The left-leaning nonprofit journalism outfit ProPublica recently linked tax-preparation company Intuit to a grassroots campaign against return-free tax filing, but the company, which makes the popular TurboTax software, says it’s just looking out for taxpayers’ interests. If tax filing is essentially taken over by the IRS, taxpayers’ voices would be marginalized, Intuit says.
A series of similarly worded letters written by community leaders were sent to Congress over the last year in opposition to the idea of return-free tax filing, which essentially means the IRS would fill out most taxpayers’ forms for them and inform them of their tax liability. And Emily Pflaster, who works for PR and lobbying firm JCI Worldwide, asked Rabbi Elliot Dorff, for instance, to write an op-ed in the Jewish Journal on the topic.
Intuit, the market for whose software would shrink significantly if return-free tax filing passed, calls ProPublica’s stories ”advocacy pieces” and “not objective reporting on an important public policy issue.”
“The strategy of return-free proponents is to make this about a company, rather than debating the merits of the issue,” Diane Carlini, of Intuit corporate communications, told National Review Online.
Intuit thinks the IRS Free-File Program is a better alternative for taxpayers than the return-free system, which they describe as a “tax bill-presentment system” that minimizes the taxpayers’ voice and maximizes revenue collection for government.
Federal lawmakers pushing the idea say it would allow millions of Americans to file their taxes in a few minutes and at no cost. Taxpayers would have to opt-in to return-free filing, they say.
“We work with many industry associations, community service organizations, public policy forums, and taxpayer advocacy and consumer groups to support common-sense tax simplification reform and taxpayer empowerment for the average American,” Carlini said.
Intuit also does open work with D.C. lobbyists on their initiatives.