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Call on the IRS to provide libre tax-filing software

by Free Software Foundation Contributions Published on Apr 25, 2023 12:16 PM

How did you file your taxes this year? Millions of US taxpayers file their taxes using proprietary software such as TurboTax. Many feel they have no other option than to use nonfree software or a Service as a Software Substitute (SaaSS), giving up their freedom as well as their most private financial information to a third-party company, in order to file taxes. Fortunately, upcoming legislation gives us a chance to change this. The Inflation Reduction Act requires the IRS to research a government-operated gratis tax return system. $15 million of the $80 billion that was approved for the tax agency by the Act is allocated for this. On April 5, the IRS released a plan for how it intends to improve the tax system. This plan includes the promise to further explore an "electronic service to prepare and file tax returns directly with the IRS." To do so, the IRS intends to "study taxpayer preferences for products. The results of the study will inform if and how the IRS should design such a service."

This is an invitation to tell the IRS about the importance of free (as in freedom) software. The Americans for Tax Fairness Action Fund launched a petition calling for a gratis, "simple tax filing system that saves taxpayers time and money." This is not enough! We need a tax filing system in which every taxpayer can file their taxes entirely with free software. There are already some providers who allow eligible people to file their taxes free of charge, but none of the software offered is free as in freedom.

Take Action

Let's call on the IRS to make a website for filing your tax return which respects your freedom. This is your chance. Write to the new IRS commissioner Daniel Werfel with your message. It can be as simple as:

Dear Commissioner Werfel,
Thank you for exploring an electronic service for preparing and filing returns directly with the IRS. Your Internal Revenue Service Inflation Reduction Act Strategic Operating Plan states that you intend to "study taxpayer preferences for products." I would like to share my strong preference for a software that respects the taxpayer's freedom, i.e. free (as in freedom) software. A free society like the United States needs free/libre software, especially in the public sector. Please visit the Free Software Foundations website at to learn more about free/libre software. You can email if you have any questions.
Thank you for your consideration.
[Your name]

Address your letter to The Honorable Daniel Werfel, Commissioner, Internal Revenue Service, 1111 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20224. Post your letter on social media to inspire others to do the same.

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Filed under: CTA, government

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