When an auto accident happens unexpectedly, anyone can become a victim. One moment you're commuting back home after a long day at the office. The next, your car is totaled, and you're injured in the hospital due to another person's negligence. It's not fair, but it happens every day. Unlike the irresponsible party who caused the accident, personal injury victims often suffer the most in auto accidents. They have to worry about lost days at work, the long road to recovery, and the inability to provide for their family. Sadly, many people injured in car accidents don't have the luxury of worrying about bills because they're fighting for life in the emergency room.
And while modern cars come equipped with safety features like blind spot monitoring and cross-traffic alerts, motor vehicle accidents are still a huge problem in South Carolina. According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, in 2020, one person was injured every 11 minutes in a car collision. Even worse, one fatal collision was recorded every 9.1 hours.
Unfortunately, victims of auto accident negligence often don't know what to do when another driver hits them. They have questions like:
These same innocent people provide official statements to insurance agencies without knowing the consequences.
However, if you or your loved ones are victims in a car crash, there's good news. Laws in South Carolina mandate that guilty parties must compensate for pain and suffering. But in order to get the compensation you deserve, it's crucial to work with a personal injury attorney in North Charleston, SC. Experienced personal injury lawyers know how to bolster your case by securing witnesses for questioning, obtaining accident scene information, and documenting vehicle damage. If these tasks aren't completed quickly, you are far less likely to receive the compensation you and your family deserve.
Theos Law Firm exists to fight for your rights and to ensure negligent drivers are held responsible for the damage they do to your family. It's really that simple. We aren't afraid to trade blows with selfish insurance agencies. Because, unlike Theos Law Firm, they couldn't care less about your best interests.
Here are just a few reasons why so many hardworking people choose Theos Law Firm:
When you're involved in a car or truck accident, it can be a life-changing event. Having represented hundreds of personal injury victims, we understand that you may be confused and frightened. You know you need to speak with a lawyer, but you need a calm, cool presence to ease your anxiety. You need someone who understands what you're enduring, and we know how you feel. Unlike other auto accident attorneys, we believe that personal injury claims are more about the people involved and less about money and settlements. When you reach out to Theos Law Firm, you can rest easy knowing our team will treat you with dignity, compassion, and empathy.
With many years of combined personal injury experience, there's nothing that our team hasn't seen in terms of auto accidents. With that said, we understand that there is no "common" type of accident or scenario - no two accidents are the same. We have represented clients involved in DUI accidents, truck rollovers, reckless drivers, interstate pileups, rear-end collisions, and even Uber driver crashes. With such extensive experience, our team has the tools and talent to take care of you, regardless of how complicated your case might be.
The recovery process involved with automobile accidents changes with every person we represent. There are dozens of details to account for, from car repairs to insurance questions and everything in between. These small but necessary details aren't easy to accomplish for injured parties. That's why our team goes the extra mile to help cut through the red tape to ensure your medical bills are paid, and your car gets fixed. The less weight you have on your shoulders to worry about, the faster you can focus on recovering.
Unlike other personal injury law firms, our team is 100% committed to protecting your rights, and we're uniquely positioned to do so with decades of combined experience. We offer robust representation for many types of auto accidents, including:
If you have been the victim of an accident listed above, please understand that time is of the essence. There is limited time to seek compensation for your injuries, hospital bills, lost wages, and more. As such, there is only a short time to obtain experienced representation for your personal injury case.
Our team knows that finding the right attorney to represent you is an important choice. Therefore, we believe that an initial consultation is imperative to understand your needs and identify your goals fully. When we sit down with you to learn the nuances of your accident, we'll cover all aspects of South Carolina law pertaining to your case. That way, you're armed with information and have an idea of the next steps our firm will take to represent you.
Remember - the sooner we can dig into the details of your case, the sooner we can pursue your rightful compensation. As seasoned personal injury attorneys, our team specializes in several types of automobile accidents:
Car accidents are a serious problem in South Carolina. If you're an adult, you probably know someone involved in a bad car crash in our state. When you look at the stats, it seems like car accidents are always on the rise. One person was killed every 8.2 hours in a car collision. Even more sobering is that one teen driver is involved in a fatal or injury-causing collision every 1.6 hours. The unfortunate truth is that many people involved in car crashes were hurt due to the other driver's negligence.
