Warren wants tax refunds for gay couples, new election system

FILE - In this Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019, file photo, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks during an organizing event at Curate event space in Des Moines, Iowa. Some Democratic presidential hopefuls are enthusiastically embracing plans to raise taxes on the richest Americans. Warren is floating a 2 percent tax on all assets of people with a net worth of more than $50 million, a moon-shot plan that could face legal challenges for hitting investments, homes and cars, not just income. (AP Photo/Matthew Putney, File)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Last week Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) unveiled a plan to allow same-sex couples to amend past tax returns to receive refunds from the IRS. The Refund Equality Act, an update to a bill Warren filed in 2017, would cost approximately $57 million, according to an estimate provided by the Joint Committee on Taxation.

“I’m glad to introduce the Refund Equality Act in the Senate,” said Warren in a tweet. “Our bill ensures legally-married, same-sex couples can claim the tax refunds they earned, but were denied before marriage equality was the law of the land.”

Warren said legally married same-sex couples in Massachusetts were required to file as individuals which might have cost them more in taxes. “We need to call out that discrimination and to make it right — Congress should pass the Refund Equality Act immediately,” said Warren in a statement. The legislation is co-sponsored by 42 Democratic senators, including Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

On Tuesday, Warren also rolled out her plan to establish a uniform federal ballot and replace an independent commission that helps administer the vote. Beyond the use of a federally mandated ballot, Warren is proposing requirements for “automatic and same-day registration, early voting, and vote by mail” and would designate Election Day as a federal holiday. The redrawing of congressional districts would fall to independent commissions under her plan.

To help ensure state compliance, Warren’s plan would offer to fully fund the elections of states and localities that adhere to her new federal standards, adding extra funding for those that “achieve high percentage voter turnout.”

Warren, who launched her presidential campaign in February, projects that her election security agenda would cost $20 billion over 10 years, using money raised by her proposed tax on the fortunes of the wealthiest 0.1% of American households. Some experts have raised questions about whether that tax would raise as much money as Warren’s campaign estimates, citing concerns about the IRS’ ability to effectively collect it.

Elana Schor of the Associated Press contributed to this report.