As Tax Day Approaches, Shaheen Introduces Bill to Simplify Federal Tax Return Process

April 04, 2017

(Washington, DC) –  Two weeks ahead of Tax Day, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced legislation to simplify the federal tax return process. The Simpler Tax Filing Act would direct the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to provide many tax filers with a one-page tax return already filled out with the taxpayer’s information, known as a “simple return,” allowing American taxpayers to save billions in tax preparation fees. The legislation is co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

“Americans shouldn’t have to spend countless hours before Tax Day navigating a needlessly complex process,” said Shaheen. “The Simpler Tax Filing Act will provide Americans with a return option that will not only simplify the income tax process, but also save consumers millions of dollars. This is a common-sense solution that will create a more accurate system and save Americans valuable time and money.”

"Tax refunds should stay in the pockets of hardworking families, not get gobbled up by preparation fees that can cost hundreds of dollars. ‎It's time to stand up to the tax preparation industry and give taxpayers a simpler filing option,” Senator Warren said.

Presently, Americans spend more than 6 billion hours preparing their tax returns with almost 60 percent of taxpayers hiring paid tax preparers. Much of the time taxpayers spend is duplicative, filing information the IRS already collects from employers and financial institutions. Under Shaheen’s proposal, the Treasury – in consultation with the Taxpayer Advocate Service – would be required to issue a report detailing the actions necessary to achieve the goal of offering prepared tax filers by 2022.

Once implemented, the IRS would first notify eligible taxpayers that they have the option of filing a “simple return” before later sending eligible taxpayers a one-page return already filled out with pertinent information. The taxpayer would then double-check the form for accuracy before filing it electronically.

The simple return would become a voluntary program that could be offered to as many as 40 percent of Americans and save up to 225 million hours of taxpayers’ time and $2 billion annually in tax preparation fees.