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Minnesota Legislature

Online tax filing? Study would examine the easier option

Rep. Cheryl Youakim discusses a bill she sponsors with the House State Government Finance Committee Feb. 21. HF433 would, in part, require the revenue commissioner to study options for providing a free electronic option for filing individual income taxes. Photo by Paul Battaglia

If death and taxes are the only guarantees in life, Rep. Cheryl Youakim (DFL-Hopkins) hopes a $175,000 study would help filers delay the former in making the latter a bit easier.

Youakim sponsors HF433, which would commission a study to see how the state could offer a free online option for filing individual income taxes. The Department of Revenue would administer the study, gathering information from private vendors before reporting to the Legislature by March 16, 2018.

The study would focus on making the state system compatible with the federal IRS online system, keeping tax filers’ data secure, not allowing for fraudulent tax returns and keeping up with changes in tax law.

The House State Government Finance Committee held it over Tuesday for possible omnibus bill inclusion. Sen. Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope) sponsors its companion, SF258, which awaits action by the Senate Taxes Committee.

“This is a need that I’ve heard from the public,” Youakim said.

Terri Steenblock, the department’s assistant commissioner of individual taxes, said she, too, is hearing from tax filers who want the process streamlined.

“Taxpayers are telling us that they would like a free electronic solution that does more than allow them to fill in a PDF copy of their tax return and email it to us,” Steenblock said. “They want a solution that works for all taxpayers and not just those who have a simple tax return to file. They want a solution that allows them to file easy and accurate the first time, and they want a solution that doesn’t require them to go to multiple different places to file a return.”

Youakim said she talked to one person representing vendors. Their group is remaining neutral on the study, so long as they can access requests for information that the state would establish for the study.

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