Rossotti, Daniels Strange Bedfellows in `EZ Tax Filing' Initiative. (News Alert!)

Article excerpt

When the IRS and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) put their collective minds to it, even the worst ideas can be resuscitated. After being rejected in 2000, "EZ Tax Filing," a government-administered program to figure and file taxes electronically (and brought to you by the IRS), has been given new life.

IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti, a holdover from the Clinton administration, appears to be behind this latest IRS encroachment. Interestingly, Rossotti opposed the initiative when he was Clinton's man. He told a congressional committee in October 2000 that there was "no gray area" into which the IRS should go into, adding "I think that would be very unwise, either by contract or in any form."

But, in late January, Rossotti was singing a different tune, claiming that "the IRS is committed to working with the private sector to expand e-filing opportunity for taxpayers." Today, he contends that "as customer surveys show every year, people who use e-file like it. We want more people to take advantage of this innovative program."

There are numerous problems with inviting the government to compete with the private sector in any field, let alone tax preparation, critics note. Not only does the proposal raise serious privacy concerns, it also will cost the federal government $500 million by some estimates.

A bipartisan contingent of congressmen, flanked by several conservative advocacy groups, has written the White House asking it to reconsider the proposal. …