Common car crash injuries in South Carolina include:
Car accident victims in South Carolina are often left to pay their medical bills but can't do so because they're too hurt to go to work or take their car in for repair. These life-changing scenarios can snowball into a series of scary events, leaving victims hopeless and unsure where to turn.
Fortunately, a car accident attorney in North Charleston, SC can help you avoid these pitfalls and obtain the money you need to survive. At Theos Law Firm, our team has a deep understanding of the rules that dictate fault in South Carolina. We know that thorough representation is needed to receive maximum compensation, and we're well-prepared to achieve that goal for you.
Our car accident lawyers in South Carolina can recover compensation for injuries and damages:
The moments following the crash are often a blur when you're involved in a car accident. However, per South Carolina law, those on the scene must adhere to legal responsibilities and obligations.
First, try to stop your car and ensure it is positioned safely near the scene of the crash. Then, call 911 to report the accident. While most folks go into full-blown panic mode, you need to stay calm so you can process the situation. If you notice that there are injured people, give them "reasonable assistance." Per South Carolina Code of Laws, that could include transporting hurt people to a hospital or calling an ambulance for them.
If you're in a car crash, you need to be prepared to exchange contact information with other drivers at the accident scene. If the person who caused the collision is present, make sure to get their name, phone number, address, and insurance info. If witnesses are present, get their contact info, too, in case our team needs to obtain their account later.
Next, try to piece together how the car crash happened. This is an appropriate time to take photos of the cars, wreckage, and debris. Ask yourself if you think a vehicle failed to follow the rules of the road, like speeding or failing to stop at a stop sign.
Regardless of how minor your injuries may appear and who may be to blame for the accident, get legal advice from Theos Law Firm first before giving any recorded statements or refusing medical care.
Tractor-trailer and semi-truck crashes are often more complicated than two car crashing. Because these cases are more complex and nuanced, it's imperative that you contact a truck accident attorney in North Charleston, SC to help you through the recovery process and win the compensation you deserve.
After a semi-truck crash, you must take steps quickly to preserve evidence so that the crash may be recreated. In serious semi-truck accidents where people are injured or killed, trucking companies usually send a team of investigators to the accident site immediately. These investigators will do their best to obtain evidence that can hurt you in court or even attempt to hide or destroy evidence. The last thing a trucking company wants is for you to win a settlement against them.
That's especially true since various entities may be liable for your truck accident injury, not just the driver. The trucking company, the trucking manufacturer, and the team responsible for truck maintenance could also be responsible. Additionally, if dangerous or inadequate road conditions factor into your accident, you could actually sue some government departments. For those reasons, it's critical to retain quality representation ASAP after a truck accident in South Carolina.
At Theos Law Firm, our team has experience winning compensation in many types of truck accidents, such as:
As your truck accident lawyer in South Carolina, we work hard to fight for your rights and win your case. In order to do so, our team will:
We'll arrive on-scene to notate skid mark length and the locations of vehicles involved. We will also capture detailed pictures and measurements pertinent to your crash.
Obtaining the trucking company's records and discovering the info they have on the semi-truck driver involved is an important part of our process. We will also secure access to the trucker's driving log notes, which they must maintain according to law.
Like airplanes and helicopters, big rigs have a "black box" that records real-time truck data, like speeds, changes in direction, and brake application.
We'll arrive on-scene to notate skid mark length and the locations of vehicles involved. We will also capture detailed pictures and measurements pertinent to your crash.
Sometimes an expert is needed to digest all the evidence and provide an expert opinion on the cause of the semi-truck collision. When needed, our team will hire such an expert to ensure your case is robust and air-tight.
We will obtain the police's investigation report and any accident photos, measurements, or other documentation taken by officers while investigating your semi-truck crash.
It's imperative to find all the witnesses of your accident and interview them to get recorded statements in a timely manner. Doing otherwise may result in faded memories and inaccurate facts.
