House Republicans aim to end IRS’s Direct File in 2025 appropriations bill

A GOP policy rider zeroes out funding for government-run tax preparation software, a week after the agency said its free electronic filing program would be made permanent.
A person promotes the Direct File pilot program at the Internal Revenue Service building on April 5, 2024 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Economic Security Project)

During a week in which the IRS announced a notable milestone for one of its signature digital initiatives, Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee released a proposal that would derail the tax agency’s newest technological priority. 

The House GOP’s Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill, released this week by committee Chair Tom Cole, R-Okla., targets the IRS’s Direct File program via a policy rider that prohibits the funding of “a government-run tax preparation software that Congress has not authorized.” 

Just last week, the IRS announced that Direct File would be made permanent following a pilot program that saw more than 140,000 taxpayers across 12 states use the free electronic filing system. The tax agency said the program received more than $90 million in refunds and reported $35 million in balances due during its pilot run. 

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen touted Direct File further this week during testimony before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, noting that all states will be invited to participate in the program “as soon as next filing season,” with expansion on the horizon “to support all of the most common tax situations over the next few years.”


House Republicans’ bill, which cuts the IRS’s budget by $2.2 billion from fiscal 2024 funding levels, is the culmination of months of sustained attacks on Direct File from GOP members of Congress, state attorneys general and state treasurers and comptrollers

The highly lucrative tax preparation industry has also been gunning for Direct File. In an April statement to FedScoop, a spokesperson for Intuit — maker of TurboTax — said the tax agency’s Direct File post-mortem included estimates that were “clearly low, inaccurate, and the IRS even acknowledges conveniently leaving out necessary costs to build and run the pilot.”

Democrats, meanwhile, railed against Republicans’ proposed cuts to the IRS — which include a $2 billion reduction in enforcement funding — and especially the move against Direct File. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said in a statement that “the centerpiece” of Republicans’ budget plan for the IRS is “helping rich people cheat on their taxes.”

“If Republicans have the opportunity, they will deprive law-abiding taxpayers of the choice to file their taxes for free with the IRS’s new direct file program by shutting it down before it expands nationwide,” Wyden said. “In short, the winners in this plan are rich tax cheats like Donald Trump, and the losers are typical Americans who earn a wage, follow the law and want to file their tax returns every spring without getting ripped off by big tax software companies.”

News of the GOP’s Direct File targeting came amid a victory lap for the IRS and its Document Upload Tool, which processed its one millionth taxpayer submission. The agency had a limited rollout of the tool in 2021 and expanded it substantially in 2023 thanks in part to funding from the White House’s Inflation Reduction Act.


“The Document Upload Tool is a key part of our ambitious initiative to transform the IRS into a virtually paperless agency, and we continue to see increased use of this by taxpayers,” IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said in a statement. “This tool saves time for taxpayers and helps IRS employees process responses faster and more efficiently.”

Matt Bracken

Written by Matt Bracken

Matt Bracken is the managing editor of FedScoop and CyberScoop, overseeing coverage of federal government technology policy and cybersecurity. Before joining Scoop News Group in 2023, Matt was a senior editor at Morning Consult, leading data-driven coverage of tech, finance, health and energy. He previously worked in various editorial roles at The Baltimore Sun and the Arizona Daily Star. You can reach him at

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