too often are, in fact, not free for taxpayers.” The Free File program, a partnership with private tax preparation companies, was supposed to serve 70 percent of taxpayers but reached only 2 percent in the 2022 tax year. 

“This broken system is not only an unauthorized tax on middle-class families, but also a significant obstacle to the IRS fulfilling its role as our country’s second-largest benefits administrator,” wrote the lawmakers. “The expense and difficulty of filing a tax return prevents millions of American families every year from claiming thousands of dollars in benefits Congress has authorized via the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC).” 

In addition to Senators Warren and Carper in the Senate and Representatives Sherman, Porter and Beyer in the House, the letter was also signed by Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.),  Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tammy Duckworth  (D-Ill.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Angus King (I-Maine), John Fetterman (D-Pa.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.),  Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and Representatives Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Andy Kim (D-N.J.), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Dwight Evans (D-Pa.), Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.), Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.), Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), David Trone (D-Md.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas), Greg Landsman (D-Ohio,), Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), Becca Balint (D-Vt.), Jamal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Nikema Williams (D-Ga.), Jill Tokuda (D-Hawaii), Danny Davis (D-Ill.), Al Green (D-Texas.), Robert Garcia (D-Calif.), Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.), Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), Greg Casar (D-Texas), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Valerie Foushee (D-N.C.), André Carson (D-Ind.), Seth Magaziner (D-R.I.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Darren Soto (D-Fla.), Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Donald Payne (D-N.J.), Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas), Sean Casten (D-Ill.), Alma Adams (D-N.C.), and Chris Deluzio (D-Pa.).

Senator Warren is a longtime advocate for a fairer tax system, supporting measures to make it easier and cheaper for all American taxpayers to file their taxes:

  • In April 2023, Senators Warren and Carper led their colleagues in sending a letter to IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel urging the agency to simplify the tax process and broaden access to free e-filing options.
  • In April 2023, at a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Warren questioned Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Daniel Werfel about the IRS’s failed Free-File partnership with private tax preparation software companies and called on the agency to implement a direct E-File program that will be truly free and easy for millions of Americans. 
    • Commission Werfel agreed with Senator Warren that the gap between the 70% of taxpayers that Free File is supposed to serve and the 2% it actually does is “massive.”  When Senator Warren pointed out that tax prep companies are instead pushing alternative services that should be free, are marketed as free, but are not, Commissioner Werfel also agreed that “the whole process needs to be improved,” that taxpayer rights have been violated, and the IRS has an obligation to make “the tax system easier for taxpayers to navigate.”
  • In March 2023, Senators Warren and King wrote a letter with 19 other senators to the Internal Revenue Service and Secretary Yellen expressing strong support for Secretary Yellen’s directive for the IRS not to raise audit rates for small businesses or households making under $400,000 annually. 
  • In December 2022, Senators Warren and Wyden, along with Representatives Porter and Sherman sent letters to tax preparation companies H&R Block, TaxAct, and TaxSlayer, plus big tech firms Meta, and Google, amid reports that the tax preparation companies have been secretly transmitting individual taxpayers’ sensitive financial information to Meta and Google.
  • In July 2022, Senator Warren led 22 of her colleagues in introducing the Tax Filing Simplification Act of 2022 to simplify the tax filing process for millions of Americans by lowering costs, eliminating red tape for all taxpayers, and saving them hours and hundreds of dollars. 
  • During an exchange of the United States Senate Finance Committee in June 2022, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen agreed with Senator Warren on the need to create a free tax filing system that actually works for Americans. 
  • In April 2022, Senator Warren and Representatives Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and Katie Porter (D-Calif.) sent a letter to Intuit regarding the company’s unethical use of the revolving door to hire former regulators to defend their shady business practices that scam taxpayers out of billions of dollars. 
  • In May 2021, Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced the Restoring the IRS Act of 2021, which would provide the IRS with the resources it needs to go after wealthy tax cheats and close the tax gap.