Time and again, auto accident victims agree to early settlements provided by insurance companies because the offer seems like a lot. But what if you return to work after recovering from an accident, only for your pain to return?
With adjusters, lawyers, and investigators at their disposal, insurance agencies will do everything in their power to minimize the compensation you deserve. Don't let them pick on you or silence your voice. If you or a loved are victims of a negligent car or truck accident in South Carolina, contact Theos Law Firm today. We have the team, tools, and experience to fight back on your behalf, no matter how complicated your case may seem.
To schedule an appointment for your free consultation, contact Theos Law Firm in North Charleston today.
NORTH CHARLESTON — City leaders are on track to increase the salary of the mayor to $218,310 a year, a 12.6 percent increase over incumbent Keith Summey’s current pay of $193,880.The full City Council will take its first vote on the matter Feb. 23 after its finance committee earlier voted 8-2 to raise the pay for the city’s mayoral position, making North Charleston’s mayor the highest paid in South Carolina.If passed, the mayor and council member salaries would go into effect in January 2024 — afte...
NORTH CHARLESTON — City leaders are on track to increase the salary of the mayor to $218,310 a year, a 12.6 percent increase over incumbent Keith Summey’s current pay of $193,880.
The full City Council will take its first vote on the matter Feb. 23 after its finance committee earlier voted 8-2 to raise the pay for the city’s mayoral position, making North Charleston’s mayor the highest paid in South Carolina.
If passed, the mayor and council member salaries would go into effect in January 2024 — after the city’s November municipal election.
The city contracted the outside firm of Management Advisory Group to analyze the salaries of the mayor, City Council and employees. MAG recommended a 20 percent increase for the mayor, which would’ve put the mayor’s pay at $234,000.
City staff instead recommended a 12.6 percent raise, equal to the raises employees have received over the past three years.
The firm also recommended an increase for other elected officials. The city’s Finance Committee, which includes all members of the council, voted the same day in a 6-4 vote to also increase the salaries of North Charleston City Council members from $20,657 to $23,260 a year.
MAG said the salary increases are meant to “more adequately compensate for the time and effort to do their jobs involved in the diligent performance of their responsibilities and bring the city in line with comparable cities within the state.”
MAG did a similar analysis in 2019, after which City Council approved the current pay for mayor and council. The new salaries will go to whoever is elected in the city’s November general election.
North Charleston has a full-time mayoral position, as opposed to some other governments where the mayor might serve in a part-time capacity.
First elected in 1994, Summey, 75, has remained tight-lipped about his political future, though several sources inside City Hall have said Summey has told them he does not plan to run for an eighth term. He told reporters at City Hall on Feb. 22 that he’ll make a decision within 30 days.
“I love what I do,” Summey said. “In a couple of weeks, I’ll be 76 years old. I have four beautiful grandkids. I’ve got to make up my mind. I’ll do a final sit-down in the next couple of weeks with my family and make it a family decision.”
Summey’s financial activity for a potential political campaign has been mostly dormant. His campaign finance reports show no fundraising activity for 2022.
North Charleston is one of two large South Carolina municipalities that use a strong-mayor form of government in which the mayor runs the city’s day-to-day operations acting as a chief administrator. In Charleston, Mayor John Tecklenburg earns $214,394.39 annually.
Elsewhere throughout the Palmetto State, mayors of larger cities mostly act as elected officials who preside over council meetings while hired city mangers run daily operations of local government.
Columbia City Manager Teresa Wilson makes $228,314, according to 2021 data provided online by the city. At the time, then-Mayor Steve Benjamin earned $75,000. Greenville manager John McDonough earns $278,512, according to the Municipal Association of South Carolina. Part-time Mayor Knox White makes $24,000.
The uncertainty surrounding the North Charleston mayoral position is one of the reasons Councilman Bob King voted against the salary bump. King said he may have supported the pay raise if Summey had planned to run for reelection.
That said, $213,000 is still too high of a salary, King said.
Councilman Ron Brinson, who also voted against the pay raises, said the timing of the proposals isn’t ideal.
