U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts has received more money from groups representing tax accounting and preparation-related businesses than any other member of Congress over the past two years, according to a nonpartisan analysis.
Maplight is a nonpartisan California-based site that studies campaign donations and lobbying. It released an analysis this week that tied the failure of legislation meant to simplify filing your taxes to political spending by H&R Block and other companies that “have a large financial stake in ensuring long, complicated tax returns continue to be the norm.”
Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., first introduced legislation that would shift the U.S. to a return-free system, similar to Denmark and Spain, in 2011.
Under this system the IRS would provide taxpayers with a form already filled out with their information, which taxpayers would then look over and confirm. An estimate of how much they owe or should receive would already be calculated. Cooper’s bill and a similar one in the Senate failed to advance that year after heavy lobbying against it by the tax preparation industry.
H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt, TurboTax’s parent company, Intuit, and trade groups such as the National Society of Public Accountants and Americana Institute of Certified Public Accountants have spent a combined $35 million lobbying Congress and federal agencies since 2011, according to Maplight’s analysis.
These groups also have contributed a combined $2.6 million to congressional candidates since 2011.
Roberts, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee and a Kansas Republican, received $18,999 in campaign contributions from the tax preparation industry between 2013 and 2014, when he won re-election to a fourth term in the Senate. That’s nearly $2,000 more than any other member of Congress.
Roberts' spokeswoman, Sarah Little, said in an e-mail late Tuesday that the senator has always supported reforms to simplify the tax code. She did not comment directly about Maplight's analysis of campaign donations.