Monday, April 01, 2024

Scathing exchange: FL Rep. Frost calls CFO Patronis ‘nothing more than a conspiracy theorist’. (Florida Phoenix)

If a leaf blew in JIMMY PETRONIS's window, would he sign it?  From Florida Phoenix:

Scathing exchange: FL Rep. Frost calls CFO Patronis ‘nothing more than a conspiracy theorist’

Patronis’ office says Frost should ‘stop playing on TikTok’

BY:  - MARCH 28, 2024 10:00 AM

 Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis. March 22, 2023. Credit: Department of Financial Services

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, a consistent critic of the IRS, has joined a group of Republican financial officers around the country in calling on the U.S. Treasury to shut down a new tax program, sparking a scalding reaction from Gen Z Congressman Maxwell Frost.

At issue is an IRS pilot program called Direct File, which will allow certain eligible Floridians to file their taxes directly with the IRS this year at no cost. Florida is one of the 12 states chosen to participate and could be used by about 2.4 million Floridians this tax season. U.S. Reps. Frost and Central Florida Congressman Darren Soto spoke to reporters last week touting the benefits for the program.

But earlier this week in a letter, 21 state financial officers, including Patronis, urged top officials at the Department of Treasury and the IRS to terminate the program, saying, “Direct File has the potential to do more harm than good for taxpayers.”

 Orlando Congressman Maxwell Frost speaks about housing affordability problems in the Florida Capitol on Jan. 24, 2024. (Photo by Jackie Llanos/Florida Phoenix)

Frost, a Democrat from the Orlando-area in Congress, unloaded on Patronis in a written statement after he was informed by the Florida Phoenix about the CFO’s participation in the critical letter. Frost states:

“Jimmy Patronis is nothing more than a conspiracy theorist who wants to convince Floridians that the IRS has nothing better to do than collect their information simply to ‘go after them.’ If only Florida’s Chief Financial Officer gave half as much of his attention to regulating the insurance industries that are actually taking advantage of folks in our state— maybe Floridians would be better off and have more money in their pockets. The IRS’ direct file tool is a safe, free, and effective way that millions of Floridians can file their federal return without worrying about their state returns because, as our CFO seems to have forgotten, the Sunshine State does not have a state income tax.”

U.S. Rep. Soto did not respond for comment.

But Patronis’ office fired back later on Wednesday in a statement, according to Devin Galetta, the communications director for the CFO:

“The CFO spent his entire career in the restaurant industry, in fact, longer than Rep. Frost has been alive. He understands money. He understands people — and he understands the IRS is nobody’s friend. If Rep. Frost cared about his constituents, he’d stop running defense for the Biden Administration, stop playing on TikTok, and actually have a conversation with his constituents about how the policies he supports have made a bag of groceries cost a fortune and why their credit card debt is at record levels. If he wants to work for the IRS instead of serving his constituents, he should apply for a job there.”

As to the letter addressed on Monday to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo and IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel, the financial officers wrote that, “It will only enable them to file their federal tax returns. Taxpayers who are unaware that they must separately file state returns will not receive anticipated state refunds this spring. This is significant because many taxpayers who use Direct File are likely to be lower-income and build budgets around anticipated tax refunds. Even worse, confused taxpayers who neglect to file their state returns will be at risk of incurring state penalties. Imagine the surprise to the taxpayer who becomes subject to audit by the IRS after having filed through Direct File and having felt assurances that the tax return was prepared properly through the IRS’s own system.”

The letter also says that taxpayers who use the Direct File program will be unhappy because of a lack of resources to provide sufficient customer service. All inquiries must be submitted through a chat feature — with no option to call and speak with a live agent – “which is sure to cause taxpayer frustration.”

And it also criticizes Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren and others who claim that Direct File will save taxpayers from spending money on tax preparation services. “[T]here are many free tax preparation services that are better suited to serve taxpayers that are widely available,” the letter reads. ” We are aware of over 30 non-profits alone that offer free tax preparation services.”

This is also not the first time that Patronis has gone on the attack against the IRS. Last year at the Republican Party of Florida’s Statesman’s dinner in Orlando, Patronis said that he wanted to “defund the IRS,” referring specifically to the $80 billion allotted to the agency through the Inflation Reduction Act.

“They’re hiring an army of agents, and they’re going to come after the state of Florida,” he said at the time, adding that those agents would “examine every single transaction” that individuals make, and “we have got to stop this politically motivated political process from attacking law abiding Americans, law abiding Floridians.”

And last summer he launched what he called the “Florida IRS Transparency Portal,” which was created for individuals, private businesses or nonprofits to report evidence of discrimination by Internal Revenue Service (IRS) operatives and will help Florida identify patterns of discrimination where specific IRS agents are “targeting certain political causes, practices, or beliefs.” according to a press release.

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Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018.

Florida Phoenix is part of States Newsroom, the nation’s largest state-focused nonprofit news organization.

1 comment:

George said...

Maxwell Frost is a good man. He would make a better governor than any Republican. Hopefully one day he becomes the governor of Florida.