By Rich Robledo, Las Vegas Sun, May 21, 2023
Every year, millions of Americans visit Las Vegas to see the sights, take in a show, and even gamble in our world-famous casinos. And while blackjack can be a fun treat, most Americans don’t want to gamble with their taxes or financial stability.
But taxpayers would be dealt a losing hand under the latest plan by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., to give the Internal Revenue Service the added authority and responsibility of preparing and filing tax returns for all taxpayers. Let’s look at the odds.
On average, a typical hand of blackjack gives the player a 42.22% chance of beating the house. A recent report from the National Bureau of Economic Research estimated that a government-run tax preparation system would generate an accurate pre-populated tax return only 42% to 48% of the time. Warren’s proposal system would essentially force taxpayers to play blackjack with their tax returns every year.
In roulette, the player has a 2.7% chance of winning if they place their chips on just a single numbered square. That’s slightly higher than the odds of having your phone call answered if you contact the IRS for questions during tax season. According to the independent National Taxpayer Advocate, the IRS answered just 2% of the more than 70 million taxpayer phone calls to the agency’s help line in 2021.
Giving the IRS the responsibility of creating prepopulated tax returns is also a clear conflict of interest. Every year, millions of Americans utilize free or low-cost online tools or hire a certified public accountant to help them file their taxes. These private-sector services have a fiduciary responsibility to look out for taxpayer’s financial interests. The IRS, on the other hand, is tasked with maximizing revenue for the federal government.
Democratic Sens. Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada have been pragmatic voices representing the interests of Nevadans in our nation’s capital. Unlike Warren, they should play the smart odds. A recent poll from the Taxpayers Protection Alliance found that an overwhelming 76% of Nevada voters oppose legislative proposals to give the IRS authority to prepare and file tax returns on behalf of taxpayers. Additionally, 59% of Nevadans said they would be less likely to support an elected official who wanted to increase the IRS’s authorities.
Don’t gamble with taxpayers’ hard-earned money and valuable time. Rosen and Cortez Masto should oppose a misguided and unnecessary government-run tax preparation system.
Rich Robledo is founder of Acclaim Real Estate. He lives in Las Vegas.