For the past 18 months, VPIRG has been coordinating efforts with Senator Leahy to correct a major problem with our tax system.
In 1998, it became legal to patent various methods of filing taxes, which means you could be sued for simply filling out your taxes correctly. Fortunately, Senator Leahy has been leading the effort to fix this system and the bill is now on the Senate floor.
To show Senator Leahy our appreciation for fighting on behalf of Vermont taxpayers, VPIRG and the Vermont Society of Certified Public Accountants took out a full page ad in the Burlington Free Press to say thank you and help raise awareness about this issue.
You can read the text from the ad below.
An Open Letter to Vermont Taxpayers:
Just when you thought paying your taxes couldn’t get any more complicated, there’s a growing problem facing all of us.
Did you know that you can correctly complete your income tax forms, pay the proper payment, and file the whole package with the IRS in a timely manner, and then get sued for it? It’s true.
Taxpayers and their advisers already spend enough time compiling and submitting the appropriate schedules and forms and then signing and dating everything just right. We are now learning that everyday taxpayers also have to become experts in patent law! Patent law? That’s right. Starting in 1998, the U.S. Patent Office began issuing patents for the methods tax preparers use to file their taxes. Since then, over 130 patents for these tax strategies have been issued and more than 150 patent applications are currently pending.
Many of these tax strategy patents cover a wide range of important but common forms of compliance that you may be already using without permission from the patentholder. They include retirement plans, real estate transactions, workplace compensation, financial investments, charitable giving, and estate planning. Based on current patent applications filed at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, we are extremely concerned that, if nothing is done, these sorts of outrageous patents will extend into other tax-related issues affecting Vermonters’ lives, such as planning for a college education, health care savings programs, and life insurance.
It’s just not right. No single person or corporation ought to be able to control how we determine our tax obligation. Every American should be able to pay their taxes on equal terms, using whatever strategies work best for their particular situation. And no one should have to pay royalties or face lawsuits just for paying their taxes.
Fortunately, legislation is on the floor of the United States Senate right now to stop these outrageous patents. Leading the cause is our own U.S. Senator, Patrick Leahy. He is fighting to make sure that we all have equal access to the best and fairest way to file our taxes. No one should have a monopoly on how we pay our taxes and, with the Senator’s legislation, we will finally get back a level playing field very soon. Senator Leahy understands what’s fair and what’s right. And, we know that he believes that the tax code is already complicated enough.
So, we want to say thank you Senator Leahy! You are a true champion and we appreciate all you are doing to solve this problem.
Vermont Public Interest Research Group
Executive Director & CEO
Vermont Society of Certified Public Accountants