April 25, 2023

Warren, Carper, and 29 Senators Urge IRS to Simplify Tax Filing Process and Expand Access to Free Filing Options

Americans spend 13 hours and $250 on average filing taxes; new funding provides IRS opportunities to expand access to simple, free filing

Letter Text (PDF)

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.), members of the Senate Finance Committee, led 29 other senators in a letter to IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel, urging the agency to simplify the tax process and broaden access to free e-filing options. The Inflation Reduction Act supplied the agency with the funding necessary to enhance and modernize the U.S. tax system, and the IRS is expected to finalize a report on direct e-filing in May. The senators are calling on the IRS to take action as quickly as possible.

“A key objective of the IRS should be to improve the taxpayer experience and make the process of filing income taxes simpler and more efficient. Better, more accessible e-filing tools can improve taxpayer compliance, minimize unintentional errors, and help taxpayers claim refunds quickly,” wrote the senators. “As you know, the recent investments in the IRS under the Inflation Reduction Act present a unique opportunity to show how the agency can work better for the American people, and we strongly urge you to prioritize expanded access to simple, free e-filing options as part of this effort.”

“Ultimately, the fairness and fiscal stability of our nation relies on an equitable tax system, and this moment presents a unique opportunity to deliver on this goal. By addressing the challenges that have plagued the Free File program and expanding the ability for taxpayers to access low-cost e-filing tools, we can reduce the tax filing burden on American families, cut costs and improve the efficiency of the IRS, and ultimately help restore confidence in the integrity of our tax system,” continued the senators. “We look forward to your report on direct e-filing in May. If the report concludes that such a system is feasible, we urge you to roll it out as quickly as possible.

The letter was signed by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), John Fetterman (D-Pa.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

Senator Warren is a longtime advocate for a fairer tax system, supporting measures to make it easier and cheaper for normal taxpayers to file their taxes while holding the wealthy accountable to pay their fair share:

  • 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, Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sanders, and Whitehouse sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, urging her to use the full extent of the Treasury Department’s regulatory authority to crack down on the ultra-wealthy’s use of trusts to dodge paying their fair share in taxes.
  • 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 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 April 2022, Senator Warren and Representative Judy Chu (D-Calif.) sent a letter to Secretary Yellen and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig expressing concerns about higher IRS tax audit rates for low-income Americans. The lawmakers called on the IRS to cease this unfair practice and asked for information regarding their audit rates on low-income Americans and their plans to make the audit data accessible to the public. 
  • In February 2022, Senator Warren and Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) sent a letter to the Acting Inspector General of the Department of Treasury and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, calling on them to open an investigation into the unethical revolving door between the world’s largest accounting firms and the Treasury Department and IRS. 
  • 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.