It is a simple idea. Rather than spending hours preparing your annual tax returns, why not have the IRS send taxpayers a return with their income details already filled in, based on data reported to the IRS by employers? Taxpayers with uncomplicated returns could then decide to simply sign this form and return it to the IRS, thereby avoiding the need to hire a tax preparer or wade through the details themselves. The program would be voluntary, so if you wanted to file you own return, you could still do so.
During the campaign, Barack Obama pledged to implement the so-called "Simple Return" model. In April 2010, Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., introduced a bill that would do just that, so we rated the promise In the Works.
After checking to see how the bill is doing, however, we have decided to change the rating. The bill was introduced on April 15, and was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means, the chief tax-writing committee in the House. Bills usually start in committee, but most never make it out. In fact, most are never even debated.
So far, that appears to be the fate of Cooper's bill. There has been no action on the legislation since it was moved to the committee, according to Thomas, the Library of Congress website that tracks legislation. And time is running out.
Each Congressional "session" only lasts two years, and all bills that have not been passed and signed by the president by the time the session ends automatically lapse and have to be reintroduced. The 111th Congress will end on January 3, 2011, and with Congress having its hands full with the expiring Bush tax cuts, there is little chance that Cooper's bill will make it to Obama's desk before January.
We'll keep watching to see how things unfold, but for now, we're changing the rating to Stalled.