In 2005, California tested a pilot return-free program at the state level, and in 2007, Republican Eric Cantor and Democrat Zoe Lofgren introduced a bill in the House of Representatives to adopt return-free filing nationally.

A Propublica investigation revealed that Intuit hired lobbying firms that recruited community leaders to pen op-eds opposing return-free filing, to create the appearance of a grassroots campaign against the proposal. Without revealing that they were lobbyists, employees of the firm gave community leaders misleading information about return-free filing and fed them pre-written editorials to submit to newspapers.

Propublica also reported that in the years that followed, Intuit spent $3 million on lobbying and political contributions in California and donated $26,000 each to Cantor and Lofgren and their political action committees. California and Congress both dropped their return-free proposals.

Something for everyone

In a nod to liberals, the Taxpayer First Act includes a provision that prevents the IRS from hiring private debt collectors to hound poor people for back taxes. And as Vox explains, anti-tax conservatives have an incentive to keep taxes infuriating, which makes voters more likely to oppose taxes.

To get a sense for the bill’s bipartisan support, consider its unlikely pair of co-sponsors: Mike Kelly, a Republican who once claimed Barack Obama was running a “shadow government” to undermine Donald Trump, and John Lewis, a Democrat and civil rights champion who once marched into Selma with Martin Luther King, Jr.

However, the bill may expose a generational divide between established Democrats like Lewis and progressive newcomers like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Her policy director, Dan Riffle, made his disdain for the Taxpayer First Act clear on Twitter this week:

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