We all know that the IRS’s job is to collect taxes that are owed each year. When tax time comes around, many Michigan residents pour over the numbers or enlist the help of a local CPA or trained tax professional to make sure that they get things right.
But now, some members of Congress are pushing a proposal that would give the IRS unprecedented authority to not only collect your taxes, but generate your tax return as well.
For instance, many Michigan residents are able to take advantage of state and federal tax credits for making their homes more energy efficient. From installing solar panels to upgrading to more energy efficient windows or water heaters, taxpayers are making sure that they get money back in their pockets for making smart upgrades.
But these and many other items that qualify you for crucial tax breaks are not things that an official at the IRS may know that you prioritized in 2021, and countless Michigan families could be left out in the cold if they do not receive what they are rightfully owed.
What’s ironic about this situation is that the IRS has not even asked for this expanded authority. Perhaps that’s because, after decades of underfunding, the IRS struggles to complete its core basic functions.
The agency had a backlog of over 35 million unprocessed tax returns at the end of last filing season. And if you were to call the IRS during last year's tax season, you would have had a 1-in-50 chance of having an actual person answer the phone.
Tax season is stressful enough. We shouldn’t be making it even harder for taxpayers to get their questions answered or to get money back in their pockets — money they are rightfully owed.
We must insist the IRS focus on improving its current responsibilities. Any idea that its authority should be expanded is misguided, reckless, and could hurt Michigan families.
Here in Michigan, we value policymakers who work towards smart, forward-looking solutions for our state and the country. In that spirit, I urge Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters to fight to ensure that taxpayers can continue to make their own financial decisions and reject any proposal that would expand the IRS’ authority and reach.
After all, no one wants to have the government be their accountant come tax time.
An Op-Ed from Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce President Veronica Horn
Published in the Detroit News 2-27-22.