January 04, 2022

Smith Op-Ed: Congress Should Not Let the IRS Play Both Tax Collector and Preparer

By Rep. Jason Smith Washington Times

Back in 2010, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously said about Obamacare, “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” And what did we find? Higher out of pocket health care costs and fewer choices and coverage options.

Now we find ourselves once again with Democrat control of Congress and the White House, and they are wanting to put in place new government controls, influence, and interference over everything from childcare to the car you buy.

Look no further than the Democrats’ $5 trillion tax and spending bill which passed the U.S. House of Representatives but is currently stalled in the U.S. Senate. The 2,100-page bill is full of trillions in new government spending and giveaways to the wealthy, alongside new taxes that would harm middle class families – all of which Democrats want to make law before more Americans find out what they are up to.

Among the lesser-known provisions included in the legislation is a section that starts the process of the IRS creating a government-run tax preparation system – a long time priority of Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The tax and spending bill, which creates over 150 new government programs through historic borrowing and tax increases, relies on a supercharged IRS to help make its command-and-control agenda a reality. It should be no surprise to middle class taxpayers then that the goal of having the IRS file their taxes for them is not to cut red tape or simplify tax filing. It is to further weaponize the IRS to go after hardworking Americans because Democrats want to use even more of your paycheck to fund their socialist priorities.

If this idea becomes reality, Americans could – just by utilizing the IRS’s tax preparation services – unknowingly open themselves up to an IRS investigation and hand over all of their personal financial information to an agency with a troubling track record of abusing its authority. Creating a government-owned and operated tax preparation system means that the IRS can track every keystroke and store personal taxpayer data. Forgot a zero or have to go back and edit something while preparing your taxes? Hello IRS audit. Have a discrepancy from one year to the next? The IRS could come knocking at your door. It is that simple.

For the IRS to have a front row seat into an individual’s tax filing process from start to finish is a clear conflict of interest. How can an agency whose purpose is to maximize how much money it can pull from the American people also ensure Americans pay only what they owe? The short answer is it cannot.

Americans already don’t trust the IRS to look out for their best interest. When taxpayers were asked, “Who would you trust more to make sure you pay no more than you owe in taxes?” a Center-Forward poll found that only 17 percent would trust the IRS. Likewise, when asked “Who would you trust more to make sure you get the maximum refund possible on your taxes?” that number dropped to 11 percent.

The IRS is anything but a “safe place” for your personal information. When put to the test, the IRS has repeatedly abused the trust of its primary customer, the American people, to the benefit of its boss, the federal government. Just this year, an IRS employee leaked the tax returns of thousands of Americans for political purposes. Under this provision, the IRS would have even more individuals’ information. Who is to say they won’t do that again?

Read the op-ed here.