Taxpayer Coalition to Secretary Mnuchin: Free File is the Solution to Tax Complexity
February 23, 2017
The Honorable Steven T. Mnuchin
United States Treasury Secretary
Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20220
Dear Secretary Mnuchin:
On behalf of the undersigned conservative, free market organizations, we write in support of making the Free File tax preparation program permanent in 2017.
The Free File system is an innovative public-private solution to tax complexity that has served more than 40 million taxpayers and saved $1.3 billion in preparation costs since its inception. The program offers 70 percent of taxpayers, or those making less than $64,000, access to electronic filing software provided by leading private companies free of charge.
Today, it is difficult or impossible for most taxpayers to file their own taxes. The tax code is more than 75,000 pages long and contains over 2.4 million words. This complexity forces American families and businesses to spend more than 8.9 billion hours and $400 billion complying with the code every year.
Free File is critical to addressing this complexity. The program has frequently been reauthorized since it was introduced in 2008, and has enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress.
Despite the success of this program, some, like Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have called for the program to be eliminated based on the notion that the government should have sole responsibility over tax preparation. In place of making Free File permanent, she has called for having the IRS file taxes for individuals as their solution to tax complexity.
This would be a mistake and would empower the IRS – an agency that already struggles to fulfill its existing responsibilities to taxpayers – with even broader power over the paychecks of American families. Having taxpayers receive a bill from the IRS would also be a huge conflict of interest given the agency already assesses tax liability for taxpayers.
In addition, it would require an increase in IRS manpower due to complexity associated with an expanded responsibility. Given the existing complexity in the code, it would be difficult – if not impossible – for everyday taxpayers to know if they were paying the right amount of taxes under this scenario.
The Free File program has been a clear success in ensuring taxpayers are able to comply the absurdly complex tax code and is a vastly superior solution to having the IRS file taxes for Americans. We urge you to make Free File permanent in 2017.
President, Americans for Tax Reform
Executive Director, American Conservative Union
President, American Commitment
President, Association of Mature American Citizens
President, Campaign for Liberty
President, Center for Individual Freedom
President, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
Executive Director, Digital Liberty
George Landrith, President
Frontiers of Freedom
Mario H. Lopez
President, Hispanic Leadership Fund
President, Institute for Policy Innovation
National Executive Director, The Latino Coalition
President, Less Government
President, Let Freedom Ring
President, Market Institute
President, National Taxpayers Union
President & CEO, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council
President, Taxpayers Protection Alliance
The Honorable Donald J. Trump
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500
The Honorable Kevin Brady
Chairman, Committee on Ways and Means
U.S. House of Representatives
1102 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
The Honorable Orrin G. Hatch
Chairman, Committee on Finance
219 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510