“I think with all that’s going on in the economy, it’s just not a good look,” Brinson said.
The full City Council will have to make a final decision on the new salaries. Council meets at 7 p.m. Feb. 23 to make an initial vote inside City Hall.
NORTH CHARLESTON — The city of North Charleston is planning to make a $6 million purchase of about 400 acres of land around Ingleside Boulevard, property that will be used to develop what the city is calling an urban park.But this recreational amenity that some say will enhance quality of life is raising concerns about livability.City Council voted unanimously April 27 to move forward with buying the property, currently owned by Weber USA Corp. The tracts of land make up what is known as the Ingleside Weber Park System, l...
NORTH CHARLESTON — The city of North Charleston is planning to make a $6 million purchase of about 400 acres of land around Ingleside Boulevard, property that will be used to develop what the city is calling an urban park.
But this recreational amenity that some say will enhance quality of life is raising concerns about livability.
City Council voted unanimously April 27 to move forward with buying the property, currently owned by Weber USA Corp. The tracts of land make up what is known as the Ingleside Weber Park System, located west of Interstate 26.
Most of the property consists of wetlands, though just over 100 acres are highlands, or areas that can be walked or built upon. The idea is to use the 400-acre space to create a passive park that will include boardwalks, walking paths and nature trails.
Instead of having to travel elsewhere to hike or enjoy the outdoors, people in North Charleston will be able to practice that kind of recreational activity essentially in their own backyard, Mayor Keith Summey said.
To pay for the land purchase, $3 million is being provided in Charleston County Greenbelt funds, $1 million in city tax-increment finance district funds, $1 million from the South Carolina Conservation Bank, and $1 million from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
City spokesman Ryan Johnson said North Charleston is doing the project because the plan is a good use of greenbelt funds, which are designed to help conserve outdoor space. It was also convenient that North Charleston was able to secure additional grant opportunities, Johnson added. There is no timetable yet for the park’s construction.
“Having a big park in an urban core is a very good amenity,” he said.
The idea of a park that could potentially bring more noise to the area alarmed Councilwoman Virginia Jamison, who has been fighting for a decade for a sound barrier to be built along I-26 to protect members of Deerpark, Northwood Estates and other adjacent communities from the blaring sounds of traffic commuting along the highway. Acquiring necessary funding from the city, county or state to build the wall has not been successful.
During a recent Finance Committee meeting, Jamison said her constituents are concerned about the increased levels of sounds emitting from the interstate and they are also worried that more noise will come from the new park. Traffic could also increase soon, as the county’s new Palmetto Commerce Interchange will soon be constructed nearby at Weber Boulevard.
Other development is also on the way to Ingleside Boulevard, which is already home to a few neighborhoods, several churches and a handful of businesses. Developers are planning on the southern end of the boulevard to build a town center that will include retail and restaurant space, a parking deck, hundreds of apartment units, and hundreds of hotel rooms.
Jamison called on City Council to take noise reduction seriously.
“If this body is not concerned about the livability and quality of life in our city, then I have a problem,” said Jamison, who did not attend the April 27 full council meeting.
Councilwoman Dorothy Williams echoed her concerns.
Summey implied that the park will center on passive nature, pointing to its focus on walking trails. The only physical building that will be constructed at the park is a facility to house restrooms and first aid.
The North Charleston Fire Department says Ashley Phosphate Road is partially open as crews remain on scene of a fire involving multiple mobile homes.Published: Tue May 02 2023|Updated: Wed May 03 2023NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The North Charleston Fire Department provided updated information Wednesday on a fire that damaged several mobile homes and required the temporary closure of a major roadway late Tuesday afternoon.A total of nine adults and three children have been displaced by the fire, which damaged five hom...
The North Charleston Fire Department says Ashley Phosphate Road is partially open as crews remain on scene of a fire involving multiple mobile homes.
Published: Tue May 02 2023|Updated: Wed May 03 2023
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The North Charleston Fire Department provided updated information Wednesday on a fire that damaged several mobile homes and required the temporary closure of a major roadway late Tuesday afternoon.
