Out of the goodness of their hearts

H&R Block, looking out for the rights of people like them to force people like us to spend money on them:

In several letters to Congress over the past year, H&R Block has pushed to expand the Schedule EIC—the form required to claim the credit—as a backstop against tax fraud and improper payments. The new form would go from one page to five, and it would incorporate most of a 30-question eligibility checklist that only paid preparers, as opposed to self-filers, are currently required to submit. The Senate incorporated the proposal into its 2016 funding provisions, which require the IRS to use an expanded Schedule EIC next tax season.

In its letters and hearing testimony, H&R Block encouraged lawmakers to add similar paperwork to claims for other refundable tax credits. Again, the company was successful: The Senate bill adds paperwork to the Child Tax Credit; the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which reduces taxes owed for tuition-paying college students; and the Premium Tax Credit, which helps families pay for health insurance.

“Along with undercutting the EITC’s basic purpose…by discouraging eligible working families from filing for it, the committee’s proposed directive is unnecessary,” writesRobert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. That, he says, is because self-filers are already inundated with eligibility information: The rules are covered extensively in five pages of EITC instructions appended to tax-return forms, and in a separate 37-page IRS pamphlet.

“This seems to me like a fairly naked attempt by Block to get its market share up by basically driving a lot of people away from self-preparing,” Greenstein toldPolitico Pro. (Greenstein was not available for comment on this story.)

H&R Block said in a statement last week that “this is not about competitive business interests. It’s about reducing fraud and protecting the future of the EITC.”

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