Good things are happening! The IRS launches its long-awaited free tax filing system, a research group identifies a rare positive climate turning point, overlooked gas pipelines face scrutiny, and the government cracks down on insider trading.

Finally, Free Filing

The Internal Revenue Service announced the launch of its first-ever Direct File pilot program on Tuesday, the first step to creating a free, easy way for millions of Americans to file all of their taxes online.

Taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes of $73,000 or less can already use the IRS’ Free File program to prepare and file their federal returns. Now, as part of this pilot program, many more people in ​​Arizona, California, Massachusetts, and New York will be able to file both their federal and state taxes in 2024. 

Taxpayers in 10 other states will also be able to participate in some form, as part of a pilot program that would be made available to all Americans the following year. For now, the prototype will be limited to taxpayers with relatively simple returns, but it will cover specific income types, such as W-2 wages, and important tax credits, like the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.

Giant tax prep companies like H&R Block and TurboTax have fought free filing for years, making tax preparation much more complicated and expensive than it should be. But with substantial new IRS funding from the Inflation Reduction Act, the beleaguered agency was able to expedite the pilot program. 

For many taxpayers, this simple government-run filing program also helps assuage concerns about their private data being shared with Big Tech firms. More importantly, no one will be ripped off for services that should be free.

A Rare Positive Climate Turning Point