A total of nine adults and three children have been displaced by the fire, which damaged five homes on Beret Street, Assistant Fire Chief Chris Rainey said. EMS took one North Charleston firefighter to an area hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.
The fire department responded to a 911 call at 4:48 p.m. The first crews to arrive at the scene reported heavy smoke and flames coming from a single-family home.
“Crews made entry to extinguish the fire,” Rainey said. “Firefighters encountered heavy fire and heat inside the home. All residents had evacuated the home.”
They spotted fire extending to a second home and Rainey said high-wind conditions hampered efforts to put out the fires and caused flames to spread to three additional homes.
“This fire has been a wind-driven fire,” North Charleston Fire Safety Coordinator Laura Kondor said at the scene Tuesday night.
Firefighters were able to prevent the fire from spreading to a sixth home, Rainey said.
Kondor said the homes affected by the fire were either a complete loss or partially damaged.
John Marlowe lives across the street from where the fire broke out. He said he was doing yard work when he looked up and saw his neighbor’s home engulfed in flames.
“I was just weed-eating the yard and I looked across the street and saw a bunch of flames coming out of a house,” Marlowe said.
He said he ran over and grabbed a water hose, trying to put out the fire, but there wasn’t enough pressure in the hose to help.
“A bunch of houses went on fire; six houses went down and all of them my friends. All of them are without a home now,” Marlowe said.
Officials with the North Charleston Fire Department said there was not enough water supply in the area to support the amount of fire trucks on scene.
Officials said several power lines were also affected.
The fire forced officials to shut down a portion of Ashley Phosphate Road near the Cathedral of Praise to extend fire hoses for several hours, Rainey said.
Investigators are still working to determine the cause of the fire.
Copyright 2023 WCSC. All rights reserved.
Thanks to our own SirDDT from the WrestlingHeadlines.com comments section for the following WWE live event results from Sunday’s show at the North Charleston Coliseum in North Charleston, South Carolina:Arena was probably at 60% full which is typical for a house show. Anyway, it sounds almost exactly the same as the Atlanta house show. Kelly Kincade was ring announcer.Bianca Belair defeated Asuka to retain the RAW Women’s Title. Both women were very over, crowd was probably most invested in...
Thanks to our own SirDDT from the WrestlingHeadlines.com comments section for the following WWE live event results from Sunday’s show at the North Charleston Coliseum in North Charleston, South Carolina:
Arena was probably at 60% full which is typical for a house show. Anyway, it sounds almost exactly the same as the Atlanta house show. Kelly Kincade was ring announcer.
Bianca Belair defeated Asuka to retain the RAW Women’s Title. Both women were very over, crowd was probably most invested in this and the main event. The ladies delivered like this was TV, lots of near falls. Also one of the longer matches of the night at 14 mins in ring time.
AJ Styles defeated WWE United States Champion Austin Theory via DQ after a low blow. Lots of stalling and playing to the audience in this one. The south loves AJ and despised Austin.
WWE Intercontinental Champion GUNTHER defeated Gargano. Heel promo by Gunter to start, decent but the south can’t understand accents so it took them a second to realize they were being insulted. Johnny looked smaller than expected in person. The children loved him but the crowd wasn’t as into this as much they could have been, not till the last minute or two.
Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn defeated The Street Profits and Imperium to retain the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles. Street Profits were probably the most over here. Took a bit but Imperium, particularly Kaiser got under the crowd’s skin. Sami and KO cleaned house at the end for the win. They were over but seemed like they expected to be more over.
Omos defeated Dolph Ziggler. Ziggy got dogwalked. It was almost embarrassing and hard to watch at first but his selling was tremendous, really got the people behind him. Popped hard when he started making his comeback. Omos won with his finisher. Big ovation and chants for Ziggy on the way out.
Rhea Ripley defeated Tegan Nox to retain the SmackDown Women’s Title. Nox received a better reaction than I expected but Rhea was over like a face. She cut a heel promo mid match cutting down Charleston and was still cheered. Little heat when she said she doesn’t need our support and wants us to shut up. She also declared Mother’s Day as her day, “Miami’s Day.” Lots of suck it’s and middle fingers from Rhea.
