ATR President Grover Norquist today sent the following letter to the United States Senate:

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform, I am pleased to support S. 1796, the “Free File Program Act of 2011.”  I would urge all senators to co-sponsor and vote for this important legislation to protect taxpayers.

The IRS should never get to assert up-front the liability of a taxpayer.  To do so would invite a conflict of interest, since the IRS will always interpret tax law in such a way that maximizes tax revenue.  On the other hand, it should be easy for most taxpayers with simple tax situations to determine for themselves their own tax liability, and report this to the IRS.

That’s where “Free File” comes in.  Over the past decade, more than 30 million taxpayers have been able to file their tax returns for free using private sector tax filing software accessible from the IRS website.  This “Free File Alliance” is available to 70 percent of taxpayers (about 100 million families), giving most Americans an easy and free way to get their taxes done and send the results to the IRS.  This IRS-return industry partnership creates a healthy balance between the competing interests of tax collector and tax payer.

S. 1796 reinforces this success and directs government officials to continue it.  Under the bill, the IRS is mandated to continue working with the tax return industry to provide free private sector tax filing for the lowest-earning 70 percent of taxpayers.  

Critically, S. 1796 prevents the IRS from competing with the private sector by developing government tax return software or by other tactics.  Doing so would create a grave conflict of interest.

The tax code is complicated, but that’s no excuse for the IRS to become both the tax collector and the tax return preparer.  S. 1796 preserves the “Free File” program from those who want to wreck its success by creating a “government option” in tax preparation.

PDF of Letter