Just in time for Tax Day, the for-profit tax preparation industry is about to realize one of its long-sought goals. Congressional Democrats and Republicans are moving to permanently bar the IRS from creating a free electronic tax filing system.Last week, the House Ways and Means Committee, led by Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), passed the Taxpayer First Act, a wide-ranging bill making several administrative changes to the IRS that is sponsored by Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Mike Kelly (R-Pa).In one of its provisions, the bill makes it illegal for the IRS to create its own online system of tax filing. Companies like Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, and H&R Block have lobbied for years to block the IRS from creating such a system. If the tax agency created its own program, which would be similar to programs other developed countries have, it would threaten the industry’s profits.
Protesters in Baltimore say they have been driven into the streets by years of police abuse and a lack of economic opportunities.
But some lawmakers have other ideas for what’s causing the unrest in Baltimore:
— Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., appeared on Birmingham talk radio on April 28 to denounce illegal immigration and politicans who have leaned towards more lenient drug laws as “factors culminating in what we saw in Baltimore.”
— Rep. Bill Flores, R-Tex., went on a podcast program to discuss the Supreme Court case over gay marriage on April 29. Flores tied the lack of marriages “between a man and a woman” with “what is going on in Baltimore.”
— Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., called into on the Sam Malone Show on May 1 to discuss the “anarchy” in Baltimore. The host argued, “if there’s no one telling you about love of America and your neighbors, what do you expect” To which Kelly replied, “I’m with you.” The congressman continued, to those who say families in Baltimore “did not have a chance,” Kelly said, “give me a break,” before going on to blame the unrest in Baltimore on welfare programs.
While the protests engulfed the city of Baltimore, Congress worked diligently on other matters last week. Legislators, including Rep. Brooks, voted on legislation to boost taxpayer spending on fighter jets and missile systems well beyond what Pentagon planners had requested.