Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: How Congress lets Americans get ripped off when they file their taxes

The Internal Revenue Service could do most Americans’ taxes for them — eliminating wasted expenditure of time

Published April 10, 2019 8:54AM (EDT)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

Tax returns are due to the IRS on April 15th this year. And as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) pointed out on Tuesday, when taxpayers across the country pay their due, they’ll be victims of a fundamental injustice in the American tax system.

That’s because the IRS could actually do most Americans’ taxes for them — eliminating wasted expenditure of time and, for many people, on professional tax preparers and services.

Ocasio-Cortex noted in a speech on the House floor that she wanted to lodge some of her “concerns” about the issue, as discussed by Vox’s Dylan Matthews. She quoted from his recent article, though she left out the names of the specific companies:

It is a huge scandal that Congress has not yet instructed the IRS to automatically prepare taxes for the vast majority of Americans. The IRS has all the information required to do that for all but a few taxpayers, and the main reason it hasn’t to date is lobbying by companies like TurboTax and H&R Block.

“The reason it doesn’t may have to do with the role of money in politics,” she said. “I would like to commend the advancements we have made for working class people, but long-term, we should be looking at a solution where everyday people do not necessarily have to spend hours every year preparing tax returns when the majority of Americans have relatively simple and straightforward returns.”

Matthews noted that there’s a bipartisan bill that would prevent the IRS from making tax-filing software and interfaces that could compete with services like TurboTax. It is, essentially, a massive giveaway to these companies, he argued. And it would be a blatant way for the American people to get ripped off by their own legislature.

“Banning the IRS from offering an equivalent product to those companies for free would hurt consumers, provide no social value, and purely serve to increase ill-gotten rents for two of the most pointless companies currently involved in American capitalism,” Matthews wrote. “There is no excuse for Congress passing this provision.”

Watch the clip below:

By Cody Fenwick

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