Cody Rhodes defeated Finn Balor in a North Charleston Street Fight. Cody’s ring jacket and gear read as significantly more expensive than everyone else on the card. They started out pretty tame with the weapons, very safe but mid match started really cracking each other with the kendo sticks. Superplex through a table followed by the CrossRhodes to close the show and send the folks home happy.
Stay tuned to WrestlingHeadlines.com for more.
Follow Marc on Twitter at @this_is_marc. Send any news, tips or corrections to us by clicking here.
NORTH CHARLESTON — The landmark paper mill here will close for good this summer, more than 86 years after establishing itself along the Cooper River as an industrial economic pillar for the Lowcountry through good times and bad.WestRock Co. announced May 2 that the site will be shut down Aug. 31, citing a “combination of high operating costs and the need for significant capital investment.”“WestRock is committed to improving its return on invested capital as well as maximizing the performance of its asse...
NORTH CHARLESTON — The landmark paper mill here will close for good this summer, more than 86 years after establishing itself along the Cooper River as an industrial economic pillar for the Lowcountry through good times and bad.
WestRock Co. announced May 2 that the site will be shut down Aug. 31, citing a “combination of high operating costs and the need for significant capital investment.”
“WestRock is committed to improving its return on invested capital as well as maximizing the performance of its assets,” the Atlanta-based company said.
The hulking blue industrial complex known for emitting a distinctive sulfur-like odor employs about 500 workers, down about 44 percent over the past five years.
It’s been manufacturing goods from pine trees since July 1937, when a distant corporate ancestor of the current owner and operator fired up its machinery for the first time off of Virginia Avenue.
“WestRock and its predecessor companies have had a long history in the region operating the North Charleston mill, and the contributions of the team members over the years have been greatly appreciated,” CEO David B. Sewell said in a written statement.
He added that the decision “to close a facility and impact the lives of our team members is never easy, and we are committed to assisting our North Charleston team with exploring roles at other WestRock locations and outplacement assistance.”
Mayor Keith Summey lamented the closure but said he realized it was only a matter of time when, in 2019, the company announced it was shuttering a local production line and eliminating about 260 jobs.
“We’ve known for a while that the industry has been going down,” Summey said May 2. “The biggest thing we will be doing now is trying to find jobs for those folks who are laid off so they won’t have to leave.”
It wasn’t immediately clear what will become of the roughly 331-acre waterfront site between U.S. Interstate 526 and the State Ports Authority’s North Charleston Terminal. The company said that after the 120-day shutdown period “the property will be prepared for sale.”
“It will make a valuable piece of land for development for the future,” Summey said.
WestRock acquired the mill in late 2018 as part of its buyout of KapStone Paper & Packaging Corp. At the time, the North Charleston site employed about 900 workers.
The plant manufactures several products, including containerboard, and can turn out about 550,000 tons a year. WestRock said it plans to stop making a commodity known in the industry as “unbleached saturating kraft paper” after the shutdown is completed.
WestRock estimated in a federal securities filing Tuesday that the cost of the closure against its earnings will be $515 million, including asset write-offs and $28 million in severance and other employee-related expenses.
Remarkably, the mill has changed hands just twice since it made its debut near the end of the Great Depression. Many old-timers in the Charleston region still refer to it as “Westvaco,” reflecting a truncated name of the company that built it.
It started with William Luke, whose Piedmont Pulp & Paper Co. was incorporated in 1899 as West Virginia Pulp & Paper Co. The name was shortened to Westvaco Corp. in 1969 and then became MeadWestvaco about 20 years ago, reflecting the buyout of a rival manufacturer. It sold the North Charleston mill in 2008 to Chicago-based KapStone.
The acquisition of MeadWestvaco by Rock-Tenn Corp. in 2015 gave rise to the WestRock brand. The ownership of the mill came full circle nearly five years ago, when the company snapped up KapStone.
WestRock’s other forest-product operations in South Carolina include several manufacturing plants in Florence, Cowpens, Latta and Spartanburg. It sold its Summerville sawmill to a Canadian company in 2021.
