NOT MANY people know it, but the state Franchise Tax Board has, over the last several years, offered to complete tax forms for some Californians with simple returns, and to do it for free. This idea is now enshrined in a bill, AB 2905.
The idea is neither Republican nor Democratic. It simply adopts the principle that if the government imposes a burden, it ought to offer to lighten the burden.
Seems like something everyone could support, right? Well, not exactly.
Opposition to this bill comes from private companies that make money by selling tax return products or services. They say filling out tax returns is their business.
So now, some legislators are saying they oppose this legislation -- supposedly because of concerns about taxpayer privacy. But every piece of information needed to fill out a return for those eligible for this service is already in the government's possession. That's what makes it possible. And eligible taxpayers are reminded, at several points in the process, that they don't have to use the service. It's entirely the taxpayer's call.