Taxation in the United States has always been a contentious subject. It’s a chore which I’m sure we’ve all heard people complain about, or have complained of ourselves. But, if we know that people dislike the way that it currently is, then of course it stands to reason that we should attempt to change it, right? However, the way in which the American government is currently run enables the voice of the American people to be trampled upon by the interests of corporations. Lobbying an official through non-monetary means is the constitutional right of any person, organization, or business. What I am speaking about is utilizing financial incentives to sway politicians and influence tax legislation within our government. In the case of taxes, lobbying actively inconveniences the American populace by upholding institutions which are not only unnecessary, but are often a financial and temporal drain on the populace at large.
Commercial tax preparation companies, entities like H&R Block and Intuit, are part of an inefficient system, and fulfill a redundant job. Americans are required to file taxes and report them to the IRS every year—a time-consuming activity which, if done incorrectly, could lead to jail time or significant fines; however, the IRS already knows how much an individual owes the government and could simply send you a set of pre-filled forms that you would have to check over, sign, and then send back. This economic model has already been employed in nations such as the United Kingdom and Denmark; frankly, it works far better than what we have in place. Austan Goolsbee, former President Barack Obama’s economic advisor, predicted that Americans could save over 2 billions dollars collectively if we implemented the aforementioned structure. Similarly, The Atlantic reported that Americans spent over 2 billion hours a year on filing taxes, an amount of time which could be reduced to almost nothing with a reformed system.
There isn’t any real, rational economic reason preventing us from reforming our current tax system. Regardless of what might be presented to the public, essentially the sole reason that we keep our current model in play is due to the lobbying of tax preparation companies. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry, and one which spends millions every year in lobbying to both sides of the aisle. Intuit alone spent 3.3 million dollars on lobbying the US government in 2021. Far from reform towards return-free filing, our government recently tried to prevent the IRS from providing the public with their own free tax software. This legislation was, of course, supported and funded by none other than tax preparation companies. It was only the dissent of the general populace which eventually quashed the proposal. The brutal reality is that our government shelves a much more accessible and intuitive system due to the interests of large tax preparation companies, and companies are willing to provide millions to our politicians to keep them from making changes to the status quo.
Our tax system reflects a far larger trend in our political landscape, that being the dangers of financial political lobbying. It keeps us trapped in the past, and it’s so blatant when it comes to issues like climate change, where oil companies have historically lobbied tens of millions of dollars to prevent green legislation from being signed into law. Yet the most egregious example of lobbying is done by pharmaceutical companies. They have spent almost 5 billion dollars in lobbying over the past 23 years, and in so doing they keep prices for necessary drugs such as insulin high. In the case of pharmaceutical companies, their lobbying makes living expensive for millions of Americans. It is antithetical to our progress as a nation to enable businesses to push their ideals through pure financial means. Financial lobbying should not be legal. It works against the wishes of the American people and only provesdfaf useful to corporations. It serves only as a tool for the wealthy to continue their exploitation of others.
Companies can, and will always, have ideals. The issue comes when those who are supposed to be the representatives of the people can be bought. Financial lobbying is a facet of our democracy which is antidemocratic, and instead serves to make our nation plutocratic.