WestRock also exited a land development venture that MeadWestvaco had launched. And it spun off a chemical division into what is now Ingevity Corp., a publicly traded company headquartered just down the road from the North Charleston paper mill.
NEW YORK — Most taxpayers are interested in filing their taxes directly to the IRS for free, a new report says, and that option will be tested next year.
The Internal Revenue Service has spent the past nine months studying whether U.S. taxpayers want to see a free, e-filing system run by the government — and is now preparing to launch a pilot program.
The prospect of a free, government-run, online system has been debated for a long time. Supporters argue that the option would make tax return services more equitable and accessible for taxpayers nationwide.
But there’s also been pushback from some big tax-prep companies.
Now, the IRS plans to launch a pilot program for the 2024 filing season to test a “direct file” system and help the federal government decide on whether to move forward with potentially implementing it in the future, IRS commissioner Danny Werfel and the Treasury Department official Laurel Blatchford confirmed on May 16.
There’s still limited details about the pilot as the agency determines the basic structure of the program, but Werfel said that members of the public will have the option to participate.
The IRS was tasked with looking into how to create a “direct file” system as part of the funding it received from the Inflation Reduction Act, Democrats’ flagship climate and health care measure that President Joe Biden signed last summer. It gave the IRS nine months and $15 million to report on how such a program would be implemented.
The IRS published a feasibility report Tuesday — which lays out taxpayer interest in direct file, how the system could work, its potential cost, operational challenges and more.
The report shows that the majority of surveyed taxpayers would be interested in using an IRS-provided tool to prepare and file their taxes electronically — and that the IRS is “technically capable of delivering direct file, but doing so would require additional resources and add complexity to IRS operations,” Werfel said.
The IRS’s existing free e-file option, available to lower income taxpayers who qualify, will remain in place, he added. Individuals of all income levels can also still submit their returns for free via the mail — although it can take months to process paper returns and taxpayers will still have to buy postage.
The new, direct e-file program being tested “could potentially save taxpayers billions of dollars annually,” said Blatchford, who noted that an individual taxpayer pays an average of $140 preparing a tax return each year.
The report’s initial cost analysis show that a pre-file option run by the IRS “could cost less than $10 per return to provide, and of course would be free to taxpayers — by comparison, simple electronic filing options currently available to taxpayers are around $40.”
The study estimates that annual costs of direct file may range, depending on the program’s usage and scope, from $64 million for 5 million users to $249 million for 25 million users.
“We believe today’s announcement is a significant step toward revolutionizing access to the tax system so that it is easier and more equitable. A free and simple direct file service will ensure that more families in America receive the tax benefits they are eligible for,” Amanda Renteria, CEO of civic tech nonprofit Code for America, said in a statement.
While supporters applauded the pilot program, critics have expressed skepticism about the IRS taking on the dual roles of both tax collector and tax preparer, arguing that the new service could create a power imbalance between taxpayers and the government.
There’s also concern about historic racial disparities and bias seen in the IRS’s enforcement of tax laws. In a Monday letter to the U.S. Senate, Werfel confirmed the IRS found that Black taxpayers may be audited at higher rates.
Big tax preparation companies also have millions of dollars to lose if the program comes to fruition. Last year, more than 60 million taxpayers were serviced between Intuit, the parent company of TurboTax, and H&R Block.
Neither H&R Block nor Intuit were immediately available to comment on Tuesday.
An Associated Press analysis shows that Intuit, H&R Block, and other private companies and advocacy groups for large tax preparation businesses, as well as proponents in favor of electronic free file, have reported spending $39.3 million since 2006 to lobby on “free-file” and other matters. Federal law doesn’t require domestic lobbyists to itemize expenses by specific issue, so the sums are not limited to free-file.
Werfel on Tuesday acknowledged concerns surrounding a possible direct file system, notably operational challenges, but maintained taxpayers should chose the filing option that works best for them and that “the IRS cannot run the tax system alone.”
“We rely on an extensive network of partners across tax professional groups, the software communities, the payroll community and countless dedicated organizations that work directly with taxpayers,” Werfel said. “This report changes none of that.”