It’s no secret that America’s tax system is tremendously convoluted and overly complicated- and the reason for that just became very clear. H&R Block and Intuit, the company behind TurboTax, lobby heavily in our Republican-controlled Congress to keep our tax forms so complicated that one must go to one of their companies in order to pay our money to the government. It’s a clear example of the way that private businesses have hijacked and turned a public transaction between citizen and state into a for-profit enterprise.
What makes matters worse is that H&R Block and their mercenary Republican Senators in the Appropriations Committee have just extended the length of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) form. The EITC is one of America’s foremost anti-poverty tools, reimbursing taxed money to poor working families. With the Child Tax Credit, it helps keep some 9.4 million people out of poverty each year
Two-thirds of EITC recipients pay to have their taxes done every year due to over-complicated forms, meaning that hundreds of thousands of dollars allotted to ease the plight of the working poor is instead going to exploitative and predatory tax preparation agencies.
The additions to the EITC form increases it by several pages, ostensibly to reduce the number of improper payments- which are made by the tax preparers themselves. Vox.com reported that “A recent IRS study found EITC-claiming returns from paid preparers were more likely to result in overpayments than self-filed returns….People who fill out taxes for a living are, on average, worse at it than taxpayers who do it themselves.”
The Senate Appropriations bill also calls for added language to Child Tax Credit, the American Opportunity Tax Credit (for colleges), and the Premium Tax Credit (for healthcare)- all aimed at lower-income families. Schemes like H&R Block’s lobbying efforts represent the ugliest side of American capitalism, that preys on the weak and the poor, keeping them downtrodden, perpetually stacking the deck against them and pulling footholds out from under their feet. It is absolutely despicable, and a clear sign that our tax system is in major need of a healthy, progressive reform.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.