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Carper, Portman remind taxpayers of IRS Free File program as reports show little oversight

Delaware News Desk
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times

Sens. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, the ranking member and chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, unveiled on June 9 a new bipartisan staff memo that found there has been little IRS oversight of the Free File program, which provides free online tax preparation and filing services to U.S. taxpayers.

As a result, American taxpayers, who are eligible for free tax filing through the Internal Revenue Service, may not be aware of the program or taking advantage of it. This could result in eligible taxpayers paying fees to file their taxes.

Over the course of a yearlong investigation, the subcommittee examined the history of the IRS Free File program, the coordination between the Free File Alliance and its membership of tax preparation software companies, oversight of the Free File program by IRS and reporting in 2019 that certain FFA members used coding to hide their Free File websites from online search engines.

Ahead of the July 15th tax filing deadline, Carper and Portman want to ensure Americans who made $69,000 or less in 2019 know that they can access the free filing services to which they are entitled by visiting irs.gov/freefile.

“It shouldn’t be the case that Americans who are eligible to file their taxes for free end up paying substantial fees each year, but our bipartisan investigation makes clear that is what is happening,” said Carper. “Our subcommittee found that, since the IRS entered into an agreement with tax preparation companies like H&R Block and Intuit [TurboTax] in 2002, there has been little oversight by the IRS into its Free File program. This has resulted in American taxpayers eligible for free tax filing either paying too much or never finding free services — often due to practices of private companies looking to profit off of filing season. Today, ahead of the tax filing deadline, which has been extended to July 15 due to the unprecedented pandemic, I want to make clear to all Delawareans and Americans across the country with an income of $69,000 or less: you can file your taxes for free at irs.gov/freefile. Looking ahead, my memo with Sen. Portman stresses the importance of Congress providing the IRS with the resources it needs to improve oversight and the Free File program to ensure it better serves eligible Americans as Congress intended. Over 100 million taxpayers are eligible for Free File and they shouldn’t pay a penny more than they have to this tax season.”

Read the complete memo at bit.ly/3dNfKkA.